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Old 03-05-2021, 12:32 PM   #1
OrangeBlood
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Default 7th grade science fair - wind vs solar???

My daughter has a science fair coming up and since the big power outage she decided she wants to compare the efficiency between solar and wind energy.

Like I know anything about either.....I don't.

The premise will be how fast can each charge a 12v battery. Solar is easy I think, I have a solar panel on my feeder so I can just use that and measure time.

Issue is wind, how in the world can I make or buy something like that? I'd like to not spend to much on this project so cheaper is better.
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Old 03-05-2021, 12:50 PM   #2
canny
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They make science fair kits for wind which includes a small generator. Could see about getting one There are so many variables in that comparison though. Especially since traditional solar voltaic cells requires a conversion of battery power to electrical power where as wind spins a turbine in a generator to convert energy directly. Another solar option that would be fun to investigate is the solar collection tower. Where solar energy is reflected and captured to create heat (think magnifying glass) and then the heat is used to create steam and therefore power a generator to create electricity.
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Old 03-05-2021, 12:58 PM   #3
FLASH_OUTDOORS
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Sounds like it would be easier to pick solar and just compare different panel manufacturers. Easier to keep all other variables the same and just test the efficiency of one panel vs another.


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Old 03-05-2021, 03:11 PM   #4
Pushbutton2
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I'm going with the 2 many variables.
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Old 03-05-2021, 03:39 PM   #5
HogCommander
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I looked into a system that uses both. Full disclosure upfront...I'm no expert on this. That said, here's what I discovered with some research that may be helpful:

Wind turbine generators can work any time there's wind, including at night when the sun is below the horizon.
Wind turbine generators are cheaper but may not be as effective if you don't have winds averaging at least 10 mph.
Came across a lot of articles suggesting solar is easier overall because you don't need a sturdy tower to mount a wind turbine, can easily add panels incrementally, etc.
You can actually use a combination of solar and wind to charge your batteries...you wire them to a charge controller that charges the batteries. The batteries are then used to run power inverters or step-up transformers that convert DC battery voltage (12/24/48) into 120v or 240v AC power.

I would argue there's good education to be had from your daughter's project if she compares the financial investment required to generate 400 watts of power from solar vs wind, then compare how much of the day local conditions will generate power (useable sunlight, average winds). 400 watts is an arbitrary number; I picked it because you could buy a single 400 watt wind turbine or four individual 100 watt solar panels and the cost comparison is easy.

Icing on the cake would be figuring out how long both would take to pay for the investment given average local conditions (4 hrs/day sunlight, average windspeed 7 mph, etc). Something like solar pays for itself in XX months while wind pays for itself in YY months based on the price of commercial power where you live using your electricity bill.

Hope some of this helps...
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Old 03-05-2021, 03:57 PM   #6
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Use a voltmeter to measure multiple variables each. For photovoltaic cells, SA to watts and increase the size to see whether it is linear. Same for propeller diameter regarding wind.
Then wind speed per watts generated and lumens per watts generated.
I have no idea when the project is due, but I know data generated and analysis of the data is paramount in science fairs. If you guys can actually collect any data and she really likes math, I would meet you guys online to help with analysis.
I guess the first steps are getting photo cells and a windmill along with a voltmeter or whatever you guys use to design the experiment.
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Old 03-05-2021, 04:34 PM   #7
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The problem is two fold: 1. The wind power is determined how hard the wind is blowing and the efficiency of the windmill blades. 2. The solar is impacted by the intensity of the sun (i.e. how cloudy and the position of the panel vs position of the sun).

Why not just stick to solar and use, say 4 setups at the same time over several days. One at a 45 degree facing east, one horizontal, one facing west, and one where the kid moves it every 30 minutes to track the sun.

Then help analyze the data (average, mean, max, total output in watts) over the day. You can buy a cheap DC power monitor on Amazon for $20-$30 and take reading on the four stations every 15-30 minutes.

Then you could use the data to show how long it would take to charge a 12V battery of a certain amp-hour capacity. This way you are keeping your experiment relatively level - i.e. comparing watts not batteries of various or unknown storage capacities.

Last edited by StrayDog; 03-05-2021 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 03-05-2021, 05:16 PM   #8
Man
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I would keep it simple since its a kids science fair. Just try to charge a battery with both and see which one does it first and declare the winner. The variables can be a small side note.
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Old 03-05-2021, 08:26 PM   #9
Hoggslayer
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My son did a wind generator project in Jr high. I made a hub with 8 holes that attached to a DC motor to hold the blades. When wind turns the motor it outputs DC voltage which we measured with a volt meter.. We used a 3 speed fan and varied the number of blades at each different speed setting to find the best configuration. 8 blades turned easier at a slower wind speed, but 2 blades would turn faster at high wind speed. He won, then gave the project to his cousin and he won in his school the following year.

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Old 03-05-2021, 10:11 PM   #10
Button
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You could simulate geothermal. It wouldn’t be difficult to do.
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Old 03-06-2021, 11:32 AM   #11
kyle1974
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hmmm.... cost issues for a 7th grade science fair project regarding wind power.

imagine that.
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Old 03-06-2021, 12:32 PM   #12
Reelthreat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle1974 View Post
hmmm.... cost issues for a 7th grade science fair project regarding wind power.

imagine that.
Lol
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Old 03-07-2021, 08:12 AM   #13
Rubberdown
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you could get a small wind generator and solar panel and use an arduino controller to monitor the output from each source. And then you could say based on real conditions this one generates more power. I’d find that interesting.
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Old 03-17-2021, 08:25 PM   #14
OrangeBlood
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Default quick update

here is what we ended up doing, 20 watt solar panel vs a 15 watt DC motor with a 15" turbine blade. Spent a little more than I had planned but it was a fun project.

She better win!!!
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