Cheap Solar Panel Systems

Solar living not only protects you from infrastructure threats, but can help you live a more sustainable self-reliant lifestyle. It can also help your pocketbook.

Solar Cabin in the Woods

DIY Solar Power

I found this video on YouTube of a guy who is using a cheap harbor freight solar panel system to run some of the lights in his house. While it won’t power your average American home, it can be enough to power a small hunting cabin or bug out location.

This system is also a perfect for one of the small cabins that are becoming so popular today. In fact, a couple readers have emailed us saying they are using the same exact Harbor Freight system for all of their electrical needs. The solar setup runs around $199 at harbor freight.



  1. BigBear
    August 18, 2008 at 7:49 am

    That little power system does work. My first power system was that exact unit perfect for some lighting and charging the laptop. I have upgraded since then but still use those small panels in my ridge cabin.

    • frank
      June 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      I use eight golf cart batteries (6 volt) wired to give me 12 volts a charging controller three 200 watt solar panels and a 800 watt wind machine.
      I bought a propane fridge that runs on 500 gallon under ground tank that provides for the fridge and cooking as well as the Ham shack. You can also get propane adaptors for your gensets.

      • paul
        January 28, 2015 at 5:39 pm

        i am wanting to build a portable device, on wheels. containing a car or golf cart battrey, a power strip and a small electric space heater.
        the battery will power the heater during the night, and a solar panel will recharge the battery during the day.
        the device will be able to be moved from room ro room as needed, and out side to the panel for recharge.
        i put my e mail address on the first replay, but i guess even here there are RULES

  2. OFFGRID Logo
    August 18, 2008 at 9:33 am

    It seemed like the perfect setup for a small cabin, I’m glad to hear that it worked for someone else, I have been thinking about picking one up to see what it will do.

  3. John
    August 18, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Very cool. It’s good to know it’s readily available, too.


    • Jake
      September 20, 2014 at 6:32 am

      FYI everyone. Renogy sell a kit with 100w panel and charge controler for less than $200 the panel is better and the system has more watts. Just saying if you go to harbor freight you really are spending the same money for less watts.

  4. Boon
    November 18, 2008 at 11:44 am

    I bought these the other day. they work as advertised.

  5. hermitjim
    January 20, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    I’ve been thinking strongly about getting this very same system. Glad to get some feedback from it.


  6. josuha
    July 7, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Just thought I would give my exoeriuence with these panels.

    I have nine of these panels.

    If you change the cheesy wiring to 12 gauge, you can bump up the wattage.

    Toss the ‘controller’ that came witb the set and get a real controller (Sunforce, Xantrex..etc.)

    I have them hooked up to 8 golf cart batteries and can run most of the stuff in my house using 12 volt lights and an invertor for kitchen appliances, vaccuum etc.

    For a cheap date in solar energy for cabin, emergency etc.., they work.

    • Shenita
      March 20, 2012 at 6:36 am

      I like this idea and we have wanted to try this system on our home and now that I see your info I think I may do this but I have one question can I join them together to get more watts and power to run just about everything in our home.

  7. Rick
    September 16, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    This is our video and we have an update video on brighter lighting and using the solar panels to power our tv. Check it out at

  8. TheNorthernSurvivalist
    May 31, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Definitely a good deal. Even upgrading the controller, getting a good inverter, and adding a few more panels and batteries make this a great investment opportunity for those of us who don’t have thousands of fiat dollars to invest in solar energy.

  9. David
    October 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    This is a a simple system, but if you spend just $200 more you can get more power.
    Buy a 100 Watt solar panel for $200 on eBay. Buy a 600 watt inverter/charge controller on eBay ($149 average). Buy a Marine Battery that hold 900 Ah. Biggest marine/deep cycle battery that walmart has. ($79) Make sure the battery is not a starting battery. You don’t want those cold cranking batteries. They die too soon. With these simple components you can rig up 12 Volt lighting and running a few 120v things as well. If you need a little more power for 120v just get a bigger inverter. You can add more batteries and solar panels to meet your needs. But remember that surviving means living with in your means and conserving.

    • Dave, RN
      July 16, 2012 at 11:24 am

      You can get panels cheaper thatn that. I got a 145 watt polycrystalline panel for $160 with shipping included. Bought two of them. I’m mounting them this weekend. Getting a decent MPPT type charge controller and you have to be sure to get a “pure sine wave” type inverter. Modified sinbe wave types won’t do well for some more sensitive applications like computers. Skip the marine batteries. Get 6volt golf cart batteries. Wire each two in a series so you get 12 volts. I’l be able to run lights, TV, computer, router and the AT&T box and fans. I plan on getting a couple of more panels in August…

      • Mountain girl
        February 22, 2013 at 7:27 pm

        Dave, Cufrious to know how that worked out for you… would love to hear how it went after a year, see pics, plans, etc.

  10. Rick
    December 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Thanks so much for posting my video. Please check out more at my website. You can see Solar Video part 2.

  11. understandinsurvival
    September 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    This is very neat, I have been interested in getting solar panels. I guess I know what I am getting.

  12. Mike Travis
    March 12, 2012 at 5:30 am

    Anyone have plans and a component list? Commercially available systems are way too expensive so a DIY kit seems to be the best option.
    Thanks in advance.

    To give back to the group, I will offer our expertise in setting up a Constitutional Militia within your state. No charge as we want to help other Patriots do what we have accomplished here in Ohio.

    • Dennis
      March 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Mike what part of the state are you in? and did you ever find plans for a solar panel system?

  13. Marina
    June 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm

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    Lower ethanol margins, but can you clarify or put more color.
    E Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono This important world renewable
    developers energy event. Ignored are the effective wind power mitigation measures for bird mortality, and the networked world.

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  14. RC Vic Kerman
    January 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

    “without creating any sort of pollution” How about the Pollution created during the manufacture of the Solar Cell parts and pieces? Isn’t it really a trade-off and then how about after you have paid over many years for the Solar Cell items and then have to pay for their replacements over time! Where is the real advantage? You’re just saving a small amount of money in your right hand pocket while paying a larger amount for it out of your left hand pocket and you quickly find that it is actually way cheaper to stay on the grid, overall!

  15. Sharon
    August 10, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I was interested in making my own solar panels but don’t know where to get the cheapest cells and supplies. Just wondering whatever happened to those Solyndra made panels that just disappeared. Did they sell them to China.(:(: Thanks for the Harbor Frieght tips, one of my favorite stores. A very broke Sharon

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