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Posted: 3/11/2011 6:23:01 PM EST
Need some advice from you solar powered users. My wife and I are considering getting some type of emergency generation via solar power. We saw a 60 watt kit made by 'Sunforce' which is complete except for the battery(s). It seems like a reasonable kit but we know little about solar energy. What do you know about this kit and company?
Link Posted: 3/11/2011 7:55:52 PM EST
I'm always wary of pre-packaged kits, because they often cost a lot more than the parts would cost if purchased individually. Basically, you're paying a hefty premium for having someone else pre-select the parts.

I'm even more wary of any system which is billed as a "solar generator". The power output of these systems is rarely stated the same way as a conventional fuel-fired generator (i.e., continuous power output), inevitably leading to disappointing results. Many of these "generators" are targeted at the solar "newb" who probably isn't aware of their limitations.

IMO, the best approach is to find a company that sells a wide variety of solar equipment, and then seek their advice for your particular requirements. Even if you don't buy their stuff, you'll still get some feel for what items to shop for from other suppliers.

One of my favorite solar equipment suppliers is Backwoods Solar - They've been around for several decades, have decent prices, great customer service and a knowledgeable staff.

For educating yourself on All Things Solar, consider getting a subscription to Home Power Magazine - Every issue is loaded with how-to articles, reviews of products, and advertisements for hundreds of reputable solar equipment manufacturers and dealers.
Link Posted: 3/12/2011 4:38:42 AM EST
Thank you for the good advice. I will certainly check into those recommendations.
Link Posted: 3/12/2011 5:48:42 AM EST
I bought one of these kits from Lowes. I think retail was $300, but between a gift card and 10% discount, I think I paid $170 for it.

It seems like a good halfway point between the harbor freight kits and a real solar set up. Beware, the included inverter is absolute garbage. I had to replace mine after a week.
The panels themselves are fairly sturdy, heads and tails above the harbor freight kit (in fact, the panels seem like the most "real" part of the kit), and the mount set up is made of plastic pipe, but is almost sort of stable (which is slightly more than I expected). I use mine for occasional power up by my gate and it seems to work pretty well.
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 5:23:47 PM EST
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