Cheap solar panels

This was an ad on the SD main site- it looks like a scam, what with oversize text and all. I emailed Cecil to check on the validity of the ad and got back a disclaimer and a suggestion to post this to GQ.

Here’s the ad:

I am not knocking the ad itself, I am posing the question as to whether it truly is possible to build your own solar panels with materials for less than $100.00.

Anyone know?

No, it’s not possible to build a solar panel that would meet those claims for less than $100.

A home solar power setup will run from $4000 up based on things like whether you will store your energy or just have a meter capable of tracking electricity sent back into the power company’s grid.

You might be able to build a solar powered water heater for $100…useless for that morning shower.
Set up cost might be $100 if you don’t include the cost of the Solar Panels - just the screws to hold them down. But I can’t imagine how to build a solar power generator that would reduce my electric bill by 90% for only $100.

You can build your own solar panels for under $100, but it won’t light more than a string of christmas lights

Fun fact: googling the above website actually has this post as the first result.

Anyway it’s just another scam, just like all the miracle hydrogen powered cars you used to get links about all over (in fact the website looks almost identical, probably the same scammers). If you follow the link, they are trying to sell you instructions (a regular $297 dollar value! buy in the next two days for a discount! I kid you not, there is even a ‘coupon’ with days crossed out) on how to build your own solar/wind power generators for $200 (or less!). It even comes complete with fancy ‘but wait, don’t miss this special offer’ popup when you try and leave the page.

Suffice it to say that if you really could do something like that, it would be all over the news and you would know about it. It’s not something people would flog from a shady website via google ads - the inventors would already be millionaires.

On a related note, as per the below link I read on Scientific American there are companies that will install solar panels on your house/business - at their expense. Then, instead of paying for power you pay the solar panel company which recoups their investment and then some.

If this takes off I see it as a win win for everyone, especially the environment. I’ve read solar panels will pay for themselves in 8-9 years, but who wants to put that kind of money up front. Now, you don’t have to!

Thanks, guys!

That pay as you go is pretty nice!

Yeah, this is probably a scam. By scam I mean an e-book for sale that claims to teach you how to do something impossible. This unfortunately is fairly common, especially for solar panel and “free energy” related things.

I think this is a great plan though. It seems to me like this is one of the very few viable business model for installing solar panels with today’s technology. Only people who are wealthy and willing to wait 10 years or so for payback, or people who are actually living off the grid, are installing solar panels on their homes. I’m not counting corporations; for them it’s mostly for the publicity. :dubious: If a solar panel company is willing to take on the risk, they can “loan” solar panels to many houses, thus spreading out their liability in case someone defaults. Just think about a standard mortgage, the homeowner pays a fee upfront, and from then-on just pays a portion of the cost (a portion of what their electricity bill would have been). If they don’t pay, the solar company can come back and uninstall the panels. The panels themselves are used as collateral. Ok, too much economics, I think you get the idea…,:smack: am I making sense?

As a aside, the most cost-effective solar upgrade is Solar hot water (by far), and those panels can be made by a DIYer inexpensively.