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Can you help me convince my husband that we can put solar panels on our house for less than $500 (1700 sq. ft.)? Answered

My husband is very handy and just got a lot of forced time off (no more job). I am trying to convince him that we can put in a system that he builds for less than the multi-thousand dollar systems that are available from installation companies. He doesn't believe me that this is doable. "If it was that easy and cheap, everyone would be doing it." Can you help me with some facts that will prove I am right?



Best Answer 9 years ago

My inverter alone is over $2,000. Plus, you need to check the efficiency of the panels, inverter and other components - it's less worth it the less efficient they are. Probably getting the permits alone would eat up a good portion of the $500 budget. I'd love to know what system you are looking at installing for $500, since I just spent $80,000 for an 11,000 kW system and the school district I work for spent $36,000,000 to outfit 6 buildings.

Haha, he will not be convinced because you have no idea what you are talking about.

Don't be put off.
Do it.
You'll get about 40 watts of 12 volt panel, a Solar controller and a deep cycle battery.
Even if you can only run 1 12 volt light or a 12 volt fan with the little bit of power you produce it'll be a good start.
My setup https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Solar-Setup/ cost a bit more than $500..... probably more like $2000 but it will pay for itself within 3 or 4 years.
All the best.

Sorry it isn't going to happen for that kind of money. I would love to go PV, but there are much more cost efficient ways to save money on fuel and reduce your carbon footprint. The obvious things include switching over to Compact flourescent bulbs as your conventional bulbs break, turn down the thermostat. for $500 you could make a big dent in insulating your house which could massively reduce your fuel bill. Also generally wind is more cost effective, but a store bought turbine will take around 20 years to pay off in bill savings (location dependent.) My brothers fiance is a turbine engineer, she spent a few months in Mongolia building turbines from common scraps. You could go about it that way but your efficiency would be low. If I recall they used an oil drum cut in half for the prop, scaffold shafts an old moped transmission and some car batteries, there were a few specific electronic components but largely scrap.

You could make solar water heater if you're good at building things, but beyond that, I don't see it happening for 500 dollars.


9 years ago

For about ~$250 I picked up 16 x 5W panels off woot.com which is under $3 per watt. Willing to spend a bit more on the charge controller (PS15M) and the inverter(Xantrex 600W) that was about another $250. Then for indoor charging(I'm in a condo) I needed an AGM Battery (DCM-077U) which was about another $150.

For $500 you can get a decent start to begin your husband on the solar bug.

Here is affordable starter kit that you might find useful.

Also keep an eye out here. You can find decent deals.

Look into windpower as well. As a general rule it's cheaper.


9 years ago

where did you get that $500 price? please tell me, I would buy that in a second.


9 years ago

Yo do thi, you have to print out the costs, along with batteries, inverter, charge controller, panels, cables, mounting thingies... I think the cost would be way over $500. The inverter is expensive, the solar panels are very expensive, the batteries are also expensive. Solar isn't cheap. If it was, then there will be hundreds of solar power plants.

The batteries and solar panels alone would be way over 500 bucks if you dont already have a cheap or free source for them. Then the inverter to convert DC energy to 120 volts AC would be about 500 bucks alone for a cheap built one. Then you have the charge controllers, they can get expensive. Mounting fixtures and rewiring part of the house for solar also. Solar is not cheap.

Solar panels for 1700 square feet is an ask, maybe $700? If I were you I would first get the facts,show them to him and say what all the benefits are for him. To win somebody to your side of the argument without arousing grudges is a bit hard, so the only way to do it is to make him want to do it.
Hope that helped!


9 years ago

You mean Photovoltaic cells, for generating electricity? He's right, you can't do it. It might be possible to install a passive solar water heater if you can scrounge a lot of parts...

In these troubling times, there isn't too much spare money lying around : (
wait till he gets another job

you can boast about it

what were you thinking of buying/building?