The Rutland Windcharger

Ideal for stand-alone or combined wind/solar systems, the Rutland gives 1 Amp at 10 mph and 6 Amps at 22 mph.

The Rutland Windcharger's fine profile aerodynamically efficient blade and unique low friction generator ensure maximum performance from its 910mm (36") diameter turbine.

Manufactured in the U.K. and available in N. America from: Trillium Windmills Inc. RR #2, Orillia, Ontario, Canada, L3V 6H2 Tel: 705 326 6513 Fax: 705 326 2778 Dealer Enquiries Welcome

Engineering Co. ltd,

One of the world's leading wind powered battery chargers proven by over 15,000 customers worldwide

Unit K, Cavendish Courtyard, Sallow Road, Corby, Northamptonshire, NN17 1DZ England

One of the world's leading wind powered battery chargers proven by over 15,000 customers worldwide

NESEA camera ready 3.65 inches wide by 4.85 inches high

ELECTRIC AUTO ASSN. OF CALIF. camera ready 3.1 inches wide by 5.1 inches high LEAVE BORDER AROUND AD

Small Packages

Therese Peffer

©1993 Therese Peffer

My mom always told me that good things come in small packages. I believe her. Just look at flowers, seeds, Gary Larson cartoons, (and transistors, for you electronic folks out there) My latest fascination with things in small packages has been small batteries. If you think about it, those AA or D batteries allow you to power your flashlight, radio, or camera, or whatever you choose, wherever you want.

In the last issue, I discussed charging small rechargeable nickel cadmium (nicad) batteries with small solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) modules. And I've been wondering which cells are the best to use. I use mostly AA cells, so I decided I would buy a bunch of cells (mostly nicad but a few nickel metal hydride) from different manufacturers and test them. Another "good" thing about testing these small packages of energy: I'm reviewing quite a bit of basic electricity!

I got more than I bargained for! So far I have 30 cells from 7 manufacturers (and more en route). See below.

To Recharge or not to Recharge?

Why use rechargeable batteries? First, there's the waste involved with one-time use batteries. Sure they're small, but they've got to go somewhere when you're done with them. I did not have much luck in finding a place to recycle non-rechargeable cells. David from Chemical Waste Management suggested calling the local city council to find out about household hazardous waste programs. Kinsbursky Bros. of Anaheim, California (see Access) is currently undergoing a pilot program to recycle non-rechargeable cells. They currently have all the dry cells they need, and don't know when or if they will be accepting more cells in the future. Some disturbing info sent from Mark Rabinowitz, "Ordinary use-once batteries require 50 times more power to manufacture than the battery stores."

Yes, rechargeable batteries contain toxins too, but most claim 500-1000 charges! And now the nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeables have hit the market; NiMHs last longer than the nicad cells and don't have the toxic cadmium. Two companies, Real Goods and Millenium, guarantee the nicads they sell for life; should a cell fail, they will replace it. Real Goods also has a recycling program for small rechargeable nicads bought from them. Rechargeable batteries are initially more expensive and have less capacity (12 to 23 the capacity of throw-aways), but in the long run you're saving money, resources, and energy.

What do you look for in batteries? I want AA cells with high capacity, that can be rapid charged (in 1-5 hours), will last for many cycles of charging and discharging, and well, that aren't too expensive. Standard charge cells, (cells that can be charged in 14-16 hours) might be fine depending on the cost and reliability. Other people might want cells to withstand high temperature or heavy discharge. You can find small rechargeable cells in many flavors.

How will I test these 30 AA cells? Basically, I'll be charging and discharging these cells to see if they indeed have the capacity that they are supposed to. As I develop my test for these cells, I'm understanding more about battery capacity, charge rates, and yes, even Ohm's law. First let's discuss capacity and charging.




Recommended Charge

bought from

SAFT industrial nicad

500 mAh

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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