How China is building cities like Harbor Freight builds tools

I was speaking to a solar panel prospect of mine a while back. I was telling him how he probably should not buy panels made by Sun Tech because you can’t really trust the reliability of high-tech products from China. I started telling him about how unreliable products from Harbor Freight  are and he told me a story.

He went to China recently, up the Yangtze River and some of those “brand new” cities that are being built there. I had heard a while back that China is building a city every week (yeah, wow!). He had gone into one of these cities of like a million people or so. He described how every building is built exactly eight stories tall because at nine stories the local law says that you have to put in an elevator.

He told me that he was a bit confused at what he was seeing; everything was broken down. All of the concrete on the sidewalks was cracked. The buildings had cracks in them, the paint was peeling, structures were crumbling.

He met this older gentleman and spoke to him for a while. The gentleman was a farmer that had been displaced into the city after dam construction had flooded his farm. He was living on the first floor of this eight story building. Actually, it wasn’t the gentleman’s apartment but he had been crammed into his niece’s place. Apparently, my prospect surmised, he hadn’t been given too large a stipend when he was forced to move.

My prospect and the farmer spoke in his apartment building for a while. He noticed this large structural crack in the wall that… well, it looked downright scary. Here he was living on the first floor of an eight story walk-up and the building had a crack in the wall that looked liked they should condemn the place.

My prospect asked the farmer, “why did they put you in this old city?” The farmer explained how the city was completely new. Construction had been finished just a year before. But the concrete sidewalks didn’t use enough rebar or high enough enough quality concrete so they crumbled immediately. And the buildings… well, that huge crack in the wall told you all you needed to know.


“So -that- is why”, I cut in, “you should not buy Sun Tech panels.” And there is also the bit about how they’re probably dumping all of their toxic solar panel waste into the Yangtze. You can sure make an inexpensive panel when you don’t have to worry about recycling your toxic waste products.  

China is being built like Harbor Freight builds tools. I can imagine them saying, “Chromium is too expensive to put in steel, we won’t use it. We’ll be fine without it. Molybdenum? Never heard of it.”


  1. Edwad says:

    I have been purchasing the 45 watt solar panel kits from harbor freight tools for 2 years and have 25 sets. They have been degrading at a rate of 4% per month. The original short circuit ouput of each panel when new was .91 Amps, after 2 years they have a short circuit output of .21 Amps. they degrade so fast that they will be usless within 3 years…They worked well when new but are obsolete in 3 years.

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