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Old 25-08-2006, 14:35   #16
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There could be some other issues. Bear in mind that the solar panel and the windgen are both designed as "output only" devices. They are not designed to have power pushed INTO them from another source, besides the battery. And that's assuming there is a regulator of some sort in between the battery and each of them, or at least a blocking diode.

If you hooked the two up together, before any regulator or diodes, and then ran that lead to the rest of the system, there could be problems from the amount of power one puts out "into" the other. Maybe not likely, maybe just the voltage sensing problems already mentioned...But from the conservative point of view, I think I'd like know exactly what each power source can do, to be on the safe side.

With silicon critters that have wee evil silicon brains, it's the details that can get you.<G>
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Old 26-08-2006, 10:39   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaclusion
Do your solar panels have an internal blocking diode or is there a blocking diode built into your solar charge controller? If there is no diode, your wind generator may be charging through your solar panels, hence the red 'charging' led is on yet no current is going through the ammeter into your batteries.

Richard
I've done my homework and the solar panels do not have blocking diodes. However the Global Solar 7 amp controller does.

The tech at Southwest Windpower was quick to return my email and he indicated that it would be the circuit board had gone bad. He was kind enough to encourage me to do the replacement myself as the process was simple and the circuit kit came with adequate instuctions.

Chalk one up for Southwest Windpower. I guess we'll really know when I replace that board.

Mahalo Again,
Mike
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Old 26-08-2006, 11:07   #18
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Wind and Solar--a happy family.

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Originally Posted by Talbot
Mike if you get good data on how to share solar and wind stuff, please share it on here.
Ahoy Talbot,

I believe my wind and solar 101 class has been fruitful. In my speaking with the techs at Southwest Windpower, my online research of Shell/Siemens and Global Solar and the valuable help I have received here my questions have been answered.

It is okay to connect the solar and wind to a busbar of the proper amperage provided; there is a fuse, diode, controller(solar circuit), regulator with diode(wind gen circuit) prior to the busbar and the gauge of the wiring is of the appropriate size for the distance/current and %voltage drop required/recommended.

It is also more convenient/desirable if you place an ammeter in line with each circuit(solar and wind) IF you place the busbar behind the panel as I suspect most people would.

IF you chose to limit the wiring runs you have to make, you can place the busbar near your radar/solar/wind arch and you can reduce the number of wires going forward. This is very convenient and efficient but make sure you use the gauge wire necessary as mentioned above for the combined amperage, distance of run and desired %voltage drop. The drawback here is you would be limited to one ammeter giving combined(solar and wind) amps in to your batteries.

Thanks for Everyone's Kokua(Help)!!!

Mike
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Old 09-01-2007, 01:36   #19
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So what's the upshot of all this - as I am on the threshold of installing my own system of wind and solar... am I better to have 1 large controller or is there a way to hook up two separate controllers - both designed to cut in and out at certain battery voltages - how could this be donme with out the first controller to cut in giving false readings (charging voltage) to the other controller that would sense that as battery voltage?

It seems I would be better with just one large controller for all my DC charging sources, including solar wind and water. No?
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Old 09-01-2007, 05:01   #20
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The problem with your installation

is that the solar charger sees the output from the wind generator and the wind generator sees the output from the solar charger. Each will shut the other down, or at least limit its output. The only solution is to a) wire each seperately to the battery so the voltage at the battery is the sole determining factor for the unit controller to deal with, or b) put properly sized rectifiers in line with each unit to restrict the back flow of current to the unit's regulator.
I have found, through many conversations with installers, that the former is the better choice. It eliminates a source of potential problems.
As for locating the buss bar (if you choose to keep it) close to the RADAR arch, keep in mind that the folks at Southwest Windpower are more accustomed to running wire for hundreds of feet from the source to the batteries. You are only running power for tens of feet. Wire is cheap.
Good luck.
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Old 09-01-2007, 06:40   #21
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Candine, I think one point you may be missing is that not all windgens are built the same. Some are regulated (AirX being one example) and some are not, so what's installed downstream is dependent on which windgen you are installing.

Jentine, I think you nailed it when you summarized "that the solar charger sees the output from the wind generator and the wind generator sees the output from the solar charger." However, I think this invalidates your conclusion that the problem will be resolved when tying both windgen and solar panels into the same battery bank. We've been cruising with a boat this past season that has exactly this set-up and the results are predictable. Sun is out, solar panel is raising house bank voltage, wind is blowing but AirX is not generating because it sees higher bank voltage (just as GK pointed out above). Frig compressor comes on, house bank voltage drops (as compressor wants more amps than solar panel can provide), AirX spins up since it sees lower house bank voltage, and now two devices are generating power. Later, cloud covers sun, panel output drops, bank voltage drops, AirX spins up. Ad infinitum.

When both units are individually regulated (and protected from reverse flow by diodes), they are going to each - independently - be influenced by house bank voltage. Unfortunately - at least as theory and this past season's experience suggest to me - this is going to preclude MAXIMUM independent output by both devices all the time without the addition of some very clever (aka: expensive) additional monitoring/controlling device.

BTW I checked Everfair and FourWinds as suggested above; I didn't see anything either of them offers that addresses this specific scenario. Did I miss a product offering?

So far, my take on this issue - which is discussed on many Boards - is that for simplicity and (relatively) lower cost sakes, one lives with the reality that on sunny, windy days, one MAY not get all the output from both devices that is theoretically available. Since heavy 24/7 house bank use usually keeps bank voltage below ~12.7V, this isn't a big deal. (This minor conflict does not appear to be the problem that initiated this thread, where windgen performance itself is questionable).

Comments welcomed; I'd love to hear there's a simplier solution.

Jack
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Old 09-01-2007, 12:53   #22
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Jack, I'm not skilled enough to build the simpler solution but I suspect it can be done "easily" by a qualified party. Something along the lines of the way Delco built their Delcotron alternators since the 70's. They used pulse width modulation to control the internal regulator.

The regulator would "shut" the output for a split second (cycle times were up to 10-20,000 cycles/second as I recall) and look at the battery voltage, using a dedicated battery sense wire. If the voltage was below 14.4 volts, they would turn turn the alternator on for full output, wait a certain number of cycles, turn it off (for one cycle) and look at the voltage again. Because digital circuits can run very quickly, it becomes very simple to monitor the battery voltage a a hundred or even a thousand times per second, and turn the device (alternator, windgen, solar array) on and off that quickly as well.

A "smart" integrated controller these days could easily turn off the output from multiple devices, look at the battery, and then turn one or all of them back on, in the same way. With digital controllers and the speed of cheap obsolete CPU's these days...I'd suspect it would be a piece of cake for a digital electronics engineer. There might be an RFI issue from all the switching, but that's part of the game.

No reason a smart multi-source charge controller itself can't be built. Aside from the need fora motivated party, and market economics.
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Old 09-01-2007, 17:07   #23
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No regualtion may be the answer.

A couple of months ago, I sailed a Manta 40 from Curacao to the Bahamas. The boat had two four winds wind generators, 550 watts of solar panels and 14 golf cart batteries (for house use). I asked the owner how he handled the wind/solar input problem. His answer was simple. No regulators. Each device dumped into the batteries and they supplied the boat.
I don't know if the system is good or bad, but it works. He has had the batteries in use for five years and they still support all the house and navigation loads with no apparent drop in voltage.
Jim
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Old 09-01-2007, 19:48   #24
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Jim, running with no regulators *can* work, if the gods are kind and the batteries able to absorb the raw power without boiling dry. Doesn't mean it will work for anyone else, or that it is the best way to work for him either. Just means that it can, indeed, work. Ask that guy for some Lotto numbers for me, wouldya?<G>
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Old 09-01-2007, 23:38   #25
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Just a thought. If the system worked well before the meter was involved, I would see how the meter is wired in. If by chance it was somehow wired across Positve and Negative, it might act as a brake. I believe amp-meters are wired on the positve wire...Just a thought
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:25   #26
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Hello:

I'm not so sure. First, there are now many thousands of combo windgen/solar panel installations that have been sold; that's quite an installed base. Yet no one (to my knowledge & yours) is offering a 'multiple source' controller that solves this problem. Second, no matter the speed of digital electronics, the governing factor is going to be bank voltage...and this changes slowly (v-e-r-y slowly by digital standards), as we can all see when our bank sense wires report bank voltage changes on our monitors.

My impression remains that no current product meets this need. My hunch is that a relatively easy/cheap solution will be long in coming...but of course it's hard to predict tomorrow.

Jack
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:54   #27
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Jack, I'd agree with you, the devil is in the details and battery voltage certainly doesn't change instantaneously. But I figure if Delco could do "the same" job with 100+ Amp alternators and vehicle loads nrealy forty years ago...

Someone could do the same thing today. The only major difference I see is that there are two charging sources instead of one, and the battery bank will be larger. Still...it should be possible to look at voltage, or charge acceptance, or current flow, and make the same "decisions" about the service. A more elegant system could probably feather the windgen whenever the solar panels were "enough" too...but that would start to get more complicated.<G>

Bear in mind, all they are doing is making a binary decision based on bank voltage. Voltage =14.4? Stop charging. Voltage < or =14.3? Start charging. (They ignored the 14.3-14.4 volt range.) Doesn't matter if the change happens slowly, that just gives the regulator more time to think.<G>

I think with higher power marine systems, the only "stopper" would be the question of using high power switching transistors to turn the loads on/off, since relays wouldn't work at that speed. But high power switching transistors are available these days--if someone is willing to pay for them. Relays could still work, the regulator could just poll the battery once every five or ten or even 60 seconds, for instance. No need to do it 10,000 times a second really.

Assuming this is not a commercial market but it could be a cottage market...I'm curious enough to look further into it.

What do you figure would be "enough" capacity for a charge controller to do this? How many amps, from how many sources?

Three sources (alternator, solar, wind) to cover the whole thing? How many amps each, to cover most of a market?

And are any wind generators really using generators, as opposed to alternators? (Alternators are easy to regulate, generators can only have their output dumped to another load.)
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Old 10-01-2007, 10:07   #28
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Quote:
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And are any wind generators really using generators, as opposed to alternators? (Alternators are easy to regulate, generators can only have their output dumped to another load.)
The only one I'm aware of is the original Windbugger (I still have one in my basement) which went out of business last year. Quite a few homemade ones use permanent magnet generators.
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Old 10-01-2007, 10:15   #29
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Thanks, Rick. A chorus of one means "that model is due out next year".<G>
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Old 11-04-2007, 09:36   #30
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On the Air X marine wind generators there is a little screw on the side of the generator housing. You turn that screw and it changes the output threshold for the internal regulator. I played with mine a bit to increase the voltage level for the regulator cut off. That allowed me to get output from the generator even when the solar panel was producing. The solar panel has an MPPT controller that optimizes output and continues supplying power unless I am getting a WHOLE lot of energy from the wind generator. Pretty slick...

Now if only I could get output from the wind generator at lower wind speeds..

Keith
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