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If You Have a Choice, Go Solar PV over Wind  RSS feed

 
Jim Gagnepain
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I have a 2.8 kW solar PV array on a pedestal. I also have a 2.4 kW wind turbine. Both of these are wired thru inverters into my electric panel. I have a netmetering account with Mountain View Electric, our local electric utility. I love having the solar and the wind. It seems like at least one of them is always working hard. If the sun isn't shining, it's windy, and vice versa. Often both are in high gear. I run a surplus every month, even in Dec.-Feb. At the end of the year, I get a check from Mountain View, usually in the $200-$300 range.

With this background, I would recommend, that if you have a choice, choose solar. We were lucky. Our wind turbine suffered a burned out inverter board 3 times in the first 6 months. It was under warranty, so the replacements were covered. It has been fine ever since, for the last 3 years (knock on wood). The problem is that the manufacturer, Southwest Wind Energy, is now out of business. My warranty is no longer valid. Luckily, an Oregon company has taken over the operations, and has replacement parts, etc. They are not honoring any warrantees, however.

This is indicative of the problems in the residential wind energy market. Southwest Wind Energy, out of Flagstaff, AZ, was the largest manufacturer of small residential turbines in the world. If they can't make it, chances are, that others won't as well. I would love it, if somebody would respond to this thread and tell me that I'm blowing hot air (no pun intended), and that XYZ company is alive and well, and making the best and most reliable wind turbines money can buy.

In contrast, solar PVs have been show to be reliable for many, many years. Twenty-year-old systems are still producing electricity as efficiently as the day they were installed. In this case, the answer my friend, is not blowing in the wind!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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If I had to choose either wind or solar for producing electricity, I would choose wind. The technology to make electricity from wind power is 184 years old. Practical solar cells have only been with us for about 60 years.

The technology to make electricity from wind is something that any backyard tinkerer could aspire to maintain long-term, and even to create from scratch. The technology to make solar photovoltaic cells is extremely complex. I'd expect solar PV to be beyond the scope that a backyard-tinker could create.

I run my home on solar PV. I have a wind generator in the barn ready to be installed if needed. Wind generation is noisy, and bearings wear out, so I don't figure I'll install the wind turbine unless I really need it. The foundations for the tower are already poured...

 
Bob Ruby ll
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I'm partial to Wind (vertical axis) because it is mechanical by nature. No sun = big useless PV Panel, but no wind or worse plenty with no electric panel etc.= a mechanical device I.e. windmill used for centuries before electricity came on board. just my 2 cents. I plan to use my wind"mill" as such not focusing on it being an electricity producing device. -UBS
 
Justin Dorr
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Really fair to tar all wind turbines based on one failure? I'm neither for nor against wind or solar based upon location and budget. Never suggest not to buy a wind turbine just because I had a negative experience given when are hundreds of wind turbines out there to try. many of these turbines are of varying specification and price. And don't forget self builds are possible.

Within a reasonable irradiance environment do however, prefer for low wattage situations solar panels, easy to just throw down on the ground somewhere or even indoors next to a window, connect to a small rechargeable battery, something is better than nothing, least where light at night be a concern.
 
Timothy Black
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For our civilization, you're probably right.. Solar is the only game in town.

For small scale? I don't think this is true.

Wind power is one case where I would DIY or not at all. I might buy the turbine assembly, but not the electrics. This is because you can DIY the electrical components far, far more durably than anything you can buy. Plus you can go native AC on the assembly, thus removing the need for an inverter entirely. If you want to charge batteries, you just need a rectifier and a bit of power electronics, and those are fairly simple to make... but they are also good to purchase, as long as you get the ones that are rated well over your max surge current.

The thing is.. wind turbine electronics and electrical parts are by far the costliest part of the machine. So, these are the areas commercial manufacturers cut costs on to add dollars to their bottom line. And so.. you get burned out electronics when you get wind storms.

Get a broken wind turbine with an intact turbine assembly, or make one yourself, and make the generator assembly... you'll have a piece of equipment that will last for a very long time, and you only have to lubricate it and check it out a few times per year.

Here is a reference online to get you started! http://www.windstuffnow.com/main/
 
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