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Old 08-27-2011, 15:28   #1
emt1581
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Wind vs. Solar power

Seems like wind is a LOT more powerful and efficient. However I'm only basing this on what I've seen on some store's sites in regard to the wattage, amperage, and voltage offered when looking at wind generators/turbines vs. solar panels. For $100 you can either buy a 15-45 W solar panel or a 150 W wind generator.

But I know, as with all things, there is more than what is seen only at first/face value. So lets compare the two. Lets talk about things like cost, capability, value, efficiency, durability, etc. when looking at the two.

Ideally I'd like to combine both systems although first I'd like to start with wind.

Share your thoughts.

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Old 08-27-2011, 17:00   #2
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You need to first determine if you are in an area capable of sustained winds to generate electricity. Sure you can generate energy using wind almost anywhere the wind blows, but some areas just plain stink for wind power.

http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_maps.asp

The sun shines almost everywhere. Some parts of the country have less hours of sun than others but for the most part you can use solar almost anywhere. Wind is not quite the same. Even if you think you always have a "steady breeze" at home that does not warrant putting up a turbine.
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Old 08-27-2011, 17:50   #3
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Red's right, you need sufficient sustainable wind, particularly if you want one of those "cute little" turbines with the short blades that aren't such an eyesore.

Something else to remember with wind, is that you shouldn't just plop a turbine on your roof. The noise can make your house unlivable. Windmills are usually recommended to go on freestanding towers. (You would know this if you'd checked out a book on wind/solar yet!)

However I agree with you that it is kind of depressing to find out how much solar costs, and how it just trickles in. Most people start with solar and add wind but you may want to reverse that. Live near a stream by chance? Hydro's an option.
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Last edited by Bolster; 08-27-2011 at 17:55..
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Old 08-27-2011, 19:30   #4
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Hydro? I can't imagine the environmental red tape that would be required to be legal for that. Unless one plans on flying under the radar.
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Old 08-27-2011, 20:49   #5
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Portable hydroelectric backpack?

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/20...lectric-plant/
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Old 08-27-2011, 21:10   #6
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I think a combo of the two would be perfect.

It's not that you're in an area good for either, that BOTH should be used.

Sun, get all you can, every day

But sometimes you might have a week of little sun. maybe three straight cloudy days.

But when that happens, weather is likely not good generally, so if it gets windy from storms, you make up for the lack of sun.

Having a windmill gives you at least the OPPORTUNITY to make some juice when the sun is down. Wind can happen at any time. So you might have a steady breeze over night without waiting to see if its sunny next day.

USe a combiner that can handle the two sources.

$700 bucks will buy a good 400watt windmill. That and a couple, maybe 3 150w solar panels and at least 300ah of batteries and you could make a nice little system.

Last edited by G29Reload; 08-27-2011 at 21:10..
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Old 08-27-2011, 22:17   #7
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Old 08-27-2011, 22:57   #8
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As everyone else has said, you've got to plan for it. Where Solar really makes sense is in the South, Wind can be had almost anywhere. However, you really have to look at the local wind maps. You need a steady breeze for wind to make sense, not a lot of gusts. I'm pretty sure you still have to have batteries and a charge controller for a wind system (same as solar) and that's where your costs can spiral rapidly.
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Old 08-28-2011, 00:48   #9
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im of the thought to combine them. not only redundant systems but when the storms kick up wind, the sun goes away.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:18   #10
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I like both wind and solar alternatives. Anything beats feeding the oil whores.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:30   #11
LongGun1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emt1581 View Post
Seems like wind is a LOT more powerful and efficient. However I'm only basing this on what I've seen on some store's sites in regard to the wattage, amperage, and voltage offered when looking at wind generators/turbines vs. solar panels. For $100 you can either buy a 15-45 W solar panel or a 150 W wind generator.

But I know, as with all things, there is more than what is seen only at first/face value. So lets compare the two. Lets talk about things like cost, capability, value, efficiency, durability, etc. when looking at the two.

Ideally I'd like to combine both systems although first I'd like to start with wind.

Share your thoughts.

Thanks

-Emt1581
1st off...good replies from the previous posters!




You need to check the average wind speeds in the siting area..

.. before seriously considering wind as an option.


You need to understand how different micro-turbines handle excessive wind speeds..

(to help protect from overspeed damage)

..the smallest ones tend to use blade twisting/resonance to do so.

That resonance (which can sound like flatulence)...can be transmitted into the home thru structure vibration during storms & other high winds..

..especially if improperly mounted or if the rubber shock mounts have hardened due to age or are missing.

Many inexperienced/unknowing people will naively rubber mount the turbine pole to the side of the house..

(with the poor little turbine just feet above the roof line)

..but leave the metal base of the pole touching the concrete!


Best to site turbines downwind of the home..

..but keep in mind you need to properly site the turbines..

..as both upwind & downwind obstructions can cause energy robbing & turbine damaging turbulence.

That means the turbine needs to be really up there..

..80, 120 or more feet high..

..and much taller than upwind & downwind obstructions.

There are formulas on this available online or in print...study them...no shortcuts.

There may be issues with neighbors or HOA...community restrictions...environmental issues with protected species of birds like raptors.


Unlike PV...which normally will be the majority of cost in a large home system..

..properly sited micro-wind turbine (or micro-hydro turbine) tends to be less than the inverters, battery bank, charge controller, wiring, lightning protection, etc.

In fact...you can easily spend (much) more money for the tower..(and putting it up)

..than the turbine itself.

Which is a yet another good reason to not jump in without doing your homework.


Why spend big bucks & effort on a tall tower..

..just to put up a very small inexpensive 100w turbine than will generate very little power for your investment.

You also have to figure in voltage drop on long wire runs..

..much more energy lost with a little 12 volt turbine than one running at 48 volts or higher.

You may find the larger micro-turbines are actually by far the best value...

..especially when you factor in the tax credits & other federal/state/utility RE incentives available!


And then there is turbine maintenance..

..which means bringing the turbine down to where you can work on it..

..or someone climbing the tower to work on it!


This is just the tip of the iceberg...

(though backup power has been a side business of mine for many years & a lifelong interest...

..simply no way can or will I cover the plethora of details remotely on an internet forum)

..and though it may sound like I am against wind power..

..actually I am greatly in favor of micro wind..(& micro-hydro) vs. PV...

(with the towers & micro turbines to show for it... )

..especially for the SHTF prepping & self-reliance aspect.


Just do your homework..

..& you will come to the conclusion what is best for your backup power needs.
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Last edited by LongGun1; 08-28-2011 at 08:56..
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:12   #12
Lowdown3
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Wind isn't practical for a lot of locations.

The little not so well known fact when you look at wind generators (especially some of the cheap ones) is that while they might state "400 watts", that's 400 watts at a CONSTANT wind speed of 25 or so MPH.

Sometimes under a certain wind speed (around 10mph for some of the ones I've looked at) they produce NOTHING.

Yep, those cute little rotors might be turning, yet producing NOTHING.

Some areas I've been, trained at, worked in, would do great with wind power. I'm thinking of an area of TX where we had to make 300 yard shoots in 25 gusts to 30 wind, that was fun. Years later when I trained there again the wind was THE SAME. I'm guessing it was fairly constant there.

Wind power wouldn't work in our area for the major power source. Solar does and has for us for 12 years now. Last year we completed upgrading our system to 3,100 watts of PV and switching out a couple of C40's for Outback MPPT's. We have never even gotten CLOSE to being low on power and the generator hasn't been used for charging batts in a long long time.

Don't believe the hype that you need to have a million dollar system to start. We lived with 1,820 watts for years. It can be done. A friend of mine that's been off grid since the early 90's lives off of around 700 watts of PV in a strawbale house up north.

Put your water heater and stove on LP and do what you can to reduce your loads. Start with looking at that versus looking at a worksheet with fifty million watts and thinking things are hopeless.

They aren't, you just have to make a few sacrifices. The problem is the last word in that sentence....
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