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Subject Help with Wind Generator Sizing
Author Sascha Deri
 
 
QUESTION: I DONT KNOW MUCH ABOUT WIND TURBINES. I AM LOOKING FOR A WIND POWERED GENERATOR. I HAVE A LOG CABIN ON A MOUNTAIN IN ARKANSAS POWER OUTAGES IS A PROBLEM THE HOUSE HAS A 400 AMP SERVICE. I AM LOOKING FOR A LOW MAINTAINENCE UNIT. I WOULD APPRICIATE ANY HELP WITH WHAT I NEED AND PRICEING

RESPONSE: Selection of a windmill is based on 1) the amount of energy you use, 2) whether or not you will be grid-connected (it sounds like you are and will be), and 3) the average wind speed on your site.

Most of this e-mail contains our introductory wind information. Below my signature, please find information and links to other related wind information, including how to find out your electricity usage and what your average wind speed is.

Since you want to have continuous power, you would need to have batteries in your system. You would need a battery charging wind generator, batteries and an inverter. All of our wind generators, except the Bergey Excel and Jacobs wind gennies, are battery chargers.

If you have periods of no wind, you might want to consider a hybrid system. This means combining photovoltaics (solar panels; PV) with the wind generator. I will be happy to send you introductory PV information as well. Just reply to this e-mail and tell me so.

There is a lot of information below! When you've had a chance to digest some of it, please contact us with your electricity usage (the kilowatt hours - kWh - used during your highest month or one year's amounts per month), your average wind speed, and whether you want to fulfill all your needs or set a budget.

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WIND INFO

The kilowatt hours you use per month are listed on your utility bills. If you expect a different electrical load, a load analysis is necessary. For assistance with a load calculation, check our Alt-E University web page: www.altenergystore.com/cart/university/index, and look for "Tools" with "Load calculator" listed under it. For appliance wattages you are unable to locate on the equipment itself, look under the University's "References" section and click on "Power Ratings for Common Appliances".

Wind is very site-specific. In flat areas or by a lake, average wind speed may be available from a nearby airport (assuming your topography is similar to the airport); check the height at which they measure the wind. In hilly and mountainous areas, accurate wind speed estimates may be harder to acquire.

In our Alt-E University (www.altenergystore.com/cart/university/index), under the Wind section you can access low resolution wind resource maps by the "Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States" link. High resolution wind maps for your state may be available at www.windpowermaps.org. A visual inspection of vegetation can assist with identifying the average wind speed; search for "Griggs Putnam Index of Deformity" on the web. Instantaneous (current) wind speed can be determined by examining a Beaufort Scale, such as the one found at www.kites.org/jo/beaufort.html or by searching for "Beaufort Scale" on the web. You'd still need to gauge the frequency and duration of the wind.

If you are unable to determine the wind speed of your area from the above methods, you may be a candidate for metering the wind speed on your site. This can be done by installing an anemometer on a tower or mast at the height where the wind generator would be mounted (see height discussion below). Another suggestion is, if you're going to go to that effort, you might as well invest in a small wind generator; if it proves itself in a year, trade up for a larger wind generator and sell the small one.

If you are grid-connected (powered by a utility), you can size a system based on your budget. If you will be off-grid, you must size for your use.

As mentioned above, our Alt-E University, located at www.altenergystore.com/cart/university/index has a number of "seminars" related to wind.

Solar Energy International in Carbondale, CO, teaches classes in Wind Design and Installation. Their web site is www.solarenergy.org.

www.altenergystore.com/cart/windmills lists all our generators. At the bottom of each linked specifications page, you will see a chart or table which shows the amount of power expected from the wind generator at different average wind speeds.

Home Power magazine is another excellent resource. It can be found in organic food stores or try their website: homepower.com. Home Power's issue #90, August/September 2002, page 50 has an article entitled, "Apples and Oranges 2002: Choosing a Home-Sized Wind Generator" by Mick Sagrillo which is very informative. You can probably download the article from Home Power's web site: http://www.homepower.com

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