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Thread: Jump to Solar

  1. #1
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Default Jump to Solar

    After spending a bit of time on the roof last month, and after clearing a couple of trees, I have decided to take the plunge and install a couple of the 45w solar panel kits from Harbor freight on the roof after I get the whole thing redone next spring.

    As usual, there are hundreds of positive and negative reviews of the HF gear, and I realize it is limited, simple and not able to fully power my home.

    Has anyone here had any actual experience with these units?

    I simply want a power source to recharge my cordless tools continuously and run a few 12v lights in the house during emergencies.

    I already own a couple of deep cycle batteries and a 1200w inverter for the occasional plug in power tool, but my small generator will power those if long periods of use are needed. So hopefully all I will need to purchase is the panels and some wiring.
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    Not a Mod finallyME's Avatar
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    Didn't Rick get those?

    I have been looking at them.
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  3. #3

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    Don't waste your money ! Those panels are junk. After a few month you will have lost a 3rd of your watts output . Take a look at these guy for your panel.
    http://sunelec.com/solar-panels

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Got that kit for Harbor Freight w/inverter splitter and "stuff" as a gift
    Still in the box.....will have to let you know.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I did install one. Can't say I've been disappointed but my expectations weren't high either. I installed it just to keep some radios topped off and to keep a 12V battery charged. That's it. If something happened to commercial power and my genny then I can charge cell phones, etc. But if something that bad happens my cell phone is probably the least of my worries.

    Here's a review on it. Scroll down to post 19.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...ght=Watt+Solar

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I am looking for exactly the same thing.

    I am not interested in buying individual parts and putting a complicated system together or in selling power back to the utility company.

    I just want to keep power tools topped up and a deep cycle charged for emergency use that will replenish itself daily.
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    If I had it to do over again I would probably go with an AGM battery. I picked up a deep cycle that was pretty cheap but I think AGM would give better service. Just a thought.

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    Senior Member Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Nothing against Rick those panels belong on the ground. The latest ones deliver higher watts, latest generation, much has changed - before starting any project please have a winded discussion with a local professional, that has more than a few years putting them on a roof.....

    FYI I made my first solar panel powered GE AM radio in 1970.... I have designed a 6 ounce solar panel system for backpacks that delivers a 1 amp service. I am not even close to what the military use, I hear its 4 oz and more than 1 amp...Before you do this get the scoop on the best mount system.

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    Theodore Roosevelt 1907

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    Senior Member Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    http://www.ebay.com/itm/USED-KYOCERA...-/311319459695


    OK here is really what you need to know about panels...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazuo_Inamori

    Kazuo looked at panels and he was very smart. He looked at the manufacture and the quality and discovered that if the electron lines that conduct the electricity was smaller finer and closer together than current tech... they would be better than what we were buying... do you want to by a VW or a BMW or a Porsche? He made billions on this small fact.


    do your homework..... don't take my word, just get the facts.... please.
    “There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

    Theodore Roosevelt 1907

  10. #10

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    HF doesn't exactly have the best rep for quality products. Most of it is seconds, and while some defects might be purely cosmetic, others can mean you wasted your money. I bought a ring roller from them that rolls giant corkscrews instead of rings... Because one of the rollers is out of true just a tiny bit. I made it work, but not without a lot of frustration

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    You could have always sent it back....just sayin'.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I read the link and although KAZUO seems like a real nice fellow there is nothing there about a solar panel kit that that costs me only $139 and will charge my battery.

    And buying a used solar panel does not provide me with the wiring kit, the charge control module the splitter or lights and I can not go down the street and pick up the panels, they have to be shipped.

    And after dealing with HF for twenty years I do realize there are issues with QC in some products. That is why they have a liberal return policy. I just can not for the life of me see how a bad ring roller transfers to the solar panel kit I asked about or answers my original question.
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Have dealt with HF for a lot of years, as well......generally had good luck with their products....or they made it right.

    You have to wonder why they would include a spare set of brushes for some of their power tools???

    If you have a job to do once....will be just fine for 1/3 the money.

    If you need a to use it everyday, buy the best you can afford.
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    I started with these when they first came out years ago out of curiosity as much as anything. Cheap cost was a factor also, I wanted to see what they could do for the money.
    I have been setting up smaller solar electric systems for years, since the early 80's. My advice to you is to buy a unit and work with it. You will learn a lot of things and that is
    as much of a value as the unit itself. Are they reliable, sort of. If they fail early, Harbor Freight will usually make it right. Nothing about solar electricity is Plug-n-Play without thought, despite what manufacturers would tell you. The value of this unit is the experience and learning you will receive in setting it up and using it. Lots of people spend more than this unit costs on one day at the gun range or ski slope. Experience lasts a long time and is transferable to a degree, your children (if you have any) can learn at the same time.

    "I simply want a power source to recharge my cordless tools continuously and run a few 12v lights in the house during emergencies."

    This being the case, you MIGHT end up buying two units to make this happen. Do it, you won't regret it at this cost point, and you will learn a lot.

    Just my two pennies worth.

  15. #15
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Cuppercup.....
    Hunter63 saying Hey and Welcome....
    There is a intro section if you would care to say Hello to all....at:
    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...-Introductions

    I do agree with you assessment of the into to solar......gotta start some where.

    Many times well meaning "experts" jump in with advice involving spend a lot more money as a start up....and as true as the "get what you pay for", does apply in most cases.....the HF "entry fee".....will give some one an idea what they REALLY want or need.....but at a low cost.
    Good post.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    The systems you see on the big houses took advantage of a tax incentive to reduce our need for energy.

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    When the power fails on the grid most of these homes go dark. A few spent the extra money and loaded up on a
    bank of batteries.
    Guests can not see images in the messages. Please register in the forum.

    Now lets be honest - batteries in a basement is not a wise idea with all the gases that vent.

    These systems were behind the wall at Circuit City to keep the lights on in the dungeon, of the store I worked at.
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    So the most important thing to think about is - what do you want to power when the power fails? and for how long? How many days of light vs bad weather do you have? Solar may not be the best thing if you live in Buffalo NY for example. You have to store enough energy to make it thru 5+ days of bad weather. You have to be able to knock the snow off the panels. It's never about fussing around with a toy and trying to make it work for your needs. Once you figure that out ... the rest is easy. And no I am not an expert. I have four years of education of electronics. I have worked with real Hi watt panels, built battery banks that filled a garage, and solar power heated a 4x25 foot above ground pool, well into late fall and early spring.

    I still have that 4x20 water heater still in the basement.
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    “There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

    Theodore Roosevelt 1907

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    We had commercial battery banks in many of our buildings' basements for years and never had a problem with them. Even if they weren't in a basement they were always in an enclosed battery room. This was similar to a typical setup for us.

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  18. #18
    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    I've been wanting to try the harbor freight panels for the same reason as Krat, one of these days.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    The systems you see on the big houses took advantage of a tax incentive to reduce our need for energy.

    Guests can not see images in the messages. Please register in the forum.
    When the power fails on the grid most of these homes go dark. A few spent the extra money and loaded up on a
    bank of batteries.
    Guests can not see images in the messages. Please register in the forum.

    Now lets be honest - batteries in a basement is not a wise idea with all the gases that vent.

    These systems were behind the wall at Circuit City to keep the lights on in the dungeon, of the store I worked at.
    Guests can not see images in the messages. Please register in the forum.

    So the most important thing to think about is - what do you want to power when the power fails? and for how long? How many days of light vs bad weather do you have? Solar may not be the best thing if you live in Buffalo NY for example. You have to store enough energy to make it thru 5+ days of bad weather. You have to be able to knock the snow off the panels. It's never about fussing around with a toy and trying to make it work for your needs. Once you figure that out ... the rest is easy. And no I am not an expert. I have four years of education of electronics. I have worked with real Hi watt panels, built battery banks that filled a garage, and solar power heated a 4x25 foot above ground pool, well into late fall and early spring.

    I still have that 4x20 water heater still in the basement.

    That's a really beautiful little setup there.

    Avoid Harbor Freight. They sell crap
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Well those pics are from different set ups and I have one here without the solar panels to run the internet & lights without street power for hours on a single 12 marine battery.... See above questions and I really am here to help.
    “There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

    Theodore Roosevelt 1907

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