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Old 03-30-2015, 07:28 PM   #1
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Harbor Freight Solar

Harbor freight has a 45 watt solar panel kit on sale for $139.99. It's a Thunderbolt magnum.
Anyone know if this is a good brand or is this just some more junk that HF is trying to unload?
Most of the reviews I've read are positive but not sure if they can be trusted.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:21 PM   #2
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A quick look and some self education, finds that the type of solar cells (Amorphous silicon solar cells) are not the best for efficient conversion, but they make that up is the total size of the three panels used to generate 45 watts.

If size is important, you can certainly get more power from a smaller array.

Not much info on the controller, so Cant tell if it's very smart (meaning that it's on all the time without any auto adjusting of charge to battery conditions or not)

For comparison sake, check out Amazon for Renogy solar kits

Hopefully one of the Solar pros on JOF will chime in
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Old 03-31-2015, 06:26 AM   #3
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Jmooney, you can do way better and more wattage for $44 more.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00BFC...7UL&ref=plSrch
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Old 03-31-2015, 07:53 AM   #4
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Are you suggesting the renogy kit from your link?
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:07 AM   #5
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It is a good kit for learning with.. Not too expensive so if and when you upgrade you don't loose too much money.. 45 watts is not much more than a battery maintainer in reality...
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Old 03-31-2015, 06:24 PM   #6
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I agree. I have the Renogy cell array and am very happy with its performance. Next up is to expand to three panels
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Old 04-01-2015, 05:11 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmooney View Post
Are you suggesting the renogy kit from your link?
Sorry, I guess that should have been for jerdog...
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Old 04-01-2015, 09:51 AM   #8
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Thanks,
Looks like the Renogy is the way to go. Well worth the extra money.
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Old 04-14-2015, 09:27 AM   #9
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Go MPPT!!!

Guys - If you can afford it, I would seriously consider going with a MPPT charge controller like a Outback FM-80 or similar. 12v solar panels actually output around 17-18volts, and the biggest benefit to these is that this extra voltage (above your batteries current state) will be converted into additional amps which will flow into the batteries. The PWM style controller does not have the ability to utilize the full output of your solar panel, and will only follow the voltage of your battery, burning off the extra as heat. I currently have a off grid cabin and learned my lesson after having a Xantrex PWM controller kill about $800 worth of batteries, because it just followed their voltage down into the dirt over a single winter. I now have a Outback FM-80 and have zero winter issues. Do yourself a favor and spend $550 on a good controller and $130 on a 100watt panel via ebay, then another $50 on wire and add more panels down the road. It's fun watching more amps than a 100w panel is rated at, flowing into your batteries. I've seen 54.6 amps coming in from 800w of poorly angled panels.
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