Problems with Wind and Solar Power Home Generating Systems.

Power Generating Basics

I ain't no physicist but I know what matters. What matters is a term called "Usable Energy". For example, one goes out and buys a small portable generator for those times when he goes camping so he can run his TV and frigg, a lot goes into designing this Generator. It needs to produce 110 AC volts at a certain power out put or noting will run and most likely your TV and frigg will sustain damage. Take the power that's comes out of your wall socket. It has taken some of the greatest scientific minds in the world to design the systems we use today to power your TV's and freezers. That's because it's only a certain type of electrical power that will run our electrical products. This is a point missed by a lot of people involved in alternative energy development for private use.

What is Electrical Power?

Electrical power (measured in Watts) is derived by multiplying Volts times Amperes. W = V * A
You are charged for Watt used per hour on your electric bill. This is called W/H for Watt Hour.
So if you leave a 100 watt bulb on for 10 hours you have used one kilo watt of power.
Where if you had used a 7 watt florescent bulb for 10 hours you would have used 70 watts. Big difference. The problem is these bulbs cost a lot more then incandescent bulbs and I have yet to find one that last longer then a regular bulb. And I can't see poop with them.

What is Usable Energy?

The formula for usable energy is: Energy that you can convert to energy needed = Usable Energy


lightning bolt = billion volts = can't be converted to 110 or 12 volts = Not Usable Energy

50 watt solar panel = 21 volts, when connected to 12 volt battery drops to around 14 volts = Usable Energy

Wind Generator = most of the time 3 to 8 volts = Not Usable Energy

Yyou need the volts required by your storage system (batteries) and enough current to recharge your system faster then you are discharging your system.

If you are charging 12 volt batteries then you need at least 12 volt coming out of you generating system!

A 9 volt solar panel will not charge a 12 volt battery.

A wind generator producing less then 12 volts will do nothing for 12 volt batteries.

While solar panels will produce the required voltage they are designed for with the current going up and down with the sun light (to a point), voltage varies wildly with wind generators which is a real problem, rendering them useless most of the time if not properly designed.

Sounds obvious right? God only know how many people every day are buying wind and solar systems that will serve them no purpose because the power these systems deliver is in a form that can not be used to run and/or charge the units they have.

Example; If you are charging 12 volt batteries, you need at least 12 volts to charge them. That means that even if you are producing a million bazillion watts if what makes of those watts isn't at least 12 volts you ain't charging nothing.


With most solar and wind systems, batteries are used to store your energy, you must be producing at least the voltage your batteries are rated for or nothing happened's. nada!! The power you are producing goes no where. Like the little solar panels that say keep a trickle charge on your batteries to keep them at full charge. If these little solar panels don't have the voltage greater then what your batteries are rated for, nothing is going to happen except you may loose the charge on your batteries as the current on the batteries flows back through the panel. And wind generators, forget about it, if you don't have the wind to spin the generator/alternator to produce the voltage your batteries are rated for-- nothing. And if your going wind to compliment your daytime solar power, in most areas wind dies at night because you don't have the sun to stir things up.

Power (Watts) = Volts x Amperes

Most solar and wind systems talk a lot about watts, you need to know what makes up those watts.

"Volts = Pressure", to push the, "Amperes = content" into your batteries.

You need batteries to stabilize the voltage and store the current.

When it comes to energy production and use, there was a chicken (Power Producer) and an egg (Consumer Product). You can't use ducks and chicken eggs or any combination there of. They look the same to the untrained eye but they are very different. That's why people are buying power systems that serve them no use.

Volts = pressure

Amperes = amount of content

Watts = pressure multiplied by content

Example; You have 12 watts and you need to run your head lights on your car, but you don't know what makes up those watts.

12volt * 1 amp = 12 Watt

6 volts * 2 amps = 12 Watts

1 volt * 12 amps = 12 Watts

Head lamp on car needs 12 watts to run, 12 volts and 1 amp.

You can see there's a problem if you only have watts to go by.

The power companies in America produce 110 - 120 volt AC (alternating current) with ample amperes to run the machines and products for both commercial and private use. The products in your home have been designed for this particular type of power. Every thing is build around profitability. Consumers aren't going to buy products that don't run on the power that is provided at the wall socket.

Now most things you buy today don't run on 110 - 120 volts AC but they all have adaptors built in or they come with adaptors that plug into the unit and the wall socket.

It all depends on consumer demand, for example their are 12, 24, and 48, input volt inverters that convert battery power to 110 - 120 volts AC to run equipment and consumer products in remote locations, such as camping, construction sites, and off grid locations.

Problems with Small Home Wind and Solar Power Systems

Solar Cells

Solar voltaic panels or Photovoltaic module have been designed to give more then 12 volts open circuit output on most daytime conditions. There by allowing them to be used in the charging of 12 volt batteries which can be connected to a 12 volt input inverter whose output will be 110 - 120 volts AC to run your products. Usable Energy is not a major problem with Solar Electrical Generating Systems. Volts in an electrical circuit are an equivalent to pressure in a water hose. If you have 10 pounds on a water hose and you want to fill a system that has 12 pounds pressure on it the water hose won't have the pressure to fill the unit, the unit will force the water in the hose back to the source. Same with batteries, if you are trying to charge 12 volt batteries with less then 12 volts or better, open circuit output, then you will not have enough pressure to force the current into the battery. Although some charging may occur depending on how low the batteries are and how much voltage you have, total charging will not be possible and you may damage your batteries or Solar panel; Although Solar panel are very sturdy, I use mine for a 12 volt source that I can short circuit with out problems -- keep in mind, you should not short circuit a solar panel that is connected to a battery because the battery may explode. Batteries are able to release great amounts of current(Amps) in a short amount of time which can cause great harm. Most Solar Panels have been designed to be short circuited in time of nonuse. A 50 Watt solar panel will produce around 3.5 amperes at 12 to 21 volts and has been designed to handel this amount of current flow with no problem.

Problems with solar cells are they are expensive, and no one ever mentions, they need to be cleaned and if you live in the city that means with soap and water because of the oil based pollutants. Also they take up a lot of area.

Advantages of solar cells is their ease of use. Just point them into the sun connect them to your batteries and your ready to go.

I use the TI-89 Graphing Calculator for all my calculations
which has symbolic manipulation ability.


Wind Power

Wind Powered Generators for small units on the other hand do not readily produce usable energy. Their voltage varies greatly from nothing, when there's no wind, to too much when there's too much wind. Most use permanent magnet generators.

These are different from the alternators used in your car in that the alternator in a car uses power from the battery to create the magnetic field that will generate electricity. By controlling this magnetic field you can control the voltage output. So with the motor powering the high spin required on the alternator and a voltage regulator controlling the magnetic field inside the alternator you get usable energy that powers the head lights, spark plugs and other electrical units in your car. These auto alternators work great in your car because the were designed for your car.

There isn't much being designed for low wind -- wind generators. Most of us live in low wind, 3 to 10 mph, areas that from time to time experience high winds. So the wind generator needs to output usable energy at low and high wind conditions. That's a problem because of the way generators work. The faster they spin the more watts they put out. These watts are the result of higher voltage and amperes. This power, most of the time will be used to charge 12 volt batteries. If the voltage is too low the batteries won't charge, if the voltage is too high damage to the batteries will result. Electronic circuits can be designed to over come these problems be as of this writing there is not enough consumer demand to warrant their design.

Then there is the problem of the rotor and wind turbine. Do you go for a blade configuration that is designed for slower spin but high torque or fast spin and less toque? The slower spin greater toque is great for pulleys and wheels in an attempt to get greater spin on the generator but you loose a lot in friction. So how about faster spin and less toque, well in low wind speeds these don't do so well. To develop any kind of usable power you are going to need wing span of at least 10 feet. That's a lot of area. Then you are going to need a tall tower to raise the blades above winds that are turbulent . That poses a danger of falling on someone or something.

Problems with Wind Powered Generators are that their voltage varies wildly. A usable voltage (i.e. 12 volts) is critical to charging batteries. You need sufficient wind (most places don't have the wind speeds to run a wind powered generator). Very little has been developed for wind powered systems. The few systems developed for wind power don't give you the data needed for an understanding if a system will work for you ( i.e. at what wind speed do you get 12 volts). Most will give you watts at top wind speeds, some will give you a chart to figure what watts at different wind speeds. I have yet to see a system that works in 3 to 7 mph wind speeds which is the average wind speed for most of us. A high tower is needed to rise above turbulent winds.

The advantage of wind power is greater wattage for area needed. Lower cost per watt then solar powered systems once you solve the problems mentioned above.

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