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Old 12-02-2016, 11:41 AM   #1
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Good buy on Solar Panels?

Mornin' Everyone,

I was poking around looking at solar options and ran across what looks to me like a pretty good deal on panels.

Home Depot has the Grape Solar 100 watt panels for $99.95 with FREE SHIPPING.

Grape Solar 100-Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel for RV's, Boats and 12-Volt Systems-GS-Star-100W - The Home Depot

I have been looking around at various panels that can be had from $0.82 to $0.99/watt before shipping. Once I figured in shipping cost I landed at $1.20-$2.00/watt.

Looks to me like $1/watt delivered to your front porch may be a pretty good buy.

Hope this is useful to someone out there

S.
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:11 PM   #2
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Not a bad price, but I wouldn't be interested. Those are BIG panels for 100W. On my bus a few hundred dollars more for panels isn't worth as much as the square footage on the roof is.
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ashandrik View Post
Not a bad price, but I wouldn't be interested. Those are BIG panels for 100W. On my bus a few hundred dollars more for panels isn't worth as much as the square footage on the roof is.
Good point. I had not looked at the dimensions.

For me, roof space is not a premium so I am not concerned if the panels are a bit large. But... 10 of those is a fair bit of real estate.
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Old 12-02-2016, 05:46 PM   #4
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The cheapest way to buy panels is to get the so-called "grid-tie" 60-cell panels. They are produced and sold in such numbers that their prices are always well below $1 a watt, and sometimes down to close to $0.50 a watt in large quantities. They are all about the same size and power - I have eight 255W Sharps, but almost any other GT panel would work instead. Just in case, I made my eight panels' support frames one inch larger than the panels themselves, so if I had to use a different panel that was slightly larger then it would still fit inside the support frame. If you use GT panels in parallel you will produce about 30 volts at 8.5 amps per panel, and a MPPT charge controller only then needs to step down the voltage by two so it will run cool. My two Morningstar CCs each take in 30V at 34A, then produce 14.7V at up to 60A for the batteries, with high-90s percent efficiency at that conversion rate. Eight GT panels occupy about 22 feet of roof length, leaving plenty more space for water-heating panels or whatever else you need.

John
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Old 12-02-2016, 09:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
The cheapest way to buy panels is to get the so-called "grid-tie" 60-cell panels. They are produced and sold in such numbers that their prices are always well below $1 a watt, and sometimes down to close to $0.50 a watt in large quantities. They are all about the same size and power - I have eight 255W Sharps, but almost any other GT panel would work instead. Just in case, I made my eight panels' support frames one inch larger than the panels themselves, so if I had to use a different panel that was slightly larger then it would still fit inside the support frame. If you use GT panels in parallel you will produce about 30 volts at 8.5 amps per panel, and a MPPT charge controller only then needs to step down the voltage by two so it will run cool. My two Morningstar CCs each take in 30V at 34A, then produce 14.7V at up to 60A for the batteries, with high-90s percent efficiency at that conversion rate. Eight GT panels occupy about 22 feet of roof length, leaving plenty more space for water-heating panels or whatever else you need.

John

Thanks John for the info!!

Could you give us some links or suppliers? I looked quite a bit and the best I managed to find was a 340 watt panel for $250. Not a bad deal but the shipping was another $125.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-02-2016, 09:36 PM   #6
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Do you stand these up on a angle or solid mount them flat.
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Old 12-02-2016, 10:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Thanks John for the info!!

Could you give us some links or suppliers? I looked quite a bit and the best I managed to find was a 340 watt panel for $250. Not a bad deal but the shipping was another $125.

Thanks again.
To save on shipping costs which can be considerable for any truck freight, you really should buy from local suppliers. I was lucky to find a company about 50 miles away, Solartec in Northridge CA, that had a pallet of Grade B Sharps. These were cosmetic blem panels, such as having some cells a slightly different color than others - big deal! I bought eight panels for $0.81 a watt: if I had bought more the price would have been ten cents a watt cheaper. And because eight panels just fit in my car, but only just, I could bring them home myself. Grade Bs are a good deal - they're still UL-listed and have guaranteed power output, but have a shorter warranty which doesn't worry me at all. I think most panel warranties are voided if they're mounted on a vehicle anyway. My Sharps are made in USA, and have good strong frames suitable for use on a vehicle. So far, so good!

John
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Old 12-02-2016, 10:13 PM   #8
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Do you stand these up on a angle or solid mount them flat.
I first made a 12"-wide walkway between my two roof hatches, then the support frames that the panels sit inside are each hinged to the walkway. Each panel can sit down against the roof at 21 degrees below horizontal, or can be raised up to level, or to 21, 33 or 45 degrees up. This way I can have half my panels raised to the ideal angle for summer or winter sun, and the other half are still better than being flat such as on most mobile installations. Each side of four panels is wired in parallel and feeds its own Morningstar charge controller that charges its own bank of (eventually) four golfcart batteries. This means that I have effectively two separate systems running in parallel, so if anything were to fail or need work I would still keep at least half my power.

John
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Old 12-02-2016, 11:16 PM   #9
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Not a bad deal.

I do fine with 200w solar setup from renogy. Have yet to run out of power and i run led lights, led tv, charge cell, cordless drill, laptop, cd player, small stereo. Very fun to sit inside during a storm and watch lightning take out the neighborhood power while all the bus stuff is still running unphazed.
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