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.
The great thing about the Internet, whatever your passion, you can find a slew of guys and gals who share it. Forums abound for everything from cooking to alien sightings to ham radios to ham. One of the most strongly represented tool niche groups online is the woodworkers group. There are dozens of woodworking forums on the 'net, where they exchange tips and experiences, and as any craftsmen, they're passionate about their art, their projects, their conventional wisdom... and their tools. So, given the variety of tools and equipment Harbor Freight has-- not to mention the prices-- you can imagine how many times the discount tool store becomes topic of conversation.
I took a look at one of the more popular forums, Lumberjocks.com (all woodworking, all the time), and compiled a list of what their members said were among their favorite Harbor Freight acquisitions. See if you agree, or have anything to add:
"How many times when starting your router or your drill press, or other power tool, did you wish you had one more hand to firmly grab on the piece you were ready to machine? Often we present a piece of wood on the router just at right place to route it, and then we need to let go of it to start the router, and then the piece moves. Or we hardly can hold one large piece. We don't feel safe and then we need to let go of one hand to start the router or the drill press. With the Momentary Power Foot Switch you can feel a lot safer when you start the router, firmly grabbing on the piece to machine with both hands. It greatly improves the safety and control of the execution."
b2rtch on Lumberjocks
"I’ve been using this blade for a few months now. It’s lived in my miter saw most of that time and I just tried it out on the table saw for rip cuts. I’ve been very pleased with this blade, overall. The titanium nitride coating does seem to reduce friction and give a somewhat cleaner cut. The blade is nice and sharp out of the box. It cuts more easily and cleanly than the Kobalt blades I had been using in the miter saw. And the rip cuts it did were good, too. The saw didn’t bog down as it had with some other blades. The best part is this thing is less than $15 at Harbor Freight. Even less with a 20% off coupon. At that price you can keep a couple of spares around when you need a fresh blade. Note to SawStop owners: The titanium nitride coating does not interfere with the SawStop safety system’s detection or trip the brake."
Purrmaster on Lumberjocks
"I own 4 of these bases. Obviously, I like them and think they are a good product. They are well made and glide easily across the shop floor. Assembly with the first one was a bit confusing, but after that the other 3 were easy. I don’t exceed the 300 lbs. but I think they could support more than that. They are thick, heavy and finished well with decent nuts and bolts. The big knobs turn easily, steadies your machine level and don't move while in use."
kdc68 on Lumberjocks
"Went into a newly opened Harbor Freight store in Florida, and while cruising around, I came across the Cen-Tech Digital Mini Moisture Meter (item 67143). Wasn’t looking for one but when I saw this-- and the price-- I figured what the heck…go for it. I’m glad I did because it really works, and now I won’t touch a piece of wood for turning until I check the content first. I was actually quite surprised at how high the moisture was in some of my wood. When I go back next spring, I’ll likely get some for friends….can’t go wrong with that price! BTW, it also does it for C or F, has a 'Hard Material Mode' and measure 'Environmental temperature.' The readout is clear as well."
Salmo on Lumberjocks
"Now that I’m semi-retired, I have more time to drift through tool stores, home improvement centers, and the like. In HF the other day, I noticed the 97593 Magnesium 4X24 Belt Sander on sale for $69.99, usually $79.99. With my 20% coupon, walked the last one out of the store for a ridiculous $55.00! Now, I know we all like to think somewhere along the line we graduate from ever using belt sanders ever again, but for some reason their use pops up from time to time, and for me, it always seems like I never have a big enough one to do the job.
"The Harbor Freight Chicago Tool 4X24 Magnesium Belt Sander is one of those tools that I think you would use to sand the paint off that old picnic table, or take down 8-10 coats of whatever off any larger piece of wood you need cleaned. This thing is just a flat-out HORSE. Even with the magnesium frame, it still weighs. Mine was the last one my store had, and did not have a manual, (have to download it), but the website says it puts 1640 feet of sandpaper per minute on the wood, pulls 10 amps, and weighs somewhere around 15 lbs. I believe it all, having hogged down a piece of 2 ft. by 5” wide solid piece of oak from rough mill cut to smooth in less than two minutes. Mine tracked perfectly out of the box, and I love the little handle on the side to loosen the belt, rather than have to do the “front roller dance” pushing it back and hoping it catches, change the belt, then hope you can get it to snap back and re-tighten by running the tracking knob back and forth. None of that with this sander. Simply loosen the handle on the side, change the belt, snap the handle back in place, and keep going.
"I really went into HF to look at driveway sensors for my wife, and the lathe tools recently reviewed here. I ended up buying the sensors and this hog, and I’m really glad I did. I don’t use a belt sander much anymore, but when I do, I want a large surface belt, and for $55 compared to a smaller PC for $169, this was a no-brainer."
Tennessee on Lumberjocks
"This saw has a 15-amp motor that sliced through everything I threw at it with no issues. The action of the slide and is very smooth. Though I used it only for 90 degree cuts, the table movement and compound movement were very smooth and didn’t move at all when set and tightened. First thing I did after setting up the saw was to build some 3’ extension wings on both sides out of 3/4” pine with 1/4 hard board across for my zero clearance backing. I couldn’t be happier. I was able to do the final trim on about 60 shelves and sides (3 cuts per board) in maybe 2 hours. Everything came out great, true and square – no issues."
SchottFamily on Lumberjocks
"I’ve always called Harbor Freight “God’s gift to men,” and since there’s been a bit of hubbub about this tool paradise on this site recently I thought I’d post some reviews of my favorite HF Gems…
"This one I just bought TODAY and I already can see that it is among the best tools in the store! For one thing, this thing is extremely well made! If you had this jig sitting alongside the Kreig version, I guarantee you’d pick this one up to examine first. Why? Because it really looks great. While the $100 Krieg jig is mostly plastic, this is all aluminum. And I don’t mean that crappy cast aluminum. This is precision machined aluminum.
"The design is also very well executed. The heart of it is the guide holes, of course. There are two sets of two, so you can drill a pair side by side in your piece. One set is at a steep angle for 1/2"-to-1” thick material, the other set of guide holes is at a lower angle for thicker material. You can move the hole guides to adjust how far apart you want them using nicely etched measuring marks so no ruler is needed. Lock them in place with the knob and use the very nice, heavy duty hold down clamp to secure your piece and you’re ready to drill. The bit is included as are a bunch of screws. Another nice feature is that you can remove the hole guide assembly from the stand and clamp it to large parts that the stand won’t accommodate.
"Bottom line is- this jig is WELL worth the price... and may even be better in many ways than the twice as expensive Krieg jig.
"That’s my two cents…"
StumpyNubs on Lumberjocks
Finally... it seems like the single-most talked about Harbor Freight tool-- by far-- in the woodworking world is the Central Machinery 2 HP Industrial 5 Micron Dust Collector. Mentions about this thing just come up over and over, again.
"A year ago, when I was building my shop, I was shopping around for a dust collector to be the heart of my system. I looked at General, Jet, Grizzly, etc. But then I read several really postive reviews on the HF 2 HP model. I had a coupon for 169.00 for it so I figured, why not? Let me tell you, this thing is at least the equal of all of those others! I actually got a chance to examine a Jet, and a Grizzly….and they are almost identical. My longest run is 45 feet and I’ve had no trouble running one tool there and another 25 feet in the other direction, at the same time. It gets it all. Now I make a lot of dust here in my shop so this has gotten a workout in the last year, and I’m not disappointed. This is one of those rare Harbor Freight gems."
njcraftsman on Lumberjocks
"There isn't much this little thingie can't handle. Cabinet saw, no problem. 12 inch Planer, same same. 6-inch jointer, 6 x 48 flat belt, compound miter saw, nada. Moderate-sized drum sander, no problem-o. Don't expect this rig to evacuate a 52-inch double wide belt sander though, but for most small shop cabinet men, chair makers and burl workers this will execute without hesitation. I've got mine in a room adjacent to my shop running through a bulkhead fitting; all you hear is the quiet screaming of the sawdust as it is slurped off to the Great Beyond. A metal trash can will fit nicely under the bag within the frame, which eases the unloading of poor, dead tree powder and other assorted shop waste. Don't think you can run a 100-ft hose from your shop to your neighbor's basement though; any DC system can only handle X amount of hose, especially if it is corrugated or has numerous 180' turns. All in all, very pleased with this item, it can run with the big dogs all day long (going on 6 years) as long as you keep good duct work and hoses in the equation and mind your housekeeping regarding the top bags cleanliness."
R. E. Parks on Dakota Heirloom Woodworking
"At the end of the day, is this thing worth it? Heck yeah! I don't think there's anything that's comparable for the price. As I stated, I don't have a lot of personal experience with dust collectors, but I have no idea what a more expensive single stage dust collector could do that this one can't. This product comes with a high recommendation from me, and it's a pretty big improvement over my old shop vac based system."
haugerm on Woodworking Talk
As I've mentioned, the Mrs. and I are trying to fortify our emergency supplies. We recently brought home a generator inherited from my father-in-law, an old 1500-watt unit. And while we were happy with the new acquisition, we soon learned it was only good for minor applications-- tailgating, camping, backyard parties-- so we decided to shop for a new, bigger generator and use this one as a supplement.
Now, I'll study the HECK out of a product before I buy-- professional reviews, customer comments and forums are must reading. If you're like me, you think customer reviews are the best, especially when there are several of them for a product, and most of them agree. The Predator gas generators at Harbor Freight all have high-star ratings, so I dove into their reviews. Most of them were what you'd expect: "very pleased..." "well constructed..." "powered everything with no problem..." "works great and costs a lot less..."
But then, I stumbled on a particular review, and a chill crept up my spine. I turned down the AC and read on.
It was from the West Houston Paranormal Society, a dedicated group of otherworldly investigators who hunt and engage the unknown:
"We are West Houston Paranormal Society and this is our official generator. Running power where we need it in powerless buildings and houses that we investigate. It runs our equipment (cameras, audio, trip sensors, monitors, DVRs, computers, recharging packs, etc) throughout the house, as well as our trailer base command/review center. Fist pull operation, no drain or surges and super quiet.... the last thing we need is a loud generator interfering with our EVPs and video evidence, that is why we chose this one because that was high on our list of NEEDED features." Caps included.
Why the Predator generator? Could it be it resonates with beings from across the veil? Or, is it the high-quality performance and low prices? Perhaps it's all of the above.
The Mrs. and I ended up going with the Predator 8750 Watts Max/7000 Watts Rated Portable Generator, certified for California (4.5 stars, 13 reviews). It has the necessary power to juice our gas furnace, refrigerator freezer, AC, microwave, TV & lights... a little more than the "bare minimum" we had originally planned to get, but I'm sure we'll be glad when the emergency (and the other stuff) goes down.
The Predator generator isn't the only Harbor Freight product of choice among paranormal investigators. The Southeastern Paranormal Society, located in Salisbury, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC, and the good folks at IHuntGhosts.com, favor the motion-activated Bunker Hill Security 4-Camera Surveillance DVR when looking into poltergeists and sundry presences. A representative at the SPS commented:
"I bought this package to do surveillance for our paranormal research group. The cameras perform great in near pitch black conditions. Considering buying another system for our group."
Everyone who's seen those paranormal movies knows why this is an important contribution to the investigative process (on the other hand, I'm not sure I want to know what's going on in my house when I'm asleep).
On My Para: The Paranormal Social Network, a forum member recently recommended the Cen-Tech Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer for measuring the ambient air around "cold" and "hot" spots. While so-called "professional" ambient air thermometers cost around $130, Harbor Freight's is just $39.99. Boo-yah!
Here's a particularly unnerving thread about using a wireless inspection camera " for "tight spaces" and "a very good idea for a room that has noises coming from it with the door closed." The forum member who recommended the Cen-Tech Digital Inspection Camera was using his to check out a mausoleum he'd been curious about.
Finally, as Ghost Journeys advises in its Investigation Guidelines:
So, when it comes to quality tools at incredibly low prices... who you gonna call?
The Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer instantly measures temperatures from a distance. Do it the convenient and accurate way with the Cen-Tech Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with Laser Targeting (SKU 96451) from Harbor Freight Tools! By just pointing the laser at the intended surface, this amazing infrared laser thermometer instantly measures surface temperatures.
This tool is often also referred to as a laser thermometer because of the built-in laser used to target surface temperatures in just 500 milliseconds! And with the included 9 volt DC battery, this laser IR thermometer goes wherever it’s needed. Whether you’re going from jobsite to jobsite or working on several vehicles in a shop, the CenTech laser thermometer is just the tool you need to easily measure temperatures in just about any location.
If you’re in the market for an infrared thermometer with laser targeting and don’t want to pay a price that will make you see red, then get down to Harbor Freight where you can find this item for much less than what you’ll pay elsewhere! Our laser infrared thermometer is accurate up to +/- 4° below 212° F and +/- 2° above 212° F with a temperature range of -4°F (-20°C) to 968°F (520°C) making it a perfect addition to any tool chest or automotive kit.
Don’t overpay for a quality tool! Set your sights on Harbor Freight and pick up this Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer today!
This Cen-Tech brand Digital Angle Gauge (SKU 95998) from Harbor Freight Tools takes the guesswork out of measuring angles! This high quality digital angle finder is magnetized so it can stick to most metal surfaces including table saw blades, miter tables and more! Even use it to make sure the surface of your work piece is level. This amazing angle finder tool displays the precise angle in seconds on the LCD digital screen. The Hold button allows you to freeze the reading so you can make the appropriate adjustments.
But the only adjustment you need to make now is to switch from your standard angle finder to the Harbor Freight Digital Angle Gauge! With the ease and accuracy the Digital Angle Gauge provides, you’ll save time on your projects after saving money with Harbor Freight Tools. Similar digital angle finders retail for double what you’ll pay at Harbor Freight and you still get the same high quality.
With its durable steel construction and magnetic base, this handy Digital Angle Gauge will serve you for years to come. Accurate to 0.3 degrees, this tool is right on the money in more ways than one!
I went into my local Harbor Freight Tools store and picked up a Digital Inspection Camera with 2.4" Color LCD Monitor. It takes 4 AA batteries (not included), so I picked up a 24 pack of AA batteries from Harbor Freight as well for under $6 bucks – great price and now I have back up batteries! Some online recon revealed that competitive brands of inspection cameras with monitors were exorbitantly higher priced than the Harbor Freight version at under a $120. Would the Digital Inspection Camera from Harbor Freight deliver on its claims? That was my mission and I chose to accept it--fortunately, the Camera did not self destruct in five seconds.
The packaging claimed that with this device, I could "make easy visual inspections, even in hard-to-reach places." I couldn't count the number of times I'd dropped hardware into the abyss of heavy machinery or needed to inspect behind a wall before drilling into it. And then there's dropping keys that somehow get kicked under a shelving unit with 40 metric tons of equipment on it. Hopefully, the Digital Inspection Camera could help remedy these types of situations.
The light at the end of the camera provides the 4 ft. night vision as described previously and also illuminates the tight spaces you're in, which are usually dark. This became especially useful as I soon discovered.
The monitor is amply sized at 2.4" and provided easy viewing but to document my adventure, I utilized another useful feature of the device. With the included video cable, I was able to plug the device into the video-in port on my wide screen TV. Then I practically had theater viewing.
Once you start using the Digital Inspection Camera with 2.4" Color LCD Monitor, you'll never know how you lived without it! The device is easy to assemble and operate. The lighted camera integrated into the end of a three foot flex hose provides excellent maneuverability in hard-to-reach areas, and the monitor picture is clear and detailed. The attachments are extremely useful! The hook is ideal for locating/feeding wires behind walls or behind equipment. The magnet is effective in picking up fallen hardware and even small tools. The angled mirror allows you to view underneath places where you would not be able to bend the flex hose.
From plumbing and electrical work to retrieving lost items and viewing places that are otherwise inconvenient or inaccessible to reach, you owe it yourself to get the Digital Inspection Camera with 2.4" Color LCD Monitor.