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Thread: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Los Angeles, Ca.
    Posts
    1,332

    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Uhg.

    That site is like a beginners class in high-pressure, scare tactic, rip-em-off before they figure it out sales strategy.


    <homer_simpson>
    "Home Backup Power: Will run a fridge, freezer, sump pump and 1000 W microwave, fish tank light and air pump, home alarm system and garage door."

    Oooohh.

    "51 amp-hour AGM battery"

    D'oh!
    </homer_simpson>



    "Before you buy a Solar Generator, you might want to listen to an interview on the “Call To Decision” radio show hosted by Pastor Butch of Nettie, West Virginia."

    Pastor Butch...


    "I realize the complete absence of a "normal" flashy sales approach is a little unusual, but don't you think it's safe to agree we're all a bit sick of those hyped up things anyway?"


    Oh god...I'm dying over here. If I was an AOLer I'd be typing ROTFLMFAO over and over and over again.
    Last edited by dwh; April 16th, 2009 at 21:01 PDT.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    pittsburgh, pa
    Posts
    10,239

    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    it is a shame there are so many lowlifes out there that prey upon people and i fully agree with you on that. people like that give the whole industry a bad name and the industry has enough going against it without this kind of crap. the only way people can protect themselves is to know something about the subject before buying. i commend the op for his asking here and i do hope he comes back to read it.
    NIEL

  3. #13

    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    I enjoyed the pic of the guy holding the single crystal solar cell panel, but the panel they are selling is a polycrystalline solar panel.

    Rancher

  4. #14
    libertymtn Guest

    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Windsun View Post
    This is the link http://www.mysolarbackup.com/

    I almost choked when I saw the solar panel is only 75 watts.

    And you have to listen to the audio for a real ShamWow sales pitch - with emphasis on the sham and damned little wow.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    We want to thank everyone for their comments on this. Yes, that's the one - at my solar back up. Solutions from Science. What caught our attention was their calling it a generator. We live in a very rural area and our elec. can go off just anytime for whatever reasons. Sometimes it's for obvious reasons like bad ice storms. We live in SW Arkansas on 40 acres, and we are a mile and a half from our mailbox up on the road. The power lines back in here to us end here. We have a gasoline powered generator for these times when our power quits but the solar generator got our attention due to not using the gasoline, etc. We would not be using this all of the time - it is for power outages. Getting our money back out of it is not the issue - it's the keeping our freezer full of beef, etc. from being lost due to no electricity issue.

    We also have a well for our water and we wanted something that could run a pump for water when we don't have power. The gas generator can do this but the thought of a solar generator was intriguing. We did not know whether or not solar technology had reached a point of being able to have a system this easy and affordable. That's also why we asked here if anyone knew about this system.

    This is what the flyer says:
    "The Solar Powered Generator is an electric generator which will provide up to 1800 watts of household electricity (3600 watts peak); enough to run almost any electonic product or appliance you might connect to your wall outlet at home....it consists of a battery pack that stores electric energy, state-of-the-art electronics that convert 12 volts from the battery pack to household power, an AC power panel that contains five standard outlets, and a DC power panel that is used to run 12 volt products. The Power Source is packaged in an almost "indestructable housing" and it is easy to move around as needed."

    It also says you can plug in your refrigerator for two hours and then off for two hours.

    Ok, so the general consensus on this "solar generator" is it is a scam? Anyone ever heard of this Solutions From Science? We were also looking at this product:

    http://www.survivalunlimited.com/deepwellpump.htm

    We are also looking at a propane generator that can run the whole house but we are mainly concerned with the freezer/well/etc.

    I lived in Arizona for a while back in the early 70's and I have a sister who still lives there - and lots of friends in Tucson, Phoenix, Kingman, etc.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    SF Bay Area (California)
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    20,523

    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    The problem is that, as far as how useful it would be for you--yes it becomes a scam.

    Basically, it is just a UPS (battery+inverter) with a 75 watt solar panel attached.

    For the typical person, a 75 watt panel will produce:

    5 hours of full sun * 75 watts * 0.52 derating = 195 Watt*hours per summer day.

    Take the 195 watt*hours and divide by your desired load... Say a freezer that may average 120 watts:

    195 watt*hours / 120 watts = 1.6 hours per day of usable power

    So--for larger appliances, that is almost a useless amount of power per day from the solar panel.

    Take the 1,800 inverter and run it at full power:

    195 watt*hours / 1,800 watts = 0.108 hours or 6.5 minutes per day at full power from solar panel

    So... In the end, the system is hopelessly miss-matched between solar panels, inverter and battery storage.

    We cannot say that this system won't function--the parts are all probably just fine (the solar panel and charge controller are good units--if small).

    And if you have a specific use where you only need a very small amount of power (just enough time to save your files and turn your computer off, or a few hours of lights)--it will work for you.

    If you expect more power from the unit--then it will not work for you.

    You can price out the components on the web (such as our host's store) and see what the markup may be...

    But, in the end--you need to define your needs--how much power, both peak watts, and watts*hour. Then you can start looking at a system to fit your needs.

    In general, solar power really makes sense if you have done all of the conservation possible (it is cheaper to "save a watt vs make a watt").

    Also, solar purely as a back up power source is quite expensive. Solar panels only "make money" if they are used ~9 months or more of a year. To have a large enough system to run your house for emergency use is almost always a waste of money.

    For the rare ice storm and such--a genset with a sizable fuel source (propane in tank, natural gas, etc.) is probably a better investment.

    -Bill

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    SF Bay Area (California)
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    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Add--to compare with a "real" generator...

    A Honda eu2000i (1,600 watt 120 VAC 15 amp) will run a 400 watt load for ~15 hours on 1.1 gallons of gasoline...

    400 watts * 15 hours = 6,000 watt*hours of power

    6,000 watt hours for $900 + $2.35 for a gallon of gas. Vs $1,500 for 195 watt*hours for one day of sun worth of power.

    To call the solar package a "solar generator" is a terrible stretch when compared with a "real" generator.

    6,000/195 = 30x or more power for a day's of use for a small gasoline genset...

    -Bill

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Quetico, Ontario
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    5,024

    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Libertymt,

    After seeing what they try to sell as a "solar generator" I would be pretty skeptical of buying anything else from them.

    Tony
    Please note, being a moderator does not add any weight to my opinions 300 watts Siemens/BP panels,plus a Sun 90,, making ~400. ~30 amps into Rogue MPT-3024, 450 ah of Trojan T-105, Morningstar ts300 inverter, a Tri-Metric meter.a collection of antique generators, plus 2 Honda eu-1000i's (also a BS2512 IX controller) and assorted other stuff!

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Los Angeles, Ca.
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    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by libertymtn View Post
    We have a gasoline powered generator for these times when our power quits but the solar generator got our attention due to not using the gasoline, etc. We would not be using this all of the time - it is for power outages. Getting our money back out of it is not the issue - it's the keeping our freezer full of beef, etc. from being lost due to no electricity issue.
    Well, it won't run your freezer for long. The problem with that system is simple - it's a *small* system and they are marketing it like it's a real whole-house system. It surely is not.

    Basically, a 51 amp/hour (at 12 volts) battery won't produce power for very long if there is any significant load on it.

    (At this point everyone be warned - I'm definitely going to round off and rough calculate enough to stick in the craw of the (many) engineers around here. I KNOW that the math isn't strictly correct - I'm just making it very very simple to give the idea.)

    To make the math easy here's a quick example:

    A 120 watt bulb @ 120 volts draws 1 amp.
    That same bulb running from a 12volt system (inverted to 120) would draw 10 amps.
    Thus, the 51 amp/hour battery would run a 120w bulb for 5.1 hours.

    Theoretically... Actually, it wouldn't since the battery voltage would be low enough to cause the inverter to shut down long before the battery was fully drained. To get properly technical, you also have to figure in that the inverter draws some power (that's part of the "efficiency" that you'll see mentioned here frequently) and so that cuts down on the time as well.

    Then there's the solar panel itself. It's 75 watts. It probably puts out around 17 volts in full sunlight, but let's stick with 12 just to make the math easy.

    So, 75 watts divided by 12 volts means the panel puts out 6.25 amps or 6.25 amp/hours per hour.

    Thus it would (again, very roughly) take 8 hours of *full sunlight* to recharge the 51a/h battery if it was fully dead. Most people are lucky to get 4-5 hours a day of full sunlight on their solar panels. To do the math properly you need to look at B.B.'s post above - again, I'm just rounding off to make it easy to understand.

    My laptop draws 60 watts, so that makes the math again easy. That's .5 amps at 120volts, or 5 amps at 12v, so that little "solar generator" system would run my laptop for about 10 hours, but it would take probably two days to recharge itself enough to run my laptop for another 10 hours - IF they were nice sunny days.

    Anything less than real true *full sunlight* REALLY cuts down on how much a solar panel will put out.


    So does the thing work?
    Well sure it works, but it's a really *tiny* system. There is NO POSSIBLE WAY that it can do what they imply it can.

    Can it run all the stuff they say it can?
    Absolutely it can run all that stuff...for a few minutes anyway. And then it's gonna take a LONG time to recharge it unless the power comes back on and you can recharge it from the wall plug.


    We also have a well for our water and we wanted something that could run a pump for water when we don't have power. The gas generator can do this but the thought of a solar generator was intriguing. We did not know whether or not solar technology had reached a point of being able to have a system this easy and affordable. That's also why we asked here if anyone knew about this system.
    There are some threads on here which discuss in full and excruciating detail about powering water pumps from solar. Do a search and get ready to spend some time doing your homework.

    Once you do though you'll be the first person on your block...well in your county I guess...who knows the FACTS about solar.


    WindSun sells water pumps, so no doubt they've done the math to the last decimal point and can spec you out a good deal on a REAL solar powered well pump system.


    (I don't work for WindSun, I'm just a journeyman electrician in California who is teaching himself about solar - and these forums are a fantastic place to learn the subject.)


    Ok, so the general consensus on this "solar generator" is it is a scam?
    Well no, it's not exactly a scam. It seems like a decent *little* solar rig. The scam is in the marketing BS that they are laying on with a trowel.

    To me, this would make a very nice little backup UPS for a computer. It's too small to be of much use for anything else though. Although, for 1500 bucks I think our hosts at WindSun could sell me a system with a lot more capability.

    And it really won't do much good when the U.S. economy collapses and everyone turns into ravening psychos tearing down the power poles to burn for heat (which is what I think the marketing BS on that site is trying to say).


    We are also looking at a propane generator that can run the whole house but we are mainly concerned with the freezer/well/etc.
    For now, you are MUCH better off with a good generator. To buy a REAL solar system to give you as much power as a generator can cost quite a lot. To put in a no-BS real solar system is a bit of an investment...a bit like a new roof with new sheathing.

    These Solutions from Science guys are trying to sell you a tarpaper roof and saying it will keep the tornados out. Uh uh.

  9. #19

    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Well I wont waste any more of your time slamming that "generator", as I think that's been well covered by now. Just wanted to encourage you to look a bit more into potential solar solutions (such as a solar powered water pump for example); check out the host's store and look into piecing together a back up system of your own (with good, high quality components). NAWS is a great resource, and they have treated me quite well with the handful of purchases that I've made over the years, having dealt with several companies they are quite possibly my favorite to buy from. You asked if Solar power had become this simple and affordable, and the answer is yes... and no. All in all there are really simple, and reliable system components out there (and lots of good options, depending on ones specific needs), but things have not become anywhere near as affordable as the "generator" you were looking at. As with all good things in life... you get what you pay for...
    What you really want to look at is what loads you "need" to power during outages, and which ones you'd "like" to have powered. Calculate up how long you need to power things that you "need" like your freezer, that will tell you how much of a battery bank you'll need to support those loads, then you'll need to decide how you'll charge and maintain that size of a battery bank. You can probably charge your battery primarily from the grid, unless you're looking at long power outages where you'll want to be able to at least partially charge those batteries with solar panels.
    No doubt you'll spend more money on a reliable system that will last for many many years, but on the other hand if you're looking at this as a "back up system", that sort of implies a certain need for dependability. If you can spare a bit more cash, I think you could do quite well to add in a small back up system of batteries and a couple of PV panels. Be sure to also read all the tutorials on the NAWS site, lots of good info on how all this stuff works (if nothing else, you'll learn enough to not become victim to some other scam)
    Cheers
    Last edited by hillbilly; April 18th, 2009 at 8:36 PDT.

  10. #20
    kfinto Guest

    Default Re: Solar Generator - should we buy one?

    Quote Originally Posted by icarus View Post
    I was trying to find a polite way to say these systems were advertised to people without a clue. I guess the hope is that by the time people find this site,, they have begun to "have a clue" Hope the OP is still around to read all of this.

    Tony
    Google is such a useful tool! I am one of those people without a clue when it comes to solar power. I was really interested in the solar generator but felt if it was for real it would be big news. That's how I found this site and the bad news about the solar generator... Shame on the web site that is displaying the ad....

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