Your Questions About Solar Panel Kits

Lizzie asks…

Portable Solar Panels – why are they so expensive?

Hi,

I've been reading about solar panels and different approaches – buy ready made, make your own etc and there's one question I'm not able to answer or find an answer to – why are the ready made ones so expensive (smallest from £800)?

For example:

you can get 36 solar panel pv cells for around £40 on Ebay:
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/36-3×6-solar-cell-kit-DIY-solarpanel-/280645585174?pt=UK_Gadgets&hash=item4157c7c916
That's about as many as you get on a standard ready made panel: http://www.solargadgetstore.co.uk/solar-power-station-60-w.html

next thing you need is a battery to store the power. If I'm looking at the right thing, then the prices start around £50 for a 12V battery:
http://batterymegastore.co.uk/products/group/?c=Battery&a=Renewable+Power

then there's some wires, a skeleton / rack to hold the panel and some circuitry.

My guess is that most of these things are made in Asia for a fragment of the cost they are sold for, so how does the final price amount to £800 and more? Fat margin? Freight costs?

if anyone can answer this, that would be of great help.

thanks.
this is the £800 ready made set I'm referring to:

http://www.solargadgetstore.co.uk/solar-power-station-60-w.html

It's DIY, so no labour in the price, it's pretty much only the parts I described.

ssadmin answers:

You can go to a hardware store for the wire and parts for the frame.

You can use a automotive or marine (Deep Cycle) battery.

You will need a 12v power inverter to power your ac devices.

The real expensive part is the solar panels themselves. Unfortunately is is costly due to the manufacturing process. The end result is when you add up everything, you are paying twice to three times the cost of purchasing the electric from the electric company.

Chris asks…

Help with getting low amp reading with my solar panel array?

I had my solar panel set up for a couple months now and just started to monitor the power output. Right now I have a 90 watt harbor freight kit, and 2 80 watt mono and 2 80 watt poly panels. All are wired in parallel so it should add to about 410 watts at around 20 volts right? I know voltage drop for battery bank after charge controller. So it converts it down to 13 volts. I have an amp meter wired in series before the charge controller and at peek time I only see it reach 14 amp. 14 x 13 volts is 182 watts I am only getting out of the panels. So I cam losing almost 60% of my potential power output from the panels!!!! Why is that? I thought that the amps do not change only the voltage drop for the batteries, so my meter should read almost 20 amps. Which would be 20 x 13 volts = 260 watts output from panels. That is only around 40% of power loss. I am so confused and not happy with the results I am reading here with the amount of money I spent for all of this. Thanks for every ones time and help.

ssadmin answers:

If it were me, I'd start by trying to isolate whether it was one or more of the panels. I would disconnect each panel, in turn, and wire it directly across the ammeter. Don't worry, a short circuit will not damage the panel. My guess is that the Harbor Freight is putting out way below the advertised power. The other panels should have a power warranty on them, so would put out reasonable current.

Also, being that this is winter, are your panels pointed directly at the sun? We lose 30% of our power in winter, just due to tilt that doesn't match the low inclination of the sun.

Steven asks…

How can I power a 5volt WiFi repeater with a 12volt Car Solar Panel?

I want to extend my WiFi so I can sit at my pond and surf the net while fishing, However its around a corner and below a hill. SO I was thinking of having a repeater connected to two cantennas. I have a car 12 volt Solar Panel, it has an LED light that pulses when it sends electricity to the car cigarette lighter. It can be found at harbor frei&ht. I also have some 12 volt batteries that go into backup UPS. Any Ideas how I would hook up the repeater to the batteries, and convert the 12 volts to the needed 5? The repeater would need one amp. I can solder and have a very basic understanding of electronics. I'd love a kit or something. I would put the repeater and the batteries in some sort of container to protect from rain. Anyways, thanks ahead.
I have some old pc power supplies, I wonder if I can strip what I need from them since, they have 3, 5 and 12 volt dc out. hmm.. Thanks
UPDATE: I found a decent instructable that show how. Thanks everyone.

ssadmin answers:

You can buy a voltage regulator that will do what you want with a very simple circuit. Here's an example:

http://www.fairchildsemi.com/ds/LM/LM7805.pdf

Sounds like a fun project. Good luck!

Nancy asks…

Solar panel kit that will charge a batterie that will power 4 lights all night?

hoping not to spend a lot of money

ssadmin answers:

Harbor Freight has a kit, batteries, solar panel, inverter, and lights for about $500

Betty asks…

What is way to advertise for selling solar power products ? For example , Solar panels , Battery, Inverter,?

We have some amazing solar power generation kit , which is as small as a small mat and can be utilize for charging mobile, iPhone, laptop etc Very flexible fold able and can be bought online.

ssadmin answers:

Talk to the guys at SatHookup.

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