All Blog Posts (90)


Hi, this is what happens when you get in a hurry.  The blog doesn't make sense.  Let me try again.  I bought a 45w solar kit from HF.  It was a return & was $140.  When I opened it, it did not have a regulator.

On "E-How" they tell you how to hook up solar panels to keep batteries charged, since I dry camp this sounded great.  Since my solar kit has no regulator and the directions on "E-How" don't mention a regulator, do I need one?  Thank You for helping.    Jean

Added by Jean McIlvanie on February 18, 2012 at 2:16pm — 1 Comment

Plugin inverters

     Does anybody know about the plugin grid tie inverters ? You know the ones the plug into a light socket ? Are they safe and are they legal ?

Added by Bob Davis on February 18, 2012 at 12:10pm — 5 Comments

Is there a way to heat an above ground pool with a 45 watt solar unit?

I know next to nothing about solar.  have been reading this blog for knowledge.  It does look pretty complicated, should I just call someone that does it for a living?  I like to try to do things like this to learn though.

Added by Marcia Behnke on January 26, 2012 at 3:27pm — 5 Comments

"45 Watt Solar Panel Kit" ? Why is this kit called a "45 Watt" kit? Why not...say a... "30 Watt" kit?

I have never measured more than 30 watts. The greatest voltage was 14.5 and the highest current was 1.9 amps. If Watts = Volts * Amps or in this case 14.5 * 1.9 = 27.6 Watts. This reading was obtained 12:30 PM on June 20, 2011.  Though many other readings were close, this was the highest seen during 2011.

NOTE: Current was kept flowing to the battery bank as long as additional load was added to keep the Charge Controller Cuttoff Voltage at 14.5 or below. The current flow being…


Added by Anon E mouse on January 2, 2012 at 11:11pm — 32 Comments

Using System?

Good day

I have the 45 watt system with 2 - 12 volt deep cycle batterys and a 2300 watt converter.  My question is, my system sets idle most of the time and just sits there doing it's thing, keeping the batteries charged up and ready to go, is this bad for anything by not using it?  I bought this for an o my good situation, thanks everyone!


Added by Norm Murphy on December 23, 2011 at 8:00am — 2 Comments

wiring from solar panel to charge controller

using #10-2 copper stranded wire 35 ft long from 30 amp charge controller to 9 harbor freight 15 w panels is the #10 wiring OK with that setup.


Added by fredhoth on December 16, 2011 at 2:59am — 2 Comments

Need Schematic for TPS-55-4A-02 Charge.Controller

Hi, I need an accurate schematic for the HF 45 watt controller.

I have three controllers and 9 15 watt panels connected in parallel on the South facing balcony of my condo with an Isc of between 7 and 9 Amps full sun at about 22Vdc.The CC is connected to 2 12V Deep Cycle batteries in parallel.

I saw a blog for the schematic, but the download was not available when I clicked on it.

I like the little controllers, but I want to modify some components so it can handle 10…


Added by Jack Arouu on December 6, 2011 at 11:26pm — 10 Comments

stupid question?

ok all.... new here, just bought a three panel system.

first of few questions,

1- should I run ALL my lights, etc off the box provided?  I keep popping a fuse.  I have two batteries tied together.

OR - can I run the inverter off the batteries direct?  So.. in short, can I run appliances (for lack of better words) off the batterys and the box provided?  I know the box is a "regulator" to first make sure I dont over charge the batteries, and also to make…


Added by Matt Goldschmidt on December 6, 2011 at 4:40am — 10 Comments

Batteries. 12 Volt vs 6 Volts

I have been reading up on what betteries are best. The 6 Volt model L16 keeps popping up as the most reliable and longest lasting. Hold on, wait just a second please. I am still picking myself up off the floor after seeing the price per battery. The cheapest I fould is $227.00 for just one. Unfortunately it is at the lower end of the amp/hour scale. The really juicy ones are running about $357.00. Yeah, I want those, about a dozen please. Anybody know where to get these cheaper? Are they…


Added by Kevin Egan on November 19, 2011 at 10:09am — 13 Comments

Sla battery

Hi members , I purchased a 35 amp hr battery to use with my solar set up to run the lights in my garage. The battery is rechargeable according to the Battery shark website. Does that mean it is a deep cycle battery? And how will this hold up to the cold in an unheated , ,detached garage. Does this type battery need to be ventilated? Thanks for any help


Added by Keith Blouch on October 9, 2011 at 8:02am — 3 Comments

Wiring in series versus parallel question?

I have a few questions about wiring harborfreight panels in series.  We have 3 sets ( 9 panels).  I need to know if I can tie them in series to bump up the voltage from 12 to 36.  We have a well at a ranch and a submersible DC pump that will accept up to 48 volts.  We do not want to use the panels to charge batteries to run the pump.  Instead we want to tie the panels directly to the pump and install a foot valve ( a valve that will shut the power off to the pump when the 1000 gallon water…


Added by bart on October 5, 2011 at 9:14pm — 2 Comments

BZ 250 .... Great Start for a Beginner like me

For best battery charging performance with Model MPPT250, configure the solar panels for 24 volts nominal>   MPPT250.pdf

Added by eddie a ybarra on October 1, 2011 at 5:30am — 2 Comments

Just getting started

Hi Everyone,

I'm new here. Thanks for a great site to share ideas!

I have two 45 Watt systems up and just purchased 2 more yet unboxed. I also purchased a SUN-300G Grid Tie Power Inverter from ebay.  I have the 6 panels (90 watt total) tied in parallel to the inverter and was getting 80 Watts on a fairly cloudy day measured with a killawatt meter. I was pretty happy with that! The meter seems to be reading intermittently though. I suspect some incompatibility with the inverter.…


Added by Larry M on September 23, 2011 at 9:13am — 2 Comments

First Day at the Forum

I put in a solar hot water heater a few years ago with used parts and a modified 50 gallon tank. It works great. I bought a open box single panel at Harbor Freight yesterday. I would like to use it to drive a attic gable fan.



Added by Steve Specht on September 20, 2011 at 11:00am — No Comments

Building a 25 KW System

Hello everyone. I just joined this forum. I been buying the Harbor Freight 45 Watt panels now for about 3 years. I buy them when ever they are on sale. I just bought 2 more this weekend. I now have 100 boxes or 300 panels. As soon as it cools off here in Fla, I'm going to start mounting them on my roof. My roof position is great. I get the late morning sun and all the afternoon sun. The roof angle is close to 30 degrees.


I'm now looking for deep discharge Marine batteries. I…


Added by Larry Epifanio on August 28, 2011 at 3:30pm — 6 Comments

Panel Bug



I purchased a Harbor Freight kit and really enjoyed it, so I purchased another. Both have worked fine but I have determined that I want to go bigger. I have stepped into the realm of building my own panels. I found a great deal on tempered glass, $10.00 each 18" X 56.5". The size of my glass has restricted me to 45 3" X 6" cells. It took a while but I have figured out how to solder the cells together with tabbing wire and no additional solder. I wired them in series.…


Added by Kevin Egan on August 6, 2011 at 12:49pm — 18 Comments

Random Ramblings

Hello All,


I decided I would try out the blog section. This is just a bunch of random thoughts I'm tossing out in the form of a letter. I've learned a bit this week and thought I would share.


First... I had my battery bank setup with bus bars. A guy in our maint. shop at work cut me some bars out of stainless bar stock. I drilled the needed holes at my shop at home and installed the bars. I thought it all was working very well. I was talking to another maint.…


Added by Big Moe on August 2, 2011 at 1:49pm — 9 Comments

6th.Panel is in.

Picked up another single 15w HF Panel today. I'll install it horizontaly over the other two singles.

This should give me about 4-5 amps on good days peek hours. The singles come with some extra hardware, disconnect wiring & 3 adaptor connections. Also if I consider or need to…


Added by John J. on July 27, 2011 at 5:24pm — 3 Comments

Buss Bar at Home Depot

While I was at home depot picking up a few supplies I noticed they have 2 - 3 different bus bars that could probably handle the standard connections with the panels in the kit. I don't know if they are marine grade but just a heads up. I was poking around for something I could use as wiring disconnects and spotted them.

Added by John J. on July 25, 2011 at 7:30pm — 5 Comments

measure amps with multimeter

I have been a little concerned about the amp draw and recharging time needed for a system that is on the compact side. So I thought it would make sence to know how many amps different things I run actually draw on their own or together. At some point I may have an amp meter in line or a better controller but untill I cross that bridge I'll make use of a multimeter.

Here's a video that helps explain how to do it, the guy is a little hard to understand but it makes sence starting at…


Added by John J. on July 18, 2011 at 8:30am — 2 Comments

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