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Articles on DIY Wind & Solar

NOTE: If you are unsure about this area, consult an electrician. Proper use of fuses and breakers are important to maintain safety.

The first thing to know is that fuses and circuit breakers are primarily used to protect the system wiring from getting too hot and catching fire. Secondly, they also are used to protect devices from catching fire or from becoming more seriously damaged if there is a short circuit.

Batteries store electrical energy in the form of a charge. For most off-grid PV systems the battery bank is configured as 12 volts or 24 volts.

Batteries used for such systems are usually made up of either:

• 6 volt lead-acid batteries, common in electric golf cart applications
• 12 volt lead-acid batteries, such as deep-cycle/marine batteries

It’s important that all the batteries be of the same type and condition if possible. This improves both the safety and performance of the battery bank.

Choosing the right wire sizes in your PV system is important for both performance and safety reasons. If the wires are undersized, there will be a significant voltage drop in the wires resulting in excess power loss. In addition, if the wires are undersized, there is a risk that the wires may heat up to the point in which a fire may result.

Discovered in the 1880s, solar photovoltaic (PV) electric power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Modern PV cells are capable of converting up to 15% of the sun’s energy into DC electric power. Sunlight provides roughly 100 watts per square foot to the earth’s surface, so on a clear day a 1-square foot PV panel can produce about 15 watts. A 10 square foot panel therefore can produce about 150 watts in ideal conditions.

How much power will your wind turbine produce? In this article, we discuss the three factors that determine output from your wind turbine and talk about some simple design considerations that can help you design an efficient and cost-effective system.

The formula for the power in the wind is made up of three factors:

Measuring wind speed accurately is critical to determine the true performance of your wind turbine. The placement of the anemometer is important so that it reflects the true wind speed seen by the wind turbine. You want the airflow at the anemometer to be as free of disturbances as possible.

The length of the tail-boom and the surface area of the tail vane are critical factors in having a wind turbine remain facing into the wind during normal and turbulent conditions. If not sized properly the turbine will shift away from the core wind direction causing a drop in RPM, a loss of power, and a loss of time as the turbine repositions prior to spooling-up again.

Numerous kinds of alternators and generators are often sold which might not be appropriate at all for use in a wind generator. Most often, the real power capabilities of an alternator are obscured by wild claims about open circuit voltage (OCV) and the short circuit current (SCC). Stop being fooled! This article will describe what open circuit voltage and short circuit current, and explain why they are important for designing a wind turbine that produces optimal power in real world wind speeds.

Kevin is a proud WindyNation customer who recently deployed a Windtura 750 Complete Wind Turbine Kit. See Kevin's rig and see how you can start producing clean, practical power!

He we discuss how to choose a proper divert (dump) load set-up for a wind turbine grid tie system. Different grid ties divert/dump at different voltages and the dump loads must be matched to this voltage. Here we break down simple and easy ways to design the right dump load system for your rig!

Thousands of people around the world are building practical and cost-effective wind turbine systems. If you're new to this, then you might be wondering, "Where do I begin?" What do I need to build a wind turbine system?

Voltage and power can be lost from the turbine to the rectifier and from the rectifier to the load. Selecting the right wire size is critical to a good wind turbine system’s performance and safety.

The use of solar panels, and to a lesser degree wind turbines, has taken off in the recreational vehicle community. There is interest in renewable energy to charge batteries for a variety of reasons. But DIYers are clamoring for more cost-effective products catered uniquely to the RV community.

Here, we run over some of the important considerations to make before opting for an alternative energy solution for your RV, including solar and wind power.

Few things are as much a source of confusion for DIYers as whether a small-scale DIY system merits a Grid Tie Inverter. The interest in Grid Tie Inverters appropriate for the small-scale DIY market has resulted in a proliferation of products, many of which simply don't pass muster.

If what you've been looking for is a summary of some of best options available on the market, then check out our reviews and pricing on inverters for the small-scale DIY wind market.

There has been a lot of discussion about using grid tie inverters (GTIs) with wind turbines to connect to the grid. Here we go trying to do our best to answer some basic questions about GTIs, their use with wind turbines, and to summarize trends we see emerging. Most of the information here is accumulated from the many discussions we have with the amazing members who frequent our Community Forums!

There is a reason the Windtura 750 weighs 25 pounds and many of the "500 to 1500 Watt" Delco PMAs that our competitors sell weigh about 10 pounds.

To produce meaningful amounts of power, you need lots of copper and powerful magnets, and the comparisons below show you just how much bigger the WindyNation PMA is. If you want more than just a paperweight, check out the sturdy and robust Windtura 750! And just look for yourself at how a Delco compares to our PMA.

Assembling the Windtura 500 Complete Wind Turbine Kit is something just about anyone can do. By designing an easy-to-assemble system, the only difficult decisions left to you are proper tower placement and construction.

The Windtura Complete Wind Turbine Kit comes with almost everything you'll need. You'll notice we only use a few basic tools that should be a part of any DIYer's toolbox.

To assemble your Windtura 500 Complete Wind Turbine Kit, just follow the instructions below!

We get a lot of questions about why dump loads must be used on wind turbines and how to figure out the proper dump load(s) that’s required for a particular system. The first part of this article will explain why dump loads are used on wind turbines and the second part of this article will explain in detail how to determine what dump loads will work for your particular system.

Learning about wind power introduces students to variety of fundamental and advanced concepts. Understanding how wind power works and how we harvest it introduces concepts in physics, electricity, environmental studies, aerodynamics, mechanical engineering and much more.

Connecting your slip ring to your tower is kind of like skinning a cat... there are a lot of ways of doing it. Here we share a few ideas and photos courtesy of our User Forums and a couple of WindyNation Forum contributors. Thanks to members TomT and Richard Noble. If you want more information, visit the forum topic on connecting your slip ring.

One of the first challenges many DIYers face when beginning the process of constructing a battery bank-coupled wind turbine is where precisely to locate the battery bank.

There are a variety of constraints and limitations that are important to note when choosing a location for the battery bank. Here we try to summarize some of these considerations and make a few suggestions that have been accumulated over the years from our community of DIYers.

If you're new to idea of building a wind generator out of re-purposed components, then you've probably asked yourself a few of the following questions:

  • Why are car alternators appropriate for wind power?
  • What modifications are necessary to make a practical wind generator from a car alternator?
  • Why are Delco-style alternators so popular?
  • Which WindyNation blades best match with wind generators using Delco-style PMAs?

Well, maybe we threw in that last question ourselves! But either way, if you've every had questions about using re-purposed car alternators, here's your chance to read all about it.

The Tip Speed Ratio (TSR) is used by wind turbine designers to properly match and optimize a blade set to a particular generator (i.e. the permanent magnet alternator). This is important to answer one of the most common questions we get: What size blades should I choose to match with my generator?

We attempt to help you answer this question by focusing on explaining the simple physics behind calculating the Tip Speed Ratio!

A lot of people that come to us asking how our blades compare to homemade wooden blades, PVC blades or even other commercial fiberglass blades. The answer is involved and depends on a lot of different factors. We figured we would examine this issue for this article we shared with our friends over at thebackshed.com

DIYers around the world are using the web and the recent availability of high-quality components for making efficient, durable wind generators. But can one small wind generator really change the world?

Check out our article in the leading alternative energy e-magazine AltEnergyMag. We discuss the DIY Homepower movement and what it might really mean for changing the global energy production equation.

It’s obvious that the motor you use is the most important part of your wind power generator. If you’re new to building a small wind turbines, then you’ll find that this can be one of the most confusing (and controversial) aspects to the process. Motors, generators, alternators, oh my!? You’ll find a lot of words out there that seem to be referring to the same things.

So why's it called a motor?

Whether you simply want to generate your own clean energy or save money on your electric bill, investing in a solar power system is a smart choice. Once you have made this choice or have chosen to explore the options, it is important to make sure that your solar photovoltaic (PV) system is properly sized to ensure you will have enough power to fit your needs. Unfortunately there is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to solar; as everyone’s needs and usage varies as does the amount of sun depending on your geographic region. The intent of this article is to help properly size your solar power system and give you a general idea of what may be involved to generate your own clean energy.