solar panel ratings

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by rsbhunter, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    First, thanks for the info on TnAndy's set up, and the multimeter.....Now, NOT to open a can of worms, but what are the top 6 or 7 solar panel brands that people here would spend there money on, from best of the best, to one that is a reliable, and dependable panel, but in a lower price range (per watt, or by panel price). The reason i am curious about this, is that i have been told to buy and use brands x,y, and a few people that i trust..and while these are the top panels in use by alot of people, i read where a brand that i hadn't considered, was actually stated to be very dependable, and sturdy panel, at a good deal lower price per watt(NOT chinese). Not looking for snob appeal, or Harbor Freight panels, just the ones sold by the companies we all know about.....Plus, this would be a BIG help to noobies (me) that come to this site because they were told ( by "experts" on other sites) that they needed to drop $30,000 on a system for a 200sq ft. weekend get away cabin!!!!!!!!! Thanks, Russell
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    TnAndy, and Nadja, are the Monkeys with the best handle on Solar Panels... That I know of... My thing is Gensets and Inverter/Charger Systems....I will be doing Solar this summer, but do not have the research ready for that project, just yet. ...... YMMV......
  3. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

  4. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    "Best" is really a subjective call. Basically, you have to come down to a couple things, IMHO.

    1. Decide if you want American made, or are willing to take a foreign made panel.....that said, I'd probably avoid anything from Harbor Freight as the lowest of the low in terms of most everything else in the store. If you're just playing/experimenting, they might be fine.....but if you're serious about power production, buy serious stuff.

    2. Try to guess ( and it IS a guess ) which company will be around for the next 10-20 years in case you do have a warranty claim. That is probably impossible, since BP, who have been in the solar biz for 40 years, just announced they are out of it. Most likely, take ANY warranty with a heavy grain of salt.

    3. Price per me, that is a BIG deal....I'm NOT paying a buck/watt more for a panel simply because they claim higher efficiency, for example, because unless your mounting space is severely limited, it simply doesn't matter....put up more panels cheaper.

    I personally went with Solar World, but let me add initial set of 175w panels (18) I needed to add 2 more to this past year.....well, turns out SW quit making their 175, going to mostly over 200w panels. SO, I ended up finding a Chinese knockoff that was right at the same size, specs, etc, as the SW's I already had on the array, and bought two of them to finish out. AM WELL pleased by the output so far, in fact, they slightly exceed the original SW panels.....which are 3 years old now, and that alone may be the difference....but for the price ( less than 500 bucks ) compared to the 800/ea I paid for the SW, I'd have to seriously consider them from the get go.

    Here is a website by the State of CA that rates most every solar panel made in terms of the STC rating AND the way more close to real world output, the PTC rating, so you can compare panels when pricing them as to what you can reasonably expect to see in terms of production.

    List of Eligible SB1 Guidelines Compliant Photovoltaic Modules - Go Solar California
  5. mr.nobody

    mr.nobody Monkey+

    at the moment the racks i have grid tied to my house is 36 of these. 100W Poly Solar panel - LaVieSolar INC

    i have been happy with mine and they are two years old at the moment and still kicking about 97% of thier power rating. i'll be adding 14 more of them to my bank this year to finish it out. i also have 12 of them hooked up to a battery bank using a outback 80 amp charge controler.

    i have found them to be a pretty good bang for the buck. i know some people who have used these Solar Panel 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Silicon PV and are getting great output from them.

    the town i live in has a company that makes 24 volt 230 watt panels. the problem is i can buy 4 of the la vie solar panels for what they want for just one of thiers. the other thing was when thier main installer told me that when he hooked a inverter up to a panel it smoked it. i asked if he had put a 12 volt inverter up to it. he said yes. and why did he not have it hooked upto a battery bank instead of straight to the inverter?
  6. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Hello RSBhunter and welcome to the site. You can buy Evergreen solar panels right now for .78 a watt, providing you buy 20 at a time. Works out to about $1.00 per watt with the shipping. I run Kyroceras, Sharp, Mitisibishie and a couple of BP panels. Your cabin sounds interesting, however , size won't matter. What will matter is the amount of elec you will need to run full time, part time etc. You really need to make a list of what you will be running as stated above and post it here. Also the aprox run times. With that , we should be able to put you in the right saddle. Can you learn to live with a very small elect. draw, or do you need the big city everything elec you can buy type place ? Also, if you have kids living with you that need to have their computers, games , tv etc on all the time. Things like that will make a large amount of difference in what you really need. Your turn to kick the ball down the street !
  7. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Some inverters do not require a battery bank, however, the current going into the inverter IE" 24volt needs to match up to his inverter which you said was a 12volt. Wrong ! Voltage needs to be all the same or things go very very wrong very fast.
  8. mr.nobody

    mr.nobody Monkey+

    exactly. you'd like to think the lead installer would know things like that wouldn't you?
  9. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Seems hard to believe because those LaVie Solar panels ( whatever brand they are...Chinese no name of some kind ) seem sorta pricey now at $259, or $2.59/watt.

    Looking at this website, you can buy all kinds of 200+watt panels for under $1.50/ fact, EVERY panel listed is less than 2.59/w

    Solar Panels - Best Prices

    If you're gonna set up a larger system, like 2-3kw and up, you definitely want to go with a higher voltages also.....step up to 24v at least, if not 48v. Cuts WAY down on battery to inverter wire size and fusing requirements.
    dataman19 and hank2222 like this.
  10. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Here is another link that compares most of the solar panels and prices. Be sure to realize that some are listed in pallet's only while others are sold one at a time. You will also find just about everything you need relating to solar.

    Solar Panels - Best Prices
  11. mr.nobody

    mr.nobody Monkey+

    i already have a 3600 watt system grid tied to the house. i'll go ahead and order 14 more of the 100 watt panels next month to finish it out at 5000 watts.

    your not talking to a rookie. i've had the 3600 watt system for two years now. i also have 6 windturbines,8 harbor frieght solar panel kits and a 1200 watt bank of 100 watt panels run to a battery bank that is twelve 2 volt batteries. two banks of 12 volts. i know the higher voltage is better, but i'm keeping it 12 volt becuase you can get about anything you need in 12 volt.

    here is the power inverter i have at the moment. 2483

    i want a pure sine wave that large, but damn they are a bit pricey. we just use this inverter when the power is out due to storms in the winter. i have used it twice since i got it two years ago when i set up this system. everything i have now will be going with us when we build our berm home in a few years.
  12. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama Monkey++

    I looked into solar for the house Im building and to get it off the grid I figured it would cost around 110,000$, and would likley have a high maintance cost also. So I figure wood for heat and cooking if necessary, good insulation, and modern appliances would be best, althought I hate the power bill.
  13. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Just a NOTE, here....

    10Kw Inverter, supplied by 12 Vdc Battery at full load would
    require 833.3 Amps.

    I suspect that if anyone actually tried that,
    they would reduce the ANY Home Battery Bank into a pile of
    molten Lead, in about 5 minutes, and any interconnecting wiring,
    unless they were 4" x 4" Pure Silver BussBars, into melted copper all over
    the floor.

    ...... YMMV.....
    TnAndy likes this.
  14. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    OK....10,000w out = at 12v in =833 amps input

    WHAT the heck kinda fuse are you using between the battery bank and the inverter, and WHAT size wire ?? It would take 500MCM cable for that kind of connection, even on a couple feet of run.

    LOVE to see a photo of the setup....

    Heck, and while I'm asking....what inverter are you using to grid tie ? The one you listed isn't a grid tie inverter, so...........
  15. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Nah, unless you're a real power hog, you can set up a pretty decent system for 20-30k, assuming you go wood heat, propane for cooking/dryer, etc.
    larryinalabama likes this.
  16. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama Monkey++

    Whats the future in Solar? I know prices of equiptment has come down in the last 5 years, but has techonology improved very much?
  17. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    My guess is there ain't much future at current will always be a little oddball technology for geeks like us that look at things long range, or folks that have no choice about getting grid least in this country. The average person is never gonna shell out 10-15k it would take even for a grid tie system w/o batteries.

    The only reason I did it was prep, for a day when the grid might go away forever....and the fact it pays my electric bill in the mean time is merely icing on the cake.
    larryinalabama, Gafarmboy and BTPost like this.
  18. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    EXCELLENT info!!!!!!!

    Thats why i came to this site!!! Thanks for the links to the sites. And for a ballpark idea, there will be two adults in the is not possible to get grid, so solar is my only option. I'm planning, and hoping to keep it in the $10,000 range, and it will still be bought in stages....I'm just a woking man......My plan is to go with 1500-2000 watts, with all Outback charge controllers and inverter, run 24 volt into 110 cabin wiring,and have a battery bank(to be determined) that will be in line with the rest of the system, and my needs. And most importantly, live within my systems capability.....I honestly know that you won't (for very long) abuse your systems capacity, and have a system for very long!!!!!!!! But please keep the thoughts and critique coming....rather do it right, than twice!!!!! Thanks, rsbhunter
    BTPost likes this.
  19. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member


    Read this link on a cabin a buddy of mine built, I put the solar in it....something along this line would do you, and I think he has about 7-8k in it for a 1450w system ( and could easily expand it to to 2-3k with just some additional panels ).

    That Outback "power center" is a really NICE package deal.....hang on the wall, plug in the wires and you're in business. First time I'd used one, and I HIGHLY recommend them.
  20. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    TnAndy cabin retreat

    Read the posts, sounds about exactly what i'm looking to do....Now, for the hard questions, i had originally planned on either Kryocera, sharp, or Sanyo panels......The name i had read that are supposed to be decent panels are "Canadian Solar"....but these are made in China...and the "Solar" brand at the links you guy's were nice enough to supply, show them for i think .78 a watt!!!!!!!!!!!! But if they are junk, then still a bad deal at half that price. I also worry that, with mfg's going out of business, well, when supply dwindles, prices go up.....want to get my panels before something happens and they jump to $5.00 a watt again! ( And that's the way my luck runs!) Thanks again, and whats the thoughts on those two panels, or the brands...rsbhunter
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