The advent of solar energy is impeccably revolutionary. Solar technology is a difference-maker. It has changed how we generate electricity for household, industrial, and commercial uses.
Nowadays, we don’t need the different gas and plant combustion and levels of noise from the generator – thanks to this renewable energy.
Solar energy is quiet, renewable, and eco-friendly. It’s the best way to save our planet. And for people considering taking this trail, it’s great to opt for.
In fact, I think we are in the days to save the sky and keep it blue. Whether you need to power your golf cart, boat or generally go off-grid to camp, solar energy is the best choice for you.
In case you’re asking, where does solar power come from? I think it’s best you know it’s is from sunlight. Our planet receives 10,000 times more energy from the sun than we currently use.
And if we convert 100 per cent radiation from the sun to electricity, we can power the whole planet for one year.
Meanwhile, “how do you get started on this solar energy?” To begin, the materials are majorly solar panels, batteries, charge controller, and a power inverter. It is important to point out that when these four materials are sold together, you have the solar kit.
How does solar system work?
The solar panel has photovoltaic cells that convert sun energy into electricity. The battery stores the electricity and the inverter transfers energy into the appliances you’re plugging.
The solar kit, however, are produced based on their capacity and function. We have 25Watt, 45Watt, 100Watt, 400Watt, 2000Watt and lot’s more. So depending on your need and purpose, there are two types of solar kits. There are standalone or off-grid as well as grid-connected solar panels.
What is the difference – off-grid and grid-connected solar panel kit
Standalone solar panel kits are used in areas where getting electricity is difficult, and they use sunlight to charge the batteries.
Grid-connected solar panels, on the other hand, use both electricity grid and the sun to charge.
How do I decide which kind of solar kit you want?
Because solar kits perform according to their capacities, you will need to consider the appliances you intend to use them with. Whether you have access to constant electricity or not, solar panel kit is filling that void.
By the way, there are certain arguments about which solar panel kit to buy between Harbor Freight and Nature Power solar panel kits. In this article, I’ll be showing you a comparison between the two.
Furthermore, this review will detail the similarities and differences and also give my take on which of the two solar panel kits is better.
|Specification Table Showing Item list (Harbor Freight & Nature Power Solar Panel Kits)|
|Description (100 Watt)||Harbor Freight||Nature Power|
|Material||Heavy glass surface||Light semi-reflexive glass surface|
|Charge controller||Included (compulsorily sold separately)||Optional (but MAY be sold separately)|
|Charge controller rating||10Amp||11Amp|
|USB port on inverter||Yes||No|
|Purpose design||Not rated for rooftop||High rating for rooftop installation|
Comparison between 100 Watt Harbor Freight Solar Panel Kit and 100 Watt Nature Power Solar Panel Kit
Please, pay attention to what I’ll be explaining shortly about the differences and similarities between 100 Watt Solar Panel kits from Harbor Freight and Nature Power.
Weight of the kits
In terms of weight, the 100 Watt solar panel kit at Harbor Freight is quite heavy compared to the one sold at Nature power. I understand that for mobility sake, people don’t want heavy baggage these days.
If you’re planning to use the solar panel for a golf cart, the weight of the panel(s) is something that most people consider and I think you should too.
Unlike Nature Power with just one large panel, Harbor Freight 4-in-1 is heavy. But, I think the manufacturer is improving already – partly because of many reviews.
Reliable Glass material
The Glass surface of Harbor freight 100 Watt solar kit is another concern. Why some people complain that it’s not durable and breaks easily, I’d say the use of glass panel surface and plastic frame is not good for everyone.
For beginners who want to experience using solar panel kits, the glass and plastic-like frame make serious issues. Most people will want to go for Nature Power solar kit because of this – at least, if they know the chance of damaging the solar kit during installation is minimal compared to that of installing Harbor Freight.
USB PORT and LEDs
For emergency lighting system and charging your cellphone and laptop, Harbor Freight solar kit is a great choice. The charge controller design has USB ports for you to plug your device any time you want to charge if you don’t have cable for plugging your devices.
In fact, the LEDs look very awesome at dusk. So, if you’re planning to go camping, the LED bulbs will do the amazing job to give that blue lighting sensation at night.
Wiring multiple panels in series
Another thing that caught my eyes when trying out the 100 Watt Harbor Freight solar kit is the fact that it doesn’t give chance for wiring multiple panels in series. This is something that’s striking given that the product display itself is arranged in series.
Probably, the emphasis is to say that serial wiring of the panels will reduce output and performance by 25%. However, the user to user experiences of the performance of the solar kit differs.
But for Nature Power, you can perfectly connect the solar panels in series or parallel (but ensure that the total short circuit ratings of the panel strings do not exceed 80% of the charge controller’s rating).
Not designed/rated/cannot be tied to a grid/rooftop
To complement the issue of glass material stated earlier, Nature Power solar panel kit has mounting brackets (sold separately) that can be used to tie the panels to the rooftop if you want to.
Unlike Harbor Freight 100 Watt kit, it’s not designed for rooftop mounting. Trying to beat that odd may damage the panels. Regular solar panels have a metal frame. If you tighten them too much, they can break or crack very easily. So, using a plastic frame for Harbor Freight is too fancy.
Gets hot so easily
I think the problem with Harbor Freight 4-in-1 panel stems from the material as a whole. The glass surface and plastic frame are just not worth it. During an extremely hot day, the panels get too hot and the result is that it reduces the energy that gets stored in the battery.
So, because it gets hot easily – especially when components are not installed with enough space for cooling, you might not get adequate Watt supply from the panels.
Conversely, Nature power solar panels have semi-flexible material that is weather resistant. They don’t get so much hot even during heat days. However, the 100 Watt is not producing enough output (Watt) on normal days, it will be due to other problems.
Chance of producing more current than expected
Although the 4-in-1 Harbor Freight panels may occasionally produce higher current or voltage (>25%) than it’s rated, you should expect the same proportion of amperage degradation.
To me, this is worth thinking about – considering those using the panels at home. But, if you’re not connecting electricity grid with the panels, you’ll be fine.
Both Harbor Freight and Nature Power solar panel kits use power inverter (300Watt). An inverter is included in 110 Watt solar kit from Nature Power currently,but generally not included in the 100 Watt solar kit from Harbor Freight.
Harbor Freight and Nature Power solar panels both have quite functional charge controllers for regulating power into your battery. One interesting thing about the 10Amp charge controller of the Harbor Freight kit is that you’ll get the chance to adjust the threshold of charge and overcharge.
Doing that will help protect the battery from damage due to fluctuation of voltage. Similarly, Nature Power 11Amp charge controller works well too. Overall, their charge controllers have not been reported by users to have any defect.
12V is the recommended battery capacity for 100 Watt solar panel kit from both Harbor Freight and Nature Power.
Well, like I have said in my review of Harbor freight 100 Watt solar kit, for starters, it is very good. It’s a kind of solar panel kit that exposes your knowledge to how solar panel works generally.
The process of installation is very interesting and I’m sure it’s something you’ll have fun doing. Unlike Nature Power solar kit that is single-plate or single-framed, Harbor Freight 4-in-1 panels are separated and you’ll learn and enjoy the installation process. You can check the simplified here.
However, if you simply want a buy-and-use solar kit that doesn’t need any arrangement of its parts, Nature Power is just for you.
I know most people don’t want the tough installation procedure as well as do not want to pay any extra money to electricians. The 100 Watt Nature Power solar kit suits you best on that. It is “not currently” available at Northern Tools (they have 110 Watt instead) and it is sold at a much lower price for about $150, Earthtech sells their 100 Watt Nature power kit for $250.