A hundred bucks will get you a panel, a charge controller and possibly some connectors.
The chinese have figured out how to make quite inexpensive solar panels. This is available through ebay, but hasn't quite trickled down into amazon. I find the amazon prices about double what the ebay prices are for equivalent panels in this size.
So, maybe buy 100 bucks worth of stuff that you need on amazon, and use the saved money to buy a kit on ebay.
The battery will run you another hundred bucks or so.
Automotive starter batteries are terrible, they hate deep discharge and it kills them rapidly.
Deep cycle batteries for trolling motors (sometimes referred to as marine batteries) are better.
Thank you both Tobias and Troy. I watched the videos by lds self reliance and found them to be exactly what I needed. And that deal on eBay for the two panels and charge controller is pretty nice. A few years ago I was looking on a site called alibaba or something and they had pretty cheap solar equipment.
Troy, when you said that this would not be a money saving operation, it confused me. Will I not eventually produce enough energy to pay for the equipment?
My dome-yurt is off grid right now. I just charge my phone/laptop at work, But I looked up the rates in my area and the baseline is $0.77 per kilowatt-hour, but the total is like $1.19 after transportation and procurement costs.
40 watt panels only produce 40 watts under perfect conditions, and conditions are generally less than perfect. Let's say you can mount them at a good angle and in real life, you can collect 34 watts for an average of 4 hours per day.
34 watts x 4 hours = 136 watt-hours per day
but we need KILOwatt-hours, so
136 watt-hours/1000 = 0.136 kilowatt-hours per day
Again, round figures, let's multiply that times your rate of a buck a kilowatt-hour (holy crap, where to you live???)
0.136 kilowatt-hours x $1.00 = $0.136, or let's call it 13 cents a day.
That's 13 cents x 30 days = $3.90 a month you'd save.
Let's say a hundred bucks for the panels and 70 dollars for a battery like this: