OT: Ping EE's: Connecting to The Grid

Awl --
Suppose I have my own home-grown generator -- wind, solar, etc -- that I
want to connect to The Grid.
The first problem I see is voltage regulation, shunt current:
To feed the grid, you have to be at some voltage above grid voltage.
How do you dump all your current capacity to grid, without possibly
over-volting the grid locally?
And, if just incrementally above grid voltage, how do dump all your current
capacity to the grid, without having to lose it to a shunt? Does a voltage
regulator solve this, or does it still bleed excess off to shunt -- or to a
battery pack?
Even more of a problem would seem to be phase, discussed in
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So connecting to the grid is not a trivial matter, not DIY stuff, it
Unless grid voltage regulators/synchroscopes are standard market items.
How does one do this? Idears? Links? ngs?
All these commercially provided windmill generators must have their own
Mebbe Edison was right: Shoulda stuck with DC?
Also, if what I read recently is correct, it seems that that very
high-voltage long distance transmission is actually more efficient with DC!
And now that there are solid state inverters, a DC-based grid might be
With zillions of DC inputs to a DC grid, all the ripple (inherent in
rotary-type systems), would statistically average out to a fairly straight
line, for even better DC!!
Until recently, poss. even still today, Con Ed in NYC provided high-power
DC, for things like elevators, etc. in some older buildings/locations. Man,
what a spark!
But you never see DC in anything constructed new, after the '60s, poss.
Reply to
Proctologically Violated©®
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The simplest way to think about it is that DC moves matter, well electrons, and AC moves motion. Which is sort of a derivative, and as you well know derivatives have huge leverage power. :) cheers T.Alan
Reply to
T.Alan Kraus
To say nothing of Frequency and phase, which must be bang-on or you'll experience a few little problems, like a rotating generator rotating off of its mounts, melting conductors, and other drama you won't care to repeat.
AC has "zero-crossings" so arcs can self-extinguish, and transformers can be used to change voltages without significant energy losses.
I suspect (not having looked at all) that modern gear employs inverters synchronized to the grid freq and phase, and voltage and current regulation at the very least. Somehow, an agreement with the carrier would seem to be mandatory so that YOUR stuff doesn't break THEIR stuff. /mark
Reply to
Mark F
I have heard facsimiles to that effect, but ultimately I don't know if it holds water.
Perhaps a better analogy for AC / DC might be a reciprocating IC engine vs a rotary! Where, in power/cu in or per pound, the rotary wins!
Ultimately, AC moves the same electrons the same *net* distance as DC, just through a shorter end-to-end distance.
The fact that an actual electron (if there even is such a thing, QM'ly speaking) in DC will translate/locomote a farther actual distance may be ultimately moot, ito IR drop/power losses.
In fact, the capacitance/inductance effects may be part of the AC disadvantage, at high V. Not really sure, tho. What is f'sure, tho, is that capacitance/inductance is moot, for DC.
Still, how to connect to an AC grid??
Reply to
Proctologically Violated©®
The folks in alt.energy.renewable will tell you that you need to buy one each "Grid Tie Inverter".
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?file=HP109_pg116_QandA_5 --Winston
Reply to
There is a simple way to synchronize a local AC source with the grid: tie a light bulb between your gen and the utility power line, before you close the switch. If the frequencies are close, but bulb will go on an off at a "beat frequency." Throw your switch when the bulb is off. The impedance of the power grid is so much lower than your local system, that you can't possibly cause them any harm. If your voltage is higher than theirs before you throw the switch, it will drop to line voltage as soon as you make the connection. Current will flow into the grid, and the output impedance of your local gen will cause your voltage to drop and match theirs. Your frequency will also match theirs. If you try to fall behind, they will drive your generator faster. If you try to get ahead, the current flow into the grid will load your generator and slow it down.
We did all this in the EE lab when I was in school.
Reply to
Leo Lichtman
isn't the electric utility required by law to assis you with this, however grudgingly?
Reply to
It's also important that your stuff doesn't kill their people. The power company service people sometimes get real PO'd (or real hurt, or real dead) when they think they're working on a dead line - because they've turned it off, or a tree limb or a windstorm has broken it, or whatever - only to find out that you're pumping juice into it from DOWNSTREAM of where they think it's cut off.
Call the power company, and find out what the rules are. They're required to buy any power you make beyond your own use; but there are some proper, and not so proper, ways to make that happen.
Reply to
Kirk Gordon
Burnt bulbs are "light off". Dangerous method. Go with a "light on".
Reply to
Brian Lawson
How are you going to do that? The phase mismatch causes a voltage difference between the generator in question and the utility voltage. When the phases are matched, the voltage difference is at its lowest point, and the light goes off.
Reply to
Exactly. Not a good plan. Ask the guys who did that....oh no....you can't!! You can join them, but you can't ask.
Reply to
Brian Lawson
If you are going to generate DC with your source, there are several manufactureres who sell the grid-tie inverter you will need, up to about 7KW. This thing will take care of all the problems. If you are going to generate AC in the range of 75Kw an up, there are lots of mfr's who have switching equipment for you. It is expensive, think $30K to $100K, but the genset is real expensive, too. If you want to generate AC in the 10Kw to 50KW area you are in trouble, just as I am. But I am working on it. Trouble is that most utilities will only allow UL approved equipment. There is some wiggle room in this, depending on where you live. If you want to know more, email me off list.
Pete Stanaitis -------------------
Proctologically Violated©® wrote:
Reply to
You hire a licensed engineer and electrician to design and install the requisite equipment.
If you already have your own home grown power system, this could be trickier than one purpose built to tie to the grid.
Reply to
Paul Hovnanian P.E.
As a minimum, they'll require that you install a disconnect switch accessible to them that they can lock out while doing work on that part of the system.
Reply to
Paul Hovnanian P.E.
"Brian Lawson" wrote: Burnt bulbs are "light off". Dangerous method. Go with a "light on". ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ The bulb goes from dark to very bright at a frequency = the error frequency (I referred to it earlier as "beat frequency." ) Your idea that a burnt out bulb could fool you is pretty far fetched. Your suggestion that all the people who have tried this are dead is preposterous. There were about 25 people in my lab class, and we ALL did it. The class was given every semester, and I have an idea that if there had been ONE accident, oh, well, what's the use arguing.
Reply to
Leo Lichtman
So simply wait and it comes on and you know the bulb is ok..... Give me a break. Martin
Brian Laws>
Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn
Don't argue with a fool. Before long people can't tell the difference.
Reply to
Michael A. Terrell
Don't forget that the lamp has to be rated for the peak voltage, so if you are monitoring a 120 VAC line you need 240 volt bulbs.
Reply to
Michael A. Terrell
As others have mentioned, since solar generates DC, that implies the use of a grid-tie inverter. They've also touched on the safety issues.
For wind and other small mechanical sources, which you only intend to run grid-tie, no batteries, the simplest way as I understand it is to start with an induction motor.
Use the grid to bring the motor (and with it, the generating equipment) up to its base speed (as determined by the grid frequency and number of poles, less slip). Now as you add additional mechanical power with your generating equipment by adjusting blade angles or opening water valves, or whatever, you will catch up to and pass the design speed, and enter a sort of reverse slip. "Leading" the power of the motor will now push power back into the grid. The implication here, as I see it, is if a motor is rated to run full power at say, 3425 rpm, or about 5% under 3600, you stand to run into trouble if you try to drive it more than 5% faster (3775 rpm) before you start running into overloaded bearings and overheated wires due to too much current. I suppose the easy way to manage that would be to use an ammeter and monitor your output current relative to the nameplate current.
Now the next question becomes, how do you design the mechanical side of your generating equipment not to overload the motor? I can see it being easier with a small hydro setup than wind, due to it being more of a steady-state sort of power source, though I suppose you could play with furling vanes and all that, too.
I'm sure there's an explanation somewhere out on the net somewhere that does better justice to the topic than that, but that will at least get you started.
--Glenn Lyford
Reply to
Glenn Lyford
Glenn sez:
" . . . For wind and other small mechanical sources, which you only intend to run grid-tie, no batteries, the simplest way as I understand it is to start with an induction motor. ..."
An induction generator, essentially an induction motor driven above it's design speed, is usu. used in wind turbine generation of "power". Electricity produced is metered via a watt-hour-meter on the premises and "sold" to the grid. Grid-tie residential systems have a watt-hour-meter connected from the wind turbine back to the grid. This meter is in addition to the regular residential meter. The home owner receives credit from the utility based on the amount of power generated.
Bob Swinney
Reply to
Robert Swinney

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