Solar Panel Pricing

September 2019 pricing at retail, two poly panels for 200 watts $150.00 – Amazon $0.75 per watt. Grape Solar 4 panel 1060 watt poly $1234.81 $1.20 watt, Lowes. Grape Solar 16 panel @ 265 watt per panel $10,942.47 or $2.58 per watt, includes inverter and solar controller.

Solar mounting kits usually handle 20 panels, the full kit about is 16 panels, you can build your own racking system for $500.00

Solar panel watts, expect in southern climates up to 2,200 watt hours or 2.2 kw hours per solar panel watt.

So at $.075 payback could be less than 5 years, at $3.00 per watt payback could take 20 years, not including maintenance and replacement of panels, inverters, controllers, etc.

Panels also need cleaning, fresh water, windex several times a year.

Is monocrystalline best

There are three types of 12 volt solar panels available at a reasonable cost, flexible film, monocrystalline and polycrystalline. If you are ready to make a decision on solar panels for any stationary application, the answer is going to be mono or poly. So which one is best?

The laboratory data would tell us that we should use the mono panels. But the mono panels are newer and we don’t have long term data on the mono yet. We do know from Will Prowse that the laboratory data is the opposite of the real world performance.

In 2007 there was a laptop company that decided it had to be the first company to introduce back lit lcd screens on their laptop computers. And this awesome company that has a particular piece of fruit as a logo was lauded as the most awesome and advanced companies because it brought out the newest and most awesome enhancements to its product line.

In the early 2010’s they introduced Nvidia board integrated graphics. Again they were the better product, ahead of the rest. But over the next few years the back lit lcd screens had a high level of failure, and the integrated graphics chip had a high rate of failure. The lcd panel required complete replacement, but the graphics chip could actually and often be fixed with a reball and reflow process in which hundreds of solder connections are fixed die to either bad planning, execution, or bad design or over hyping by the mother board company or the graphics chip company or a little bit of both.

So you might be thinking, these poor consumers that bought the original back lit lcd’s, but before you feel sorry for those people, thousands of these laptops were sold to people that bought them because they were the latest and coolest thing, but they couldn’t find the pipeline key with both hands even if they were sitting on it.

More thousands of these laptops were sold to people who use the living heck out of them and they will just get a new computer after a couple of years. Finally, and this is the category of tragedy, some people really needed them and bought the best at the time, only to have a lcd or graphics section die, and they still had a year or two of term papers to type, bummer.

Hopefully, those people found someone who did the job right. A lcd replacement generally cost you $200, and a reflux and reflow would cost you $150, shipping not included. Maybe you could find a better deal, but if you really want a working computer, these prices will cover the repair people that do a really good job. If you want the lowest price, good luck getting a laptop back that lasts another six months.

On the other hand, you could be one of those people that bought a really plain laptop, without the backlit lcd or the integrated dedicated graphics chip. Chances are that if you have a lot of term papers to type over the next five years, you could get a more reliable laptop computer and you will produce better term papers because you are spending less time getting your laptop fixed and more time writing term papers.

So before you decide which kind of solar panel is best, a monocrystalline or a polycrystalline, consider that between both of them, they have the lowest annual degradation in effective output per year. So silicon crystal technology is a smart pick in solar panels. As a final step, I listened to the people selling the panels, carefully measuring the level of hype for each kind of solar panel, and I found the monocrystalline panels are by far way cooler than poly panels. They are more expensive, sure, but it is like buying a Cadillac. The salesmen will tell you, spend spend spend !!!

Don’t. Do not waste your money on more expensive panels right now. Do now waste your money on more expensive panels in 2020, or the year 2021. The time to buy monocrystalline will be when they are less expensive, not when the hype is thicker and smellier. Period. If you are being pushed to buy monocrystalline because they are ‘better,’ run, you are getting sold a pig in a poke. No honest seller of solar panels would promise better results from mono. The very best results you can get from solar panels is achieved by minimizing the cost of the entire operation. The chances of solar paying for itself are such that your best odds come from being careful not to wager too much.

Buy polycrystalline solar panels. They are simply the best performance. They may be a little larger, but unless you are the last tiny house bungalow in Manhattan, use more space and buy poly. It is the best economic choice for buying solar panels. Period.

Solar Panel Types

For home use, the 12 volt solar panel is the most common system pushed by the home solar panel industry. But the use of solar panels to heat water has been used to heat swimming pools. Another segment called ‘SHC’ or solar heating and cooling is sometimes used to heat air.

When considering any thermal application with solar used to raise the temperature of media, the use of delta T, or a temperature difference to provide power, heating and cooling immediately comes to mind. The use of ground temperature to mediate the temperature differences, implemented with fields of buried coils, has been used for many years to implement more efficient heating, cooling and hot water systems.

Geothermal Ground Loop

Ground source heat pumps are regarded, in most climates, to be far more efficient than heat pumps that use an air condenser. In a sense, in winter climates, the ground source loop is extracting solar thermal heat from the ground to convert to heat. Studies show that over the season, ground loops will cool the ground, and the heat pump will have to work harder. However, this can also be seen as energy storage in the form of cooling capacity if the climate warrants air conditioning during the following season.

Hurricane Drought

In 2017, the Washington Post wrote and article with a headline Science behind the hurricane ‘drought’

After Katrina flooded New Orleans, parts of which are below sea level, the United States suffered more than a decade without a major hurricane coming ashore. The biggest hurricanes, the Galveston storm of 1900 and the Okeechobee storm of 1938 had been joined by Katrina, and the news was that this was the new normal.

Normally we can expect a major hurricane every 6-8 years somewhere in the United States. At least category 2, and during some periods more frequently. When we look at historical data for hurricanes, it cannot be discounted that the advent of space exploration has made a major impact on how well we see the formation and evolution of tropical storms.

Historical lists of storms generally show two years, 1907 and 1914 as being entirely free of tropical storms. In the modern era the only year with an extremely low number of hurricanes is 2013. Only two large tropical storms danced around the Atlantic Ocean in 2013. 1982 also is listed with only two storms, and most people think we had pretty good satellite data that year. We have to go all the way back to 1905 to find a year with only one storm, and then back to 1895 and 1890 to find years with two storms.

The Strongest Hurricane

Two of the worst hurricanes in North America in recorded history hit almost the same place and in a span of two years. In 1926 and 1928 two huge storms hit south Florida, which was just beginning to develop at the time.

1926 – Miami Hurricane

372 people died as the Miami Hurricane crossed Florida into the Gulf of Mexico and then struck Alabama and Mississippi. The storm hit on September 18, 1926.

1928 – Okeechobee Hurricane

Ten times deadlier than the 1926 storm and striking on September 17 near West Palm Beach.

Solar Power Costs


4 Home Depot panels for 1200 watts total $1,369.00

60 Amp Solar Charge Controller $450.00

1800 Watt Inverter $433.00

50 Car batteries. ???

So there you have it, around $2,250 not including batteries. If you can find a spot with no shade, facing the sun and south of the Mason Dixon Line, you could charge 50 batteries in a month.

A refrigerator is going to average 100 watts an hour, a chest freezer the same. If you avoid opening the door it can be even less. A laptop computer would use 25 watts, some led bulbs the same. 50 car batteries will keep your chest freezer cold for at least a week. If you get a little sun to recharge the batteries it could go a month. If the freezer is well insulated and weather is cool, even longer.

A weak link in a north 40 solar setup is the inverter. You might even want to keep a spare around, they fail a lot. Instead of buying one big inverter buy several small inverters. One note is that refrigerators and freezers use two to three times the average power to start the compressor. If you have a refrigerator or freezer in your cabin plan on at least 1200 watts for that circuit to cover startup.