Recommendation on small solar system for minimal power
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Recommendation on small solar system for minimal power

This is a discussion on Recommendation on small solar system for minimal power within the Alternative Energy (Wind, Solar, Hydro etc) forums, part of the Off-Grid Lifestyle category; Hi, I have a small cabin out in the dessert that I am beginning to fix up in case my family needs it. One of ...

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Thread: Recommendation on small solar system for minimal power

  1. #1
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    Recommendation on small solar system for minimal power

    Hi,

    I have a small cabin out in the dessert that I am beginning to fix up in case my family needs it. One of the first things I have decided to do is get a battery bank installed and get a solar panel so I have minimal power there (will expand the power capacity in the future). I was given one used, but still good, forklift batteries: 12 volts and 150 amp hrs.

    I am now at the point of picking the solar panel set-up to start with. I will not need much power in the beginning. According to my math, I need about 50-100 Watts of solar for a few small LED lights and to run the radio for an hr every night, etc. After searching on the internet, I have narrowed my choice down to the following:

    1. The Harbor Freight 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit

    Solar Panel Kit - Save on this 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit

    2. The Windy Nation 100 Watt Solar Panel Kit

    100 Watt Solar Panel Complete Kit for RVs, Boats and Off-Grid | WindyNation.com


    The pros to the Harbor Freight Kit to me are: pre-mounted solar panels and it includes lights which I need. And the cons are: not easily expandable and I am not sure if that mount can handle the winds that my cabin can get.

    The pros to the Windy Nation Kit to me are: twice as much power as the Harbor Freight and it comes with 40 feet of solar cable so I can make the run from the panel to my battery bank. And the cons are: I have to make a mount for it because my roof faces E/W and the trees shade the southern exposure to the roof.

    I figured this would be a good place to get some advice as I bet many of you guys already have solar systems installed. For a small 50-100 Watt solar kit, which one would you go with .... or would you go with a different company's solar kit?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Do not waste your money on the harbor freight stuff.

    windynation I have never heard of. A red flag to me is their website doesn't state where they are located.
    Last edited by HuntingHawk; 01-17-2013 at 08:48 PM.

  3. #3
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    I started out with an expandable system & now have 520watts threw a 30amp controller.

    solarblvd often has good buys on 60-100watt panels. Controllers, best buy is amazon.

    I suggest deciding how large you want to go & start with a controller that will handle it.

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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntingHawk View Post
    Do not waste your money on the harbor freight stuff.

    windynation I have never heard of. A red flag to me is their website doesn't state where they are located.
    Hi HuntingHawk,

    Thanks for the recommendations.

    On the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the windynation homepage it has there address, phone # and mailing address. I actually called them and spoke to them a little bit about their kit and they did say I could pick it up in person. My Mom lives about 30 minutes from their store so if I get their kit, I will most likely pick it up in person.

    Maybe I will get windynation's 100 Watt kit with a 30 amp controller so I can expand? I will check out solarblvd to see if they have anything better. Thanks.

  6. #5
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    If you've got plenty of wind at your cabin you might consider a small wind generator, similar to those popular on sailboats.
    An acquaintance bought a 600 watt unit for his place (also very windy) and it's worked out quite well. His setup with controlled and 250AH of batteries was around $700.
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  7. #6
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    OffGridSolar, with a 30amp controller you would be able to add atleast three more 100watt panels. Keep in mind that adding panels they especially need to be close to the same output voltage. So you might want to contact the company & ask how much additional 100 watt panels cost.

    Something to consider on windturbines is they are high maintenance.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntingHawk View Post
    OffGridSolar, with a 30amp controller you would be able to add atleast three more 100watt panels. Keep in mind that adding panels they especially need to be close to the same output voltage. So you might want to contact the company & ask how much additional 100 watt panels cost.

    Something to consider on windturbines is they are high maintenance.

    OK, thanks. The additional panels are $165 dollars each but they actually have a 300 Watt Kit which I think would be perfect for my energy needs now and well into the near future. I am now thinking of purchasing the 300 Watt Kit:

    300 Watt Complete Off Grid Solar Panel Kit | WindyNation.com

    The price is only $564.98 with free shipping. And they said if I pick up any of the solar kits in person that they will take an additional %5 off.

    Once I make the purchase, I will let ya know!

    A wind turbine is an option but I think I would prefer to stick with solar to start out with.

    Thank you for your opinions and comments!

  9. #8
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    Simple Ray solar has a 100W Grape (made in USA) for $249.00. Much better deal and more rugged than the Harbor Freight system Grape Solar 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel - 36 Cell

  10. #9
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    FWIW I believe you can depend on the sun to porduce a lot more steadily than wind.

    Also FWIW I would suggest reviewing the pages of eBay. There are often decent packages
    available on eBay and sometimes free shipping to boot. I see a 300 watt system there for
    $2 a watt which does not sound bad at all.

    1800 Watt Solar Generator Complete with (2) 100 AH Batteries - Solar Generator for Home, Office, Remote Cabins & More!

    My quick trip there saw this one, 1800 watts for $2k includes battery's. Not bad but be careful of fine print - this one might be ready for 1800 watts but only has one 140 watt panel.

  11. #10
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    I started with this kit:



    It is completely homemade. The prices may have increased a bit, but to me, it's a good starter kit, especially if you are a renter or planning on being mobile. I bought a couple of strings of LED Christmas lights after the holidays when they were practically giving them away, and plan to buy more every year.

    I would also consider a small radio that has a built in solar cell and a dynamo crank for power too. I have one from Eton, but I know there are a couple other brands out there as well. You can charge it USB from an inverter, but you can also charge it on it's own. On a sunny day, my radio will sustain power with it's own solar cell. Granted, the best time to receive radio transmission (especially AM) is at night, but the more versatile your radio, the more listening you can do.

    If you're talking California/Arizona dessert, you probably don't need as much power as you are calculated to do what you want to do. I'm no expert as I'm an east coaster, but I'm pretty sure there's decent sun out there.

    I guess I'm a "start low go slow" kinda guy. Good luck with your kit though... I can't wait until the day when I prep so well for energy that I can go off the grid with it.
    survival and PrepperLite like this.

 

 
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