Solar panel Pricing

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 14:51
ThreadID: 65327 Views:3583 Replies:8 FollowUps:11
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My understanding is that the better quality solar panels will deliver more amps over a day, that is they begin working earlier and work later. So my question is are two sharp 80 watt panels for $ 1270 a better buy than two 65 watt BP panels for $1200. Two 80 watt BP panels are $ 1450 The Sharp panels appear the better buy as there is a extra 30 watts to make up for any loss of efficiency. Is there any way other than peak output that would show how much better a BP panel works or is the extra cost for a brand name ?
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 16:08

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 16:08
All other things being equal, those Sharps are lower cost per watt and therefore better value than the BPs.
Anything under $9 per watt is OK.
Of course, neither will give the rated watts charge into your batteries because performance is measured at a higher voltage and under conditions rarely met.

Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: ABR - SIDEWINDER - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 16:14

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 16:14
Do you have the part numbers ?

I can give you a better opinion if I know this.

Regards

Derek from ABR
AnswerID: 345524

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 19:08

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 19:08
sorry no part numbers as i am usually quoted a brand watts price but it sounds like there are different specifications within a given model size ?
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Reply By: Member - Marco T (VIC) - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 16:18

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 16:18
Hi kwk,

I am researching this myself now. I am completely confused and all the experts say different things. You can get panels under $7 watt if you look around.
However I am dubious about the quality of some on the market. I have decided to stick with quality or known brand and hope they stick by their warranty. To me sharp should be fine but I am no expert.

Cheers

Marco
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Follow Up By: a convict - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 17:54

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 17:54
..ditto for me. Re: "I am dubious about the quality".

..can I add, I am really, really, dubious about the ' prices '.

..apples for apples, take a world known brand, say '100w' and say 'Kyocera', the prices quoted are all over the place. Got to wonder!

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Reply By: Rolly - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 17:33

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 17:33
A straight forward calculation of watts/dollar is not necessarily the best measure of performance. You must make a thorough stocktake of your needs, circumstances and intended travel locations.
My personal experience of various models has brought me down firmly in favour of UniSolar 64watt panels.
Mounted flat on the roof they will produce at lower solar angles, they are much less affected by heat, work well even when partly shaded, are constructed of laminated materials with no glass to break, the collector itself had a degree of flexibility to absorb a certain amount of impact damage without failure, and they are quite lightweight so that you can make a portable set up relatively simply.
One down side is that they are a bit bigger in area for the same nominal output. That, however, tends to be minimised by the overall better efficiency.
I had a single panel mounted flat on my MH in Europe in which I lived full time for nearly 4 years, with very long periods of being stationary, without ever hooking up to the mains supply, and never needing to start the motor to charge up.
OK, I admit to being an energy miser. My average consumption in a small flat with all mod. cons. is less than $1 a day including the meter fee. Parsimony personified, that's me :D
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ (wa) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:47

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:47
Rolly replied: " One down side is that they are a bit bigger in area for the same nominal output.
That, however, tends to be minimised by the overall better efficiency"


When a direct comparison (numerically) between Unisolar and Kyocera panels, of about the *exact same Wattage capacity* you get these results.

Unisolar 64 Watt & Kyocera 65 Watt solar panels, yes just one (1) Watt difference.

Unisolar = 3.9 Amps per Square Mtr
Kyocera = 5.4 Amps per Square Mtr

It can be clearly seen the Kyocera solar panel puts out more Amps per square Mtr, this equates to far more "efficiency" from the Kyocera solar panel when comparing same sized solar panels.

An 80 Watt Sharp panel is 4.65 Amps, this equates to ~7 Amps per Square mtr.

64 Wt Unisolar $714 = $183 per Amp per Sq Mtr
65 wt Kyocera $849 = $157 per Amp per Sq Mtr
80 wt Sharp $970 = $138 per Amp per Sq Mtr
(prices shown are recommended retail)

The price of the panel IS relevant to the performance of the panel.
Expensive solar panels are not !!

I've travelled extensively in the north of Australia and never, ever seen a Unisolar panel used in a *commercial grid battery bank* (Telstra etc) as the solar power supply source.
You have to wonder why the large companies who specify the tech specs don't use them in these large commercial installations if they are as good as some wish to believe, as yes they are less expensive (per panel) to buy, than Mono-crystalline, Multi-crystalline or Poly-crystalline solar panels.

Mainey . . .
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Follow Up By: Rolly - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 12:36

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 12:36
Interesting indeed, Mainey, but what does it all mean in terms of how much bang (battery recharging/day, durability, convenience etc.) you get for your buck.
And why you feel that it is necessary to take such an adversarial tone is quite beyond me.
And why you find it necessary to quote comparisons of purely theoretical capacity without any reference to actual in field trails I find somewhat confusing.
Do you have some vested interest here that you have to defend?
I was merely stating my own experience of actual usage in very variable conditions and with a slightly tongue-in-cheek approach to my tendency to be very careful with my money.
By the way, whenever was the simple fact that a large commercial enterprise made a particular choice relevant to a small private user. Inter-proprietorial deals have far more influence on corporate decisions than mere efficiencies.
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ (wa) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:37

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:37
Rolly, I'm sorry if you feel it is written in an "adversarial tone" I was just putting some manufacturers numerical facts in print, I'm not aware of another way of doing it that would present the relevant information, umm humorously :-)

As to "what does it all mean" I think the numbers show that clearly, but if you don't understand I'm prepared to answer questions for you, 0NLY if it's relevant to my post!!

As to your comment "you find it necessary to quote comparisons of *purely theoretical capacity* without any reference to actual in field trails I find somewhat confusing"
Rolly, the panel manufacturers nominate the capacity of their panels, they have all been tested and comply with ADR's where stated, I used their nominated test result numbers for all information, if you believe any manufacturers capacity numbers are incorrect please feel free to advise us here first, before you tell them.

Yes, I 'presently' have no vested or financial interests :-))

As far as the use of Unisolar panels by "large commercial enterprise" I just put the information there for your thought, I'm positive somewhere in Australia, in just one board room, there must be someone who would use Unisolar panels to power grid systems if he could get the same performance as they get from Mono-crystalline, Multi-crystalline or Poly-crystalline solar panels, even with the lesser purchase price of the Unisolar panels.

Mainey . . .
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Reply By: Bryan (WA) - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 18:15

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 18:15
HI kwk56pt,
something else to remember is that sloar panels are made up of different types of materials depending on what you buy - which then produce more power under better/worse conditions depending on the solar panels make.
you may want to buy a solid unit made of monocrystalline or a flexable type...
have a read on this web site for more info.
http://www.12volt.com.au/
they list many different brands and the different types available - with links to other web sites for more detailed information.
hope this helps

regards
bryan
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Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 19:13

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 19:13
thanks I will read that although I though the main difference was between unisolar and the others. I notice the Kyocera panels have a small physical size for their ouput.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 19:21

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 19:21
kwk Kyocera Solar also have 25 year warranty - which we called on last year. They were very keen to help, replacing four panels because two of the set were faulty.
Motherhen

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Reply By: Ianw - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 19:59

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 19:59
Why pay so much? Dont be conned by the old retailers saying "you get what you pay for." It is not always so. If you want value for money do a bit of research. Examples --

Derek

fridge and solar

calculations

Ian
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Reply By: Maîneÿ (wa) - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 23:31

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 23:31
kwk56pt,
First you have to ascertain what you must put into your battery system on a daily (24 hours) basis.
Then when you look at the panels your interested in, check first the thickness, rigidity and quality of the panels frame and also the quality of the fittings holding the frame together, are they stainless steel screws countersunk into the frame or just normal screws sitting hard against the aluminium frame, the method of attaching the cables to the Junction box and how waterproof the junction box really is.

When you have discounted some panels because the quality you can actually see and touch, is so much less than some others, then forget them, concentrate on the panels that you can see are much better made, because what you can't see will also be lesser quality by comparison.

The comparison from this point on is now difficult, because you will only know the MAXIMUM Wattage available from the panel in peak conditions as tested.

Some panels do start supplying power before others, they will work in very low light conditions, so your battery recharges much faster, that is the result you NEED.

The best performance panels are a bit more expensive and if some one tells you their 'cheap' panel is a better panel than the most expensive, just ask for a working comparison.

The idea is to put as many Amps into your battery system (in a 24 hour day) as possible.

To compare $$ per Watt, is ONLY relevant IF both panels are putting *exactly* the same number of Watts continuously and equally into the battery system, this I believe I can guarantee will not be happening with two *different* types of solar panels.

Comparing numbers is also unrealistic
Example:
64 Watt - 16.6 Volt - 3.90 Amps MAXIMUM = Unisolar
80 Watt - 17.6 Volt - 4.55 Amps MAXIMUM = BP Solar

But, both panels will START producing current at different times of the morning, depending on the prevailing light conditions, therefore one puts in more power on a shady day than the other.

I can assure you of one thing, you will be more confused as you look further, UNLESS you get a direct comparison test between two panels simultaneously.

If you stick with a proven 'brand name' panel and the higher performance panels with-in their range, you will be very happy.
In my opinion, the lower of the two panels pictured below would outperform all *similar* panels in a 24 hour period, in a direct comparison test, it looks nothing like any 'normal' Solar panel too.

Then you have to consider the Solar regulator, will it have all the benefits you need?

Image Could Not Be FoundMainey . . .

AnswerID: 345580

Follow Up By: Rolly - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 00:48

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 00:48
Gotta luv them amophous cells 8D
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Follow Up By: Rolly - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 00:50

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 00:50
It's late, better go bye-byes.
Read "....amorphous cells." :C
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Reply By: Member - Lance S (VIC) - Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 12:49

Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 12:49
kwk56pt,

I bought 2 x 80 watt BP solar panels from Jaycar in Frankston about 4 years with 10 metres of 8 ( i think, can't find the invoice) gauge twin wire with a charge controller regulator that gives you all readings you need, such as how much watts, current, voltage is going into your battery even 2 days before. Part no. for the regulator is MP3129. All up it cost me about $1700.
I had a water proof/heavy duty bag made for the panels as i put on adjustable stands made from the old no standing sign legs.

cheers,

Lance
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Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 17:26

Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 17:26
Thanks for your reply Lance, did the two 80 watt panels support your 110 litre fridge without any additional power while camped or were you touring rather than in a camp for say a week or more. Just out of interest what auxillary battery power did you have ? I really just need enough solar for a 40 litre engle and a versalite and when I take 2 engels on a remote camp I was planning to use a 12 volt petrol powered charger to support the solar.
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Follow Up By: Member - Lance S (VIC) - Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 18:00

Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 18:00
It ran the 110lt fridge which on most occasions in the tray on a slide with Trojan 105 deep cell. If we are camped for more than 3 days which we have been without running the car i plug the panels into the anderson plug and charges the battery. When we do take it out it runs off the c/t battery, which also includes lights and dvd player for the kids etc. Most we have camped without starting the car is 6 days which the fridge was out and connected to the c/t battery.
For a 40lt, one 80w should be ample, but in the past threads there are graphs on how much power is needed for the size of your engle.Image Could Not Be Found

cheers,

Lance
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