Survival Warehouse

Please check out our Sponsor Survival Warehouse!

They are dedicated and devoted to providing the best Survival & Preparedness Gear available. They have been around for decades and really excel in the Long Term Food Storage Category.

Survival Warehouse - Offering the best deals and hard to find Survival Kits, Survival Gear, MRES, MRE Meals, Freeze Dried Camping Food, Bug out bags, Survival Gear, Gas masks and more. Be Prepared and ready for any emergency or disaster
See more
See less

Solar Panel Review

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Solar Panel Review

    I borrowed/stole this from another site but found the post very useful, if anyone has any similar experiences or reviews please chime in


    I recently got a hold of the four-panel box set solar generator from Tractor Supply. I thought it was a good testbed for future solar installations, and I am NOT looking at this to power my entire house, so please keep that in mind as I do this overview.

    The entire set was about $300, plus another 30 for a spare charge controller (you never know). Batteries, of course, will put you back a bit more.

    First off, these are Chinese-made panels, so they are only about 24 volts each, one Amp. Four of them came in the kit. These are the same panels used individually to charge 12-volt car batteries. Also included was a very solid PVC frame to mount them on. The final setup can be seen here:

    The only problem with this setup, which wound up at roughly 3x5 feet, was that it needed to be moved around the yard for best exposure, not easy when you consider that these panels are GLASS and assembled, it's closer to a giant picture frame then a generator. As such, using some boards, caster wheels, rope, two soup cans, and a pool noodle for shock absorbers, we now have THIS:

    The 'fuze box', where all the wires come together, is waterproof, made of a glass jar, and a modified lid (lots of tape).

    We've tried a few normal batteries and a 175 watt inverter. This was enough to run strong power tools, a laptop, cell phones, and, without the battery and with no inverter and a 12-volt female socket attached directly to the panels, any 12-volt appliance we had directly including normal battery chargers for AA's and the like from the sun. The one thing it could not run directly was the house water-pump, a huge deep-well thing, though the smaller pump used in the swimming pool for emergency water works fine.

    I've assembled three 12-volt deep-cycle marine batteries in parallel, and will be attaching a 700 Watt inverter. That should in theory run almost anything. The batteries are on a rolling cart too, made of an old fiberglass wagon. Today the wind was blowing like mad, but tomorrow the panels will be pushed into the middle of the yard, the battery cart will go alongside it, and the charging will begin again!

    So overall, not a bad semi-replacement for a gas generator. The battery bank is roughly the same mass to drag around as a small gas one, but with the other half constantly 'refueling' it by simply being left in the yard in a sunny spot, there's no fuel costs. I'm pretty happy with it, charging it by day and using it by night, though this is not a permanent solution to power needs. I plan in the short term future to get a bigger inverter and wire up a second battery set so I can alternate them

    The best thing you can do to support the site is pass it on to your friends and fav sites like other forums, facebook, twitter etc. Let people know about us! :)

  • #2
    Follow up I found


    Well, it's the same thing as here: ... r-charger/

    Amazon's got it too but from what I hear, shipping is terrible due to the glass. I've also replaced the 175 watt inverter with a 750 watt, and the car battery with the previously mentioned bank of deep cycles. I'll see if I can get a picture of the bank today, I'm building it a little 'roof' right now, to shield the batteries from the sun and still let them roll out to the panels.

    In either case, though, it seems that they charge more then what I found it for at Tractor Supply.

    Ideally this'll wind up as a gas-free alternative to those little gas generators Home Depot sells.

    Edit: mobile battery bank pictures! Just roll it up to whatever you want to power, then plug it in the next morning to refresh!

    Parts list for the bank: three deep-cycle marine batteries, four battery wires, some styrofoam blocks, a broken-handled wagon, a piece of white metal as a sun shade, and a campaign sign from 2004.

    By the way, for reasons of sheer mass, this setup, while well-provided with wheels, is NOT intended for mobile or even truly portable use. The battery bank is about 80 pounds, and while the panels are light, they're also fragile and very bulky. This is more of a bug-in emergency power thing then anything to take with you on the move. The box does call it a 'portable' solar power generator kit, but I think that means "will fit in the back seat of a car". And that's before I added my heavier inverter and batteries.

    The best thing you can do to support the site is pass it on to your friends and fav sites like other forums, facebook, twitter etc. Let people know about us! :)


    • #3
      Great deals on panels here
      Solar panels for sale for your home, solar power systems, and BOS components for residential, commercial, government, and industrial applications.

      100w panel $500

      The best thing you can do to support the site is pass it on to your friends and fav sites like other forums, facebook, twitter etc. Let people know about us! :)


      • #4
        Harbor Freight buys their top quality tools from the same factories that supply our competitors. We cut out the middleman and pass the savings to you!

        Picked up a few of those Harbor Freight 45W solar panel kits awhile back for $179 each (go on sale periodically). The charge controllers are crap but you can get better for a few more dollars ( Panels work well, good deal to get you started.

        Add some deep cycle batteries and inverter and you are golden :)


        Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to
        beat you to death with it because it is empty.

        The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.


        • #5
          Whats the warranty on those panels ? 5 yrs ?


          • #6
            The only problem I had with the Harbor Freight panels was the amperage output. 3 x 15watt panels = 45watts. 45watts divided by 12v = 3.75amps possible output. These panels only put out actual amperage of 1.3 amps. There is some loss expected the actual amperage output should be about 68% of possible output or in this case about 2.55 amps.
            For about the same price on ebay you can find a single solar panel that willl supply more power. My 2 cents worth