If you've been batting around the idea of picking up a Thunderbolt Magnum45-Watt Solar Panel Kit #68751, now's the time to strike, my friend. This Friday-Sunday, March 8-10, the legendary Harbor Freight Tools Sidewalk Sale is running, with the solar panel kit going for a cool $139.99! And if you miss the sale, no worries-- between now and Monday, March 18, the kit remains on sale for just $149.99. Talk about Daylight Savings Time (that's OK, you'll get it later...)!
Perhaps you've thought that the idea of setting up a solar system would be cool, but also a little intimidating. What's in the kit? How do you put it together? What else do you need? How much do you need to know? The truth is, you don't have to be a whiz kid to put something functional and efficient together for your home, garage, barn, shed, RV, camp or bug-out shelter.
In his first video, he goes over what the kit includes and also points out that you'll also need at least one 12-volt battery (2 or more would be better-- he recommends deep cycle) and a power inverter to make the system fully useful. For his demonstration he uses the Cen-Tech 750 Watt Power Inverter, but in the spirit of "More Is Better"-- that is, if you intend to use the solar system for larger machinery or appliances-- I suggest getting the Chicago Electric 1500/3000 Power Inverter. Of course, it depends on what you need the solar energy for. If you're in a cabin and intend to occasionally vacuum or use a microwave, the 750 watt inverter won't cut it.
Here's a general guide of determining how big of an inverter you might need:
|Appliance||Est. Watts||Appliance||Est. Watts|
|Cell phone||24||CD player||400|
|TV 25"||175||Jig saw||350|
|Laptop computer||65-90||Circular saw||1250|
|Computer & monitor||400||1/2" drill||700|
|Coffee maker||800||Satellite dish||75|
If you are really considering putting together a solar kit, one of best DIY solar websites to get acquainted with is the Do It Yourself Solar Energy Forum. This terrific site is a wealth of information with tips, tutorials, videos and plain old general knowledge. Chances are good if you have a question, it's been asked and answered on this forum. There's a lot of coverage on the Harbor Freight 45-watt solar panel kit, too. Videos include everything from assembly, set-up, add-ons and plenty of personal mods from folks looking to build the better mousetrap. There are even videos on solar panel kit performance during rain and snow. My favorite video on this site was made by Larry "The Solar Toolman" Taylor:
I don't think there's a more practical and informative DIY video on home solar power set-ups out there. Larry followed this first how-to video with a Workshop #2 and a three-part Workshop #3. If you want to get some insight of just what you can do with your newly-harnessed solar power, definitely check these out.
Preppers represent a good number of the solar kit shoppers, which only makes sense. Nobody anticipates contingencies like a prepper. Only two weeks ago I wrote about Chappy from NewSurvivalSkills.com and how he employed a Harbor Freight solar panel briefcase to get power in the wild.
Another prepper clip I came across was from a guy with the moniker, ncprepper1. He uses three solar panel kits to run a 36" TV (even in the event of a zombie apocalypse, you gotta have your TV), laptop, lights, a camera system, and more. To make room for even more solar kits, he shows how to build a wooden rack that can add three, making a total of 18 solar panels . Not to be outdone, LDSPrepper installed 4 solar panel kits (180 watts) on the side of his house with a 1500 watt power inverter, and poses a convincing argument for why he decided to go with Harbor Freight solar panels.
Incidentally, LDSPrepper-- who actually has a whole series of solar panel videos worth plowing through-- repeatedly credits another YouTuber, econewpower, for helping him get started. This guy supplies his own treasure trove of solar panel kit how-to videos: I recommend starting with his How To Install Harbor Freight Solar Panels Part 1 . I think there are five parts in this series, plus he has other DIY solar videos on hand.
With the advent of spring fast approaching, it's a great time to get started on your solar system project. Whether it be for emergencies, saving electricity costs or going green, solar is a solid alternative energy that, in extreme cases, could potentially save you and your family from losing creature comforts, food supplies or even lives.
Check out these and other videos on DIY solar panel kits and projects online!
As we watch winter getting smaller in the rear-view mirror, it's time to start thinking about prepping all the warm weather toys for the coming months. I'm talking about the ATVs, the boat and water toys, the motorcycles, RV, lawn tractor, etc. -- the stuff that's been just sitting for the past five or so months. Unless you've been keeping them on life support with a battery float charger (which, by the way, would have been the forward-thinking thing to do, but if you're like me, thoughts like that usually come late), they be dead, Jim.
But l'd rather light a candle than curse your darkness. As it just so happens, Harbor Freight's 3-in-1 Jump Starter & Power Supply is the perfect tool for just such a challenge. This popular unit is a lifesaver when you're stuck. Fully charged, it will jump 12-volt batteries ordinary jumper cables will fail. It provides a whopping 400 amp boost rate and comes a 3.6 watt light so you can see what you're doing under the hood.
And as proud owners can attest, the Cen-Tech jump starter is a veritable bacon saver:
"I bought this Jump Box on Friday, charged it over night and set out for parades on Saturday morning. During the course of the day, I used it to jump 2 SUV's and a pickup (all big V-8's) that had dead batteries. It handled them all off of a single charge and according to the meter, it still had plenty of juice left. Very impressed. Also includes a cigarette lighter adapter that would let you charge/ recharge it from your boat/ car in an emergency." Jake S. - Slidell, IA
"Just emergency boosting two stranded cars made the unit pay for itself. Loaded with features that are sorely missing from more expensive "brand name" units; such as the excellent analog volt meter. Brand name units usually have lights instead of an actual volt meter. And the built-in A/C adapter, brand names usually have a wall brick adapter that is easily damaged or lost. The battery is a standard size AGM battery that can be easily accessed and replaced if needed. The flat back panel is great for modifications, I bolted a small DC to AC inverter to use as a mobile power supply for very light duty AC devices, I use mine to run a cd boombox on picnics, better than investing on pricey D cell batteries . The mods make my booster pack a little bit of a mutant, but they have come very handy when the power goes out, at a fraction of what an all in one unit would have cost. The molded plastic really takes the bumps well, and the battery charge lasts a long time, great tool." Jose Jiminez
The Cen-Tech 3-in-1 Jump Starter & Power Supply sells for a low $49.99-- just $39.99 with a 20% coupon!-- and is available on Harbor Freight's website or in the store.
As the resuscitative process often involves inflating tires as well, you might want to dole out just a few more bucks and get the Chicago Electric Jump Starter with Air Compressor.
This model has the same awesome power and features as the Cen-Tech, but also comes with an invaluable 260 psi air compressor. Think that's overkill? Think again!
"Pumped up 5 tires from a dead flat. Jump-started more than 20 cars 'n trucks. Still running strong. Even used in power outtage, hooked up a converter to the cig outlet and had light and TV to watch, lasted about 9 hours ." hueyhotdogg2000 - Bula, OH
"This unit has been a great addition to my travel gear. It has been able to jump start a diesel pickup truck in the winter and the compressor has kept everything from my kids' bicycle tires to a flat on a friend's SUV inflated. I also found that by using the 12-V outlet with my inverter, I can use items like my TV while camping and not run down my vehicle's battery nor keep the engine running." Jeff G.
For the garage, barn, car, boat and more-- the Chicago Electric jump starter/air compressor can be had for a mere $60.99 ($48.79 with 20% coupon)! For that, you can buy two!
Just remember where you heard about this. You're welcome.
In the late 60's, high school teacher Eliot Wigginton and his students created Foxfire, a chronicle of traditional folk culture of the Southern Appalachians. The first Foxfire book introduced the colorful Aunt Arie and her fellow mountain folk, dispensing their homespun knowledge of log cabin building, hog dressing, hill people crafts and food, and "other affairs of plain living." It was soon followed by several other volumes, offering instructions on wagon making, midwifing, hide tanning, moonshining, knife making, rudimentary water systems, dressing wounds, and countless other tips on living off the land.
Now, call it a shift in political climate, call it social polarization, call it the writing on the wall: there is a renewed growing interest in personal emergency preparedness and self-reliance these days. This interest has manifest itself in everything from food storage to family disaster drills to bunkers in the woods, and there's a new wave of voices disseminating information on how to be prepared. A lot of what's being shared can be found in the Foxfire books, but a lot won't. Much has been learned and developed over the past 50 years, and our ability to "fend for ourselves" has suddenly expanded and virtually become a mainstream industry.
Enter the team of New Survival Skills, a hardcore, practical group of instructors that teaches greenhorns how to live in the wild. Visit their Facebook page and you'll quickly see these guys are no boy scouts: "We are former or active U.S. Special Forces, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Law Enforcement and Fire Fighters who are now training people in survival skills."
Team leader "Chappy" McKinney, made NSS' mission clear:
"I want more people to see that life in the city may be hard, but life in the wilderness could kill you if you don’t know what you are doing. The skills you learn to stay alive in the wilderness relate so perfectly to everyday life. I am not saying that you will breakout with a bow drill and start a fire in your office, but you will be able to see things in such a different light that you may feel that you have been blind to the truths of everyday life."
Recently, New Survival Skills accepted Harbor Freight's challenge to test the Thunderbolt Magnum 13-Watt Briefcase Solar Charger (#68750), Portable Battery Solar Charger (#68690) and 1-Watt Solar Power Pack with multiple adapters for cell phones and mp3 players (#68691), in the wild. After several days, they returned with this report:
It was awesome to learn some practical survival applications using Harbor Freight's solar gear. I was particularly impressed how Chappy kept his cell phoned charging while hoofing it in the woods. I'm also glad he pointed out what a treasure trove of useful gear Harbor Freight Tools provides for survivalists. Even this morning, he reported from somewhere in the wilderness:
"Right now, here where I am it is 52°F with light showers, completely overcast....I have the THUNDERBOLT MAGNUM SOLAR 13 Watt Briefcase Solar Charger, from Harbor Freight Tools- item#68750 siting outside with a thin sheet of plastic sheeting over it and it is still producing 18 volts at the 12 volt setting and 33 volts on the 24 volt setting....I highly recommend this product to everyone!"
It's easy to think that survival skills in the wild is an outdated talent for people like us. Yet, just a glance at the footage of Sandy, Katrina, Haiti and so many of Nature's other targets, we would be fools to assume that we were invulnerable. The New Survival Skills' leader offers another very persuasive pitch for taking their course:
"My life was changed for the better when I went into the woods as a camper. I was put into a group with six other boys who had never met each other before and we were assigned a counselor who had the pleasure of our company in the wild for two whole weeks. We learned things that city boys did not know, like how to fish with just a line, hook and a worm, which we had to find in the dirt. We learned how to start fires without matches, how to find water, use a compass, how to ride horses and most of all we learned that survival in the woods was no game, but a test of one's skills. The one skill that I know was most important one taught to us was the ability to work together as a team to overcome some of the harshest country in the U.S. Later in life I had more hands-on training in wilderness survival from some of the best in the business with the U.S. Military, and put my skills and training in the wild to work as a Wildland Firefighter for a few years on a hand crew in Northern California. Now, I feel today more than ever before, that the same skills I learned in the woods gave me the leadership skills to be a success in my professional life as well as opening my eyes to the things that have become of interest to me. I love and respect the outdoors and anything wild. My heritage is also Native American (Oglala, Lakota Sioux) and I feel a deep draw to the wilderness and doing what I can to help others see what beauty there is in it and how to respect it." Chappy
Football! The season couldn't have come fast enough. I was getting sick hearing nothing but politics and hopscotching around TV reruns. But-- hallelujah!-- it's time once again for Pac-12 and pro ball (Go Big Blue!)-- clear the boogie boards and swimming noodles out of the man cave, kick the PS3 crap off the floor and fill the chest freezer with wings, poppers, bacon and shredded cheese. And more importantly, get ready for the blacktop!
The tailgate party is a sacred ritual, much like a holy pilgrimage or pantsing the new kid. And like any ritual that requires serious reflection, one needs to decide how they will prepare for it. For example, go with the beer shorts, don't go with the beer shorts? Obviously, if the beer helmet is out, it leaves you looking for a viable alternative. Also boning up on your cornholing and knowing the ACO regulation cornhole rules.
To throw a successful tailgate party for a bunch of your swellest buds, you'll want to bring awesome gear. Of course a lot of what you bring depends on your power source, if any. A gas-powered generator can bust your options wide open-- and there really are a ton to consider: a crock pot for the Lil' Smokies or nacho cheese sauce, an electric grill for burgers and dogs, a portable oven for pizza, a mini-fridge, a heater or fan--depending on the weather, a string of lights or lanterns, a radio or other sound system, an LCD TV with portable satellite receiver, a PA ("attention, fans of other team..."}, a blender or margarita machine, coffee maker... hey, you could be there as long as 12 hours, man. Gear up for any possibility.
That said, my recommendation is getting the Chicago Electric 3050 Watt 7 HP Gas Generator. It runs quiet, it's great on gas and it's got all the juice you need to make it a helluva party! This is Harbor Freight's most popular generator, and the proof is in the praise:
"I use this to power my refrigerators and freezer during outages, as well as charge and run needed electronics. It is very nice for this application since you can run for 24 hours on 10 gallons. She is very quiet... fires up easily and runs smoothly. Very nice product. "
Another customer had this to say:
" I use it mainly (for) hunting and camping, but have used it for power outage. It run a 5th wheel camper AC during day and furnance at nights with TV, frig, lights, PC, water pump, with no problems, and the 4-gallon tank runs it for approx 6 hrs. with over 50% pull on it. A sweet generator for the$$$ for sure. "
Besides football tailgate parties, this generator's the perfect companion for rave parties, swap meets and fairs, rock concert tailgates, camping, and as I previously pointed out, areas of paranormal activity.
While you're at it, I suggest you pick up an 8" Never-Flat Generator Wheel Kit or a slightly-more-economical Mover's Dolly along with a handy-dandy Swivel Handle. You'll thank me, I promise. And finally, grab a 10' x 10' Popup Canopy while you're there. Unless burn is your team color.
On July 4th I commemorated the day the best way I knew how-- shooting at the range with a couple of buddies. I recently acquired a beautiful Remington 788 .358 custom rifle and had yet to take it out, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Also, I hadn’t tried out the Gordon 20-60 x 60 spotting scope that I got at Harbor Freight, so I took that along, too.
If you enjoy target shooting, you know what a hassle it is to stop after every few rounds and schlepp to the target to see how you did—so, a spotting scope is definitely a good thing to have. But then go online and you see the suckers can run as high as $2,500 (for that, it better make me breakfast)! I knew Harbor Freight had a spotting scope for $50 when I started shopping, but I was firm in the belief that, when it came to optics, “if it’s good, it’s expensive,” so I quickly dismissed it. Then my friend, Paul (a retired marine, far more experienced than me at target shooting), told me to go for the Gordon model. The magnification range, he said, was perfect, and it didn’t make sense to spend more for the kind of practice we were doing. He’d never steered me wrong before, so I went for it.
It turned out to be a great morning. Zeroed at 100 yards, the rifle shot like a dream, grouped slightly under 1-1/2” (so, I won’t be on Top Shot anytime soon), and the recoil was mercifully mild. We ended up shooting for about 5 hours (a LEO buddy brought his MP-5… but that’s another story), got so stoked we planned a pig hunting trip, and the Gordon 20-60 x 60mm spotting scope performed wonderfully; clear and sharp. So, at least for the time being, I've got no need to spend any more; save that for the ammo. It'll also be a good companion on backcountry hunts.
If you don’t like to shoot, but do like to watch, the spotting scope’s also excellent for bird & wildlife watching, sightseeing vista spots or sports & music events.
Next time: Cleaning brass with tumblers, ultrasonic cleaners & cement mixers.
In the March/April 1939 issue of Popular Homecraft a story ran, along with detailed plans, for something that was dubbed the “Honeymoon House Trailer...”
...designed and built by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California. He had literally saved his dimes and built this little gem back in the 30’s, to take his new bride on their wedding trip. The 8’x4’ floor plan was had tongue-and-groove flooring on a pine chassis, and Rogers used a Chevy front axle with 28” wheels and 1926 rear fenders. The odd little trailer slept two and had a raise-up deck lid for a rear kitchenette, with ice box and stove. A curtain-enclosure outside the starboard entry served at the “dressing room.” The teardrop trailer was born.
DIYers went crazy. They used Rogers’ plans, and soon added touches of their own. After World War II, the trailer evolved with models sporting Jeep wheels and exterior skins made from bombers’ wings. After the 50’s, their popularity started dropping when larger RVs appeared, but then returned with a vengeance. Today you can find a number of websites for plans (some free!), photo galleries, forums and clubs. Teardrop trailer enthusiasts believe that creating, renovating and modifying their own models are what give the little campers their timelessness—and the most rewarding way to own a teardrop!
I first noticed the teardrop trailer when surfing for a tent trailer to take on road trips. From time to time, “teardrop trailer” results would pop up, and eventually I started clicking on them. My first impressions: These critters are small… they’re cute… wow, they’re equipped… oh wow, they’re cool! The best of the bunch, IMHO, were the homemade models. They remind me of the Pinewood Derby race cars we made as kids—there were always a couple that hijacked the event, they were so amazing.
I also saw that the Harbor Freight utility trailer was a favorite for the frame, particularly the Haul-Master 1195 lb. 4’x8’ foldable trailer...
...and 1720 lb 4’x8’ Super Duty model.
There seems to be a controversy over whether or not a foldable utility trailer should be used, but as is shown in the above photo, they’ve proven to be very capable. This model--
--aptly named “Woody,” is a simple, classic example of the DIY teardrop trailer. When I asked Steve Edling, the site owner, to use a picture of Woody for this article, he graciously consented and added that a number of Harbor Freight tools were also used in its creation. Indeed, Kuffel Kreek, a provider of teardrop trailer plans, lists several must-have Harbor Freight tools one should get before starting, including a brad nailer, air shears and angle grinder.
Type in phrases like “teardrop trailer harbor freight” on Google and you’ll get tons of sites—including a few YouTube videos—that talk about using Harbor Freight’s utility trailers in their projects. This isn’t just because the trailers are inexpensive—it’s because they’re rugged, reliable, durable AND inexpensive. I mean, if you’re going to invest all that time, sweat, and money (and probably a pint or two of blood) in this labor of love, would you risk the integrity of its frame? Neither would I.
The American-born DIY teardrop trailer is more than just a cool, little camper. It’s a gratifying project of personal expression, something you can climb into and go to sleep knowing, you built this! It’s not an easy project—as noted on Kuffel Kreek, “Anything that bounces down the highway at 65 MPH isn't easy”—and if you’ve never built anything before, forget it (I should probably hone my skills a tad more before I attempt it), It also takes space and time. But the payoff is awesome, and your teardrop trailer will retain its value much longer than any other RV on the road.
Check out this great photo gallery which includes several teardrop trailers!
Get ready for dragging the fam (or just yourself) cross country or cross town for some serious summer fun with the Harbor Freight Tools Aluminum Cargo Carrier paired with our Magnetic Trailer Light Kit. Both are on sale and in stock now!
Whether you're a camper, survivalist, or just someone who likes to be prepared for emergencies, a magnesium fire starter makes a worthy addition to your toolbox or camping bag. Fire-starting is one of the basic activities performed during camping and emergency situations, necessary for cooking, heating and lighting.
While modern day devices like electric-igniters and butane lighters are convenient, they are prone to failure. The trigger switches on electric fire-starters can break, butane lighters can easily crack and even waterproof matches can break. This is where a magnesium fire starter comes into play.
This waterproof fire starter serves as its own tinder and can produce a flame under damp conditions. The tinder lasts an incredibly long time. As a compact fire starter, it takes up practically no room at all, leaving plenty of space in your camping bag for other worthy essentials, like this 12 LED hand crank lantern.
In survival situations, you'll want this simple, compact accessory with you at all times to get a fire going even in damp weather. The fire it generates is extremely hot and will ignite even damp kindling. It comes complete with its own striker which creates sparks when struck against the firesteel.
When it comes to finding a portable and reliable method for starting fires, Harbor Freight has you covered. Our simple fire starter requires no electricity, no messy fuel refills, and no special waterproofing.
A magnesium fire starter is a must-have for all emergency preparedness kits, survival kits, and camping bags. If you're the type who always needs a “plan b”, this will be a great tool for you!