Solar Components for Canadians

RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348 ✭✭
For my fellow Canadians:

Have you found any reasonably priced Canadian suppliers for Panels, controllers, inverters and ancillary bits and pieces? There certainly seems to be a wider choice from US-based suppliers, but from my experience in the Marine Aquarium hobby, we tend to get raped on shipping and brokerage fees; particularly when using UPS/FedEx. USPS seems to be better, but I don't think that I'd want a panel shipped with them.

My winter project will be to design (with your help) and purchase a new solar system for my off-grid camp and I'm trying to get an idea of where I can source the various components.

So far, the best Cdn prices for panels that I've found are from solarenergydc.com - $2.20Cdn/Watt for panels in the 130-140W range and $1.60Cdn/Watt for panels in the 24V 240-300W range. Most of their controllers appear to be Chinese cheapies.

Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Jerry

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians

    In a word, no.
    We get ripped off up here and no two ways about it. If you are buying a large lot it's worthwhile to bring it in from the U.S., endless border hassles and all. Canada's vicious taxation makes it impossible for retailers to be competitive.

    If anyone does know of any retailer up here whose prices aren't obscene and the merchandise not no-name junk I'd like to hear about it too. As it is you have a better selection in Ontario than we do in British Columbia (this applies to just about everything, not just solar :p ). You even have incentive to install grid-tie.
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians

    Unfortunately, in my case, grid-tie is not an option. My camp is in Quebec and as the crow flies, hydro is available about 1km away. However, Hydro-Quebec wants ~$300K to bring it into our cluster of 15 cottages and then an additional ~$15k per cottage. It would have to be an all or nothing deal for all of the cottagers and at ~$35k per, it's not going to happen.

    Looks like I might have to get something set up with UPS in Upstate NY, and then have everything shipped there :(
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians

    Yes indeed; $300,000 will buy a lot of off-grid solar, even at Canadian prices! ;)
    So would $15,000 per cottage.
    Mine cost "only" $8,000 back in 2008. Minimal, but it does what it should. Needs more panels, of course. :D
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians
    Yes indeed; $300,000 will buy a lot of off-grid solar, even at Canadian prices! ;)
    So would $15,000 per cottage.

    From a reliability and cost perspective, a community system makes sense compared to individual cottage systems, but you need to look at the dynamics of the group to see whether metering would be needed to prevent hogging the resource, etc, and how maintenance responsibilities would be allocated.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians
    inetdog wrote: »
    From a reliability and cost perspective, a community system makes sense compared to individual cottage systems, but you need to look at the dynamics of the group to see whether metering would be needed to prevent hogging the resource, etc, and how maintenance responsibilities would be allocated.

    Well if you are volunteering to put up the $300,000 .... :p
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians
    inetdog wrote: »
    From a reliability and cost perspective, a community system makes sense compared to individual cottage systems, but you need to look at the dynamics of the group to see whether metering would be needed to prevent hogging the resource, etc, and how maintenance responsibilities would be allocated.

    Funny you should mention that. At our cottagers association meeting last month, someone mentioned the idea of doing something like that with a combined solar-wind farm. There would be a significant logistical nightmare in implementing it. For one, the cottages are spread out over a distance of 3-4km, so distribution would likely be expensive. In addition, two of the cottagers are sunbirds - they spend early spring to late fall at the cottage and then migrate to Florida for the winter, the rest are mostly weekenders. I haven't checked into it, but I'd imagine that large, reliable wind turbines would not come cheap to purchase, install, and maintain.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,151 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians

    here is a small outfit that I found that has several offices N of the 49 th, , prices were/are? a bit lower than the rest I found and carry some good brands

    http://www.wegosolar.com/
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians
    Rybren wrote: »
    Funny you should mention that. At our cottagers association meeting last month, someone mentioned the idea of doing something like that with a combined solar-wind farm. There would be a significant logistical nightmare in implementing it. For one, the cottages are spread out over a distance of 3-4km, so distribution would likely be expensive. In addition, two of the cottagers are sunbirds - they spend early spring to late fall at the cottage and then migrate to Florida for the winter, the rest are mostly weekenders. I haven't checked into it, but I'd imagine that large, reliable wind turbines would not come cheap to purchase, install, and maintain.

    You are correct on all points.

    With independent systems you have the redundancy factor; you can take your batteries to your neighbour or borrow his generator (be sure to bring it back!) et cetera.

    If they were tied together, there could be arguments about several points.

    We have a community association here. Even though it would be possible for me to install a central power system for the five cabins I wouldn't do it even if asked. I know all too well who would be on the hook for every aspect of it, including the land to place the panels on (ours is the best site). There's enough difficulty in maintaining the road. :roll: Oh do not ask about the bloody road!
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians
    There's enough difficulty in maintaining the road. :roll: Oh do not ask about the bloody road!

    Our association owns the private road giving access to the lake. Although this is only my first year with the camp, things seem to be working well. If anyone works on the road, the association pays them $15/hr for their time. Our dues for this year were $150. We just put out a request for proposals to see what someone with a grader and brush scicle would charge to maintain the road (no winter plowing).

    westbranch - thanks for the link.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,151 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians
    Rybren wrote: »
    We just put out a request for proposals to see what someone with a grader and brush scicle would charge to maintain the road (no winter plowing).

    If the road does not have ditches/culverts yet, this is the time to have it evaluated and done with a 'cat', then grade it up
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348 ✭✭
    Re: Solar Components for Canadians

    I believe that most of the road has been in place for 15 to 20 years. All of the culverts and ditches are well established. The maintenance mainly consists of grading - especially on the rather steep hills and clearing the brush away from the sides.

    The locals have been grading the road using an old sit-on grader that was built to be drawn by a horse team. They've modified it so that it can be pulled by a pickup.
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