Residential Wind Power

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The Allure of Wind Power! Many people are enamored with the prospect of wind power generation—and unfortunately some make the investment before they have really ascertained that they have the resource for a wind system. Solar modules are so boring, they just sit there….but wind machines are a form of kinetic sculpture, and their spinning movement is quite entrancing! BUT, while folks are drawn to wind generation, photovoltaics are often a better approach (often because wind looks like it’s doing something even when it isn’t, while PV tends to be the opposite). And there are important considerations with wind turbines; wind devices need proper positioning to avoid turbulence, and most neighborhoods have tower restrictions. Wind generators should be mounted at least 30 ft. above anything else within 500 ft., and in an urban situation, usually your lot must be at least 1/2 half acre or larger in size. Permits, neighbors, variances….all are factors to be considered before spending money on a wind generator. The larger the blade span, the greater the swept wind area, so if you do have an excellent site for wind power go big and high for the greatest power return.

If you have some idea of mounting a wind genny on your house….well, get over it. It’s a very bad idea, and even smaller units have been known to vibrate a structure apart.  A pole stuck 10 ft. above your garage is not going to generate much. I’m not saying you can’t have a wind turbine within city limits, but unless you have good, clean wind, preferably mostly from one direction, with no obstacles to reduce the wind resource, it’s not going to be a good investment.

Of late we have been receiving requests to become dealers for several types of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs). These devices sort of look like egg-beaters, mounted on a vertical central pole and spinning like a top. In spite of their claims, the basic design is not suitable, at present, for high power production. And while they do look cool, no matter how high wind speeds are the blades being turned are offset by an equal amount of wind hitting the opposing blades—so never more than 50% of the winds can be utilized to create rotation, no matter how efficient the blade design. The three-bladed horizontal axis models still make the most power for their design.

How much power wind will make at your site depends on your average wind speeds, local turbulence, and elevation. You can view maps of wind resources at the following sites: 

You may also want to consult with your local weather resources and airports—always good places to check for average wind speeds.

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