4 proven pointers when setting up a wind turbine

July 29, 2015

If you live in a windy area, harnessing that force of nature is a great way to reduce energy costs. Keep these pointers in mind when getting started.

4 proven pointers when setting up a wind turbine

1. Battery location

Keep in mind how far your battery bank will be from the wind turbine when planning a wind-electric system. The further away the generator is from the batteries, the higher the voltage losses in your wiring. Choose a higher voltage, such as 48 or 110 volts, if the battery bank is some distance from the turbine.

2. Siting a wind turbine

In a valley:
Place the turbine at a distance equal to at least ten times the height of any nearby obstacles to ensure a clear approach for the wind. Nearby obstacles can interfere with a wind turbine's efficiency, decreasing power output and putting stress on the turbine. Another option is to mount the generator on a tower that is twice the height of the obstacle.

In hilly areas:
Hilltops are the best sites, hillsides are the poorest, while valley floors can be useful provided the prevailing wind travels up and down the valley.  Hill crests with long sloping approaches are good sites because wind accelerates over the top of a hill (hills with sharp bluffs are not desirable because of the turbulence they produce).

3. Height is an advantage

The height of a wind turbine above the ground makes a big difference in power output because wind speed in general increases with altitude. Wind turbines­ respond in an exaggerated fashion to small changes in wind speed so you want to take advantage of that. A turbine that generates 100 kilowatt hours per month on a three metre (10 foot) tower, for instance, will generate 240 kilowatt hours over the same period on a 25 metre (80 foot) tower.

4. Finding the turbine to suit your power needs

A manufacturer's power output graph will tell you much about a wind turbine's­ suitability. Find the average wind speed at your site on the left-hand axis of the graph, then multiply this figure­ by the number of hours you expect this speed to be maintained. This figure tells you how much power, in watt-hours, the turbine will produce at your location. You then have to compare that figure with the estimated amount of electricity you need to power your house. Note that these calculations will give you a rough estimate only. Many retailers use a special computer­ program to help them arrive at an accurate figure.

Thinking about where you're going to place the turbine and which turbine is best for your needs will make it easier to get the most benefit from going to a greener energy source like wind power.

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