Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Solar Power Setup?

Hi Ferfal,
Looking at the latest posts on the realistic SHTF scenarios I had a question about one of the recommendations. I currently have a small tri-fuel 2kw generator and am looking for some solar back up. I don't need to power the whole house, maybe a small appliance (fridge/freezer?)or so. My problem is I am technically challenged and assembling something myself is pretty much a nonstarter. I also want something my family could handle should I not be available. I have seen/priced the goal zero stuff and while pretty slick, seems VERY overpriced. I don't know if you have any ideas on this. I need portable plug/play type thing that I could conversely use for camping and in emergencies. I know occasionally you have stuff you link to that you vouch for. I currently have a very small pocket solar charger that works for my phone only but am looking for something more substantial."
Goal Zero is indeed good quality but most people do tend to agree its overpriced. After reading some reviews it does seem though that in the solar department, in general you tend to get what you pay for. Now, “solar generators”, lets keep it honest they are hardly as effective or as powerful as advertised. If you need 2000Kw a 2000kw solar “generator” will not do. Assume the worse (cloudy, direction) and expect only half as much power so as to not be disappointed. For an all-in-one setup, the Wagan EL2546 Solar e Cube 1500 seems to be a possible option although its still pretty expensive and again, I’d take the specs with a grain salt. You would need a very efficient fridge so as to run it here, although small tools, tv and such should work well enough based on the reviews. The RENOGY Solar Panel Starter Kit 400W has good reviews, its better priced, but it requires some putting together. I would forget about running a refrigerator with it. Its more for running and charging laptops and other smaller electronics.
My advice for buying from Amazon is the following. First, check the stars. If it has over a dozen stars or so and it ranks, 5, 4.5 or even down to 4, I take a close look. If its 4 stars I feel better if it has closer to 100 reviews rather than 10. Then, I check the one star reviews. If they aren’t very relevant or don’t make much sense, then I read a bit more about it, read some of the better reviews. Finally, and this is very important, I check who is selling, who is shipping and what kind of warranty I’m getting. Ideally, the product will be sold and shipped by Amazon. At the very least I want Amazon fulfilling the order. This usually means that the shipping service will be better and returns will be easier to handle as well. Usually you can just print a code that is attached to the package and dropped somewhere nearby without paying a single cent. This makes returns easier and free.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

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