I love the tool store Harbor Freight. To my knowledge, there’s no store like it in the San Francisco Bay Area, and perhaps in the entire United States.
What’s to love?
The prices are just so far below those at Home Depot and Lowes and the neighborhood hardware store that you can afford to by twice or three times as many tools. I can’t think of any other example of a large sector where just one business dominates the bargain priced end of the business as does Harbor Freight.
Some will say Harbor Freight tools are junk, but I disagree. They are quite good enough for home hobbyist use. I’ve only had one power tool break, but I was really overdoing it – getting it too hot by continuous use for over an hour. It was an electric planer. I replaced it for a new one for just $39.95. Not a big deal, and I learned my lesson to give the tools more of a break to cool down.
I fear that if Home Depot or Lowes were to acquire Harbor Freight they would either raise the prices or shut it down, to avoid the competition.
What’s my latest super bargain purchase from Harbor Freight? An 11 horsepower gas engine with an iron clad two year extended warranty where they give you a new engine if the original one breaks. All you have to do is bring in in any condition what’s left of the engine and they immediately hand you a new unopened new engine in the box. All of this for under $300! I am going to make a super quiet battery charger from this engine by having it run at idle, not full speed. Idle is about 1,800 RPM, like a high end diesel generator that costs $5,000 and up. I don’t need or want the 5,000 – 10,000 watts that are produced by a high end diesel generator. I would be thrilled with a quiet 1,500 watt generator, which is what I hope to get from this Harbor Freight engine run through my Trace SW4024 inverter via a Delco 105 amp 24 volt alternator, I picked one up last week on EBay today for less than $100 including shipping. I will put this engine in a sound box and cool it with a pair of Honda Civic car engine radiators I got new from Amazon for $160 including a dedicated 12 volt radiator fan matched to the radiator that will be outside the sound deadening enclosure. Once I convert the engine to run on propane, I’ll have an electric start quiet, environmentally friendly and very quiet generator for a very low price. Should the engine blow up for any reason, I get a brand new one with no questions asked. I could even carry a spare since they weigh just 74 pounds.
Harbor Freight makes inventing, building and experimenting easier to afford, and I’m glad they appear to be thriving.
Even so, there is probably a dark side to Harbor Freight such as cruel working conditions that I don’t know about. If you have any information about such things, please post a thoughtful comment. I could be persuaded to not shop there if warranted, but to my knowledge their products are made in China, just like I suspect most of the tools for sale at the big box super centers.