Windy Nation - I am happy with windynation's solar panel kit
We bought the windynation 200w solar kit 4 months ago. We live in Boulder, CO so this has plenty of opportunity to work. We have it plugged into 2 marine batteries (like car batteries, but bigger and they are deep cycle), and we have an inverter connected to those. The inverter is in the house, and the batteries are outside. The wire goes through the wall. We plug things into the inverter.
This was easy to put together. One thing I like about windynation is that they can actually answer installation and set-up questions about solar panel systems. I tried talking to a few other vendors but they were not able to answer my questions.
You have to buy the batteries, but this came with everything else. Oh, and if you want to run AC household appliances like us, you will need to get a DC to AC inverter. Get an inverter that is larger than you think you will need. Once in a while you might have several different items hooked up to the inverter and that will be a lot of Watts. We are using a 3000 Watt DC to AC inverter.
I can run my laptop all day, as well as recharge the cell phones and power several other small appliances when needed. My wife can also run her laptop. If we only get on the laptops after work, we can run them all night. I've had to switch to grid power a couple of times if I've used my laptop all day in conjuction with some other appliances, but I've never had to switch over if we have only used the laptops.(This doesn't count the rainy and really cloudy days we've had.)
This is not the biggest solar panel set, but it's very good for starting out and learning about solar power. It's inexpensive enough to set up and charge all your rechargeable stuff whenever you need it, as long as you live in a fairly sunny area. And I am happy with the quality of the items and installation instructions.
You're not going off the grid with this set-up, but you'll save money off your electric bill each month and, more importantly, you will have a back-up power supply when the grid goes down or in cases of emergencies. And you get to tell all your hippy friends you went green!