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Old 03-03-2011, 06:50 AM
cpellegra cpellegra is offline
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Default 800 watt portable gas generator VS 45 watt solar panel kit



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I'm trying to decide whether to get the gas portable 800 watt generator or 45 watt solar panel kit from harbor freight.

I plan to use it for my netbook, PSP, cell phone, led lights, and other small appliances.

What is your advice? Will the generator use a lot of gas? Would I be better off with the solar panels giving me free energy into 12v battery?

Would like to hear advantages and disadvantages.

BTW the link to the products I'm comparing are at:
Solar: http://www.harborfreight.com/homepag...kit-90599.html
Generator: http://www.harborfreight.com/800-rat...tor-66619.html
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:55 AM
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In a full out SHTF, the fuel for the gen will run out quickly, the 45 watt harbor freight panels are terrible cheap panels...get on ebay find a 50watt solar panel and a morning star charge controller, get 2 t-105 golf cart batteries and you will have power to spare endlessly.
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:56 AM
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What scenario are you planning for? A power outage due to an ice storm, or TEOTWAWKI?

Seems to me they're two different animals. A solar panel--and you'll need a deep-discharge battery or two to go with it--is more of a permanent solution, but it's not something with a high, continuous capacity.

A small generator like that will be able to crank out much more power for a much longer period of time, assuming you have gasoline. But it's not a permanent solution unless you have access to a TON of gasoline, stabilized with something better than Sta-Bil. And you have gasoline storage issues.

A generator, as well, is noisy, and if OPSEC is a concern, then you have that issue.

I don't know how well the solar panels will work when it's cloudy--you may find yourself out of battery power and not have the ability to recharge due to weather.

You don't have a lot of high-draw uses for it, so in that sense the generator is overkill.

Are you going to need to run a furnace fan, or some other higher-draw appliance? If so, the small genny is better for that.


Need to know a bit more about how you expect them to serve you. That said, you can get a small genny for in the $100 range, so why not plan on both?
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Old 03-03-2011, 07:13 AM
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You will probably get more use out of the generator then you will solar.

But when you need solar, you will be glad that you have it.

With the generator, 800 watts is not much. My generator is around 7,500kw, and I can run just about everything in my home - but not all at the same time.

If your main focus was something like keeping the food cold, then go with solar.

Solar is probably the lowest maintenance of the 2. With solar you do not have to worry about storing fuel, cleaning the carb, keeping the thing clean, changing the oil,,,,,.
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Old 03-03-2011, 07:43 AM
cpellegra cpellegra is offline
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I'll probably get the generator first because its so cheap and I can cut trees on my land with a electrical saw. I'll also be able to have power for my small electronics on the side and be able to power led lights.

Was wondering if I will be able to charge 12 V battery with the generator and use the battery for the small electronics? Is that feasible? Will that save gas?
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Old 03-03-2011, 07:48 AM
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I have the generator and have been studying on the solar. I have always considered having redundancy a good plan for things that matter. I know cost is always a consideration so I chose to go with what I knew first and buy the genny. Once I have the information I need and a chance to see a solar set up first hand, I will start building my own.

Good question and good thread.
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Old 03-03-2011, 09:52 AM
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I had a little extra scratch this month so I picked up both when I saw the coupons for them. I am using the solar as a start and will build on it as money allows. The genny I got just in case I need it.

I think I'll get more use from the solar, but living here in the northwest, depending on the sun is risky at best.


TLR
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Old 03-03-2011, 10:04 AM
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If you want a generator , consider a 1000 or maybe 2000 watt Honda EU series generator.

They are very quite and use little gas compared to all other models , the smaller the load the less gas you use.

Very reliabel , the 2000 watt model can be converted to run on, nat gas, porpane or regular gaoline your choice not sure about the 1000 watt being converted.

Quite is nice when you don't want to draw attention to yourself.
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Old 03-03-2011, 01:39 PM
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you can convert the EU1000i to tri-fuel as well (gas, propane, natural gas)
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Old 03-03-2011, 01:45 PM
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I've got the little 800w Harbor Freight generator and for the money, I'm quite pleased with it. It's not going to run your major appliances but that's not what it's for anyway. I've run mine with a light load (charging a battery with a 10A charger) for about 6 hours and it used a little less than half a gallon of gas. It doesn't make a lot of noise but not as quiet as a Honda. Not near the money though. I remember paying $99 for mine and got the extended two year warranty for another $20.

These Chinese generators used to have a high failure rate but they have gotten better over the years. Of six generators purchased by a friend right after Hurricane Ivan, four failed before the power came back on 5 days later. When we returned them to the HF store for a refund we were told to take them back to the storeroom. There must have been 100 or more used generators back there. Now some of them were probably ones returned by customers that just didn't need them anymore and wanted a refund just because they can get away with it, but based on my experience I'm sure most were defective.

Look for these on sale or look for a 20% off coupon in PM or PS magazine and others.

It is a little hard to get going on a cold morning but I've heard that if you replace the Chinese spark plug with an NGK it helps a bunch.

I would not trust it to run anything critical like life support, or anything valuable like an expensive fridge or big screen TV. I've got my Honda i2000 for that.
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:28 PM
vonnieglen vonnieglen is offline
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Talking My experience.

We live in the middle of a bunch of trees up here in the cloudy Northwest. The power goes out frequently, so we already have a couple of generators. We usually use the primary several times a year. I keep meaning to convert one of them to natural gas so that we won't have to make frequent trips to get gasoline when the power is out for several days.

We use a larger 5000w/6500w peak generator that can keep everything in the house running. The one has been used regularly for over 15 years with no maintenance other than an oil change and a new spark plug now and then and an occsional spritz of penetrating oil on the pawls that engage when you pull the starter rope. It has a standard 10hp Tecumseh engine. I bought the second generator a few years ago for a backup when they went on sale over the summer. I figured that the first one we bought would give up the ghost eventually. When the power goes out we generally run it 24 hours a day for up to a couple of weeks at a time. Five gallons of gas lasts us about 8 hours depending on the load. Our primary has hundreds of hours on it.

I have a set of solar panels on our camper van that keep four deep cycle golf cart batteries charged up. These can also be charged by idling the camper van.

For my SHTF back-up plan I took the permanent magnet geared hub motor off of a Voy electric moped that I got on Craigslist and mounted it on an exercise bike. I also have a surplus American military and a surplus Chinese military hand cranked generators. You can comfortably put our about 50 watts with the two hand cranked generators that can be used to charge lead acid 12v batteries. The Voy hub motor on the exercise bike puts out 150 watts with ease and is vastly superior to the hand cranked generators. It was very easy to set up just replace the wheel on your exercise bike with the rear wheel from the scooter and hook the wires to your battery using a couple of diodes to keep the battery from running the motor. Then use a harbor freight amp and voltage guage set (about $10) to monitor the battery you are charging.

I have tried old car generators, weed wacker motors, tread mill motors, and other types of permanent magnet motors as human powered generators. The Voy was definately the simplest solution. Target and autoparts stores sold quite a few of them several years ago so they are now looking a little worse for the wear and the kids who they were purchased for have mostly grown up, so there are many to be found at garage sales and on craigslist for around $50. They are specifically known as the Electra Voy 88911 & the Phantom IV. More info can be found here: http://visforvoltage.org/forum/7401-...ectric-scooter. Other rear hub motors might work just as well as long as they are threaded for a freewheel.

Last edited by vonnieglen; 03-04-2011 at 12:43 PM.. Reason: additional info
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:54 PM
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Those panels in the flyer this month do not have the controler with them FYI... Besides that for your first buy I would go with a generator but I would get at least a 3500 watt which has 220. 220 allows you to run most wells for water..

For the cost I always say, figure what you want to spend then add some more. I have a 5000 watt Honda and at times would like a bigger one but than it would use more gas and our current one can run everything we need.. If I had to do it again I would get a diesel generator just for the better storage of fuel.. We are now working on our solar array, learning and buying.. Looking for batteries now..
good luck..
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:07 PM
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I see my gas powered generators as a temporary fix, solar is a long term solution IMO
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:14 PM
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ill try to research it more but im interested in a generator that can run off home made bio fuels something you can fill up when you have enough made shoot people are driving diesel cars around that run off fryer oil for goodness sakes!
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:29 PM
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I think the gas will run out. If the sun runs out we have bigger problems.
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Old 03-04-2011, 06:53 PM
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I have both, a Honda 3000ui and a 50w portable solar generator I built for 200 bucks. (pics attached)

The solar will power my netbook all day long

If you get a gas genny, get a Honda. They're quiet and good on gas.
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Old 03-04-2011, 07:59 PM
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keep in mind, in a true shtf, generators make noise, plus I would rather use the last of my gas in a vehicle.
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:24 AM
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If you decide to get the Harbor Freight solar pannels, use coupon code 15691964 and the price will be $149.99.
That coupon code is good through the 19th of May, limit one per customer.
They may be cheap, but they do what I need them to do. I have two sets of them.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:41 AM
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The coupon code does not work for me....

Coupon code "15691964" is not valid.
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:21 PM
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We have both.
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