I just purchased a 45 watt kit and noticed that a lot of you don't use the controller that came with the unit. Is it better to use another type charger controller. I am going to use it with three panels to power my garage with lights and maybe a garage door opener. Also is turning the switch off on the HF controller a safe way to stop the system from creating electric or do I need to disconnect the panels? The manual is a little short on info for a novice like me. Thanks for any help!, keith

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The controller that comes with the kit is fine for one kit. There are many other controllers available when you expand your system. (Notice I didn't say IF)  :) Turning off the switch on the front is fine for disconnecting power going to the battery, but isn't necessary unless you are performing work on the system. Also, the unit should be off when plugging in lights to the front panel.
Thanks for the info, I look foward to expanding the system when I learn the basics.
Just wanted to add you can leave the switch on to maintain a charge, but optionaly turn the meter off with the small push button next to it. From what I have read though it's not designed for alot of abuse.

Welcome to the forum Keith. And actually I would say 90% of us use the Harbor Freight controller but we call it a "charge distribution unit". Basically you leave it hooked to the battery bank and use it for all of your 12 volt energy needs. Then add another charge controller that can handle multiple kits for charging the battery.


I just added a second kit using the supplied controller by just hooking the two controller outputs to the battery in parallel with 3 panels per controller.  It seems to work fine.
I agree with Ray.  I use my Harbor Freight controller for 12 volt  lighting that came with the kit. My meter is way off probably cause It fell off the table. The first upgrade was a Morningstar PWM Controller, I love it. And it works great for the price and very easy to use for newbies


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