Rate your Harbor Freight Tool Experiences!

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by JimVonBaden, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    Between John and I we've bought about ten of these.

    There is NO WAY these are a battery tender. They are just a regulator IC with a bit of circuitry to make the LED work right.

    They are advertised to put out 13.2 volts and will deliver at least .1 amp with fair regulation of the volts.

    The problem is that as delivered the voltage out varies from as low as 12.7 to as high as 14.8 volts and they are not temp compensated.

    The volts out can go up as much as .5-.7 volts when you take them out to the cold garage. This is not all bad because batteries themselves behave the same way with temp. changes, just not so much.

    It is fairly easy to pop open the little box and change a resistor or two as needed so make the output 13.2V for a slosh battery as used in trucks, motorhomes, KLRs and othe low-end vehicles.

    Similarly you can raise the voltage to 13.5-13.8V for use with AGM batteries.

    The little LED is a feature in that if the unit isn't plugged in the LED will light when you have the clamps correctly connected.

    It is a problem if you unplug the wall wart and don't disconnect a clamp. The LED and the sensing resistors for the regulator (a 7805 in my units) draw about .03 amps from you battery which sucks an amp-hr out of your battery every 30 hours or so.

    Even given the problems, if you take the time to get the voltage right they are a good deal at $5. If the voltage creeps up a bit they really don't deliver enough current to damage most batteries.

    If you are using them for an AGM battery though you need to be sure the volts out is high enough or they will actually discharge your battery.

    AND at least two of the units had a bad filter condenser (that's capcitor to you younger guys.) in the wall wart so I had to cut that open and replace a part. It was less hassle than returning them.


    I have the wheel balancer and it works fine.
  2. GlennR

    GlennR Playin' in the Fire

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    Nov 4, 2010
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    Boone,NC
    My brother takes the Harbor Frt 20% off coupon to Lowes and they will accept it on tools, and maybe some other things.
  3. albondigas

    albondigas n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1
    I've bought a ton of tools and a couple trailers from HF. I'd give most of their power tools a C... that's until you try to get parts for any of them! They seem to have forgotten that things break. I've NEVER had any luck getting parts for their stuff!
  4. Tweaker

    Tweaker ...

    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
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    9,678
    I'm a little confused by this. Are you measuring open circuit? If so, they need to put out 14v+ to charge a 12v battery. As an example, a solar panel produces over 17v open circuit (not connected to battery) to charge a 12v system and does not need a regulator to do so (depending). Or maybe that is too high because they are not meant to charge but only hold the charge?
  5. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    In the literature it clearly states that the device WILL NOT charge your battery but is to be used to MAINTAIN the charge only. It further states that they are not to be used with AGM batteries.

    Because these devices have an internal voltage regulator they maintain the set voltage over the range from near zero current to around .1 amp within a narrow range. The regulator they use is rated to hold within .1V from .005 amp to 1.5 amp, but due to limitations in other parts of the circuit the whole device is slightly worse than that and of course won't supply 1.5 amps at any voltage. That kind of variation is plenty good for maintaining a charge.

    I think most AGM battery makers would be happy to see a voltage of from 13.5-13.8VDC for a battery maintainer, but of course you will have to modify these units to get that voltage.

    These units are also nice for poorly designed bikes like BMW's that have a parasitic current drain.:rofl If left over a Minnesota winter this parasitic current will drain your battery such that it's not going to start in the spring.
  6. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    0-100 Oil pressure gauge, $5.00 on clearance, Pass, tested against a very good one.:D

    Microtorch also "Pass".... for now.:D

    Left hand drill bits...Pass in wood.:wink:

    Drill bit collars....Pass.

    Sheet metal pliers...Pass but only after I went through the whole pile to find a pair with even jaws and still spent some time with a file to clean the castings.:huh

    Metric fasteners...Fail,way too much play on the threads.May get me out of a bind someday but.....Cheesy.:lol3

    Spot Sandblaster, if the filler cap did stay on maybe a Pass.:wink:

    Hollow punch set you can chuck in a drill, had my doubts but did work well on some thick leather. Pass!

    Shrink tube, Pass but only because they had some hard to find sizes. Not too Fuel/Oil proof.:huh

    Spark plug threadchaser, Pass on the neighbor's tractor but only to clean the threads, NOT re-thread.

    Sparktester.....Pass on a XR100R.

    Then I looked at a display motorcycle jack.....got scared by the poor welds and the oil already spreading at the foot of the cylinder.:lol3
    http://www.harborfreight.com/1500-lb-capacity-atv-motorcycle-lift-2792.html

    Sheesh....left Canada with an empty saddlebag thinking I could fill it up, three messy stores later that is all I could find .:eek1

    [​IMG]
  7. VTWIN-The Real VTWIN

    VTWIN-The Real VTWIN ZEPHYR

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Maryland
    +1 on the tire changer and mojo bar.:clap The only problem I had was with the mojo bar socket head bolt fastening the teflon tire removal end. It bent trying to remove a stuborn tire. Quickly fixed with a new grade 8!
  8. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
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    3,081
    Location:
    In the TARDIS
    I've only had to order a part for one HF tool, a new chuck for a drill press. Cost $4 and was shipped promptly via USPS. No complaints from me.


  9. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Aspiring advrider

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    Feb 28, 2007
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    3,399
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Those battery tenders are an epic fail.
  10. ThomasVolomitz

    ThomasVolomitz New Old Stock

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    Aug 14, 2010
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    Location:
    NE Ohio
    The with the HF battery tenders is you can't tell if they are working or not.
  11. groundrules

    groundrules Long timer

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    Oh hiya
    I've never bothered to use one on a battery, but I bought one to use as a DC source for doing the electrolysis method of cleaning a steel tank. I didn't want to use an expensive BatteryTender for this task, but the cheapo HF one worked great (albeit slowly).
  12. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    These units are not advertised as Battery Tenders or chargers. They will NOT replace a Battery Tender or a charger.

    A quick look at the specs for a low end ($30-40) Battery Tender http://batterytender.com/motorcycle/battery-tender-junior-12v-at-0-75a.html and my description of the HF unit will clearly show that.

    They work for me.:deal
  13. B02S4

    B02S4 Aye

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2009
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    Sure can. If they are plugged in, they're not working.
  14. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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  15. lemieuxmc

    lemieuxmc Banned

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    Mar 19, 2009
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    Location:
    East La Jolla... it's just Clairemont!!
    Stud finder eh... I'll pass that along to my ex-wife! :lol3
  16. dwthump

    dwthump Been here awhile

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    Jul 1, 2010
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    290
    Location:
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    Bloody hell, they recently opened a Harbor Freight about 4 blocks away from my apartment so now I'm hooked. Was drooling over some of their cycle jack stands recently and then they put the one I was looking at on sale for $60 w/coupon. Done and done. It is basic but a buddy of mine has a similar Craftsman that he payed $150 for. New 1/4' drive socket set, another torque wrench, bungee cords, etc., etc., etc.

    Darren
    '09 KLR (blue)
  17. SureRide

    SureRide Banned

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    Oct 12, 2011
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    Far East Ern PA
    Welcome to the Addiction
  18. concours

    concours WFO for 41 years

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    Dec 2, 2008
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    Kensington, NH USA
    The $269 bike lift worked great for my 400 lb. vintage bike..... but I wasn't sure about the 850 lb. land barge cruiser. I just put it up to adjust the valves, NO PROBLEMS. :freaky I was pleasantly surprised :clap Not sure how many times it would do so, but for my occasional use, I'm pleased. Now there is another 400 lb. vintage back up there.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  19. TeneRay

    TeneRay 2>4

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,226
    Location:
    Two-dimensional, OH
    Overall satisfaction with HF purchases: 8/10. They usually have the odds and ends which other places don't have and places on the internet charge 10 times the amount from HF.

    Tire changer (7/10): Works like a charm. Already changed at least 4 sets of tires on it. Put some pads on the cleets to keep from scratching the rim. From time to time it does come loose on the adjusting arm which clamps the wheel. The mounting plate pole needs to have a flat spot grinded on it (or a hole) to keep the stand from pivoting. I got a No Mar changing bar but that thing turned out to be junk. If the stand was more stable, the bar might be more useful. I just resort to spoons to chage so the changer is just an expensive wheel holder.

    Blind bearing/Pilot Bearing puller and Bearing/Seal installer (10/10): How did I get this far without buying this? Works great.

    Various hand tools (10/10): No complaints. I keep a spare mechanics set in the truck since it's cheap and if it breaks, it can be replaced through HF.

    Parts washer and benchtop blasting cabinet (8/10): The pump in the parts washer went out after a few hours of use. I purchased a spare through Northern Tool for $30. Otherwise, it's just a tub with a pump and does it's job. No problems with the blaster.

    Hydraulic jacks (9/10): It leaked a bit for a while but still works.

    Ultrasonic cleaner (10/10): Came in handy for cleaning carbs. Put at least a couple hours on it.

    6" Buffer (10/10): Works. Does get rediculously hot.

    3 Jaw Puller (1/10): I did have one grenade on me once. I using it for its intended purpose and all of a sudden, it exploded (literally). It's just cast.

    Various pneumatic tools (8/10): Just keep them oiled and hope they last.
  20. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,464
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    my experience with HF has been pretty good. but I've mostly stuck to low tech/heavy items and consumables. which IMHO has been world class tools. notice I stated low tech/heavy tools.

    Warning!!! watch out for ratings claims from Chinese goods. Reduce by 50% until proven otherwise. for instance the 6 ton jack stands below.. I'd use 3 tons until proven otherwise. the 400amp grounding clamp below really is a 400amp clamp.

    have had a dismal track record with Chinese hydraulic products. they all started out working great, but have all leaked after too few cycles. got a 2 ton cherry picker that still works great, but it only gets used twice a year for 4 years now. convinced if that same cherry picker got used every day, it'd be leaking long ago. vs

    American made hydraulics probably would still be working great 50 years later. catch is American hydraulics could cost 5x $$$$. IHMO USA hydraulics have priced themselves out of the market. much rather purchase a used American made hydraulic floor jack vs a brand new HF floor jack.

    for instance ... 6 ton HF jack stands $45 set ... good as any I've used.
    [​IMG]

    HF 400amp welding ground $16, easily good as $55 American made one. [​IMG]