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In building some small/medium solar applications, I've been surprised at how much equipment, specifically-sized to the job, is required to make solar power happen.

For example, solar charge controllers are cheap-as-dirt (in the lower amp ranges) but they're absolutely necessary for most applications. Plus, they need to be right-sized to the project.

When considering trade items, I look for low cost today/high value after a crash. I think charge controllers, inverters (small) and solar panels fit the bill perfectly. Plus, they're excellent back-ups to my own stuff.

Batteries... they are harder to maintain and keep alive. Plus, batteries would probably be easier to scavenge.

So, as a trade item, what do you think about solar charge controller?
 

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I keep several.


....but not to trade.

You can run a freezer off dead batteries.... it just won't cycle at night.

Sooner or later you'll hit a week of cloudy days and loose your freezer, but it'll give you time to process it.
 

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In building some small/medium solar applications, I've been surprised at how much equipment, specifically-sized to the job, is required to make solar power happen.

For example, solar charge controllers are cheap-as-dirt (in the lower amp ranges) but they're absolutely necessary for most applications. Plus, they need to be right-sized to the project.

When considering trade items, I look for low cost today/high value after a crash. I think charge controllers, inverters (small) and solar panels fit the bill perfectly. Plus, they're excellent back-ups to my own stuff.

Batteries... they are harder to maintain and keep alive. Plus, batteries would probably be easier to scavenge.

So, as a trade item, what do you think about solar charge controller?
Seems like it might be a good idea, if you think the risks vs reward may be worthwhile.

We're not planning on anything for trade, per say. Granted we're not any inkling near being set yet (decades away). Once we are, then our trade would be simply community based. Eggs for seeds or vs vs, cord wood for help with manual labor projects, that type of thing.
 
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Good suggestion.
I keep several spare small sized 12 volt panels/controllers/inverters to be used as emergency backup to my larger system, as well as for use by friends/neighbors if need be.

A small system would provide some lighting and communication equipment power.

I could see a small setup or even individual components being quite valuable as barter items.
 

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It seems to be a pretty specialized item, and if you don't have all the other items necessary to make solar work, they're just doorstops. Since they come in all different sizes, each one will only be useful for an individual who has that sized system, correct?

I have a bunch of rechargeable batteries (Eneloops and similar) stocked. Mostly they're for me, but I also have methods to recharge them off 12-volt systems or solar, which means I could "trade" them but also recharge them for others.

Seems to me that trade items are best when they have value for the most possible trades, or that a person with whom you can trade can easily find another person who needs the item. A solar charge controller seems a pretty specialized item. I don't have solar panels that would require one, so as a trade item, it's not useful to me. What else do you have?

Water filters, batteries, coffee (!), small LED flashlights, TP, feminine hygiene items, bars of soap--these would seem to be in greater demand overall and thus a more effective trade or barter item.
 

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I have several 12/24 volt controllers and they would be in high demand if our grid ever went down. I bought two 5 amp controllers off of WALMART.com a few months ago for $4 each.
These will handle up to 75 watts of solar. It's not a bad idea to stock up on some small cheap inverters either.
And here's another suggestion, if you live in an area that have oil fields/tanks around you, more than likely there will be solar panels. Now I'm not suggesting stealing here but if everything is shut down and tanker trucks aren't moving the oil I would seriously think about tapping in to one of those units to charge batteries etc.
By the way, the locked metal box under the solar panels contain a charge controller and a deep cycle battery.
Again I'm not advocating stealing but if it's there and not being used you could certainly charge 12 volt accessories/etc off of it



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I think they are a good thing to have if you need them, but honestly as a trade item they will be a once in a blue moon thing because, as was previously said, all the other solar systems (including the knowledge of how to put it together) are also needed.
 

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If you can hook a positive to a positive and a negative to a negative, it's that simple.


Well, almost. Don't use assessories bigger than the equipment your using. If you use small setups for small charging needs such as cell phone charging, battery packs and low wattage LED bulbs and anything USB
You'll do fine in most instances.



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Yes controllers. Yes 12 volt panels. Yes golf cart batteries.
Yes experience setting them up for lights, coms, chest freezers.

I have a dozen 80 watt panels set aside for trade.
Having a whole system to trade makes more sense to me. High value item in bad times.

I'm not sure the OP with individual parts makes sense. In that case I have a lot of other more likely items I'd stock to invest in.

BTW I have to wonder if buildings with visible solar panels won't be targets once things go bad.
 

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Do the cheap 10 to 15 watt solar panels from harbor freight or farm stores require a controller? Or can they be hooked directly to a 12 volt battery? If they can be hooked right to a battery maybe having a couple of them for trade would be a better idea than charge controllers. They would be easier for someone who doesn't know anything about solar to make work and even if they can only 90 watt hours on a sunny day that is still enough to run some LED's, run a radio, charge a phone/device, charge AA batteries, over a couple days of charging it could charge a drill battery.

If you are planning on trading charge controllers are you also going to include your knowledge/labor to get their system up and working? That could be just as valuable as the controller itself.

In my opinion it may be a good thing to be able to trade something that never runs out such as specializing in a skill that others aren't likely to have(like black smithing) or having a tool that a community needs that you run (such as a cider press, a large grist mill, small threshing equipment ect). I don't know if any of those would actually work but they are things you wouldn't run out of for a one time investment now vs. having to invest in many items to be able to trade the items themselves.
 

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Do the cheap 10 to 15 watt solar panels from harbor freight or farm stores require a controller? Or can they be hooked directly to a 12 volt battery? If they can be hooked right to a battery maybe having a couple of them for trade would be a better idea than charge controllers. They would be easier for someone who doesn't know anything about solar to make work and even if they can only 90 watt hours on a sunny day that is still enough to run some LED's, run a radio, charge a phone/device, charge AA batteries, over a couple days of charging it could charge a drill battery.

If you are planning on trading charge controllers are you also going to include your knowledge/labor to get their system up and working? That could be just as valuable as the controller itself.

In my opinion it may be a good thing to be able to trade something that never runs out such as specializing in a skill that others aren't likely to have(like black smithing) or having a tool that a community needs that you run (such as a cider press, a large grist mill, small threshing equipment ect). I don't know if any of those would actually work but they are things you wouldn't run out of for a one time investment now vs. having to invest in many items to be able to trade the items themselves.
The 12 volt panels could be hooked up to a battery with only a few components to make a "poor mans" controller. But the knowledge to do that will have value.
 

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You don't need a charge controller with the small maintenance/trickle charge solar panels, such as the 1 to 5 watt panels. A rough rule is that if the panel puts out about 2 watts or less for each 50 battery amp-hours, then their not necessary.
Anything above 5 watts a charge controller is recommended.

I have a 25 watt solar panel and a 12 volt bilge pump I can run without a charge controller but you have to know what your doing. If the solar panel put out more watts than the bilge pump I could blow a fuse in the pump.
By the way, I think fuses would be a great item to barter/trade, stock up on.
And their cheap.

I will definitely be helping people setup solar systems, if you have a way to charge batteries and have radio's/walkie talkies, you can have a lot better security.


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