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Harbor Freight Solar Charge Controller. Harbour freight solar charger

Harbor Freight Solar Charge Controller. Harbour freight solar charger

    Harbor Freight Solar Panel Review

    Solar panels can be the perfect option you are looking forward to in order to bring a new way of generating energy to your home. Not only is it a much-needed source of reliable energy, but it also reduces, sometimes greatly, your energy bills and has very low maintenance costs. Nonetheless, finding the right solar kit in the vastity of options might be overwhelming.

    In our article, we are going to talk about Harbor Freight solar panels. It is a discount tool and equipment retailer and sells a variety of solar kits and other products related to solar power. We are going to honestly review the most popular to give you an idea and orient you towards the best choice.

    Harbor Freight Solar Panel Kit

    Let’s first FOCUS on Harbor Freight solar panel kits. The company is currently selling two of these products: the 7 Watt and the 100 one.

    Description

    This product is the retailer’s top pick and is recommended by 97% of their customers. It is a portable and reliable solar energy kit that delivers 100 watts of free, clean, and quiet energy. The cells work perfectly well in different weather conditions, including in both sunny or cloudy circumstances. Such advantage comes from the fact that the cells are in amorphous silicons, so you can be sure they will give you the best output regardless of the sun’s presence or absence.

    The kit is also very simple to set up and then maintain. The reason being, it comes with a set of tools such as mounting hardware, a 12v light kit, battery terminal clamps, and a universal power adapter. These tools make it easier not only to place the panel in the desired place but also to keep it in good condition.

    To guarantee the best performance, the panel uses technology such as solar charge controllers or blocking diode technology, which prevents your panel from losing charge during the night. This happens because it allows the flow of current to the battery but blocks the opposite flow of current, i.e., from the battery to the panel.

    Pros and Cons

    • Weather resistant works in both cloudy and sunny conditions.
    • Very easy to put up, as well as to maintain.
    • Comes with mounting hardware and a USB port for charging your devices.

    The Jackery Explorer Input And The Adapter You Need

    The input on Jackery Explorer power stations is called an 8mm connector. This is a round connector which also has a positive and a negative part to it.

    Since we know that the SAE connector has a positive female pin and a negative male pin, we need an adapter that has the opposite.

    This adapter includes what is called an SAE reverse polarity adapter, which will reverse the positive and negative. You do not need to use that to connect the panel to an Explorer power station.

    Note that if you have the newer Explorer 1500. you are going to have to use the adapter included by Jackery to connect the adapter above to the power station.

    Thats because Jackery has created a proprietary 8mm input for the Explorer 1500, and even though its called an 8mm input its slightly different from the regular 8mm connector used by other manufacturers.

    When you have the adapter, you simply connect the solar panel to the adapter, then connect it to the power station.

    Are Harbor Freight Solar Panels Waterproof

    The junction box on the back of the panel is water-resistant, and the SAE connectors should withstand rain as long as theyre connected to another SAE connector or has the cap on.

    I would ask Harbor Freight to be sure though, since it might void your warranty if its damaged due to rain and/or dust.

    Im Not Sure Whether The Polarity Is Correct Or Not

    You can use a multimeter to check the polarity of the wires. This is also helpful when troubleshooting a setup thats not working correctly.

    A digital multimeter like this one by Kaiweets works, just set it to four oclock and stick the red test lead in the supposedly positive SAE connector on the panel/adapter.

    Then do the same with the black test lead. If it shows a positive voltage on the little screen, you know its wired correctly. You can test it the opposite way to understand what it looks like if the polarity is reversed.

    Are Harbor Freight Solar Panels Any Good

    In general, Harbor Freight solar panels rate as highly as comparable solar panels on the market. Some even prefer harbor freight solar panels to more expensive options.

    Its a fair question to ask considering Harbor Freight is known for discount tools more than anything.

    It is important to note that the solar panels Harbor Freight sells are NOT meant as a home energy solution as they mainly offer 100 Watt panels which are more suited to charging devices or powering small appliances.

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    Most people that use these set them up as supplemental power for a shed or garage or perhaps as an off-grid solution to help power a few things at a cabin or while camping.

    The Solar Panels That Could

    When it came time to add solar to my rig I begin researching and pricing out what I felt would be affordable and most of all effective. My solar was going on my truck camper and I really didnt want the panels to just sit there when not in use and get piled up with snow.

    I then begin to look at many of the suitcase styles but really didnt find anything I felt would last and after reading reviews I found many had issues. So where could I find a quality panel and yet portable. In my research I stumbled across the Harbor Freight 100 Watts Solar Kit.

    At the time I was looking to purchase this kit was on sale for 149.00 and so I thought to myself if it fails I dont have much into it and it was a lost I was willing to take. The 100 watt solar kit, Harbor Freight item #63585. was just the ticket to fit my need. Please Note: The manual, posted online as a PDF, fails to describe a few useful details which well cover here.

    Every product picture showed the four panels lined up in a row. But in fact the four panels are capable of standing separately as each panel is in their own frame and has their own folding stand. Bolting them together is optional. If the panels are to be deployed and stowed frequently, leaving them separate might make sense as the panels are much easier to handle individually.

    How Long Do Harbor Freight Solar Panels Last

    The lifespan of a solar panel is typically 20-25 years, but this can vary depending on the quality of the panel and how well it is maintained. Harbor Freight solar panels are made with high-quality materials and are designed to withstand exposure to the elements, so they should last for many years.

    However, it is important to note that the panels should be cleaned regularly to ensure they are able to absorb sunlight and generate power efficiently.

    Additionally, the panels should be inspected periodically for damage, such as cracked glass or loose connections, and repaired as necessary.

    Harbor Freight Solar Panel Specifications:

    Most of the solar panels that Harbor Freight sells are 100 Watt models. Here are the specs for the 100 Watt Harbor Freight Solar Panel:

    • Peak Power Output: 100 Watts
    • Open Circuit Voltage: 21.60 Volts
    • Short Circuit Current: Amps
    • Operating Temperature Range:.40° to 185° F
    • Dimensions: 26.77 x 19.88 x 0.98
    • Weight: 12 lbs.

    Harbor Freight #63585 100 Watt Solar Kit

    Seeking more power than what a 1.5 watt solar panel could provide, its time to step up to the 100 watt solar kit, Harbor Freight item #63585. The manual, posted online as a PDF, fails to describe a few useful details which well cover here.

    Every product picture showed the four panels lined up in a row. But in fact the four panels are capable of standing separately as each panel is in their own frame and has their own folding stand. Bolting them together is optional. If the panels are to be deployed and stowed frequently, leaving them separate might make sense as the panels are much easier to handle individually.

    The package content lists wires but not their length. Each panel has a 3 meter long wire permanently attached. This wire terminates in a connector common to Harbor Freight solar products but its exact type specification is unknown. It is definitely not the MC4 connector common in rooftop solar installations.

    The four panels connect into a 4-to-1 module. The four wire side are half a meter long, and the unified side has a 3 meter long wire towards the controller. A final half-meter long adapter has the unknown HF solar automotive connector on one end and a barrel connector on the other. The barrel connector fits into a corresponding jack on the controller.

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    What You Need To Know

    Before we get into the specifics, there are some things we need to know before we connect anything.

    Solar Charge Controller

    The job of a solar charge controller is to take the voltage and amperage generated by a solar panel and regulate it. Then it sends the regulated electricity off to the battery.

    Portable power stations have built-in solar charge controllers so you can connect solar panels directly to them.

    The Jackery Explorer is not going to charge if you use two charge controllers. Therefore, we should not buy a solar panel that has an external solar charge controller.

    If you have already bought a panel that included a solar charge controller, you can simply not use it. If its hardwired to the solar panel youre going to have to either bypass it, or buy a different panel.

    Input Ratings

    Not all solar charge controllers are the same. They have different input ratings, meaning that they accept different voltages and amperages.

    The input ratings can usually be found in the manual of the power station, or by the port on the power station.

    Most Jackery Explorer power stations can handle voltages between 12-30V, and a typical 100W 12V solar panel like the most popular one from Harbor Freight outputs around 18V which makes it compatible.

    If you combine two or more panels, youre going to increase either the voltage or the amperage but we will get to that later on.

    While its OK to exceed the amperage to a certain point, you should never exceed the max input voltage.

    Check Inventory For This Product At A Store Near You

    Protect your 12 volt lead-acid or gel cell battery from overcharging and deep discharging with this 30 amp solar charge controller. The charge controller reduces overall system maintenance and prolongs the life of your battery. This solar charge controller or “charge regulator” is capable of handling a solar cell array voltage of 15-25 volts.

    • Handles up to 30 amps of solar
    • Prevents battery back-drain through panels at night
    • Reduces overall system maintenance
    • For use with solar arrays typically 15-22 volts, 25 volts max
    • Easy-to-read display
    • Multiple electric protection: low voltage, overcharge and discharge protection

    How To Connect A Solar Panel Bought At Harbor Freight To A Jackery Explorer Power Station

    Solar panels can be bought at a lot of different places nowadays, the popular hardware store Harbor Freight is one of those places.

    A Harbor Freight solar panel is not compatible with a Jackery power station directly out of the box though since it requires additional adapters.

    Related Product: Extend the cable between the solar panel and the power station with an SAE extension cable by iGreely

    In this article I am going to tell you what these connectors are called, and how you go about connecting the two.

    The Harbor Freight Solar Panels What Connectors Do They Use

    Most solar panels sold by Harbor Freight today use SAE connectors. This is a two-conductor DC connector that is easy and quick to connect/disconnect, which makes it a great connector for a solar panel.

    SAE connectors have one male pin and one female pin. One is positive and one is negative, but which is which depends on the wiring and adapters used.

    The panels from Harbor Freight that use SAE connectors I have looked at have a positive female pin and a negative male pin. This is important when we search for the right adapter.

    A positive wire is often red and a negative wire black. The wires are not different from one another other than the color, which is only made this way to make it easier to connect and follow the wire.

    You might find a connector with a small or – on it, with a cable color that makes it look like its the opposite of what the connector says.

    This is nothing to worry about, as long as you can follow the wire and make sure that the positive output ends up with a positive input.

    How Long Will It Take To Charge My Explorer Power Station

    It depends on how big the power station is in watt-hours. A 100W panel will generate around 70-80W, but if your power station has a max input of 65W you need to do a calculation based on that.

    For example, the latest Explorer 500 has a battery capacity of 518Wh and maxes out at around 70W.

    The way to calculate how long it would take to charge the Explorer 500 with a 100W solar panel is then: 518/70=7.4 hours.

    We also need to consider the fact that the charge controller will start out charging the battery fast, then slow down as it is getting closer to a full charge.

    Therefore, I would add another hour or two to the estimate to get a more accurate number, resulting in 8-9 hours for a full charge.

    How Much Can I Go Over On The Amps

    While I personally dont recommend going over 150% of the maximum amps with an Explorer power station, Jackery do not recommend going over on the amps at all.

    For warranty reasons you should stick to what the manufacturer says.

    Some charge controllers are more sensitive than others, but I havent had any problems using 200W of solar with my Explorer 500 for a couple of years.

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    Are Harbor Freight Solar Panels Water Proof

    Harbor Freight solar panels are not classified as waterproof but are considered weather resistant and can withstand rain, snow, and sleet. This means the panels can withstand exposure to water, but water should not be allowed to pool and they should not be submerged.

    It is important to note that the solar panels should not be installed in an area where they will be constantly exposed to water, such as under a gutter or on a flat roof, as this can cause the panels to degrade over time.

    This also means that they should not be permanently mounted on a roof like standard photovoltaic solar panels. Those have a much more durable construction and are designed to be exposed to the elements for years.

    If you live in an area where it snows, it is important to clean the snow off of the panels so that they can absorb sunlight and generate power.

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    Solar Decorative Lights. Shop All Solar Decorative Lights. Get free, clean, quiet energy with solar panels from Harbor Freight. Rugged design. Ideal for charging smartphones, tablets and other small electronic devices. No Hassle Return.

    That being said, Harbor solar panel is designed with 100 Watt energy capacity and that is great for providing backup for regular electricity. With Harbor freight panel, you can.

    In this video I discuss my experience with the harborfreightsolarpanel kit. We’ve been running the 45 watt kit for a few years and decided to try the 100.

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    How Long Do Harbor Freight Solar Panels Last?

    Many homeowners have understandable concerns and reservations as to how much new Harbor Freight solar panels will cost and whether they will last.

    To help you make an important decision, we have put together all you need to know about Harbor Freight solar panels, and how long you can expect them to last.

    What Are Solar Panels?

    Solar panels are small devices that convert sunlight into usable electrical energy. They consist of photovoltaic cells made of silicon or thin-film semiconductor materials.

    These cells are arranged in series and parallel circuits to create different voltages. A voltage regulator then converts the various voltages into one continuous DC (direct current) output.

    The basic components of a solar cell are:

    • Photocathode – The part of the cell that absorbs light and generates electrons.
    • Photoemissive Layer – The part of the photocathode that emits electrons.
    • Electron Transport Layer – The part of the photoemissive layer that transports electrons to the next component.
    • Contact Layer – The part of the electron transport layer that contacts the metal electrode.
    • Metal Electrode – The part of the contact layer that conducts electrons to the outside world.

    A typical solar panel consists of multiple solar cells connected together in series and/or parallel circuits. Each circuit produces a certain voltage.

    Therefore, to achieve higher voltages, more solar cells must be connected in series.

    To increase the amount of power produced by each cell, more cells must be connected in parallel.

    Types Of Solar Panels

    There are three main types of solar panels: amorphous, crystalline, and hybrid. Understanding the differences between these will help you make a more informed decision when purchasing your solar panels.

    What Are Amorphous Panels?

    Amorphous solar panels are also known as amorphous silicon (a-Si) cells. These panels are very popular among homeowners who want to install solar panels but lack the budget to buy a complete solar panel system.

    They are generally less expensive than crystalline silicon panels, which makes them an attractive option for many people.

    However, because amorphous panels use amorphous silicon instead of crystalline silicon, they don’t produce as much power per square foot.

    This means that you need to be careful when deciding where to locate these panels.

    If you live in a hot area, you may want to avoid placing them in Windows or vents because they won’t generate enough heat to offset the loss of electricity.

    What Are Crystalline Silicon Cells?

    Crystalline silicon cells are the most common type of solar cell found in residential solar systems today.

    They are extremely efficient, meaning that they convert sunlight into electrical energy at a high rate. Because of this, they are often referred to as “high efficiency” solar panels.

    Crystalline silicon cells are manufactured using a process called Czochralski growth.

    The raw material used in this process is silicon, which is melted and pulled through a furnace. As it cools, the molten silicon solidifies into wafers.

    Once the wafer is formed, it is sliced into individual pieces. Each piece is coated with a layer of phosphorus and boron atoms, and then dipped into a solution containing antimony.

    After being washed, the crystals are dried and ready to be used in solar panels.

    The advantages of crystalline silicon solar panels include their durability and reliability.

    Unlike amorphous silicon panels, crystalline silicon panels tend to last longer without requiring any maintenance.

    Additionally, they are more resistant to damage from weather conditions such as rain and snow. However, they cost more than amorphous silicon panels.

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    The disadvantages of crystalline silicon solar cells include their higher weight and lower output compared to amorphous silicon cells.

    In addition, they require a lot of space to operate. For example, each crystalline silicon cell needs its own inverter, which converts DC current into AC current.

    What Are Hybrid Solar Panels?

    Hybrid solar panels combine both crystalline silicon and amorphous silicon cells in one panel.

    This allows homeowners to get the best of both worlds: high efficiency and a long life span.

    Like crystalline silicon cells, hybrid solar panels have a relatively low initial price point.

    However, like amorphous silicon panels, they can still be quite costly.

    The main advantage of hybrid panels is their ability to provide a combination of high efficiency and a long lifespan.

    Both types of cells work together to create a balance between power generation and longevity.

    Lower your electric bill, increase your property value, reduce your tax liability, and help save the world.

    Why Choose Harbor Freight Solar Panels?

    Harbor Freight solar panels are made from high-quality materials and are designed to be durable, reliable, and easy to install.

    They come with everything you need to get started right away – including mounting hardware, installation instructions, and even a free power inverter.

    The panels themselves are also very affordable, so it’s not hard to see why these are one of the most popular options for residential solar panel installations.

    Types Of Harbor Freight Solar Panel

    Harbor Freight offers a variety of different types of solar panels that are suitable for different applications. These include:

    • Standard Solar Panels: These are perfect for homeowners who want to add solar panels to their homes. They are typically mounted on rooftops or ground-mounted on concrete pads.
    • Ground Mount Solar Panels: These are ideal for commercial properties like warehouses, factories, and offices. They can also be used to supplement existing rooftop systems.
    • Rooftop Solar Panels: These are best suited for large buildings that already have roofs. They can be placed directly on top of the roof, or attached to a building wall.
    • Flat Plate Solar Panels: These are designed for off-grid installations. They are usually mounted on poles or walls.
    • Hybrid Solar Panels: These combine both flat plates and standard solar panels. They are great for larger projects because they allow you to maximize your investment while still providing a high level of efficiency.

    How Do Solar Panels Work?

    The process of generating electricity from sunlight is called photovoltaics. Photovoltaic cells convert light directly into electrical energy.

    A photovoltaic cell consists of two layers of semiconductors. One layer acts as a p-type material, while the other acts as an n-type material.

    When exposed to sunlight, electrons move from the valence Band of one layer to the conduction Band of the other layer.

    This creates an electric field across the junction between the two layers. This electric field causes the flow of electrons, creating a voltage.

    How Does Harbor Freight Solar Panel System Work?

    When you connect your Harbor Freight solar panel system to the grid, it converts DC electricity into AC electricity.

    Your house’s power meter then measures how much electricity you use each month.

    The amount of electricity you use is compared against the total amount of electricity generated by your solar panels.

    Based on this comparison, your utility provider sends you a bill detailing what percentage of the cost of electricity was provided by your solar panels.

    When you generate your own electricity using a Harbor Freight solar panel, you reduce your reliance on fossil fuels.

    You’ll also benefit from lower monthly electricity costs, which will allow you to put more money towards your mortgage, rent, and other expenses.

    It may even make sense to invest in a solar power system if your current electricity rates are higher than average.

    What Are The Advantages Of Harbor Freight Solar Panels?

    Harbor Freight solar panels come with a range of advantages, and these include:

    • Low Initial Cost: As mentioned above, you can get a complete solar panel system for about 2,500. This includes everything from mounting hardware to wiring.
    • No Maintenance Required: Unlike traditional solar panels, Harbor Freight solar panels don’t require any ongoing maintenance. All you need to do is simply clean them once every few months.
    • Energy Independence: Because Harbor Freight solar panels produce electricity, you won’t have to worry about running out of energy during periods of low supply.
    • Environmentally Friendly: Since Harbor Freight solar panels are made from recyclable materials, they help protect our environment.
    • Easy To Install: Harbor Freight solar panels are easy to mount and remove. Simply unscrew the bolts and lift off the panels.
    • Reliable: Harbor Freight solar panel systems are designed to last for many years. They are built to withstand extreme weather conditions, so you don’t have to worry about them being damaged by strong winds or heavy rain.

    Are There Any Downsides Of Solar Panels?

    Of course, there are always going to be downsides to using any kind of technology. The biggest downside of solar power is its reliance on the sun.

    As mentioned earlier, this makes it difficult to use solar energy during cloudy days.

    Also, because solar panels require direct sunlight, they won’t work effectively in areas that don’t receive enough sunlight throughout the year.

    Another drawback of solar panels is that they do not store energy. So, if you want to use your battery at night, you will need to invest in an inverter.

    However, these drawbacks pale in comparison to the benefits of solar energy.

    When you compare the cost of solar panels to the cost of traditional methods of generating electricity, you’ll see that it’s definitely cheaper.

    Plus, you can rest assured knowing that your panels will provide clean, renewable energy for generations to come.

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