2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST SOLAR PANEL KITS


Where Does Your Power Come From? Finding the Best Solar Panel Kits in 2017

Living off the grid in a sustainable way would be a dream come true for many homeowners. In fact, it is quickly becoming a reality with the solar power industry just beginning to boom in the United States.

Over the past few years, solar panel kits have become more and more popular. In the year 2012, solar panel kits saw a 41% increase over the year before. Trends continued in the same manner with 21% more solar panel kits being shipped in 2013 over 2012.

DIY Solar Panels

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best DIY Solar Panel Kits

At these rates, DIY solar panels are quickly becoming mainstream in the United States, and consumers are beginning to ask questions. Once you decide that the up-front investment is worth the lifetime savings of switching to DIY solar power, the dream of saving on your monthly electricity bill can be overwhelming.

If you’ve been wondering where to begin searching for DIY solar power and easy-to-use solar panel kits, our review of the top-ranking solar panels will make short work of your research. We will cover the products and the estimated cost of solar panels to give you the most thorough overview of what DIY solar panels can offer your home.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Solar Panel Kits

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the solar panel kit names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that solar panel kit):


Top 6 Best Solar Panel Kits | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Solar Panel Kits

Price

Watts

Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit

$549.95

100

Grape Solar 390W

$950.00

390

Grape Solar 5830 Watt Grid-Tied Solar Kit

$13,000.00

5,830

Lodge 6.8W 24-Panel SolarWorld Off-Grid Solar System

$20,000.00

6,840

Samsung LPC250S

$659.00

250

Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Starter Kit

$200.00

100

Table: Top 6 Best Solar Panel Kits | Above list is sorted alphabetically



Grid-Tied or Battery Bank?

Not all solar power is created equal. Before making a potentially large investment into a new DIY solar panels kit, you should know the difference between the two major types of solar panels. Grid-tied solar panel kits and battery bank solar panel kits are equally easy to find on today’s market.

A battery bank solar panel allows you to store the energy created by your DIY solar panel kits inside of a battery. You can use this excess energy created by the solar panel kits on cloudy days or when other things interfere with your ability to create new energy using the sun.

These types of DIY solar panel kits allow you to take your home completely off the grid. The major disadvantage to these battery bank solar panel kits is the additional cost of batteries and their replacements. Just as with car batteries, a battery intended to store excess energy generated by your DIY solar panels will need to be replaced occasionally.

A grid-tied DIY solar panels kit doesn’t allow you to move completely off the grid but it does save you from replacing batteries that are bad for the environment. Depending on how much solar power you generate, you can even feed energy back into the grid that a local utility company will pay for.

In this way, a grid-tied DIY solar panels kit will allow you to make money to help offset the initial cost of the system. It is also more cost-effective to maintain over the lifetime of your solar panel kits.


How Much Energy Do You Need?

The amount of energy that your family utilizes is specific to your family unit and lifestyle. A tiny house with only one occupant needs significantly less solar power than a four-bedroom ranch with five people. How can you accurately determine what size DIY solar panels kit you should purchase?

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you account for what your solar panels will need to do without learning how to make a solar panel.

The first and possibly the easiest solution is to make good use of the solar power calculator available from companies such as Wholesale Solar. In order to use these types of calculators, you will need to know how much energy you currently use. Round up an assortment of electricity bills from the last few months to determine what solar panels kit size you might need to purchase.

Alternatively, this calculator from Solar Estimate allows you to get an estimate on the size and potential cost of installing solar panels. In this scenario, you only need to know your average electricity bill cost to determine your savings.

To avoid doing the math on how much energy you will need to power your home with a DIY solar panels kit, take a look at some of the resources readily available to you. With calculators at your fingertips, figuring out the size of your needed solar system should be no problem at all.



AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

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Detailed Review—Top-Ranking Solar Panel Kits

Below, please find the detailed review of each kit on our list of DIY solar panels. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these DIY solar panel kits to score so high in our selection ranking.

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Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit Review


The Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit comes with both their classic Sherpa 100 and their Nomad 20 solar panel. Both are designed to help you recharge items in your kit that you use on a regular basis. These can include your:

  • Laptops
  • Lights
  • DSLR camera
  • Phones and tablets

The Sherpa 100 comes with a variety of ports to make charging these items feasible, including two USBs, a 12V port, a port specifically for laptops, and a detachable AC inverter. The Sherpa 100 DIY solar panel can be recharged from the wall, the car, or the sun.

DIY Solar Panels Kit

Image Source: Goal Zero

The Nomad 20 Solar Panel that comes inside their solar power kits is an additional foldable panel to help collect sunlight and manufacture solar power. It comes with a portable power pack or a built-in USB port to help charge the same type of gear possible to charge through the Sherpa 100.

The system has an overall capacity for 20 watts, and the battery itself can hold approximately 98wH.

Cost of Solar Panels

While installing a DIY solar panels kit to run your entire home can be costly, this Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit allows you to just begin dipping your toes in the water. You can begin to make DIY solar power without the large initial investment required by many systems.

The cost of solar panels such as the Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit with the Nomad 20 Panel comes in at just $549.95.



Grape Solar 390W Review


Durable, easy to maintain, and effective, the Grape Solar 390W solar panels are some of the more popular choices for solar panel kits. Their DIY solar panel comes with a relatively high energy efficiency of 18%.

Compared to many of the other DIY solar panels kit choices on the market, the Grape Solar 390W can produce a much greater amount of electricity. This is designed more for individuals who are looking to make a larger investment and ultimately power more items within their home.

Not only does it produce a large amount of energy, but the DIY solar panel itself is strong and well-designed. It has impact resistance and can withstand more than 50 pounds in a wind load or snow load.

These solar power kits can be used with on-grid systems. It is installed on rooftops or ground systems. Their solar power kits also come with a 10-year limited product warranty and a 25-year power output warranty.

Cost of Solar Panels

The Grape Solar 390W solar panel kits are sold through a variety of trusted retailers including Amazon and Grainger. Because they’re sold through so many different outlets, the cost of solar panels can fluctuate based on the retailer.

Many of the panels for sale will come in around $950, including this one for sale through Global Industrial.

Be sure to purchase your DIY solar panels through a reputable source that will be reliable if the package comes in damaged or you have questions regarding warranty information.

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Grape Solar 5830 Watt Grid-Tied Solar Kit Review


Those consumers who are searching for a DIY solar panels kit that can power significantly more than the Sherpa 100 solar panels are likely searching for something more along the lines of this Grape Solar 5830 Watt Grid-Tied Solar Kit.

Solar Panels

Image Source: Costco

Each month, you can generate anywhere from 310kWh to 730 kWh with the 22 solar panels included in the solar panel kits. These solar panel kits are designed to be mounted on the rooftops and come with a rooftop racking system.

The Grape Solar 5830 Watt kit also has relatively low maintenance without any moving parts. They can withstand up to 120 miles-per-hour winds when mounted properly and have high impact resistance to withstand even 28mm hail at 86 kilometers per hour.

Similar to the other option from Grape Solar, this 5830 Watt Grid-Tied Solar Kit also comes with a 25-year power output warranty and a 10-year material and workmanship warranty. The racking comes with a 10-year warranty, and the power optimizers have a 25-year warranty as well.

Cost of Solar Panels

Grape Solar opts not to advertise the pricing of this system through their website. Any DIY solar panels kit greater than 100W is only obtained through reaching out to their customer service department.

However, they are sold through other retailers just as the other products available from Grape Solar are. These DIY solar panels are definitely one of the more expensive options, coming in just one penny shy of $13,000 at Costco.



Lodge 6.8 kW 24-Panel SolarWorld Off-Grid Solar System Review


The Lodge 6.8 kW 24-Panel SolarWorld Off-Grid Solar System provides energy above and beyond some of the tinier DIY solar panel kits on today’s market. These solar panel kits come with 24 separate 285-watt solar panels and an additional 4400-watt pure sinewave inverter.

Solar Panel Kits

Image Source: Wholesalesolar

In fact, this SolarWorld Off-Grid Solar System allows you to power many of your typical appliances, including:

  • Energy-efficient refrigerator
  • Washing machine
  • Lights
  • Television
  • Fans

While this kit won’t teach you how to make a solar panel, it does come pre-wired, tested, and assembled to help you install it quickly. If you aren’t going to learn how to make a solar panel yourself, the next best thing is being able to install premade ones efficiently.

It also comes with a 25-year production warranty and a 20-year product panel warranty.

Cost of Solar Panels

The cost for the Lodge 6.8kW system is difficult to find, likely because the system is so detailed and comes with so many pieces. The pricing for these solar panel kits is likely to be significantly higher than others on our ranking and comparison.

Prices listed on sites such as the Tiny House Blog estimate that the system will run approximately $20,000. However, it should qualify for the 30% tax credit from the federal government based on the installation cost.

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Samsung LPC250S Review


The Samsung LPC250S features a highly durable construction and middle-of-the-road wattage for consumers who want affordable quality. These solar panel kits come with a solar efficiency hovering at just over 15%, a relatively average output among top solar panel kits.

Panels can manufacture up to 250 watts of solar power at their maximum output levels.

They are highly durable when it comes to weather changes and potential hailstorms with high-impact resistance. You will need to maintain them by wiping them clean with water and a sponge once or twice each year. However, these are still very low maintenance options.

It comes with a five-year warranty for materials and workmanship. In comparison to some of the other DIY solar panels kit choices, that leaves the Samsung with the shortest warranty available. However, you do have the well-known Samsung name brand to back up the product.

Cost of Solar Panels

The cost of solar panels such as the Samsung solar panel kits featured here are relatively difficult to find. This is, in part, because they are sold through a number of retailers instead of directly from the manufacturer itself.

However, it is possible to find them on sale without ever leaving your home. Some sources have these DIY solar panels listed at $659 each.

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Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Starter Kit Review


Much more affordable but also less powerful than solar panel kits such as the Lodge 6.8kW kit, the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit makes generating solar power easy for consumers.

These solar panels are best for off-grid uses including sheds and cabins, RVs, trailers, and boats. The polycrystalline surface boasts high solar efficiency of almost 18% with no hot-spot heating. They are even designed to function well in low-light situations.

They feature a four-stage battery charging process to make recharging batteries both safe and efficient. This Renogy 100 Watt solar panels kit also comes with pre-drilled holes on the back so it can be mounted efficiently, wherever you plan to use it most often.

While this is a great first step into the world of DIY solar panel kits, it can even be expanded as you learn more. By purchasing a few additional pieces, you can convert this 100-watt solar panels kit into a 400-watt system.

Cost of Solar Panels

The cost of the Renogy 100 Watts system is a huge part of why it qualified for our ranking of the best DIY solar panel kits. Coming in around $200 for the initial set, this Renogy 100 Watts Solar Panels Kit is easily affordable and efficient.

The cost to convert it into a more powerful system will add an additional cost.

 

Conclusion—Top 6 Best Solar Panel Kits

If your plan is to convert your home using a DIY solar panels kit, these top-ranking choices are sure to get you started off right. As a consumer, you’ll first need to decide what level of commitment you plan to make with your DIY solar panels. Will you be jumping right in to power your whole home, or do you need something for weekends spent in the great outdoors?

We have compiled DIY solar panels for a number of convenient uses from running appliances to charging cell phones and tablets on the go.

No matter what your commitment is to more sustainable living and cost-efficient electricity, our review of solar panel kits will make it easy for you to begin your research in one convenient location. What do you hope to power using the solar power you manufacture right in your own home?

Let the savings speak for themselves as you make the switch from your local utility company to solar power with these DIY solar panels.



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