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Combination Solar Wind Power for Residential Home Settings

Combination solar wind power is an alternative approach to producing clean, non-polluting energy from two of the most abundant renewable energy sources. This system uses a hybrid solar panel and wind turbine generator to create electricity which is then stored in batteries.

Some locations have an abundance of sun while others have an abundance of wind. Having a combination system allows you to take the most advantage of the prevailing weather conditions to maximize energy production. Some advantages of these systems are:

  • When one source isn't available (overcast skies or calm air), the system will still be able to provide energy from the alternate energy source. The clean, emission-free power acts as a reliable backup or supplemental power source.

  • When both sun and wind is present, the batteries will charge even faster.

  • On a cost per Watt basis, solar panels have a higher initial cost than wind turbines. With this hybrid system, you can spend more on wind power to offset the number of required solar panels and still achieve the same output.

  • Solar panels require very little maintenance (cleaning when necessary). Wind turbines need only periodic service (rotational inspection and lubrication of moving parts).

The disadvantages of having a combination system are:

  • Weather conditions are unpredictable and a hybrid system cannot be relied upon as a primary power source for critical applications. Check to see if energy conserving appliances could help reduced your requirements.

  • The solar panels and wind turbines need to be adequately sized to supply enough power to the batteries. If insufficient energy is produced, the batteries will not be fully charged in a convenient time frame. If too much power is produced, the extra energy will simply be wasted.

  • The system should be esthetically pleasing to you and your neighbors. Solar panels require adequate room with full exposure to the sun; wind turbines need unobstructed access to the wind.

  • Wind power will generate some noise as the blades rotate in a strong breeze.

System considerations

Systems need to be designed for the maximum amount of electricity that will be generated from both sources. A charge controller must have a current rating that is high enough to accommodate the maximum current when both sources are generating peak power (too much current will burn out components). These units should have an automatic electrical disconnect circuit that will stop the current from damaging the batteries once they are fully charge. Also, the solar panel should have a separate charge controller with a maximum power point tracking (MPPT) circuit to optimize the energy efficiency of the panel.

Other system considerations include:

  • The solar panels should be in an open area free of obstructions and shadows.

  • The wind turbine should be attached to a secure mounting pole as high as possible with full exposure to air currents.

  • Ensure that the wind turbine does not shadow the solar panels.

  • When doing maintenance, disconnect the entire system since the other power source may still be able to deliver electricity.

  • The wires should be thick enough to handle the maximum current load from both sources.

If your location and budget can support such a system, a combination solar wind power system may be an alternative for your power needs.

In many jurisdictions, you can feed the surplus power that you generate back into the grid. However, if you're producing extra power, then your system is over-sized for your needs and the extra costs are not justifiable. The cost per Watt for small scale power generation is much higher than for large industrial power plants and will take years to recoup the initial investment, even with subsidies from municipalities. It's best to produce enough power just for yourself and store it in batteries for later use.