Harbor Freight Solar on Sale till 4/4 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-30-2010, 05:35 PM   #1
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I received an email yesterday that with a coupon the Harbor Freight 45 watt solar kit is on sale for $159 (regular $249, I have seen on sale for $199), until 4/4/2010. Looks like a great deal if you are getting ready to add solar.

Link to website is below.
Mike
Solar 45 Watt Kit
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:25 PM   #2
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I would love to add a bit of solar power!

How do I get a coupon? And is it good for phone or internet orders or only in-store purchase?

thanks much!!!!!
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:31 PM   #3
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Not sure if this link will work, if not send me a Private Message with your email and I will forward it to you. My experience is that Harbor Freight honors pricing through both sales channels.

Solar Panel Coupon

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Old 03-31-2010, 07:33 PM   #4
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Our local Sam's Club had the 60 watt set up today for 199.99. Four panels instead of 3 and a controller you can actually use. I don't know anyone who has tried them though.

http://www.samsclub.com/shopping/navigate....amp;item=442597
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:16 PM   #5
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When smaller, higher-performing polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon solar panels were $400 for the same 45 watts of capacity the HF "amorphous" panel setup made sense as a cheaper alternative. These days high-quality 50-watt crystalline structure solar panels sell for just over $150 on eBay, so the HF setup isn't such a good deal.

My suggestion would be to bid on 50-watt Mono- or poly-crystalline panel from eBay; if you time your bid to arrive a few seconds before the end of the auction you can pick up a Rasmond 50-watt mono-crystalline solar panel for $153 including shipping. Add a Morningstar or Sunsei 10 Amp solar charge controller, some 14-gauge line cord, and build a set of wood or aluminum legs for your panel and you've got a solar setup that will last longer, take up less space, weigh less, be easier to expand, and produce substantially more energy than the HF system for just a few dollars more.

My opinion. YMMV.
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Old 04-01-2010, 12:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
When smaller, higher-performing polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon solar panels were $400 for the same 45 watts of capacity the HF "amorphous" panel setup made sense as a cheaper alternative. These days high-quality 50-watt crystalline structure solar panels sell for just over $150 on eBay, so the HF setup isn't such a good deal.

My suggestion would be to bid on 50-watt Mono- or poly-crystalline panel from eBay; if you time your bid to arrive a few seconds before the end of the auction you can pick up a Rasmond 50-watt mono-crystalline solar panel for $153 including shipping. Add a Morningstar or Sunsei 10 Amp solar charge controller, some 14-gauge line cord, and build a set of wood or aluminum legs for your panel and you've got a solar setup that will last longer, take up less space, weigh less, be easier to expand, and produce substantially more energy than the HF system for just a few dollars more.

My opinion. YMMV.
Thanks for the advice Peter.
I have had a set of the HF panels for over a year and never used them
My only camping is in dispersed areas and I have been afraid of the panels getting stolen.
I can start with one 50 watt panel mounted on the roof and not worry about theft.
Thanks again,
John
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Old 04-01-2010, 09:44 AM   #7
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Thank you very much Peter!

I'd like to start adding solar and your advice will get me heading in the right direction. My trip to HF is now canceled.
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Old 04-01-2010, 10:09 AM   #8
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Hey Peter, I have stupid questions.

Are those charge controllers "multi-stage" so I don't boil my battery? Also, do they prevent the system from reversing at night -- battery juice draining into the panel?

I'm guessing what you recommend do the job right, but thought it best to ask.
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Old 04-01-2010, 11:28 AM   #9
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I saw on tv- solar panals that looked like aluminum foil and could be rolled up and stored in cardboard tube. They were very lightweight and easy to install. The military uses them because of ease of carrying them and they are very sturdy. I can`t find the site again. Anyone heard of these?
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:57 PM   #10
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I saw on tv- solar panals that looked like aluminum foil and could be rolled up and stored in cardboard tube. They were very lightweight and easy to install. The military uses them because of ease of carrying them and they are very sturdy. I can`t find the site again. Anyone heard of these?

Here are 2 sites that may be of interest:

http://www.powerfilmsolar.com/

http://www.uni-solar.com/interior.asp?id=102
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:47 PM   #11
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Peter was right on. Thanks again Peter.
I just bought a 50W Ramsond Mono Crystalline panel on ebay for $153.50 and a controller for $20.49 with shipping included.
The panel is app. 21"X 25" which will be easier to mount and expand on the top of my Scamp.
My total price is actually a few dollars less than the HF price in California when you include the the 8.5% tax rate.
I thought I was through customizing my Scamp.
John
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Old 04-02-2010, 01:14 AM   #12
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Are those charge controllers "multi-stage" so I don't boil my battery? Also, do they prevent the system from reversing at night -- battery juice draining into the panel?
Sunsei and Morningstar Sunsaver solar charge controllers are multi-stage and have blocking diodes built in. The Sunsaver 10A controller has one nice or naughty feature the Sunsei 10 Amp does not: with the Sunsaver you hook your trailer battery, trailer 12v circuits, and the solar panel(s) to the controller, and when your battery voltage drops below I-forget-what it shuts off your trailer electric devices to save your battery from excessive sulphation. It's not a major item on my shopping list, but could be handy if you buy less-expensive deep cycle batteries instead of fancy AGMs that do a better job of resisting sulfation to a lower voltage levels.

My solar panels are roof-mounts. That has the advantage of making them harder to steal, but limits our choice of campsites. Someday I will add a third, portable panel to the collection.


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Old 04-10-2010, 07:46 PM   #13
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I have had the HF panels for at least a year and never used them. They weigh about 50 lbs. and are very bulky. Bulky to transport and the controller is about 1/2 the size of a shoe box.
I took Peters advice and bought a single 50 watt panel on eBay and a controller for a total cost of173.99. The panel only weighs about 5 lbs..
The first attached pic is a size comparison between the single 50W and the HF panels.
The second pic is the newly mounted panel on my 16' Scamp. The great thing about this panel is I have room for 2 more panels on my roof for a total additional weight of about 15 to 20 pounds and 150 Ws total.
The third is the controller mounted inside the trailer.
It took me less than a day to complete the installation.
John
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:55 AM   #14
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Glad it worked out for you.We started out with a single 50w roof-mounted panel, and found that it really quite did the job for us and our LED-lit trailer most days.

Most days. Very important qualifier. We did find that we ran low on juice when we were in Yellowstone and night time temps in the teens kept our furnace running much of the night.

We have since installed a second roof-mounted 55w panel and will be adding an electricity-free Wave-3 catalytic heater to our 5th wheel. I think either of these by itself would have been enough to keep our trailer warm and well-lit in Yellowstone.
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