Solar Project, Part Two: Requirements and Costs

Previously I decided on size of the system and the three main items:

  • Two 200w panels
  • 30 amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller
  • 1,000 watt Pure Sine Inverter

The panels I like are from a company that specializes in Solar for RVs and are $185 each.  These are manufactured in the USA and have a 25 year warrantee, so no eBay junk from China!

There are a plethora of 30-40 amp MPPT controllers available ranging from $80 to $600.   Some of the Chinese models had interesting descriptions. My favorite: “Prevent loss of electricity and solve the problem that the battery cannot be ignited.” … Well, OK then. Moving on…

I choose an MPPT controller from a name brand: Renogy which had excellent features, like Bluetooth, and came in at $170.  Not the cheapest, but the runner up was a unit by Victron that was $260. It was slightly better, but I needed to keep the costs down somewhere.

(Note that there are two types of Solar Controllers: PWM and MPPT.  I’m choosing MPPT for many reasons that I won’t go into here; it’s simply the best for this project)

The features I wanted in the 12 volt to 120 volt AC Inverter were surprisingly hard to meet:

  • 1,000 watt – 2,000 watt surge
  • Pure Sine output (Good for TVs, computers, etc)
  • Wired Remote for control (I can place the inverter itself near the batteries)
  • Able to be hard-wired on the AC side
  • Under $200

Most of the “Consumer” ones lacked the remote or lacked the hard-wire option.  The “Industrial” ones had everything including long duty cycle, battery charger, line switching, fancy monitoring, etc. It was tempting to go with a 2,000 watt Industrial Inverter with a line switcher to power the whole TT. (Other than the A/C) That would have cost $600+, been a huge headache to install, and I don’t have the battery capacity for that anyway.

I settled on an inverter from Renogy for $190.

That was a quick ride to $730!  Ouch!  And we haven’t mounted anything yet!

Now for the ugly details, and them details get expensive quick!  Here is my Excel thus far:

The estimated total system cost looks to be $1,200.  Not counting small parts and labor, which is zero. I work for free now.

Damn.  I can buy four of those $300 100-watt portable systems and string them together!

But it won’t have Bluetooth.

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