## SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

Post all other topics which do not belong to any other category.

## Do you prefer solar power or steam power?

Solar Power
52
30%
Steam Power
31
18%
Combination of Both
90
52%

MeduSalem
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

BlakeMW wrote:
MeduSalem wrote:Solid Fuel+Steam it is for me.
...

All of the items above have Efficiency Module 2's inside them to decrease the energy overhead during the refining processes.
I'm also a fan of solid fuel. But technically I think productivity modules give a much greater benefit than efficiency modules, I'm sure someone has calculated this somewhere already, but I couldn't find it.

I'll just take a hypothetical setup of 3 solid fuel plants

Normally these will produce a solid fuel in 2.4s, the chemical plant consumes 210kW so the total is 504kJ or 100kJ with eff2 modules.

For 3 chemical plants with eff2 modules:

3 light oil -> 3 Solid Fuel = 75MJ - 0.3MJ = 74.7MJ

Now we use 2x prod3 modules in the chemical plants and add a single 2x speed3 beacon:

The chemical plant has a crafting speed of +20% so crafts in 2s, it consume 693kW so the total is 1.4MJ
The beacon uses 480kW so consumes 0.96MJ, this is shared between the 3 chemical plants.

3 light oil -> 3.6 Solid Fuel = 90MJ - (4.2MJ + 0.96MJ) = 84.84MJ

That is a 13% increase in net energy yield for using prod3 and speed3 modules instead of efficiency modules.

(The astute reader will notice however, that I've so far neglected the fact that Boiler efficiency is only 50%, so if the electricity is coming entirely from steam power we actually need to divide the fuel value by 2 but keep the machine consumption values the same, in this case we get 36.9MJ net profit for eff2 modules and 39.84MJ net profit for prod3 modules: only a 9% increase instead of the 13% increase if we assume electricity comes from Solar).

1 speed beacon to 3 chemical plants is not a great configuration, you'd probably be using something like 8 beacons to 6 chemical plants with the beacons also benefiting refineries or other things, in this case the chemical plant has a speed of +370%, with a crafting speed of 5.875 it crafts a solid fuel in only 0.51s and even with an energy use of 1.7MW only consumes 0.73MJ per solid fuel crafted due to the productivity bonus and very short crafting time, and while the beacons are also consuming a fair bit of power it is shared over many machines and comes out to only a small amount per item crafted (perhaps 0.3MJ).

So I think with optimal usage of prod3 modules in refinery and chemical plants you can get almost 40% more net energy than with efficiency modules, or perhaps 30% if you're running purely on solid-fuel based steam power. Efficiency modules are still great to use in other machines if you want to improve your energy balance, but the argument in favor of productivity modules in oil refining line is very compelling.
So I have given this some more thought... and my initial conclusion is... yeah the extra solid fuel given by the productivity modules outweigh the efficiency modules to a slight degree.

BUT and that's the killing factor for me... the beacons and productivity modules increase the energy consumption overhead so distinctively that you have to build even more Boilers+Steam Engines to power the productivity Modules from the Solid Fuel plant if you don't want to lose on net gain. And that's where I simply give up on further experiments/calculations because I don't really know how to calculate that kind of complex efficiency crap in a simple manner.

What there should be in the end is "how many Chem Plants with Productivity Modules do I need in comparison to Chem Plants without Productivity Modules or in comparison to Chem Plants with Efficiency Modules"

And that's what I can't get to work even after trying to fiddle in Excel for 4 hours. What a waste of my time.

bigyihsuan
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

Because I play on Peaceful with little to no biters and that I don't care about pollution, I start off with a huge steam setup.

When I find that the 100 steam engines are not enough, I usually can make solar panels and accumulators by then. Then I build huge solar fields to supplement/overtake the steam engines.

taiiat
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

a mixture of both is a good combination. both have their perks, so you might as well keep both around.
you could just spam a million Solar Panels, but if you're the sort of person that wants to do that, you're not in this Thread anyways.

while Steam needs Fuel, it produces a crapload more Electricity per unit space. sure, you technically have infinite space but you can still get a lot more Electricity out of the space used for a solar farm if Steam Engines instead.

and with the priority of usage from these power sources, you can get a nice balance of always available power and on demand powerhouses to make sure nothing goes dead. especially if you have Accumulators to store energy for emergencies.
MalcolmCooks wrote:Copper cable in your inventory can be used to rewire power poles manually, so you can have seperate networks close to each other.

i will keep this in mind.

GeniusIsme
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

I play just to the satellite launch, and solar is waste of time and resources for this task.

vanatteveldt
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

MeduSalem wrote:And that's what I can't get to work even after trying to fiddle in Excel for 4 hours. What a waste of my time.
Instead of trying to solve this analytically, why not just build an experimental setup: (for !!science!!)

Take X 0.1/s oil wells, and build a fuel station around each that has to be completely self-sufficient, with various module setups. Then, start them all off with a starting amount of (1 or 10 or whatever) solid fuel, let them run for 10 minutes, and count the amount of solid fuel produced in excess of what it needed to power itself.

i.e. something like this:

well(s) -> refinery -> cracking -> solid fuel -> steam plant -> chest

(I guess beacons have a fixed electricity cost, so results can vary depending on how many wells there are per plant -> more !!science!! )

[Is there an easy mod that grants all research and makes it easier to setup tests, ie by making hand crafting 100x faster?]

Evan_
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

I dislike solar.

Maybe because the game is full of -meaningful- choices were all the options have their merits and flaws (lasers or gun turrets, coal or electric smelting, belts or bots). But when I look at energy, solar just looks superior in every way.

I believe this is why I always find myself looking for energy-efficient solutions and trying to keep using steam as long as possible. But as I play MP, the day when someone installs a huge solar field overshadowing all the generators are placed always comes.

mooklepticon
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

Evan_ wrote:I dislike solar.

Maybe because the game is full of -meaningful- choices were all the options have their merits and flaws (lasers or gun turrets, coal or electric smelting, belts or bots). But when I look at energy, solar just looks superior in every way.

I believe this is why I always find myself looking for energy-efficient solutions and trying to keep using steam as long as possible. But as I play MP, the day when someone installs a huge solar field overshadowing all the generators are placed always comes.
They're not superior in every way. They can't handle burst attacks just before dawn. If you build just enough to power your factory and have accumulators in the right ratio, then you're going to suffer just before dawn when lasers drain you dry. Steam will never let you down.

The solution is to just build more. Panels are too cheap, IMO.

Evan_
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

mooklepticon wrote:If you build just enough to power your factory and have accumulators in the right ratio, then you're going to suffer just before dawn when lasers drain you dry. Steam will never let you down.
I wouldn't call such setup 'just enough'. I'd rather use the words 'just not enough'

But that's the same with steam. If you build 'just not enough' generators, the fluctuations in consumption or fuel supply can let you down just the same way. That's why people build more than they need on peaceful sunny days. For me, every minor difference feels overshadowed by the fact that one option needs two resources and generates pollution so needs to be defended, while the other is just 'fire and forget'.

zytukin
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

mooklepticon wrote:
Evan_ wrote:I dislike solar.

Maybe because the game is full of -meaningful- choices were all the options have their merits and flaws (lasers or gun turrets, coal or electric smelting, belts or bots). But when I look at energy, solar just looks superior in every way.

I believe this is why I always find myself looking for energy-efficient solutions and trying to keep using steam as long as possible. But as I play MP, the day when someone installs a huge solar field overshadowing all the generators are placed always comes.
They're not superior in every way. They can't handle burst attacks just before dawn. If you build just enough to power your factory and have accumulators in the right ratio, then you're going to suffer just before dawn when lasers drain you dry. Steam will never let you down.
Not really a good example. Why would anybody purposely only build enough solar/accus to cover exactly what their factory needs during an off-spike time?
Why would anybody do that with *any* power setup? You wouldn't be able to expand at all without being too low on power.

Plus, that statement could easily be reversed for steam:
Steam can let you down because the coal patch may dry up without you noticing until your factory is out of power. Solar wont have that problem.
Solution, just mine more coal. Too easy to do in my opinion. :p

Griffon0129
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

Kinda surprised this topic lasted this long, but anyways...

Lately I've been building both and not building accumulators at all. The trick is to build more than enough of both so that the steam comes to a halt during the day when solar overpowers them, then as the solar panels die out the steam kicks back on. This saves a lot of coal/solid fuel than purely steam setups and with steam you can always burn more fuel for more electricity when bitters are attacking (assuming they're not already at max production).

I mostly do this since accumulators always let me down when I needed them and they take up tons of room, not to mention you also need extra solar panels to charge them during the day.
Yes the solution would be to build more accumulators and solar panels but at some point that's all you end up doing since the factory is always expanding.

XKnight
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

MeduSalem wrote:
BlakeMW wrote:
MeduSalem wrote:Solid Fuel+Steam it is for me.
...

All of the items above have Efficiency Module 2's inside them to decrease the energy overhead during the refining processes.
I'm also a fan of solid fuel. But technically I think productivity modules give a much greater benefit than efficiency modules, I'm sure someone has calculated this somewhere already, but I couldn't find it.

I'll just take a hypothetical setup of 3 solid fuel plants

Normally these will produce a solid fuel in 2.4s, the chemical plant consumes 210kW so the total is 504kJ or 100kJ with eff2 modules.

For 3 chemical plants with eff2 modules:

3 light oil -> 3 Solid Fuel = 75MJ - 0.3MJ = 74.7MJ

Now we use 2x prod3 modules in the chemical plants and add a single 2x speed3 beacon:

The chemical plant has a crafting speed of +20% so crafts in 2s, it consume 693kW so the total is 1.4MJ
The beacon uses 480kW so consumes 0.96MJ, this is shared between the 3 chemical plants.

3 light oil -> 3.6 Solid Fuel = 90MJ - (4.2MJ + 0.96MJ) = 84.84MJ

That is a 13% increase in net energy yield for using prod3 and speed3 modules instead of efficiency modules.

(The astute reader will notice however, that I've so far neglected the fact that Boiler efficiency is only 50%, so if the electricity is coming entirely from steam power we actually need to divide the fuel value by 2 but keep the machine consumption values the same, in this case we get 36.9MJ net profit for eff2 modules and 39.84MJ net profit for prod3 modules: only a 9% increase instead of the 13% increase if we assume electricity comes from Solar).

1 speed beacon to 3 chemical plants is not a great configuration, you'd probably be using something like 8 beacons to 6 chemical plants with the beacons also benefiting refineries or other things, in this case the chemical plant has a speed of +370%, with a crafting speed of 5.875 it crafts a solid fuel in only 0.51s and even with an energy use of 1.7MW only consumes 0.73MJ per solid fuel crafted due to the productivity bonus and very short crafting time, and while the beacons are also consuming a fair bit of power it is shared over many machines and comes out to only a small amount per item crafted (perhaps 0.3MJ).

So I think with optimal usage of prod3 modules in refinery and chemical plants you can get almost 40% more net energy than with efficiency modules, or perhaps 30% if you're running purely on solid-fuel based steam power. Efficiency modules are still great to use in other machines if you want to improve your energy balance, but the argument in favor of productivity modules in oil refining line is very compelling.
So I have given this some more thought... and my initial conclusion is... yeah the extra solid fuel given by the productivity modules outweigh the efficiency modules to a slight degree.

BUT and that's the killing factor for me... the beacons and productivity modules increase the energy consumption overhead so distinctively that you have to build even more Boilers+Steam Engines to power the productivity Modules from the Solid Fuel plant if you don't want to lose on net gain. And that's where I simply give up on further experiments/calculations because I don't really know how to calculate that kind of complex efficiency crap in a simple manner.

What there should be in the end is "how many Chem Plants with Productivity Modules do I need in comparison to Chem Plants without Productivity Modules or in comparison to Chem Plants with Efficiency Modules"

And that's what I can't get to work even after trying to fiddle in Excel for 4 hours. What a waste of my time.
Here is my results in this field:

Assumptions:
- only productivity3, efficiency3, speed3 modules are used
- each beacon contains two identical modules
- factory is able to handle all oil flow
- factory is infinite (no corner effects with beacons)
- energy is the only end-product
- next patterns are used as a basement:
Patterns
- chemical plant + beacons: number of effect receivers - 8, beacons around - 8
- oil refinery + beacons: number of effect receivers - 4, beacons around - 8
- pumpjack + beacons: number of effect receivers - 1, beacons around - 8

Energy net profit per petrolium - 6896.25 kJ
Energy net profit per light oil - 13792.5 kJ
Energy net profit per light oil (cracking) - 4846.17 kJ
Energy net profit per heavy oil - 6896.25 kJ
Energy net profit per heavy oil (cracking) - 11910.1 kJ
Energy net profit per crude oil - 12160.6 kJ
Energy net profit per crude oil (advanced processing) - 13026.2 kJ
Energy net profit per depletted pump. One cycle - 542.62 kJ; Power - 3255.72 kW

Optimal build: {productivity, speed, efficiency, speed in beacons, efficiency in beacons}
petrolium - {2, 0, 0, 1, 6}, here and everywhere beacon #8 decreases net profit, so only 7 beacons are used
light oil - {2, 0, 0, 1, 6}
heavy oil (cracking) - {2, 0, 0, 1, 6}
crude oil (advanced processing) - {2, 0, 0, 1, 6}
depletted pump - {0, 2, 0, 8, 0}
Math behind
Note: energy losses in boiler is already taken into account.

taiiat
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

Evan_ wrote:I dislike solar.
i don't really disagree. Solar Panels are very... easy. so easy that i feel lame using them(outside of small scale deployment for small outposts or just as a bit of supplemental power for smaller grids that aren't connected to the mains). and infact, am totally fine with managing the logistics of expanding fuel powered Energy.

because spamming Solar Panels makes managing Energy.... boring.

the Wind Turbine Mod is probably something to look to - bringing the fluctuation of production into play for Solar Panels. increases the desire to have accumulators so that you can store up the power from your Solar Panels for when you need it... and this is literally how Solar Panel systems are set up in the real world (when done correctly), so it would be nice for Factorio to emulate that to some degree.

perhaps that's only part of the problem, and the fact that Solar Panels highly simplify the logistics of part of the game... it's possible that it's meh exactly because Factorio is all about logistics, and Solar Panels remove most of that in regards to Energy.
but fluctuating production would add back some Logistic management, could be enough.

tehroach
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

taiiat wrote:
Evan_ wrote:I dislike solar.
i don't really disagree. Solar Panels are very... easy. so easy that i feel lame using them(outside of small scale deployment for small outposts or just as a bit of supplemental power for smaller grids that aren't connected to the mains). and infact, am totally fine with managing the logistics of expanding fuel powered Energy.

because spamming Solar Panels makes managing Energy.... boring.
In RL I love the idea of solar power, to the point that I would say that the Australian Governmental bodies are slow and stupid by not creating intensives for every household to replace their roof tiles with solar panels.

But in Factorio; I would have to concur Solar is boring!
I must admit that my style of gameplay is focused on trains, circuit networks, killing things and raping the map of all its natural resources.
taiiat wrote:the Wind Turbine Mod is probably something to look to - bringing the fluctuation of production into play for Solar Panels. increases the desire to have accumulators so that you can store up the power from your Solar Panels for when you need it... and this is literally how Solar Panel systems are set up in the real world (when done correctly), so it would be nice for Factorio to emulate that to some degree.
perhaps that's only part of the problem, and the fact that Solar Panels highly simplify the logistics of part of the game... it's possible that it's meh exactly because Factorio is all about logistics, and Solar Panels remove most of that in regards to Energy.
but fluctuating production would add back some Logistic management, could be enough.
I do think that Factorio needs diversity in its energy, so I think adding Wind Turbines would be a good idea

But there needs to be some sort of gameplay involved, instead of the current plonk and forget.
ie currently I can just calculate that X solar panels and Y Accumulators will power Z Machine indefinitely
And I don't even have to be mindful of where I put them, as long as they are placed on the map in the correct ratios.

Now just compare the complexity of setting up steam power to setting up solar power,

how many parts are there?

Solar:
-the panels
-Accumulators

Steam
-Engines
-Off shore pump
-Boilers
-Pipe work
-Belts
-Inserters
-Fuel and Water
-Trains (optional)
-Electric Pumps (possibility)

In Factorio steam engines are an entry level technology for generating power, yet the gameplay complexity of setting up steam far outweighs solar, even though Solar is a higher tier technology.
so a brand new player is forced to bumble through the "How do I get this to work", yet more experienced players (someone who has researched solar power) gets plug'n'play technology.

IMO there are several factors that need to be addressed

1. Bitter evolution:
ATM biter evolution is an ever increasing property, there is no variation, it only ever goes up and up until it plateaus out at its maximum
hence early on there is an intensive to keep pollution levels low, but once you reach the maximum then there is no reason to care about pollution levels at all, because Behemoth bitters are going to come a knocking every 1-8 minutes weather or not you go green or not

Unless you mod the biter evolution to include a negative factor. (Click the blank line below, if you want to know)
/c game.map_settings.enemy_evolution.destroy_factor = game.map_settings.enemy_evolution.destroy_factor * -0.2
2. Random elements:
If Factorio had seasons ie summer, winter that affected solar panel performance, or preferably just a random factor Variable that was changed at the beginning of each Factorio Day.

3. Complexity and more components:
In real life connecting a Photo-voltaic cell directly to main power is simply a bad idea; AC and DC power just don't mix well,
hence you need a DC-AC inverter (an extra component) so solar panel power can be used on Main AC lines
Stored Power (Batteries, Capacitors) is usually in a DC form so Accumulators would need an AC-DC inverter to charge from mains power and a DC-AC inverter to supply to mains power

For simplicity sake I would opt to just have a single inverter entity (similar to a Comparitor) with one side AC and the other DC, then AC and DC networks would be separate and not automatically join to one another.
Maybe DC networks could work more like the Circuit networks, so Solar Panels/Accumulators would not be placed in the foot print of power poles, but wired directly to the inverter DC

zytukin
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

tehroach wrote:
taiiat wrote: Now just compare the complexity of setting up steam power to setting up solar power,

how many parts are there?

Solar:
-the panels
-Accumulators

Steam
-Engines
-Off shore pump
-Boilers
-Pipe work
-Belts
-Inserters
-Fuel and Water
-Trains (optional)
-Electric Pumps (possibility)
why not include building the components as part of the complexity?
All the things required for steam can be built from the base materials and by hand.

A solar set up is more complex to make then a steam set up, the panels can be made by hand, but not accumulators.
The Accumulators require you to set up battery production which involves refineries and associated components.

Steam isn't exactly interactive either.
Set up solid fuel production and they are nearly plop and forget as well.

All the solar variation stuff people keep talking about could just be compensated for by just building more of them, so that is somewhat pointless.
And with variation, wouldn't that effect steam as well? Water isn't a constant temperature all year round. Perhaps water should start out at different temps and thus sometimes take more or less time to heat up as well as suffer heat loss when in holding tanks and being transported by pipes unless special insulated pipes are used.

taiiat
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

tehroach wrote:I do think that Factorio needs diversity in its energy, so I think adding Wind Turbines would be a good idea
not what i was saying - that Mod calculates fluctuations in production. they don't produce the same amount of power at all times.
that should be applied to Solar Panels.

Wind Turbines perhaps, but the fluctuation is what matters.
you note this later, but i need to clarify because i'm not advocating that there's a need for Wind Turbines.
tehroach wrote:so a brand new player is forced to bumble through the "How do I get this to work", yet more experienced players (someone who has researched solar power) gets plug'n'play technology.
you're not incorrect, i just want to note that setting up a Steam Engine was very straight forward for me. the things necessary to make it work seemed obvious to me, after having played a few hours before that, learning how inserters and machinery works in Factorio.
so i didn't bumble around at all, it was pretty obvious.

- - - - -

introducing AC/DC conversion makes the entire game much more complicated even to achieve basic production - machinery and Inserters would run on DC, existing power lines would run AC, Steam Engines and Solar Panels would generate DC...

in order to transport and use any power over any appreciable distance, you'd need to create Substations (not the 'Substation' in Factorio), convert your DC generation to AC, then run it to electric lines to transfer over distance, and then another Substation to convert back to DC.

that Substation would have a mediocre distribution range, so you'd need this large converter machine all over the place in your factory, along with running power lines everywhere to feed to your Substations.

very... unelegant. and hurts Solar Panels the least, due to their compact size, you could just place Solar Panels next to your machines to power them directly.

zytukin wrote:wouldn't that effect steam as well? Water isn't a constant temperature all year round. Perhaps water should start out at different temps and thus sometimes take more or less time to heat up as well as suffer heat loss when in holding tanks and being transported by pipes unless special insulated pipes are used.
input Temperature doesn't matter, fire is a fuel inefficient, but powerful result way of applying Thermal Energy. given sufficient potential Energy(like what you have with Boilers), a pot of water on your Stove would heat up in almost the exact same amount of time whether it comes in at 15° or -5°.

temperature loss in pipes mayhaps, but normally you aren't transporting the water very far before deleting it in the Steam Engines.
and in the same overly sarcastic sense, Steam Engines would also have to require 100.5° Water, and simply not function at all if they received anything lower...
which would be pretty lame in context of the way Factorio works.

- - - - -
tl;dr for everything is making shared systems more complicated in attempts to spite one problem in particular never works. you end up hurting everything else without actually solving the problem.

zytukin
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

taiiat wrote: tl;dr for everything is making shared systems more complicated in attempts to spite one problem in particular never works. you end up hurting everything else without actually solving the problem.
you are correct, and I hate using that sort of idealism.

But, logically speaking, when going for realism in output of stuff, what is the point of only making it apply to one type of building and not everything else? The result could very easily end up having many people question why it was only implemented partially and not game wide. Besides power, I could also see things like ore and oil outputting with some random variation.

Well, maybe not so much oil, but definitely ore.
It isn't available in one huge chunk of pure ore in real life.

taiiat
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

zytukin wrote:
taiiat wrote:I could also see things like ore and oil outputting with some random variation.

Well, maybe not so much oil, but definitely ore.
It isn't available in one huge chunk of pure ore in real life.
Ore already has fluctuation, in unit volume. every deposit has a varied amount of resources in it.

zytukin
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

taiiat wrote:Ore already has fluctuation, in unit volume. every deposit has a varied amount of resources in it.
That is the deposit itself, not the actual output of mines.
ie, perhaps a 10% random variation in mine output per min since in real life, ore isn't 100% pure in one large clump.

The map I'm using will sometimes have stone mixed in with copper ore (a few tiles will have both copper and stone) and I do like the extra step that it adds to separate the two. I've only used the one map so far so I don't know if this is a game thing or just something with the map settings. I haven't seen it happen with iron yet though.

tehroach
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

zytukin wrote:why not include building the components as part of the complexity?
Because it has nothing to do with the complexity of laying out the power station.

A solar field + its optimal array of accumulators is simply simple it doesn't matter if you are laying 100, 1000, 10000, 100000 the pattern is the same the only difference is the time and space required.

Now compare steam

100 is easy, 1000 is vastly more complex, 10000 well I haven't yet tried.

tehroach
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### Re: SOLAR or STEAM [poll]

taiiat wrote:so i didn't bumble around at all, it was pretty obvious.
So are you telling me that you arrived at the optimum 1:2:1, 14:10:1 or 28:21:3 (boiler:engine:pump) ratios on your first attempt?
(Without looking on the Wiki)

On my first attempt with Solar Power I arrived at a cozy 1:1 ratio which isn't far off the optimum 1:0.84
But most people that I have seen (myself included) start with the 1:1:1 ratio for steam which is far from optimal, then just expand and run into problems with water flow/distance etc.

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