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Old 10-31-2008, 08:13 AM   #1
CQ
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I've read a thousand times over and agree that solar can be a great addition to any motorhome, and of course for boondocking, it's almost manditory. But every post I have seen starts out with "We only spent $6,000 to get started...". I mean that's not ridiculous considering the payback you'll get, but it there an alternative? Is there even a place to get used panels, or do they retain so much value you night as well buy new? Unless physically destroyed they don't wear out, so you'd think by now that there would be some type of surplus. perhaps i'm off a bit, just seems to me that somewhere should be a source that can provide lower cost panels. Or will there be a flood of the older panels once the new flexible stuff comes out?

Anyway, it's just a thought and I figured this would be the crowd to know how to pinch a penny when needed.

Thanks for any information you can give.
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:13 AM   #2
CQ
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I've read a thousand times over and agree that solar can be a great addition to any motorhome, and of course for boondocking, it's almost manditory. But every post I have seen starts out with "We only spent $6,000 to get started...". I mean that's not ridiculous considering the payback you'll get, but it there an alternative? Is there even a place to get used panels, or do they retain so much value you night as well buy new? Unless physically destroyed they don't wear out, so you'd think by now that there would be some type of surplus. perhaps i'm off a bit, just seems to me that somewhere should be a source that can provide lower cost panels. Or will there be a flood of the older panels once the new flexible stuff comes out?

Anyway, it's just a thought and I figured this would be the crowd to know how to pinch a penny when needed.

Thanks for any information you can give.
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:54 AM   #3
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Have you looked on sites like Ebay? $6000 seems kind of high in my book, but I have not priced them lately. When I bought my second 120watt panel it was about 800 dollars, but was told the price was going up due to the European market demand. No matter, if you can get 120 watt panels for under a grand each and a quality controller for 300 dollars, I have a hard time figuring how you could get 5 or 6 panels on the roof of most RV's. You should quit listening to all the pundits and do your own research. 250 watts worth of panels can yield on the best of days 20 amps of battery charge capacity and unless you are extremely power hungry should be more than sufficient for most Boon docking needs. Remember you need one Deep cycle battery for about every 80 watts of panels. So you mush also consider this into your plan. If solar is not for you, then get 4 good batteries and a generator. Run the genny for 4 hours every couple of days will do the same thing for roughly a grand.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:47 AM   #4
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I'm sure it can be done for cheaper. And I've not even bothered looking at e-bay. I prefer to deal hands on with a supplier if at all possible. Just your mention of 120 panels and a quick search came up with 175 watt for $823 but odds are thats not even one that would work for an r.v. applicaion. I've a lot to learn, and am just looking still(no urgent need) but would like to be able to make a well informed decision. I've not even bother calculating daily need yet. It's a long slow process, just thought I'd throw out the idea of used or recycled panels(so to speak) and see what thoughts were.

on the same site is a mitsubishi panel(part of the car company?) that's 110watt for $725. sounds like a bigger bang for the buck with the first one, then again the name brand might be worth the difference. both brands come with the built in blocking diodes.

These (appear to be) are brand new panels, and about what you quoted from e-bay. I would have thought that you'd find a cheaper source when checking that, or are the panels you've found a much higher quality, come with mounting hardware, etc. Something that makes it a better value.

Can you get buy used panels? Do they exist? If so, how do you kick the tires(so to speak) and check them out. Is it worth doing the same checks on new panels before going through the hassle of installing them.

Sorry to keep going off topic. I'll try to remember to post something in the tech forum after a few searches which probably have all the information I need anyway.

Anyway, really too much to discuss in one post about all the inns and outs.

Thanks for the response btw. Appreciate the help


And of course the usual, no ties to the above company, etc.
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Old 10-31-2008, 12:33 PM   #5
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Do a web search for Southwest Solar? I think that is the company. Located in Arizona and they appear to be pretty good at directing a newby in the right direction. I have Siemens panels and they seem to work just fine. I am having issues with the controller at the moment, but will get that sorted out seen. Like I said, generally where we camp which is in a lot of trees, we can go two to three days before using the generator. That is using the inverter and watching sat TV for 3 to 4 hours a day.
Yes, I have both, and frankly would not be without both. Solar is fantastic for low amperage draw things like the TV, Sat receiver, but it will not do for the Microwave, AC or coffee pot.
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:00 PM   #6
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CQ, I wouldn't be without my solar panels because I like to boondock. I didn't spend anywhere near $6000 for my panels. I have used the microwave briefly things like curling iron. Check out this discussion from a few days ago about a few others on this forum and their use. I bought my panels from AM Solar. There is a link to them through the other discussion. They will be very helpful with all of the questions you have.
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:30 PM   #7
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The panels get installed in a permanent fashion and stay where they were installed. And there is essentially no reason to upgrade a working panel except to increase the size (wattage). Therefore used ones are few and far between.

$6000 might be spent for a multi-panel install done by a professional shop. 4 panels and a quality regulator could easily run $4000+ and at $100/hour the labor can quickly add up. And sales tax adds more than pennies too.
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:51 PM   #8
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There are used panels at the solar sellers in Quartzsite. 130 watt panels were going for $300 last February.
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Old 11-01-2008, 05:00 PM   #9
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In November '07, I purchased (2) 130 watt panels, a 2512ix Blue Sky (MPPT) controller, IPN Remote, a shunt, and mounting brackets for under $1650 from www.rvsolarelectric.com I have used them on 3 coaches over the past 14 years and have always had great support.
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Old 11-03-2008, 04:09 AM   #10
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Thank you all for the responses. I'll indeed check out the linked thread and see where that takes me. It's definitely in the plans, and I've found out the more I know before hand, the better off I am(and usually more money I save). And installation will be on my own as I tend to be a bit of a hands on type.

Thanks again, I'll check on th links, and ask again when more comes to mind.
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Old 11-04-2008, 04:05 PM   #11
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Check out AM Solar. I know they take trade-ins, plus their cost are much better than most. Plus they have a lot of helpful information on their website as well.

Good people, specializing in RV systems.

www.amsolar.com
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