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Discussion Starter #1
so i know how solar works, i have limited information on hydro and its various forms, and wind is pretty self explanatory, but dumb thought i understand that a wind turbine is almost like a spinning alternator if i have my parts right, but i was looking into magnetic energy like magnets attached to a wheel shaped construct and as it spins it continually spins a belt spinning the end of an alternator....is it possible? or just a waste of time
 

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Well yes it is a waste of time, if we could produce perpetual motion with magnets we wouldn't need solar or gas or nuclear or wind. No matter how much the conspiracy theorists would like to believe, that kind of information would leak out.

Wind is a good option if you have at least 7mph average wind speed in your area, you can use the motors out of treadmill machines to build one.

Hydro is a very good option if you have a year round source and 20 feet of vertical drop with some decent GMP over the length of your property.

Solar is good if you have sunlight, which is why it is so popular.
 

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I looked at a bunch of electricity generation options about 5 years ago and got EXTREMELY frustrated by the whole exercise. The problem was not generating the power. That is easy to do and reasonably inexpensive. The problem was what to do with it after it is generated. Solar and many wind generators, generate DC current. With DC power, even over a short distance you lose so much in the translation. So a solar panel that generates 90 watts, by the time it gets to your battery packs, you might be lucky if you are getting 50 watts of battery charge.

The other thing I found was the charge controllers and batteries and associated other components were insanely expensive. Around 75% of the cost of the whole system was just converting the power back and forth between AC and DC and storing it. Like I say, the last time I checked into it was 4 or 5 years ago, so prices may have come down since. But the math I did at the time, to build a solar system only big enough to run a freezer (what I most desire electricity for), would have been north of $10,000. Also, that was using pre-built components. I am sure you could save some money by building your own.
 

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@ Montana Rancher: you make a very valid point i didn't think about and I thank you for that

@lnor: i know how to build them but i tottally forgot about the distance drop and i should have sense i work with DC a lot more then AC lol thanks for that
 

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What about heavier gauge copper wire for the drop from the alternator or panels to the batteries? If the SHTF, nobody would complain about pulling down some feed lines from power poles.
 

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Great Post Inor.

In addition to a lot of the points you made especially in regards to the Charge Controllers, Inverters and Batteries, the biggest issues I have experienced is the wind doesnt always blow at 7 plus miles an hour with any degree of dependability. Even on a great day here in Texas your really only looking at about 6-7 hours a day of prime sun and tracking arrays are very expensive to build and install which would boost the out put but probably not by enough to justify the cost. Batteries are big stupid dollars, it takes a lot of them to store a couple of days worth of power and they have a life span of only about 5 years or so under good conditions.

I delt with this issue on my boat trying to find a way to provide my power underway or in ports where shore power wasnt available or was suspect at best. I found that it was best to use multiple methods vs just one. I used a combination of several solar panels, windmill generator and a genset to provide for my needs underway. Fortunately I rarely had to use the genset, it was more of a last resort than anything else.
 

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I was looking for this link last night when I wrote the post above, but I could not find it.

Doing the research I did previously, this guy Hugh Piggott, kept coming up. Apparently he is a guru of homemade wind generators. He published a complete set of plans including detailed fabrication instructions and sources for all of his materials. What I really like about his design is that it generates 3-phase AC power, so the loss on the drop would be much less. (There is a table on that included with the plans as well.)

http://www.scoraigwind.com/pirate oldies/Hugh Piggott Axial-flow PMG wind turbine May 2003.pdf

I do not really have the room in my workshop to try building anything like this now. But once I get my new shop setup I was thinking I might try building one just as an experiment. Regardless, it did seem worthwhile to print off and keep a hardcopy in one of our SHTF 3-ring binders.
 

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Inor, I've been looking into building a HAWT (horizontal axis wind turbine) because I have an unused silo I could plant it on top of. the issue for me is the construction of blades. They would need to be near perfectly identical in all aspects or they will cause the turbine to shake itself apart. That is one reason why I am going to build a VAWT instead, perfection is much less critical and it is less important to get way up into a clear wind stream which means easier maintenance. And the simpler construction allows me to make more as time allows.
 
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