[aprssig] Cheap Solar Panels

Brian B. Riley brianbr at mac.com
Sun Feb 25 14:42:13 CST 2007

  I look at these discussions and I keep shaking my head.  I live off  
the grid ... I started using Solarex panels and I still have the 5  
panels I bought nearly twenty years ago. I later switched to Siemens/ 
ARCO SP-75s and have 16 of them that are 5-12 years old.

  It really comes down to "ya gets what ya pays for!"

  I paid, by your metric, just about $6/watt for the Solarex panels.  
They were warranted to withstand 100 mph in quartering winds, direct  
impact of 1 inch hail, and to put out at least 90% of spec for 10  
years (the new warranty is 90% of spec for 10 years, 80% of spec for  
20 years). Right now, 19+ years old they are all still putting out at  
90-95% of  their original specifications (when I got them new they  
were putting out at 110-115% of spec). This performance level is  
after 19+ years at 1600 feet on the Western slope of Mount  
Mansfield ... steady winds at times of 30-60 mph, gusts as high as  
107mph. Temperatures that have reached as low as -34F and as high as  
106F. Snow rain, hail and ice. At 9 years and 10 months, I noticed  
that two the original panels seemed to have low output. I called  
Solarex and got an RMA, sent them to Maryland and I got two brand new  
panels back, no further questions asked. The heating/cooling cycles  
through the years had caused several solder joints to go cold and/or  
open up.

What you get for $2 /watt will have neither the performance, physical  
soundness, reliability nor warranty backup those Solarex panels had.  
Penny wise and pound foolish is looking at just the price. What's it  
worth to you to be able to put them up and more or less forget about  
them for years on end? If you are going to be laying out that kind of  
money why not do it right? I know its not cheap, that is why I built  
my system here buying 1 and 2 panels at a time. It took me 12 years  
to assemble the arrays I have now.

cheers ... 73 de brian  riley,  n1bq , underhill center, vermont
   <http://web.mac.com/brianbr/>  Tech Blog
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On Feb 25, 2007, at 11:09 AM, Kriss A Kliegle wrote:

>    Unfortunately they're not cheap, even at HarborFreight they get  
> $8/watt!!! At Solar-electric.com (Northern Arizona Wind and Sun)  
> you can get large panels for $4.70/watt. Still, no bargin though.
>    I purchased all of mine used from Ebay and local word of mouth  
> sales for about $2.00/watt. You just have to look around at those  
> Want-Ad type magazines at the local quick mart store, because I've  
> purchased them from there too!
> Kriss KA1GJU
> KA1GJU-3 Solar Powered WX digi
> W1WQM/R Solar/Wind Powered Voice 2M Repeater
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