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Old 05-11-2011, 02:40 PM   #1
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80W v 2000W

Camping World sent me their latest catalog (BBQ Fest!) and I'm sure it's in circulation among others on these forums. While idly flipping through it I noticed in the power/electricity section the vast discrepancy in price between generators and solar panels. I'm pulling from memory now, but I believe a 2000W generator runs ballpark $1000 and an 80W solar panel runs about $550. For $450 more, who wouldn't buy 1920 extra watts?

I wonder if this type of advertising could partly explain the resistance towards solar panels as a viable source of energy that I often see on these forums. There are plenty of people in both camps, and pros and cons to both energy sources. I'm not here to judge either one, I just would like to point out (to people who may be on the fence) the incredible mark-up Camping World applies to solar panels.

To back it up, I suggest googling "80W solar panel" then clicking on the "Shopping" filter. Today alone there are at least 2 stores selling 80W panels for $280.

I guess the message I want to get across is that before someone labels solar panels as "expensive", I hope they take advantage of the free market and see how far their dollars can actually travel. Gas is good, but too much of a good thing can often become a crutch.

Public service announcement over, and I just put my megaphone and soapbox away. Now if that pesky sun would just break through the Oregon clouds already. I'm ready for BBQ Fest 2011!
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:04 PM   #2
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'Egg et al,

While I am NO FAN of CW, let me say that a watt is NOT a watt when comparing solar panels. There are a lot of variables like mono-crystalline vs. poly-crystalline and the real meat of the subject....output voltages.

If it were simply a matter of price, how do you explain companies like AM Solar, where their custom-made panels sell for as much as double what you listed? The answer is quality, solid company backing, much higher output voltages which yield higher charging amperages at the batteries and systems that WORK as advertised.

There has been a lot of trash coming into the solar market, and unless you are a very educated and discriminating buyer, your purchase will usually result in a sub-par system that will never operate at the true potential of a quality solar charging system.

If you have any serious questions about quality solar, I would direct to Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 for real answers.
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Old 05-11-2011, 04:36 PM   #3
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There are a number of things at work here.

First of all, the prevailing price of solar panels is around $3 a watt. Camping world is asking much more than the going rate.

Any successful solar install is going to cost far more than a generator of comparable capability. A typical package based on 300 watts of panels, a charge controller, battery capacity meter with shunt, and larger batteries, plus cables, mounts, connectors, and so on, is going to have a parts cost pushing $2,000.
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:22 PM   #4
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Even at $280 a panel, I suppose it depends on how you intend to use the energy.

I do like the idea of solar, and it probably makes sense for someone who is full timing or at least spending a few months "off the grid"

From our standpoint however, it is a rare occasion when we do not have full hookups (like overnighting at the Flying J on a cross country trip,) so the little Honda 2000 seems just the ticket for us. Just bought it last year and it has already proven its worth!

It is also handy if I need to do repair work on our trailer which is stored about 15 miles from our house, and could be useful at home in the event of extended power
failure - God forbid!

On the other hand if the price of gas keeps going up at the current rate I may change my mind!


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