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bmichaels556

Renewable Energy... Where Do I Start? :)

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hey there gang! I live in South Florida, and it is no doubt a haven for renewable energy, especially in regard to solar power. However, I'm not far from the coast, and wind is regularly over 5mph here. Would a wind turbine be in any way practical?

 

I guess I'm wondering for right, where I should start? I'm looking to test the concepts myself on a small scale. Maybe wiring up a small turbine, trying to charge a battery. Just to get a better understanding of it all, and be able to plan out a bigger project with almost no initial investment to try it out. 

 

For this small scale testing, what would be a list of items I aught to buy to try these things out, for both solar power, and wind turbines?

 

What guides would you recommend, both for smaller, and larger builds? Thanks so much! Hoping to find a great starting point. On one hand, a lot of it seems "simple". But when you really start getting into it, it can be tough to wrap my head around. For wind, I'm looking specifically at what type of tiny motors I should be looking at for testing. I think I need a stopping diode for one-way current, right? And I would imagine some sort of DC to AC conversion device..?

 

Eh, hopefully you guys can direct me on where to start tinkering with this stuff in order to decide if doing it big, is for me. Thanks again! :)

 

Oh, I remember having an old broken Sunbeam food processor that I cracked open. I think it was a Sunbeam Oskar, or something like that? I was going to wire it up and make some shoddy fan blades for it, just to see what a large house fan would generate. But smaller scale to start would be even better..

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Wind turbines are better than solar panels. Solar panels are really very inefficient, take a lot of space and aren't all that cheap. Also hope nothing catches fire on a sunny day, coz extinguishing solar panels on a sunny day is a bit of a bitch (and it's always sunny in Florida). The upside is that you'd have a lot of sun, but that's about it. I found a neat site that compares just both... Anyway, check both and then decide...

 

https://greenfuture.io/solar/wind-vs-solar-energy

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Posted · Original PosterOP
21 hours ago, RejZoR said:

Wind turbines are better than solar panels. Solar panels are really very inefficient, take a lot of space and aren't all that cheap. Also hope nothing catches fire on a sunny day, coz extinguishing solar panels on a sunny day is a bit of a bitch (and it's always sunny in Florida). The upside is that you'd have a lot of sun, but that's about it. I found a neat site that compares just both... Anyway, check both and then decide...

 

https://greenfuture.io/solar/wind-vs-solar-energy

I tend to agree. Only issue is that there's an HOA here, so I think it might be tough to convince them to "allow" me to put in a turbine. Solar is protected under Florida law, so they can't say no, but apparently wind is not. Of course, the cheaper, generally better option isn't protected, right? :/ 

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On 2/10/2019 at 4:10 AM, bmichaels556 said:

I'm looking to test the concepts myself on a small scale

So, it turns out, that at a small scale, it's cheaper to go solar, because it requires less engineering.

 

On my favourite electronic component supply website I can get panels at £3/W, whereas the cheapest motors come in at around £5-£10, and have a built in gearbox which may help or hinder your project. And an AC motor, which produces a nicer waveform, costs at least £30.

 

And then, you need the actual turbine blades! While you could build a William Kamkwamba style turbine, it might not win favour with a HOA. You'll possibly end up 3D printing it. Oh, and a housing. These costs add up.

 

Meanwhile, on the solar project, we're already at the power conditioning stage. Once again, solar comes out on top, since we'll likely be using DC-DC conversion, with a relatively stable signal. Output 5v to charge a phone, or whatever.

 

On the wind side, we'd need much better power conditioning, as DC motors are noisy, and an AC motor won't produces a useful waveform either. You'd need to do either AC-DC conversion, or AC-AC conversion, both of which are more complicated than DC-DC regulation.

 

AC-DC conversion needs a bridge rectifier, and some smoothing circuitry to ensure a nice flat DC signal.

 

AC-AC conversion is even more difficult. This is because you have your input signal, which is within some range of frequencies, and then you need to convert it into a specific frequency. For a hobbyist, perhaps you'd choose a motor-generator set - tripling the cost of the motors (at least)!

 

TL:DR Solar is cheaper to build at small scales, if you have access to the internet.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
5 hours ago, Fourthdwarf said:

So, it turns out, that at a small scale, it's cheaper to go solar, because it requires less engineering.

 

On my favourite electronic component supply website I can get panels at £3/W, whereas the cheapest motors come in at around £5-£10, and have a built in gearbox which may help or hinder your project. And an AC motor, which produces a nicer waveform, costs at least £30.

 

And then, you need the actual turbine blades! While you could build a William Kamkwamba style turbine, it might not win favour with a HOA. You'll possibly end up 3D printing it. Oh, and a housing. These costs add up.

 

Meanwhile, on the solar project, we're already at the power conditioning stage. Once again, solar comes out on top, since we'll likely be using DC-DC conversion, with a relatively stable signal. Output 5v to charge a phone, or whatever.

 

On the wind side, we'd need much better power conditioning, as DC motors are noisy, and an AC motor won't produces a useful waveform either. You'd need to do either AC-DC conversion, or AC-AC conversion, both of which are more complicated than DC-DC regulation.

 

AC-DC conversion needs a bridge rectifier, and some smoothing circuitry to ensure a nice flat DC signal.

 

AC-AC conversion is even more difficult. This is because you have your input signal, which is within some range of frequencies, and then you need to convert it into a specific frequency. For a hobbyist, perhaps you'd choose a motor-generator set - tripling the cost of the motors (at least)!

 

TL:DR Solar is cheaper to build at small scales, if you have access to the internet.

I guess, but as long as your motor is hand-selected for outputting high voltage at a relatively low RPM, shouldn't you be able to put out vastly more watts than solar? I mean okay for example, say about $1000 USD gets you a continuous output of 300 watts, 8 hours a day (if that). Shouldn't that same $1,000 bucks get you, at least, an average of that same 300 watts, over say 24 hours? Like, even if the output is similar, I feel like you'd be putting out "more average watts" per hour than with solar?

 

Maybe I'm totally off?

 

I'd really love to maybe build my own mini kit that I can test in my garage, just to get familiar with the tech and how it all works out. Like using small RC car motors, a few small solar panels, just as a micro-run of it, you know?

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