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!
Great Caesar's ghost-- what IS that?!
It all started when Michael Jordan a.k.a. "Big Moe" decided to power his barn. He'd been using it as a workshop for his cars and other projects, and he wanted to get juice over there without having it tied to the grid. The barn did, in fact, have its own meter, but Big Moe opted to keep it turned off. Instead, he started clipping Harbor Freight coupons and bought 45 Watt Solar Panel Kits. After a year, he had purchased 45 kits-- that's 135 solar panels!
"I could have purchased larger panels from other sources, but I felt that the affordability and flexibility of buying from HF was better for my budget."
Big Moe then created an on-roof rack system and installed all of the solar panels to it. Once the system was built and all the bugs were worked out of the inverters and battery banks, he found he had a lot more power than he needed in the barn. But, he made sure none of it went to waste.
"At that point I decided to also power my house. I now power my home and my barn from the HF panels. To be fair, I do not power the home 100%. I still run all of the 220v appliances from the grid, but all other aspects are run from my solar arrays."
How Big Moe Did It
- The solar system consists of two arrays with a total of 135 HF 15w panels (75 panels on array #1, 60 panels on array #2).
- 2 @ 80 amp solar charge controllers
- 12 @ 2v batteries in a single battery bank that holds 2220 AH of power.
- 1 @ 5000w pure sine inverter for the barn.
- 2 @ 3000w pure sine inverters for the house.
- 1 @ Chicago Electric 400W Continuous Power Inverter for an outside security light
- The panels are wired in series/parallel in sets of 3. This allows for a 43v input at load and 62v open circuit voltage. The controllers drop the voltage and up the amperage for the 12v battery bank.
- 2/0 welding cable for wiring and the battery bank is connected to each other using copper bus bars.
- 2 @ wind generators to help diversify for wind and solar. They are a 600w and a 800w wind & solar unit.
- The wind generators are connected to one wind and solar charge controller.
- The power to the home is fed through service wire to a breaker box that is located in the home, but is seperate from the standard breaker box.
He can feed any circuit in the home with either grid power or his own alternative power. So if the battery bank is running lower he is able to selectively change circuits from alternative to grid power.
Been thinking about adding a power source to your property, campsite or other location? Consider Harbor Freight's solar panel kits, individual 15 Watt Solar Panels and other Chicago Electric solar power equipment for your project!
I found Larry “The Solar Toolman” Taylor’s video recently on the Do-It-Yourself Solar Energy Forum site. In a quiet, confident tone—no script, no teleprompter-- Larry gives “workshops,” demonstrating how someone can run multiple power tools, juiced by a solar panel kit and a cleverly assembled solar system, using hardware from Harbor Freight.
Click on the video’s YouTube link on the lower right, and it will take you to three more Solar Toolman videos, explaining how, with some low-cost modifications, a modest home solar system can power a swamp cooler, a refrigerator-freezer, a 5000 BTU air conditioner, TV, DVD, VCR, and more. For those who are looking to live more "green," prepare for emergencies or just want to "get off the grid," there are a lot of valuable tips to be gleaned from these few instructional videos.
When I showed this first video to a friend who’s really into DIY projects, he said, “If I decided to use solar power on my pool filter, these are the videos I’d watch to help me figure out what I needed to do it.”
While you’re at it, browse the rest of the Do-It-Yourself Solar Energy Forum and check out other interesting solar panel project videos and articles-- contributed by innovative alternative-energy users! You’ll find a lot of them using the Harbor Freight 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit, 15 Watt Solar Panels, as well as the 100 Watt Solar Charge Regulator, the 30 Amp Charge Controller, power inverters and other Thunderbolt and Chicago Electric solar system hardware.
If you’ve been thinking about adding solar energy to your place—be it for emergency preparedness, getting power to areas where electricity isn’t available, a zombie apocalypse, or just looking to save some dinero with clean energy—the Thunderbolt Magnum 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit, along with a good Power Inverter and 12V storage battery is an excellent, affordable place to start.
But how to go about it? What exactly do you need for the project you have in mind? This is where an informed support group really comes in handy.
Who would have thought a whole community website could be built around one Harbor Freight product? But that’s exactly what Ray Dias and his fellow enthusiasts have done with their Do-It-Yourself Solar Energy Forum. Chock full of information, the site includes a chat forum where you can ask questions and field ideas, a Tips & Tricks page, project videos, a photo gallery, a DIY Projects blog , and multiple pages covering everything from wire gauges to renewable energy news. It’s also a great place to learn how to expand your solar power with multiple kits, adding Solar Panels and Conversion Connectors, upgrading Charge Controllers, and more. This information not only helps you set up your solar power project, but totally supe it up!
Cool site, guys!
In this country's growing Survivalist Nation there's a tribe known as the “Urbivalists”-- or “urban survivalists”—preppers who live in towns and cities, and have adapted their survivalist skills to more metro environments. One such urbivalist is Dan, a "self-proclaimed tenderfoot and city kid" who runs a survival-themed blog called The Daily Prep. Recently, Dan posted a video of a shopping trip he made to Harbor Freight--
--which included a tour of some of his favorite products. “It’s a man mall!” he proclaimed.
It’s no wonder HFT is popular with those who take survival preparation seriously. A renowned purveyor of hard-to-find and odd hardware-- plus, a huge selection of essential tools and supplies at extremely low prices-- it’s a no-brainer. (Brains? Zombies? Apocalypse? Harbor Freight!)
So, what were some of the products Dan thought fellow preppers should look into? The video does a good job showcasing generators, welders, tarps, car battery jump starters, jerry cans, rope, axes & hatchets, duct tape (“of every kind!”), magnesium fire starters, solar panel kits, knives, slingshots, safes, winches, flashlights and batteries-- and Harbor Freight’s low prices make preparation a lot more doable.
FYI, for those looking to prep their home for the garden variety emergency, HFT also carries towing supplies, trailer hitches, alarms & security products, jack stands, engines, head lamps, cast iron frying pans, face masks, space saver vacuum bags, air compressors… you get the point. Harbor Freight is the “go-to store” for your doomsday prepper needs.
The Daily Prep isn't alone when it comes to survivalist forums swapping favorite HFT products that they keep in their arsenals. Surf the 'net and you'll find tons of great ideas. And while you're at it, why don't you share yours with us?