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Solar and Wind Power for Home, Farm & Industry

solar vs wind grid tie inverter


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  #1  
Old 07-05-2014, 10:47:37 AM
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Default solar vs wind grid tie inverter

Hello all,

Simple question that I have not been able to find an answer for. What is the difference between a solar grid tie inverter and a wind grid tie inverter? If I wanted to drive a car alternator with a gas engine and feed the power into the grid what is the best one to use and why?

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Old 07-05-2014, 12:36:33 PM
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Talking Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

It really depends on the Grid-Tie Inverter you are running... Most do not care what generates the Power as long as it meets the Parameters of the Grid-Tie algorithm in the box.

Why would ANYONE want to hook a Gasoline fueled Generator to a Grid-Tie? Especially when Gas is $4.00US/USG, and the Utility only Pays $.10-$.15US Maximum for a KWH of electricity. That is just dumb.... Just Say'en....
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:57:43 PM
pegasuspinto pegasuspinto is offline
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Default Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

One chart claims a diesel generator makes about 10 kWh per gallon of diesel. Gov says on-highway diesel is about 3.90 per gallon right now, say 3.5 if you get offroad grade. That means you're paying 35 cents per kWh BEFORE maintenance. Gasoline is going to have WORSE efficiency. Car alternators are going to have high losses. You have to use some kind of drive to speed up the alternator, and that will have losses. Then you will have losses in the inverter. I wouldn't be the least bit shocked to see you paying in excess of a dollar per kWh.....

What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
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Old 07-05-2014, 01:17:43 PM
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Default Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

I understand that it is not an economical way to generate electricity. The point is that if I am running the engine simply for the enjoyment of it and I can stuff a few watts into the wall at the same time then there is some benefit. Rather than a Baker fan or some other non-productive way to work the engine, load it with a generator and utilize the energy.

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Old 07-05-2014, 03:55:03 PM
dalmatiangirl61 dalmatiangirl61 is online now
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Default Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

Have you talked to the power company yet? I looked into a grid tie a few years ago, they wanted to add another $30 per month surcharge to the bill, I needed a 1 million dollar liability policy with power co. as beneficiary, and they wanted access to the system 24/7 in case they ever needed to shut it down. In a nutshell, unless you are making LOTS of power, it just ain't worth it.

Automotive alternators suck at power generation, even the ones that have been converted to permanent magnet design, what you need is a good 3 phase AC permanent magnet motor.

Edit: If you are looking at the chinese grid tie inverters that you just plug into a wall socket, be forewarned, if power co finds out you are using one they can shut your power off, and if your home burns down insurance co will probably refuse to pay.
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Old 07-05-2014, 05:51:36 PM
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Default Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

Alright, I understand the folly of doing this. However, the question is that if I want to feed power into a grid tie box with an auto alternator should I get a solar panel one or a wind charger one? It would seem that an auto alternator is more like a wind charger than solar panels but I was hoping that someone had some useful information.

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Old 07-05-2014, 06:47:02 PM
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Default Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

Show us what products you are looking at, I can't see why there would be a difference unless wind turbine model has a dump load circuit or something like that.
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Old 07-28-2014, 12:41:04 PM
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Default Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

Windchargers and PV solar cells share the characteristic that they produce voltage and current when the proper condition of operation presents itself. Both will experience variation in output based on the available energy absorbed (photons for PV, and fluid(wind) for the turbine).

Some earlier PV systems did not take well to being fed lots of light, with the output of the cell system being open-circuit. Most new systems don't seem to have issue with it.

Windcharging systems come in a variety of flavors, but some types of generating systems do not tolerate open-circuit well. Automotive alternators are USUALLY an excited-field design, where output voltage is regulated by a solid-state regulator sensing output voltage, and modulating field current to produce the desired output. Other types of windchargers are nothing more than a permanent-magnet field crossing, or being crossed by an array of windings... and somewhere downstream, these windings are rectified into DC with otherwise no regulation.

In both cases, the power is being converted from a casually variable source, and directed into either storage or immediate use in some other way.

That energy not only needs to be properly regulated, it needs to be managed so that components on BOTH side of the system don't get fried. One can easily damage a generation system, or damage a load by having improper regulation... you don't want PV panels or windchargers burned up, and you don't want a device connected to that power source to be smacked with high voltage, or current that kicks on and off.

In most systems, power from small systems is directed to either an immediate load, or into storage. Frequently, a 'charge controller' will have connection points for the input source (solar/wind), a storage source (battery) and a load point (LOAD)... where the load is not only getting power from the source, it's also able to draw from battery... and when source is available, drives the load directly, and excess source goes to charging the battery as well... and when there's no source available, the charge controller allows the battery to feed, but in the event of a low state-of-charge, the controller shuts the load OFF to protect the battery from excessive discharge... and finally, if the battery is fully charged, and there's more power input than the load requires, some charge controllers will dump excess incoming energy to some other device, like a resistor... to prevent an overvoltage condition.

In your case, you're proposing to direct it into a utility distribution network... that qualifies as an infinite load, especially when you consider that a little car alternator is staring the national power grid in the face.

My advice, is very simple: Abandon this concept completely, immediately, and never, ever, ever even THINK of doing it... if you're interested in doing foolish things with electricity and serious power, re-enact the Mythbusters' test of urinating on the third rail of a subway (and prove that they're busted myth, ain't busted).

First of all, when it comes to grid-tie systems, there's regulations and bureaucracy involved. This is not there as an impediment to spirit and ingenuity, and they're not there to keep you from 'cheating the meter'... it's there to keep people from killing themselves, killing lineworkers, and damaging distribution infrastructure.

Next- your local power company, and state resources board have ultimate say in what you can, and cannot do with respect to putting power INTO a distribution system. Some states and/or utilities won't allow you to grid-tie at all. Others, particularly those with large quantities of hydroelectric capacity, are more likely to have a program in place for grid-tie, however, they'll identify specifically WHEN and HOW you can do it. They'll most often require a second meter (for feed-in), as well as access to disconnects, etc., as mentioned previously. Most utilities or states will require you to sign a contract, including the liability waiver/insurance rider etc noted above. Your insurance company will then assess your property and installation for viability of insurance for that system, and they may decide that the presence of the system makes you ineligable or undesirable for homeowner coverage.

Next... many utilities or states will have a requirement that you register as an Independant Power Producer, to price your power and available capacity on the national market, and agree to a franchise and a power-availability guarantee... which means, you price your power at X, and identify available capacity at Y... so that when a buyer agrees to purchase what you put up, for a given duration, that you will put that amount of power up for the agreed time, and if your primary source goes down, that you have a standing backup source online to immediately fill that demand. This is to protect the distribution network from a large-scale swing if your system goes down. This can be construed as an RV full of lawyers with briefcases... and how it all comes out in the wash, depends totally on WHERE you happen to be.

Next, if you're gonna grid-tie, you have only two options- go big, or go home. A REALLY SMALL grid-tie system starts at 10kw. If you live in a state, under a distribution outfit with hydroelectric, you could probably get an agreement for 20 year grid-tie with a 10kw system... if you're producing say... 50% more power than you're using. The one I'm most familiar with, is Appalachian Power, with whom one of my friends here has a 9600w PV array on grid-tie.

The inverters of his SMALL grid-tie system, are over an order-of-magnitude larger than what an automotive alternator will need... and they cost about the same as a family sedan. They're the MINIMUM that the grid-tie requirements allow... and it cost darned near as much to install the approved infrastructure (wiring, meter, disconnect, etc)... as the inverters.

So at this point, it should be pretty clear, that the concept is not wise.

If what you're doing, is trying to get something useful out of that thing spinning, don't try to direct it to the grid. Find some other way to put it to use. Here's one way:

Take all your outdoor lights... building floodlights, accent lighting, driveway lights... and change 'em to LED bulbs. Pricey, but worth it. Install additional lighting in emergency areas of your home and shop... places that if your power went out, you'd want light. Put LEDs in all those as well.

Now, mount a second utility panel... a small one... 4-6 breakers, whatever) in some sensible spot. run the power for all those lights, to that panel. Connect the input of that panel to an inexpensive AC inverter. A 500W inverter can be found at most truckstops for $50. Connect inverter to a couple of surplus 12v truck batteries.

Now connect your alternator to that battery. Let the alternator's internal regulator regulate. Pick up an inexpensive solar cell or two, and an inexpensive charge controller, mount the cells, wire 'em to the controller, and connect that to your truck batteries as well.

Now, when the sun goes down, your yard lights will be totally battery/inverter powered. When your power goes out, you'll have emergency lighting. If you accumulate enough batteries, and large enough inverter, you could run your ceiling fan, TV set, and other things off battery/inverter power, and start-run your engine/alternator combination to help the batteries out when it's dark...

And you're not stepping into the utility quagmire.
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Old 07-28-2014, 01:57:25 PM
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Default Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

Hello all,

There is no point adding more responses to this thread. I asked a simple question and all I received was multiple rants about what an idiot I am. Sorry to waste your time.
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Old 07-29-2014, 08:45:05 PM
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Default Re: solar vs wind grid tie inverter

My apologies if you found my note insulting- wasn't intended to be, and I agree that I did NOT the answer to your core question... (the difference) is that at one time, it was not unusual for 'charge controllers' for a PV application to be a different bird than for a windcharging application:

SOME Solar units had a forward-biased diode in series with the output to protect against current leaking backwards through the cells in low-light... and had bypass shunt capacity to prevent the cells from burning up under insufficient load and surplus photon absorption.

Windchargers, having a much higher current than comparative PV systems of the time, had higher capacity. Some had bypass circuitry to shunt the generator output when speed was excessive, or too much, or insufficient load was present

Nowdays, they're probably more alike than dissimilar, as technology has allowed that which was once all hardware-functionality, to be integrated into the control programming in such a way that the inverter/charger/regulatior segments, and all necessary hardware features, are all included, you just select what you want at configuration time.
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