Harbor Freight solar panels are a popular choice for those looking for an affordable and reliable solar panel. But Harbor Freight is largely known as a discount tool shop so I wanted to do a little digging into their solar products. So I hopped in the car, drove to the local harbor freight…and did a little digging online…and got some answers.
Are Harbor Freight Solar Panels Any Good?
In general, Harbor Freight solar panels rate as highly as comparable solar panels on the market. Some even prefer harbor freight solar panels to more expensive options.
It’s a fair question to ask considering Harbor Freight is known for discount tools more than anything.
It is important to note that the solar panels Harbor Freight sells are NOT meant as a home energy solution as they mainly offer 100 Watt panels which are more suited to charging devices or powering small appliances.
Most people that use these set them up as supplemental power for a shed or garage or perhaps as an off-grid solution to help power a few things at a cabin or while camping.
What Makes Harbor Freight Solar Panels So Good?
For starters, they’re incredibly affordable. You can find a 100-watt panel kit for about $120, which is an incredible price for a quality solar panel. Users have also mentioned that they are easy and straightforward to install. Additionally, the panels are also very durable and long-lasting, as shown in this video:
What Can You Power With Harbor Freight Solar Panels?
Generally, the solar panels that Harbor Freight sells are 100 Watt models and are designed to run small appliances, such as camping fridges or portable AC units, or charge devices like your phone or laptop.
Some people have used them to supplement power for a shed or garage, while others use them as an off-grid solution for powering things like lighting at a cabin or while camping.
Here are some examples of what you can run with a 100 Watt Harbor Freight solar panel:
- 15 Amp 12 Volt DC to 110 Volt AC Power Inverter
- 100 Watt Portable Solar Panel
- LED light bulbs
- Laptop computer
- Portable air conditioner
- Refrigerator or freezer
Of course, the bigger the solar panel, the more wattage it produces and the more you’ll be able to power.
Harbor Freight Solar Panel Specifications:
Most of the solar panels that Harbor Freight sells are 100 Watt models. Here are the specs for the 100 Watt Harbor Freight Solar Panel:
- Peak Power Output: 100 Watts
- Open Circuit Voltage: 21.60 Volts
- Short Circuit Current: Amps
- Max Power Current: Amps
- Operating Temperature Range: -40° to 185° F (-40° to 85° C)
- Dimensions: 26.77″ x 19.88″ x 0.98″ (68 cm x 50.48 cm x cm)
- Weight: 12 lbs. ( kg)
How Long Does It Take To Charge A Battery With A 100 Watt Solar Panel?
A typical size 12v 50Ah auto battery at 20% discharge will take 2 hours to fully recharge with a 100 watt solar panel. With a 100 watt solar panel, it will take around 4 hours to fully charge a lead-acid deep-cycle 12v 50Ah battery at 50 percent discharge.
This really depends on the size of the battery you’re trying to charge. If you’re trying to charge a small 12 volt battery, it will take longer than if you’re trying to charge a larger 24 volt battery.
It also depends on how much sunlight the panel is getting. If you’re in an area with lots of sun, it will take less time to charge the battery than if you’re in an area with less sun.
How Many Amps Will A 100 Watt Solar Panel Produce?
Generally, a 100 watt solar panel produces an average of about 6 amps per peak sun hour, or about 33 amp-hours per day.
The key word up there is “peak sun hour,” this means that the solar panel is getting direct sunlight and is not being obstructed by things like trees, buildings, or clouds.
It also means keeping your solar panel clear of dust, snow, and leaves, as these can all obstruct sunlight and reduce the amount of power your solar panel produces.
Are Harbor Freight Solar Panels Water Proof?
Harbor Freight solar panels are not classified as waterproof but are considered weather resistant and can withstand rain, snow, and sleet. This means the panels can withstand exposure to water, but water should not be allowed to pool and they should not be submerged.
It is important to note that the solar panels should not be installed in an area where they will be constantly exposed to water, such as under a gutter or on a flat roof, as this can cause the panels to degrade over time.
This also means that they should not be permanently mounted on a roof like standard photovoltaic solar panels. Those have a much more durable construction and are designed to be exposed to the elements for years.
If you live in an area where it snows, it is important to clean the snow off of the panels so that they can absorb sunlight and generate power.
How Long Do Harbor Freight Solar Panels Last?
The lifespan of a solar panel is typically 20-25 years, but this can vary depending on the quality of the panel and how well it is maintained. Harbor Freight solar panels are made with high-quality materials and are designed to withstand exposure to the elements, so they should last for many years.
However, it is important to note that the panels should be cleaned regularly to ensure they are able to absorb sunlight and generate power efficiently.
Additionally, the panels should be inspected periodically for damage, such as cracked glass or loose connections, and repaired as necessary.
How Much Are Harbor Freight Solar Panels?
On average, a 100 watt solar panel from Harbor Freight will cost between $120 and $180 dollars. Other wattage outputs and size of the panel can vary the cost a bit.
Harbor Freight also offers solar panel kits that include multiple panels, an inverter, and a charge controller. Their 100 Watt kit runs $190 and a battery will set you back an additional $75.
Harbor Freight solar panels are a good option for those looking to save money on their energy costs. The panels are made with high-quality materials and are designed to withstand exposure to the elements, so they should last for many years.
Additionally, Harbor Freight offers solar panel kits that include multiple panels, an inverter, and a charge controller.