I tried a search for Thunderbolt Magnum on this site and received no hits so I thought I'd start a thread.

The latest Harbor Freight ad show a different 45 Watt Solar Kit - the Thunderbolt Magnum. There is the regular three panel solar kit, a connector for joining up to 8 kits or panels, and a 500 watt power convert.

The HF website still shows the older kit.

Does anyone have experience with this new brand? Is HF getting rid of the older kit? I recently purchased one of the older kits but have yet to get it hooked up.

They are also selling batteries now. Are the 12v/35 Amp Universal batteries any good? are they good at $74?

The new 3 panel kit definitely looks nicer than the older kit. I'm just curious if this is a major shift by HF.

It's too bad HF doesn't sell boxes with just the panels - 3-4 panels per box or something.

Later

David

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I am under the impression the old kit will be gone when all on hand inventory is used up. And most stores carry individual panels but not boxes of 3 or 4.

David, view this thread...

The new kit from HF

Hi David,

The new HF 45-Watt Solar Panel Kit now has its own product number: 68751, but I see no evidence of a 500-watt power converter included.

HF 68751 product description

HF 68751 45-watt kit manual PDF

Solar Panels (A):

The panels for the new kit have the same electrical specifications as the original, older HF 90599 45-Watt kit.

Rated Output (per panel) = 15 Watts at approximately 14.5 volts DC

Voc = 23.5 volts DC

I have not seen the panel frames, but from the picture they appear to have been changed from aluminum to plastic.

Accessories (B to G):

The new Charge controller (B):

Overcharge Protection = 14.5 volts

Under voltage Protection = 11.0 volts

Fused front panel outputs are at 4 amps total.

 

The front power distribution panel has been redesigned.  It has the familiar USB outlet, 3-digit LED voltmeter, round digital voltmeter switch, and the on/off rocker switch.  The round voltmeter switch, which had been overlooked by a lot of previous purchasers, is now properly identified in the manual, but not on the front panel itself. 

The low voltage LED is called an “Overload Discharge Indicator” in the manual, but labeled “Low Vol.” on the front panel.

The Charge controller has the 3, 6, and 12-volt sockets for accessories, including the cigarette-lighter style 12-volt outlet, but it no longer has the 9-volt output socket.  Instead, an additional 12-volt cigarette-lighter style outlet has been added, and is called a “Female Inverter Outlet” (see page 7).  The front panel outputs are fused for 4-amps total, as before; limiting any inverter output to 48 watts max.  (120 volts x 0.4 amps).

I can imagine a lot of fuse blowing by first time inverter users.

 

Accessories:

CFL lights (C):

The two included 12-volt CFL lights now have their own separate on/off switches.  They no longer need to be disconnected from the charge controller output for on/off control.

Splitter Cable (E) and Extension (D):

Included is a Splitter Cable ( C ) that combines all three solar panels to one two-wire lead that plugs into an extension cord (E), which terminates at the back of the charge controller with round terminals.  The plug from the combiner to the two-wire cord is a 2-prong trailer connector type.

Multi-Purpose Adapter (F):

This kit has the same Multi Purpose Adapter as the original kit, allowing one to use various style plugs to match the power input of a small radio, portable CD player, tune dispenser or any other low voltage device.  Harbor Freight still refers to these low-voltage devices as “appliances” and, in this case, a Mixmaster or toaster is not considered an appliance.

Battery Clamp Cable (G):

The battery clamp cable is the same as before.  Round Terminals for attaching the cable to the back of the charge controller, and battery clamps to the battery.

Mounting frame:

Frames are no longer the angled steel ones with the ability to be securely bolted to a wooden platform.  Instead they appear to be made of PVC pipe that is bolted together.  Two-position angling is available with two sets of mounting holes at the top of the frame.  Two PVC-type pipes give support to whatever angel is chosen, allowing the whole 3-panel array to be semi-portable on the ground.  

What is not supplied is a way to secure the frame to anything, giving rise to the spectacle of the assembled array tumbling about in any wind.  One will have to supply their own ingenuity to permanently install these panels at the correct angle to a roof.

The durability of the panel frame and the angled mounting frame remains to be determined.

 

Full Disclosure:

I have not seen this HF 68751 kit out of the box, so some of my comments are pure speculation.

Hillbilly Gene

.

 

@Gene....What I think is confusing everyone is the way the new solar products are being marketed in the flyer that we get in the mail. It is all grouped together with a "includes" kind of looking mentality when it really doesn't.

Hi Renewable Ray,

Yes, I also have seen those cryptic flyers and sometimes cannot tell what is “included” and what is “available”.  Harbor Freight has never been noted for supplying details in any flyer, which is why I went to the product description and PDF on their website for more complete information.  My intention was never to offend anyone, but to clarify any difference (as I see it) between the old and the new kit.

 

Sometimes the HF store I go to (50 miles, one way) has the 45-watt kit out of the box on display.  Once I see one out of the box I’ll be able to judge for myself if the new kit is an “improved” kit or a “reduced cost to produce” kit. 

 

I’ll be going tomorrow with my brother, and hopefully one will be out of the box.  My goal is to purchase three more kits, but if I don’t think their new kit will survive for more than three years because of the switch to what appears to be ABS plastic, then I won’t buy a new one.  I know how long aluminum lasts in the elements.

 

Hillbilly Gene

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BLASPHEMY!!!..They ruined them..Well maybe after a loss of sales of them,,They will say hmmmmm..We screwed up.

Because I wont be buying that plastic crap.

I'm very sorry for causing such confusion. I understood the kit is similar to the old one and

I added 'Accessories" to the thread referring to the other items in the add that each had a separate

price (joining connector, controller, and battery). Don't have the ad with me.

I checked the other thread and it sounds like folks don't like the new 'stylish' plastic packaging.

Just wondering if this is simply a covering over the same old aluminum frame?

I may have to purchase a few of the older kits...but it sounds like the 8 kit/panel connector should

work with old kits too.

Thanks.

well, Dale..gotta tell ya..I took my metal frame back to HF when they got new sets in....I traded. I am very impressed with the new system....I like it much better then the old....hands down.

I think this forum has a greater following than just the 700 + signed members. The points brought up by the members so far I feel should be addressed to the customerservice group of Harbor Freight.

We have bought these panels because of the Harbor Freight network, because it is damn sure better/higher output panels exist. I feel this panel of owners should address the concerns in an orderly fashion and if the Harbor Freight does not follow this forum, invite them. The forum can deliver vast amounts of shopping and product information at not costs.

 

The areas that concern me is the durablity of the frame material, afterall the panels have an expected life of 25 years, will an unprotected plastic frame still be there? The other area of concern is flex that the frame will no doubt experience during the heat/cold cycles of the seasons. The last area is the mounting frame, what a loser, the sun's rays will eat this pvc up in no time.

While I can not nor will not talk for others, I will call customerservice tomorrow and if possible post and address  for other should they want to post a comment to the company.

 

My soap box rental is up, so I must leave. Thank you for your time

 

Good Luck

 

Larry

@Larry.....we added credit to your "soap box rental" account so flame away.

Over the past couple of years we have reached out to the corporate office at Harbor Freight and they have no desire to have a "relationship" with us. Maybe that will change some day, the possibilities are unlimited.

While corporate may ignore us I know store managers are not. I spoke to one manager 100+ miles north of us and he said not only did he know about the site but that store managers share the link with each other because guess what....Our handy little forum is where they are sending customers that need help setting their kit up. He said that giving customers the link had also kept them from returning the kit in frustration.

And I have said it before, I'll say it again. Sometimes we get use to seeing familiar names and only a few people sharing in the conversation and forget that 1,000's of people are reading our post everyday. Only a small percentage of readers join and even a smaller percentage post. So please, don't think that only a few people are reading your post. All of us help so many people out there.

And the new kit, it's nothing more then the panels used for the SunForce 60 Watt kit that has been sold at Costco, Price Club, Amazon.Com and many other places for many years. I want to her from those guys who have had them installed outside in the sun for a long period of time how they have held up. Anybody?

R R, The managers at the Ft Smith,Ar. store follow the forum very close and advise people to go to the forum to get answers to their solar questions.

While I don't understand companies that ignore forums and the people that follow them, I strongly feel it is their loss. The bottom line is the people that follow or are engaged in this forum have money to spend on this line of products. To turn their corporate backs on us foolish.

 

I will report back tomorrow with what ever answer I get.

 

Tomorrow, same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Larry

Hey Larry, I used to build PVC pato furniture...the pvc used by HF for the mount is a high grade sun coated material. It is designed for use outside. Normal PVC wont make it very long outside, however the sun grade PVC lasts forever. I was worried bout the same thing as you, however after I got my new system home upon inspection I fond out it was outside use grade PVC.

I love the new system...way better then metal junk.  When I clean my panels I will wipe down the panel frame with son-of-a-gun or Armour all to insure it long life.

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