Feedback Sought - Solar Install Companies - Comparison Of 3 Options

Hi. I’m seeking feedback on the 3 seeming best companies I’ve found to install solar in my van. Please let me know which one you would pick. I have medical conditions so I cannot do it myself. I am not very knowledgeable about solar so your help is appreciated. Please note many recommend install companies in Quartzsite, Arizona but those places are closed most of the year and thus are not a viable option for me.

The 3 companies are:

  • OPTION 1 Solarizing - St. George UT

  • OPTION 3 La Mesa RV Center - Tucson, AZ

  • OPTION 2 Solar Advantage - Tucson, AZ

----- OPTION 1 -----

Solarizing - St. George Utah

$2000

Panels Info:

Flexible = Renogy, HQST. Ridged = Rec, Jinko. Affixed by Epoxy Flexible Panels or Rack Ridged Panels. Wiring through the back-up camera into the van. This will achieve range 1 Kilowatt to 12 kilowatts

Battery Info:

LG or Panasonic battery

Inverter Info:

Atlas, Pure Sine. Good Value and in stock

Other needs:

Breaker Panel and Fuse

Warranty:

Parts: Depends on the part 2-25 years. Labor: 1 year

----- OPTION 2 -----

La Mesa RV Center - Tucson, AZ

$5,000 2 solar panels, 2 batteries and 1 inverter

Panels Info:

‘Go Power’ affixed by Lag Screws. Open to other ways. This will achieve range 380 wattage.

Battery Info:

‘Interstate’ in a battery box with a vent to the outside. Some batteries use water some don’t

Inverter Info:

‘Inverter’ and ‘Go Power’

Warranty:

90 days labor. 1-year parts.

----- OPTION 3 -----

Solar Advantage - Tucson, AZ

Estimate $1,500 for low energy to run laptop, fan etc.

Estimate $3,767.00 for high energy to run microwave.

Panels Info:

…either Merlin Solar or Global Solar panels. A few of the benefits of either of these panels are:

• 80% lighter than conventional panels.

• No holes drilled to install the panels (self-adhesive).

• No added aerodynamic force or wind noise.

• Flexible so they won’t crack going down the road.

• Walkable and hail/road debris proof – objects bounce off of them.

• Literally bullet “proof” – if penetrated, the panels continue to produce energy around the wound.

• weatherproof

…panels are thin film, flexible panels that are self-adhesive. They adhere directly to the roof (or rack) surface… wiring through the back-up camera into the van… or using a roof jack, only one hole is placed in the roof. The roof jack assures a waterproof entrance point, whereas through the camera/third brake light assembly can be messy and difficult

Battery Info:

We carry three different manufacturers’ batteries – Battle Born, KiloVault, and Lion Energy. All are LiFePO4 Lithium batteries, which are the safest Lithium products in the industry. Benefits include:

• 1/3 the weight of conventional batteries.

• Zero maintenance – no liquids, no out-gassing or toxicity.

• Can be mounted anywhere, including sideways/upside down.

• Hold greater energy – 14.8V versus 12V of conventional batteries.

Inverter Info:

We carry inverters from Aims and Victron. These are of the highest value, meaning quality versus performance versus cost.

Other needs:

A charge controller, to regulate the power coming from the solar panels for optimum battery charging and control, and an installation kit – we provide a “No trips to the hardware store!”™ installation kit that is built specifically for your project. In

addition, options may include a battery shunt, monitoring gauge or display panel, dual-charging capabilities so that your engine battery and “house” batteries both charge off of solar, an ATS switch that allows you to charge everything off of “shore” power, and many other options.

Warranty:

…the panels, which are virtually indestructible and have no moving or active electrical parts, are warranted from 5-7 years (but projected to produce 90% of rated power at 25 years), and labor is warranted for 5 years.

END

I should add:

My goal is to have enough power for my gaming laptop (to edit video) and have a fan/heater running while working and maybe a modem/router.

I don’t know about those install companies, but your biggest power draw will probably be the heater. It’s far more efficient to heat with propane or diesel (or wood/charcoal/coal). It’s folly to run heat from solar because the times of year where you need heat, there’s usually not much solar available (shorter days and low sun angle combined with bad weather). Also, inverters can use up a lot of power, even when idle. More efficient to use a DC power adapter (car adapter) for your laptop.

A solar power system can be pretty simple, and a lot cheaper than those companies. Panels should cost no more than around one dollar per watt, so 400 watts should be less than $400. A charge controller maybe $200, and two good AGM batteries about $500. The rest is wiring, fuses, and distribution. For a little over $1000 you can have a system that provides around 200 amp-hours per day, plus or minus (more than 2 kilowatts of power per day). You stated that you can’t do it due to health reasons, but if you could hire someone to put the panels on the roof and run the wires in, the rest can be done indoors. Just a thought.

It shouldn’t cost thousands to do a solar installation. (Our home solar cost less than $10K.)

Thanks for the perspective. The van is 2020 new so I don’t feel comfortable having everyday people work on it just yet. It seems a company would be utmost accountable for their work.