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Using wind power with solar charge controllers
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Andy Hunt



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Bury, Lancashire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:07 pm    Post subject: Using wind power with solar charge controllers Reply with quote

Can it be done?

I have a 45A solar charge controller. Could I wire say 100W of solar PV into it, and 100W of wind into the same connection?
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Andy Hunt
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hardworkinghippy



Joined: 16 Aug 2007
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Location: Bergerac France

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy,

I've two systems, the older one is wired up for 300watts of solar and has two Rutland 910 windchargers (76 watts nominal each) feeding into their own controller, then going into the solar controller.

This has worked fine for about 9 years and the system has never been short of energy for loads of lights, music and TV in our 168m? house, I also use it for my laptop, sewing machine, charging tools etc. when it's windy and there's no sun.

Here's a photo of the wiring. The small controller on the right with the red light on is the wind turbines (the red light means it's dumping power), the solar controller is on the bottom - showing it cleaning up the batteries automatically at over 14v.


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Andy Hunt



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Bury, Lancashire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks HWH, do I understand it correctly then that a wind turbine should go into its own charge controller before the solar controller?

I actually have 2 solar controllers, one is built into my 1.5kW inverter/charger for the house, and I have another one which I am using for a solar sound system project.

The instruction manual for the one in the house (30A) says that under no circumstances should anything other than solar PV be connected into it.

The manual for the other one doesn't say anything like that, and it was advertised as being suitable for both solar and wind. So I was a bit confused really!

For interest, how much did you pay for the Rutland generators? They look great on your avatar! Very Happy
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hardworkinghippy



Joined: 16 Aug 2007
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Location: Bergerac France

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy,

We've had the Rutlands for a long time and prices have gone up, but not by much. For the first one (about 16 years old) I paid ?270 and for the second ?380 about 8 years ago.

I'm really pleased with the Rutlands, but it depends where you are - if there's a lot salt in the air I've heard they don't last as long. There's more info on this post on my blog along with the link to Rutland where you'll find out current prices.

http://lafermedesourrou.blogspot.com/2007/11/rutland-wind-generators.html

AS for the controllers, I don't really understand why you can't feed wind and solar into a controller - but then I'm no expert.

The little controller in the above photo on the right cost around ?38 and has been working fine for all that time. I bought two (Special offer from friends in the trade Smile ) and kept one in storage. Last year wired it up for lights and electric fencing and it's doing the job fine.

Irene
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hardworkinghippy wrote:
AS for the controllers, I don't really understand why you can't feed wind and solar into a controller - but then I'm no expert.


I think it's because you can switch a PV panel off from it's battery without damaging it but if you cut a wind turbine off from it's load when it's generating you can break it. Windturbines need a dump load.

Perhaps Adam2 can confirm.
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hardworkinghippy



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the cheap little controller I used as a dump could be used as a safety net on a small windcharger before wiring it into a more sophisticated controller.

A friend explained the wiring to me when I was planning the system, but he didn't explain that, but I guess it's just common sense.

Thanks.
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Makes sense, Ken.
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Andy Hunt



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah right - I get it, thanks all!

Irene - what you are doing there with your home project is always a massive source of inspiration to me. I just wish I had a bit more land where I am, but I suppose we all have our situation to make the best of!

Thanks for being there and doing what you are doing! Very Happy
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hardworkinghippy



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shucks Andy, thanks. Embarassed

Quote:
I just wish I had a bit more land


I just wish we had more people !!

This place could easily sustain another two "families".

I'm hoping when the extension gets finished that we'll be able to offer some decent accommodation to attract people to think about hanging around for a while... Wink
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hardworkinghippy wrote:
I just wish we had more people !!

This place could easily sustain another two "families".


When TSHTF there will be a lot of people moving into and welcomed into, large houses in the country as lodgers, co-habitationists (is that the right word/), co-workers to make up for the loss of oil as a source of power.

I've got ours lined up already.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Meanwhile, the EU 'agrees to consider'(!) reducing vat on certain less-environmentally-damaging consumer goods.

Bringing in fair net metering throughout the EU and financing take up of microgeneration would be far more beneficial.
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adam2
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would advise against connecting PV and wind to the same charge controller.
(unless the manufacturer specificaly states that you can)

Solar charge controllers work in two different ways, when the battery is full, some designs short circuit the PV array, whilst others open circuit the array.
Open circuiting a turning wind turbine is generally unwise since it is liable to overspeed and may be destroyed.

Other designs of solar charge controller short circuit the PV input until the battery voltage drops, when the short circuit is removed, this cycle is repeated every second or so. The % time for which the array is short circuited is adjusted automaticly to maintain the desired battery voltage.
I would not recomend that such a controller be used for a wind turbine, since I suspect that the very frequent short circuit cycling would at least result in undue stress.

larger wind turbine controllers generally divert a variable proportion of the input power into a dump load (which may be used for space or water heating).
I see no reason why such a controller could not be used for a PV array, but this is not generally done since such wind controllers are generally much more expensive than a solar charge controller.
However in the case of a large arrary in a cold climate it might be worth considering since the surplus power can be used for space heating.

Some small charge controllers (including the Rutland ones) neither open circuit nor short circuit the power source, but instead shunt the power source with a partialy "on" power transistor, this method of control is suitable for both wind and solar inputs, but is only available in very small ratings, this because when the battery is full, the entire input is disipated as heat in the heat sink of the controller.

Therefore to summarise, solar controlers that pulse on and off (whether open circuit or short circuit) should not IMHO be used for wind turbines

Wind power controlers that divert the excess power either to an external dump load, or in small units to a built in heat sink, CAN be used for PV.

I would however think twice about connecting wind and PV to the same controller.
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hardworkinghippy



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that information Adam. Smile
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Adam. Can a 12V wind turbine load be dumped through a 240V immersion heater?
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Andy Hunt



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could you wire up, say, a bicycle generator to a solar charge controller?
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