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Thread: Harbor freight solar cell packages

  1. #1
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    Default Harbor freight solar cell packages

    So i saw in ASG they did a write up on solar panels and the ones from harbor freight got mentioned.

    Has anyone done anything large scale with solar generators? I have one i charge phones on when i camp, that is it.

    If i did the roof and the garage roof up anyone know what kind of actual practical eletricity i'd get off that? I know what the box says but has anyone tried it.

  2. #2
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    Harbor Freight solar panels are a fun and easy place to start if you just want to play around and get your feet wet figuring out about solar without sinking a lot of money into it. However the 45w 3-panel system isn't a very cost effective setup if you want to do more than charge a few small devices. I have a whole thread on here of the four 140w panels I set up with 4 Trojan deep cycle batteries, and another thread on moving 3 of those panels to my travel trailer and my experiences off grid boondocking with it. It's enough to live comfortably in a minimal sense if you are conservation-minded, but keep in mind, this is sans-refrigeration.

    What are your requirements? Starting there will get you a reality check on feasibility.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruss01 View Post
    Harbor Freight solar panels are a fun and easy place to start if you just want to play around and get your feet wet figuring out about solar without sinking a lot of money into it. However the 45w 3-panel system isn't a very cost effective setup if you want to do more than charge a few small devices. I have a whole thread on here of the four 140w panels I set up with 4 Trojan deep cycle batteries, and another thread on moving 3 of those panels to my travel trailer and my experiences off grid boondocking with it. It's enough to live comfortably in a minimal sense if you are conservation-minded, but keep in mind, this is sans-refrigeration.

    What are your requirements? Starting there will get you a reality check on feasibility.
    I agree 100%. When I first got into solar, I bought 4 of the harbor freight packages for a total of 180 watts @ 12 volt and I spent $600 for it all. I spent my money in the wrong place.

    If you can find a sale on panels, you can typically get them for right at to a little less than $1 per watt. For the amount I spent, I could have gotten 400 watts worth of panels and a decent charge controller.


    A friend of mine has panels covering most of his roof, but his setup is grid tied (let us know if you don't know what that is). His house is all electric as well. Well, in the spring and fall when he does not run the a/c or heat, his electric bill is right at zero.

    So basically, a roof full of panels will not allow you to live "business as usual" should the power go out, but if you are smart about power consumption, you won't have to cut back a drastic amount. The downfall is the initial investment is rather expensive. This is why most of us just have moderate size setups.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  4. #4
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    The Harbor Freight solar setup is too expensive like the others have said.
    To give you an idea of what you would need - -my RV has a compact 120 volt (standard) refrigerator. To power that I have 250 watts of solar panels and 2 deep cycle batteries. It works fine but I only camp during sunny weather and we have a lot of sun down here.

    as to price look here for instance-- more solar power and a heavier controller for less money than Harbor Freight (free shipping too)...........
    100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel $109
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Brand-New-Of...YAAOSwYlJW4Gfs

    30A PWM Solar Panel Charge Controller 12V 24V $14
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intelligent-...wAAOSwWKtUsIvP

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    https://www.solarblvd.com/product_in...oducts_id=3096 320 watt panels for $120 so $0.38 a watt, and instead of the 5 year warranty harbor freight panels have, these have a 20 year warranty
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tdale View Post
    https://www.solarblvd.com/product_in...oducts_id=3096 320 watt panels for $120 so $0.38 a watt, and instead of the 5 year warranty harbor freight panels have, these have a 20 year warranty

    Once you add the $250 shipping charge, it comes out to a little over $1 per watt. But if you can pick them up yourself instead of having them shipped or if you buy a lot of them then it makes it worth it!
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

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    True, "IF" you are only buying one. But the OP was talking about covering his roof and garage's roof with panels, so he would be buying a lot more than one panel so the shipping cost per panel goes down considerably

    If you buy 10 panels the shipping is only $30 a panel bringing the total cost per watt to $0.47 a watt, or you can pick them up for free
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tdale View Post
    https://www.solarblvd.com/product_in...oducts_id=3096 320 watt panels for $120 so $0.38 a watt, and instead of the 5 year warranty harbor freight panels have, these have a 20 year warranty
    The purchaser should be aware that these are 24v panels, not 12v, and so some kind of conversion aparatus will be necessary to integrate this into a 12v system if that is desired, otherwise an inverter that converts 24v DC to 120v AC will be the ticket.

    My systems are all based on 12v which is not as efficient if you have long lines to the panels. Fortunately my lines between panels/batteries/controller/inverter are all very short. A residential installation will no doubt require longer connections between components.

    The highest wattage I see there is 160w in 12v... mine are 140 so it wouldn't make sense to upgrade. If they ever come out with 300w+ in 12v, I will probably upgrade then because that would double my power collection.
    Last edited by bruss01; 10-05-2016 at 12:18 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruss01 View Post
    The purchaser should be aware that these are 24v panels, not 12v, and so some kind of conversion aparatus will be necessary to integrate this into a 12v system if that is desired, otherwise an inverter that converts 24v DC to 120v AC will be the ticket.

    My systems are all based on 12v which is not as efficient if you have long lines to the panels. Fortunately my lines between panels/batteries/controller/inverter are all very short. A residential installation will no doubt require longer connections between components.

    The highest wattage I see there is 160w in 12v... mine are 140 so it wouldn't make sense to upgrade. If they ever come out with 300w+ in 12v, I will probably upgrade then because that would double my power collection.
    You should consider upgrading to a higher battery bank voltage if you have a lot of solar

    In my example of 10 panels, that would be 3.2KW, you definitely would not want to run that on 12V.

    I can't think of anyone who would cover their roof and garage roof in solar panels and then run the panels at 12 volts, the losses would be staggering.

    I wouldn't even use 24 volt. I'd run the panels in groups of 4 (at 96 volts) and use an MPPT charge controller to downstep the voltage to battery bank voltage which should really be 48 volt for such a large system.

    If running a 3.2KW system at 12 volts you would have to deal with 266 Amps of charging current. That would require around 4 charge controllers (My recomendations would be this one https://www.solarblvd.com/product_in...roducts_id=608 or this one https://www.solarblvd.com/product_in...oducts_id=2917 ) and MONSTER sized cable (500mm˛) for a 25 meter run, meanwhile you could run that same system at 48 volts and 66 Amps, this would only require 1 charge controller, and you could use wire over 14X smaller (35mm˛)

    Switching from 12 volts to 48 volts would amount to a ton of savings in building the system, to be honest I don't think you could even find cable thick enough to run it at 12 volts.
    Last edited by Tdale; 10-05-2016 at 01:13 PM.
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tdale View Post
    You should consider upgrading to a higher battery bank voltage if you have a lot of solar

    In my example of 10 panels, that would be 3.2KW, you definitely would not want to run that on 12V.

    I can't think of anyone who would cover their roof and garage roof in solar panels and then run the panels at 12 volts, the losses would be staggering.

    I wouldn't even use 24 volt. I'd run the panels in groups of 4 (at 96 volts) and use an MPPT charge controller to downstep the voltage to battery bank voltage which should really be 48 volt for such a large system.

    If running a 3.2KW system at 12 volts you would have to deal with 266 Amps of charging current. That would require around 4 charge controllers and MONSTER sized cable (500mm˛) for a 25 meter run, meanwhile you could run that same system at 48 volts and 66 Amps, this would only require 1 charge controller, and you could use wire over 14X smaller (35mm˛)

    Switching from 12 volts to 48 volts would amount to a ton of savings in building the system, to be honest I don't think you could even find cable thick enough to run it at 12 volts.


    Not to mention the extra costs of the cable for a 12 volt system vs. the required cable for a 24v or 48v system. For example, I purchased a 16' length of 1/0 cable. It is some seriously large cable, but it was also $13 a foot! I use it for my 12v to 120v power inverter but am looking at upgrading to a 24v inverter down the road. Here is what 1/0 cable looks like, yes, it is the size of my thumb;

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