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The good and bad of Harbor Freight


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#1 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 02:34 PM

It's always best to buy quality tools but there are times when you just want to buy a tool because it is cheap. Harbor Freights is a great place but sometimes you just have to pass up a supposed bargain. Some things I have bought were good and others ..epic fail. Here are my experiences:

color coded nut drivers: Love them!...It has gotten so in my shop we call out color as oppose to size. Instead of "get me a 1/4 inch nut driver" we say "it needs a yellow" or "looks like a green." they do have magnetic inserts to hold the nuts but sometimes the little magnets may fall out. All in All a great set for about 8 bucks.

Yellow magnetic electric worklight: LOVE IT! 'bout 14 bucks will get you a great work light that has a hook and magnet to stick on your appliances. Uses a low heat fluorescent bulb. We purchased three for the shop about a year ago and bought extra bulbs just in case. have not had to replace a bulb yet. Has a very long cord and a 110 volt outlet. Compact design and durable (i have one outside as a grill light...endured rain and snow without any problems. I did have one of the 110 volt outlets go bad and caused me to misdiagnose a fridge. Other than that great tool

drill driven water pump: supposedly pumps out water from a washer...attach drill and pump water into drainage pipe....8 bucks epic fail! Wound up buying an electric pump from home depot...a lot better than using shop vac since you can pump water directly into drain as oppose to carrying a heavy bucketful of water down several flights of stairs.

Hose Clamps.....We like to replace spring clamps with the screw tightened hose clamps. You can buy a box of them at HF but about 40% of them will get off track and not tighten....avoid.

Angled needle nose pliers.......many of the hand tools at HF are okay for light use. The angled needle nose pliers are great for removing washer hoses located in tight spaces...keep them oiled as they will rust.

HF line of Multimeters.....some of them are okay. One tech fried one by checking volts while on the ohm setting. No auto off feature. Nothing beats a good multimeter for accuracy and safety...do not trust your life or readings with HF Cen tech brand.

I have used their butt connectors without any problem, but they don't feel sufficiently durable for stove/dryer wire work.

Wire marker pens..... great to use to mark wires with a dot or two to match with a connector similarly marked. Used several different types from HF but they all dried out extremely fast....avoid.

Any of you have any experiences or suggestions with HF tools?

Edited by DurhamAppliance, 07 February 2011 - 06:08 PM.

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#2 Tuco

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 03:14 PM

Years ago I ordered some stubby wrenches. They were short wrenches, but the ends were overly fat. Un useable junk.
I have some deep 1/2 drive sockets that have worked great. But I purchased those from a store, not mail.

I only purchase from them if I can see and touch before purchase, I don't trust mail order.

#3 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 04:02 PM

HF line of Multimeters.....some of them are okay.
One tech fried one by checking volts while on the ohm setting.

sometimes $ 1.99 w/ battery on sale ... (less w/ 20% OFF coupon)
and an expensive meter won't get fried by checking volts while on the ohms setting ?
.

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#4 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 04:58 PM

sometimes $ 1.99 w/ battery on sale ... (less w/ 20% OFF coupon)
and an expensive meter won't get fried by checking volts while on the ohms setting ?


Most of them will be toast but good ones will have fuse overprotection. Most importantly, a good meter with a certified CAT rating will not blow up in your face or cause serious injury as readily as a cheap meter. Can also happen if confusing amps with volts or just a malfunctioning appliance.

I'm not afraid of anything, except electric shock. Probably as a result of "fixing" a broken switch on a toy while but a tot. I replaced switch with a light switch my dad had lying around ( it was an electric football set featuring that year's superbowl Colts vs Cowboys) got the shock of my life. So I aint afraid of many things more than electric shock....well, I won't put my hand in a water meter box to turn off water. Saw both black widow spiders and baby moccasins in two different meter boxes on same day in different locations. Also...little afraid of those white things I saw under a house once. Looked like the skeletons of miniature facehuggers from "Aliens"...grateful they were dead. Oh yeah, let's not forget quicksand. Clowns at night and rabbits...killer rabbits, of course.

Edited by DurhamAppliance, 07 February 2011 - 11:00 PM.

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#5 appliancenoob

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:37 PM

I've got a HF lightweight floor jack that's held up rather well.

#6 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:04 PM

Multimeters are fused only on the AMPs setting ...
nothing to protect the OMHs setting ..

let's not forget Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
.

one of my video productions: “Easter Seals: Walk With Me”

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#7 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:26 PM

Multimeters are fused only on the AMPs setting ...
nothing to protect the OMHs setting ..

let's not forget Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)


Yeah, the meter might be toast but higher end meters have better shielding....nice to protect your fingers from an exploding meter. Maybe I'm a bit paranoid about electricity, and killer clowns from outer space. Now you've done it! Monday is my day off, now i have to spend the rest of it searching the skies for flying big tops and probably won't sleep for fear of being sucked dry by alien clowns.

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#8 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:40 PM

what ? the foil shielding ?

I've never heard of a meter explode ...
.

one of my video productions: “Easter Seals: Walk With Me”

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#9 Tuco

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:47 PM

what ? the foil shielding ?

I've never heard of a meter explode ...

Not explode........BOING!!!! :wacko:

#10 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 09:38 PM

I have personally not seen one explode but I have read lots of electrician forums where others have experienced/seen it. here are a few examples: http://www.arcflashf...read.php?t=505. here is a video of an exploding meter http://gossenmetrawa...multimeters.htm and the forum which talks about it http://www.ebme.co.u...4739a6e6ddb1a3.

Dave Jones' EEVblog on youtube shows videos that goes through differences between cheapie and better quality meters (his $50 meter shootout and $100 meter shootout videos are great). I do not advocate buying the real expensive models for appliance work, however, I do think that a meter should be safety rated. He also has a video of exploding meters although they are intentionally trying to explode them using extreme measures. I find his video blogs to be very informative. I do take exceptions with some of his reviews like the IDEAL meter he rates an epic fail due to bad stand design and non working temp probe. I find it to be a solid and accurate meter. Other than safety, most meters appear (even the $7 hf) to be reasonably accurate but some are very slow showing continuity. With what we do, I do not find RMS important. I just like to feel safe, especially testing old appliances that might be drawing more current than it should and I especially like the meters that have capacitor discharge. Currently I use a sperry clamp, Ideal test pro and an extech pocket meter that I wear on my belt. Not expensive by any means, but they have at least a CATII or III safety rating. btw that little cen tek clamp does a better job than my sperry clamp when clamping for amps.

Edited by DurhamAppliance, 07 February 2011 - 11:03 PM.

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#11 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 09:57 PM

http://www.arcflashf...read.php?t=505.

here is a video of an exploding meter http://gossenmetrawa...multimeters.htm and the forum which talks about it http://www.ebme.co.u...4739a6e6ddb1a3.

1) http://www.arcflashf...read.php?t=505. I've also seen a multimeter explode in a guys hand because he had it set wrong
define "explode"

2) http://gossenmetrawa...multimeters.htm
no test measurements / voltages mentioned..
could be 50,000v for all I know ...

normal person would remove the probes right away if something happens,
also, not usually holding meter while probing ..

.

one of my video productions: “Easter Seals: Walk With Me”

every day is Down Syndrome Awareness Day
"A Child Is Waiting" . Burt Lancaster . Judy Garland . 1962

RegUS_PatOff > www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPAY2LsKVEw

#12 john63

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:11 PM

A favorite general-use meter. Compact.

http://www.multimete...DT830BMinif.htm

Also bought 10 Harbor Freight meters for $2.00 each---great meter and if damaged---no big deal.

The weakness in the HF meters is the *test probes*. The wiring is super thin and test leads fall off. Using another set of wires cures that...

For "serious" stuff---I use the Milwaukee meter.

Never had a meter "blow-up". I've damaged a few meters over the years--never rec'd a shock from this either.

Now *touching* a live wire in an appliance---that I've done. z-z-z-z-t-t-p-p-p. Ow!
To eliminate:

Musty odor

L-O-N-G cycle times

Dingy/yellowing whites

Suds error message

Slow spin speeds

Intermittent water leaks (from rear of washer)

And other annoying symptoms which vary brand-to brand.

Read below:

The *correct* amount of HE (High Efficiency) detergent that should be used in any front load or agitatorless top load washer with tub sizes 3.0 cu ft and larger is as follows:

HE: (2) Tablespoons Per Wash Load

HE 2X: (1) Tablespoon

HE 3X: (1) Teaspoon

Perform a TUB CLEAN CYCLE every (4) months.

Use: "Tide Washing Machine Cleaner"

#13 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:13 PM

You are correct in that there is not sufficient info to determine how often this could happen or what, if anything, could cause it. I guess it's a personal choice but for something that I use as a major part of my business, especially something that I use while doing something as inherently dangerous as testing electricity, I don't mind spending a little more.

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#14 kdog

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:15 PM

Have used a FLUKE 77 for almost 30 years, only on 3rd battery!
Help us keep the lights on: buy appliance parts here ==> http://repairclinic.com

For service manuals and lots of other goodies, become an Apprentice ==> Apprenticeship

#15 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:28 PM

You can't go wrong with a fluke 77! My next meter will be a fluke, mainly for durability.

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#16 kdog

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:30 PM

Yup, with their protective cover they are indestructible - can't beat 'em
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#17 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 06:32 PM

Had a flat tire the other day on my service truck. Pulled out my handy dandy compact folding HF lug wrench. 8 bucks.....broke while loosening lug nut. Yay AAA!

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#18 Scottthewolf

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 11:13 PM

I love the Harbor Freight Drillmaster cordless and chuckless drills, can't beat them for around $20. I also love their heat guns, now on sale for around $10.

Edited by Scottthewolf, 15 February 2011 - 11:14 PM.

Scott Wolf

#19 appl.tech.29501

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 11:08 PM

I had one blow up in my hand from Harbor Freight. It was similar in features to this one,
but they no longer sell the one I had. Accidently checked for voltage in the ohms setting and KAPOW!
melted the probes and blew the meter...turned my hand black and blew out the display.

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#20 JumpSteady

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 09:27 PM

This rotary hammer has worked well for me.
http://www.harborfre...mmer-97743.html

I bought an infrared thermometer on sale for 9.99 from HF, had it a few years and it still works well.

The cheap meters do work, and I like to keep them for backups, or loaners. My main multimeter meter is a fluke 16 and amp clamp is an amprobe acd-14 plus. I have seen a greenlee multimeter jump a foot in the air, I think it was set to milliamps and connected to 240 volts.

There are some things that in my opinion, cheap ones are a waste of money such as wire cutters, wire strippers, and drill bits.

If you buy cheap and lose them, not a big deal, but if you buy expensive and lose them it is, so it's kind of a trade off. My tools consists of a mixture of cheap, moderate, and expensive. Sometimes I have replaced cheap with expensive cause the cheap sucked so bad I couldn't use it, and sometimes I have replaced expensive with cheap cause I lost the expensive one and didn't want to spend the money again.

Edited by JumpSteady, 11 March 2011 - 09:30 PM.





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