Wind Turbine

I want to get a wind turbine to help power my house?

I'm only 16 now, but I plan on my home being as green as I can make it when I am old enough to even have a home. I want to know how much it costs to actually get a wind turbine, or make one, etc. How exactly I would hook it up to my house, how tall it has to be, how much space it needs, all that kind of stuff. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated. Anything else I need to know about wind turbines would be great! Thanks!

Hey Chris, good for you getting involved in this. About 12 years ago we looked into wind and solar power for our home. We used to have frequent power outages and just wanted a reliable backup source. Well today our home is completely powered by the wind and sun, we heat with wood, solar and propane, heat water with solar and propane and collect rainwater.

When it comes to wind or solar power you have 2 questions to answer. First, how much are you trying to produce. You said, "help power my house?" In this case, any size you are comfortable purchasing and installing will help. If you want to run everything most of the time like we do, then you have some more math to do. The second question is, "Do I want a stand alone system that can operate without grid power, or just produce some power to dump into the grid." This is important. We had a stand alone system for years, meaning if we produced too much for our home and our batteries were full, then the rest was wasted. But it also means if the grid power goes down, we still have power. Grid tied systems need the grid to operate, they use it like a battery. They are less expensive and simpler to install, but cannot operate if the utility company has an outage, they simply shut down. There is a third type system just coming out, a hybrid. It has a battery bank, but ties to the grid at the same time. If the grid fails, it will power your home until the battery runs down. If you have wind or sun, this might be all week. These systems are the most expensive to purchase and operate, and more complicated than the other two, and are less efficient because they use some power keeping the batteries charged all the time.

For most people that want to get started, I recommend they build up a small system first and experiment with it. We did 11 years ago, it had one small panel, a 50 watt size, 4 golf cart batteries, and a 300 watt wind turbine from Southwest Windpower that was designed for a boat. Everything cost us $1,100 USD, and everything except the turbine is still operating today. We use the 12 volt power for kitchen lights, small electronics, like cell phone chargers and flashlights, and a radio and fan. There is a great magazine called Home Power that gets into doing all these things, and it doesn't cost much to subscribe. They even ran 2 articles on our home, one on our small system, and another on our full sized one several years later. If you subscribe, you can use their online search to look for those articles, search for, "Small System First." There are also some great websites, I will list some below.

As far as building your own wind turbine, it can certainly be done, but look for instructions first. And shy away from the vertical axis types, they look really cool and people say they are better because they can take wind from any direction. Wind only blows one way at a time, and the horizontal units have no problem with this because of thier tail. The real reason is because the vertical units are horribly inefficient. Generally they convert about 5 to 8 % of the incoming wind to electricity, horizontals run closer to 30%, this is why all the power companies are using the horizontal types. Check out Mick Sagrillos article about them in the AWEA website to learn more. Do some more reading, and if you can, get to one of the energy fairs listed in the back of Home Power, we did 12 years ago, and that is how we got here today. Good luck Chris, and take care, Rudydoo

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