Author Archives: miniwindsystems

Why Mini Wind?

WIND is created by ineven heating of the surface of the earth. Wind turbines harness the kinetic energy in the wind and convert it into electrical energy. This energy can be used to power your home and work facilities.

ENVIRONMENTAL

Wind is an abundant and naturally occurring resource. Wind energy is one of the cleanest ways to produce electricty. Very little processing needs to be done to convert it into free and clean energy. Operation of a wind turbines produces no pollution with no emissions, exessive noise or waste heat by-product. Particularly with mini wind generators lacking most of the detrimental effects of large-scale wind farms, wind can be harvested with minimal impact on the environment, a very important factor in meeting our increasing energy needs. Mini wind systems can be deployed for distributed generation (right where the power is consumed) and thus save on wasteful transmission (there is up to 50% loss of energy in the grid alone) as well as prevent visual impact and EMF radiation from grid lines.

ECONOMICAL

Wind is an inexhaustible resource. Operation and maintenance expenses can easily be forecast; especially with high-quality turbine systems designed to operate with no scheduled maintenance. Robust design and an expected life of 25 to 30 years provide added economic feasibility.

YOUR BENEFITS

You will enjoy economic as well as environmental benefits from wind energy. Home Wind installations contribute energy and make cost savings possible for owners by offsetting power requirements from the grid. It is the most cost efficient way to produce electricity on your own, and with government incentives and rebates, the payback period on a mini wind system can be as little as nine years in some locations.

Ready-Made Accessory Kits for Your Wind Turbine

At miniwindsystems.com, we are paying attention to detail: as buyers sometimes find it difficult to get the right accessories (large-diameter DC cabling, DPDT switches that can take sufficient current, fuses & more), we have come up with several turn-key sets for our most popular mini wind turbines. Click the links for micro inverters, fuses, high-current DPDT switches or larger-diameter cables and more.

Low-Energy Lamps: What’s Right, What’s Wrong?

When it comes to low-energy lamps, it is often confusing to know what’s right and what’s wrong: too much irritating advertising, sometimes unwarranted claims of “eco-friendliness”, price wars that can distort the picture. In order for you to make informed decisions, we would like to help you educate yourself about energy-saving lamps.

First of all, it is important to point out that CFLs are NOT the way to go: every tube including the ones contained in CFLs leave poisenuos heavy metals when discarded (like mercury contaminating drinking water supplies). CFLs also have a high-current “ignition” unit that emits Electromagnetic Fields or EMFs that are potentially harmful to your health. Also, CFLs are roughly 30% less energy-efficient than their more recent LED counterparts. The last point alone partly defies the idea of “eneergz efficiency” for CFLs.

LED (light-emitting diodes) have entered the race for lighting our buildings a lot later but have been around for some time now. Even if their price tag usually shows higher upfront prices, these are amortized by LED-based lamps’ better efficiency. An old 60 W light bulb can be replaced with LED lams of just 4 W, therefore using just 1/15th of power. So it’s a good idea to pay a few pennies more upfront and get LED lamps right away that last longer (25-30 years, almost like a good mini wind turbine). The bottom line is that LED lamps surpass those low-energy CFLs and can total 90%-94% in energy savings and pay for themselves many times over, despite their higher initial purchasing cost.

Also, LEDs don’t wear out from heavy turning on and off and are thus suitable for all kinds of rooms including the ones you enter for just a few moments before switching the light off again. Remember, those strobe lights for bikes use LEDs without any wear and tear.

Add to this the absence of any harmful EMFs and the peace of mind that you may use them even at less than 5 ft from your head, and the LED is the clear overall winner for your lighting needs.

Atlantic Canada: The Nova Scotia “ComFIT”

The highest mini wind FIT in the world is offered by the Canadian province of Nova Scotia since September 19th, 2011, but with a twist: the province has skipped solar energy altogether (not just PV but even highly efficient solar thermal and CSP) which has rightly been called ‘outright criminal’ by a local Halifax, NS newspaper; also, the ‘ComFIT’ scheme is limited to community projects only and thus excludes mainstream participants. It seems the province tried to make an ‘impressive program as cheap as possible’ and that some learning is still required in Nova Scotia. We do hope that current flaws are not permanent and that improvements will follow soon.

The Nova Scotia ComFIT appears to be a work in progress anyway with numerous updates and revamps being made already. Initially, the small wind band was even higher (at Can$0.66 per KWh) and has already been significantly reduced. We hope that reasonable additions will include an attractive FIT rate for solar technologies too and would like to stress that, although being less famous for their sunshine than Nova Scotia itself, even the U. K does have solar incentives including a very promising solar thermal FIT equivalent of 18p per KWh.

CSP Offering Powerful and Low-Cost Power Solutions

The CSP generator unit we announced earlier this year is both extremely powerful and small in size. Using CSP or Concentrating Solar Power, the SopoLite™ unit generates heat for both power generation or direct heat applications (hot water, air conditioning/refrigeration, process heat). The SopoLite™ system is available as a part of the Mini Wind & Solar Technologies program by ecoPen Ltd. For details about CSP in general and the SopoLite™ system, please e-mail or leave a Reply to this article below.

SopoLite™ can be adapted to Home Power applications and is suitable for larger-scale power generation including commercial process heat and electricity generation using thermal engines. Sopogy trough technology can be configured to replace natural gas or other fossil power plants and significantly reduce carbon emmissions.

Micro CSP SopoLite system, installed to a car trailer for mobile operation.

The system consists of a scaled-down version of Sopogy’s parabolic trough that is able to follow the sun from east to west during the course of the day. As in a typical solar field, a mineral oil circulating through the system gains temperature as the parabolic trough is focused at the sun with a proprietary tracking system. The heat generated in this fashion is typically used for electricity generation, air conditioning and process heat applications. On the SopoLite™, various sensors measure the temperature gain, the flow velocities, solar irradiance, wind speed, rainfall and ambient temperature. These parameters are used to determine the thermal output of the collectors. The sophisticated controls allow remote access to evaluate all relevant data through an interactive graphic interface.

Micro CSP SopoLite system, installed to a car trailer for mobile operation.

CSP systems can be configured and dimensioned to suit all kinds of energy needs, from small Home Power generation and business/rental generators to larger arrays covering entire communities or commercial refer warehouses, for example. One of the key benefits of these CSP systems is customisation and modularity.

Micro CSP SopoLite system, installed to a car trailer for mobile operation.

The pre-configured variants of the SopoLite™ system are able to cover larger and commercial energy needs and are priced around £49,600.00 in the U. K. or roughly €54,800.00 in Eurozone and other EEC countries. Although residential-scale or small business systems can be deployed, SopoLite™ systems are tailoured for and primarily focused towards larger-scale residential developments, real estate management, commercial energy users and businesses who want to green their operations and significantly cut on high energy cost.

In the U. K., SopoLite™ systems are expected to be eligible for payments of 18.6p per KWh equivalent generated under the MCS Solar Thermal scheme (green energy cashback).

For further details, to discuss system requirements or to receive a no-obligation quote for an individual project, please contact us using the Reply field below.

NEW: iPhone app monitoring Home Power systems

A new iPhone app for monitoring Home Power systems while on the move has been announced by Enecsys, a micro inverter manufacturer based in the U. K. and Germany.

The new iPhone app is compatible with all Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) and displays generation information from Enecsys micro inverters. Micro inverters are a novel and efficient way of converting DC power from solar panels to appliance-grade AC (120 Volts/60 Hz in America or 230 Volts/50 Hz in Europe). Unlike central or string inverters connecting to an entire array of PV panels and requiring complicated and costly DC cabling, micro inverters plug in to one or two solar panels each and connect to the grid using ordinary plugs and a free socket.

Whereas central and string inverters usually require installation by a certified electrician, micro inverters are suitable for do-it-yourselfers as setup is easy and similar to plugging in a PC, radio or stereo equipment.

The new iPhone app makes monitoring of photovoltaic modules even simpler and more convenient. Launched at Intersolar Europe 2011 later this month, the app will be available direct from Apple’s iTunes store. Please register here to get notified once the app is released and available for immediate download.

Web Frontend Upgraded

The miniwindsystems.com website has been upgraded to provide significantly better response times even during higher-volume traffic. With new — and despite higher CPU clock speeds and overall better specs even more energy-efficient — hardware, we have addressed past performance issues and hope to provide a better user experience for everyopne interested in Mini Wind & Solar Technologies.

UL Approval for Micro Inverters

Enecsys solar PV micro inverter becomes the world’s first without electrolytic capacitors to gain U. S. certification to UL1741 standard

Cambridge, U. K., January 8, 2011: Enecsys Limited, a solar PV micro inverter company, has announced UL1741 certification for its products. The patented design of the Enecsys micro inverter uses a rugged topology that eliminates electrolytic capacitors and opto-couplers, components that limit operating life and compromise reliability. Enecsys 240W micro inverters are the first micro inverters without electrolytic capacitors to achieve UL1741 certification. The same product is also certified for use in Europe, making Enecsys is the first company to introduce a truly global solar PV micro inverter. The inverter has an operating life expectancy of greater than 25 years, matching that of solar PV modules. This transforms the economic model of solar PV systems through greatly enhanced system reliability, energy harvest, ease of installation and improved system safety.

Solar PV systems based on micro inverters harvest from 5 to 20% more energy over the life of the system, compared to traditional string inverter based systems. In a micro-inverter based system Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) is performed on each solar module and thus maximizing energy harvest even under partial shading, module mismatch or obstructions from leaves or debris. Systems are simpler to design and install and are safer because the high-voltage DC present in conventional solar PV installations is not present. No string inverter is needed because the DC output of each solar module is converted to AC using a micro-inverter mounted on the rack behind each module. This eliminates the central point-of-failure and the primary failure mechanism found in traditional inverters systems and micro inverters currently available in the market.

The reliability of Enecsys micro inverters has been verified using HALT, HASS and accelerated life tests to IEC61215, the same methodology used to test solar PV modules. The micro-inverters maintain full performance from -40 degrees C to +85 degrees C, ensuring efficient operation in real-world conditions. The Enecsys Wireless Monitoring System provides real time performance information for each solar module in order to maintain the high performance of the solar PV system throughout the operating lifetime.

The Enecsys micro inverter is designed to operate in both North American (60Hz) and European (50Hz) electricity grid systems. The micro inverters are safety and EMC evaluated to EN 62109, UL1741, TUV and CE. Country-specific requirements, including VDE V 0126-1: 2006 compliance, are achieved through the use of specific Enecsys installation products.

Using Home Power for Hedging Yourself in Two Ways

The beauty of a play in residential-scale Green Energy is its capability of hedging against both a general economic downturn and an increase in electricity prices at one go. Both are likely to happen rather soon (and yes, even though it may sound contradictory from a conventional economic point of view to have both a severe recession or even deflation and an increase in energy prices at roughly the same time, this is still a very likely scenario). The supporting fundamentals for both are in place, it’s just a matter of time for them to materialize.

Click here to read more…

Increasing Micro Generation Output: On-Board Micro Inverters

Micro inverters are a very innovative apporach to deploying truly modular solar PV systems.

A number of different micro inverter models have been developed lately, largely based on an innovation originating at Cambridge University and commercially developed by Enecsys. The Involar M-250 micro inverter is another implementation based on this concept, and while there is a certain smell to it, we are reporting on that latter product here. All micro inverters convert DC collected from a single solar panel or two into AC, tie PV modules together using AC connections rather than expensive and highly resistant DC connections, later transport the generated power to the grid, and usually also include components for monitoring power generation data. On top of the Involar M-250, we also offer the European-made Enecsys quality micro inverter models ranging from 200 Watts to 480 Watts and will add U. S. quality inverters in the near future. Enecsys inverters are fully UL-approved for the U. S. and Canada with the European models CE, UK G-83, German VDE 0126-1-1 certified.

The micro inverter concept has been developed in the U. K. by Cambridge University and launched to the market by Enecsys, Cambridge-based engineering firm

 

The following is quoted (and slightly polished) from the Chinese producer’s description:


A schmeatic overview of a micro inverter setup

The following steps elucidate the basic working princilples behind the INVOLAR micro inverter:

Step One

Solar photovoltaic modules convert light energy to direct current through the photoelectric effect.

Step Two

Micro inverters attached to photovoltaic modules finish the DC-AC conversion process.

Step Three

Synchronize and transport energy to the grid through phase-lock technologies with speed and precision.

Remark 1:Independent modules supported by micro inverters (250W) could form a parallel connection for a larger power requirement
Remark 2:MIS =Micro Inverter System

Features of the M250 Microinverter

      * Maximizes energy harvest – Different from conventional centralized inverters, M250 micro inverters conduct per-module MPPT, maximizing the efficiency of each single module with a consequent 25% increase in energy harvest.

 

      * Applicable to various conditions – M250 micro inverters allow for mismatch of photovoltaic modules, and each module can make flexible reactions to obstruction shading, inter-row shading, and obstacles such as dust or debris to avoid a sharp decrease in system efficiency.

 

      * Improved safety – With the built-in DC-AC conversion function, M250 micro inverters avoid dangerous HV DC circuits necessary to photovoltaic systems supported by conventional centralized inverters.

 

      * Fast problem diagnosis & solution – With PLC (Power Line Communications, i e electricity network) or WiFi technology, it is convenient to maintain real-time monitoring of every single module in the photovoltaic system.

 

      * Low failure rate – M250 micro inverter’s distributed framework ensures no single point of failure that would result in bringing the whole system down.

 

      * Plug-and-play installation – Free from the HV DC circuit, photovoltaic systems supported by M250 micro inverters could have fast, easy, and safe installation by allowing for PV module mismatch, a 15-25% decrease of installation time and cost, and flexibility in the changing of systems.

 

      * excellent INVOLAR M250 micro inverter is the result of the technical design with a high efficiency in its standard of air power supply, high power density, and high reliability.

 

      * By making use of the resonance soft-switching technology in MAC250 micro inverter’s main circuit, the switch frequency reaches near thousands of kHz, reducing wear and tear of the switch.

 

      * small, lightweight, high frequency transformer that achieves electrical isolation, power conversion, and high power density.

 

    * intrinsically safe current source hardware topology and high reliability.

Micro inverter technology by INVOLAR has resulted in a revolutionary device that is fully integrated into each individual module, converting DC to AC at the module level, with an independent MPPT function. INVOLAR’s micro-inverters outperform centralized inverters in:

1. Module-level Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)

Different from the conventional centralized PV inverter, the microinverter enables each individual module to achieve MPPT, which allows for module mismatches and can harvest more solar power.

2. Increased Efficiency during the System’s Life Cycle

With the microinverter technology, the photovoltaic system receives a dramatically higher power output, more than 25% additional energy harvest in a less-than-ideal environment with possible obstruction shading, inter-row shading, and obstacles such as dust or debris.

3.Intelligence and Reliability

With the distributed microinverter framework, there is no single point of failure, which means that failure of any module will only affect its own performance and will NOT affect the other modules’ performances.

Involar’s unique Power Line Communication (PLC) and internet technologies enable real-time monitoring of every single module in the photovoltaic system for fast diagnosis and solution to a problem, thus improve reliability and system uptime.

We recommend switching off the integrated WiFi transmitters and use powerline communications instead in order to avoid potentially harmful EMF exposure; shield powerlines if necessary in order to insulate against powerline-transmitted high frequency signals. The full set of monitoring features is still available when using the less hazardous PLC and cable-Ethernet data transmission.

The INVOLAR remote monitoring system is based on a so-called ETU which is in effect a piggy-back box containing a data transmission unit. This unit is locked to transmit data to the manufacturer’s central data base on a proprietary protocol using internet protocol (high port 7001). If micro inverter user employs any sort of meaningful firewalling policy (blocking transmissions from the inside over non-standard ports) or if you just feel uneasy (actually, we do somehow…) to send your private solar energy data to some black box located in China and Chinese-controlled, you may want to use the “naked” micro inverter or multiple micro inverter units only.

Internet usage directives and Netiquette require every internet user to save bandwith and not flood the network or cause any jams by unnecessary usage. Transmitting a continuous data stream all the way to China is not exactly in line with proper internet use or common sense.

INVOLAR micro inverters can as well be run, and their other technical advantages such as increased output per panel can be used, without remote monitoring and without the “ETU” add-on. In order to lower installation cost — and in light of the above security considerations — you might be well-advised or simply want to go for such a bare-bones solution.

We do provide both solutions as an option, but feel it is our duty to be fair and raise the issue above for everyone to decide for themselves. In a simple consumer or Home Power setting the above issue may be less significant.

With or without the ETU the Involar M250 micro inverter enhances both modularity and configurability of solar PV arrays and, by eliminating DC line resistance, increase performance per solar panel up to 25%. Using a micro inverter, both accessory unit cost and maintenance cost can be decreased significantly in solar PV systems.

Micro inverters may also be used with micro wind turbines and is suitable for models from 50 W up to approx 1000 W rated power (depending on actual local wind conditions) when connected to a suitable regulator (or diversion or dump load). The Involar M250 along with the high-quality U. K.-manufactured Enecsys micro inverters are currently undergoing tests with LE-v50, LE-300 and the Airdolphin DC turbines.