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Wind Power

Is Wind Power Right for You?

First, you must check to see if your location is suitable. If you are on a small lot you may be able to install a small system that will operate household appliances using an AC inverter.


Otherwise, if you are on at least an acre you can consider a system that will not only run your household, but also enable you to sell back surplus electricity to your local utility.

In either case you should have wind speeds of approximately 11 mph or more. The government publishes wind maps for most areas. Visit ncdc.noaa.gov to check your area.

Wind turbines, also called windmills or wind generators have been around for more than 2,000 years, often to draw water and operate machinery. They are very reliable and because they have few moving parts they do not require any regular maintenance. Many buyers are thinking about their retirement and can count on free electricity, or even making a little money for the rest of their life. The cost today varies from $5,000 - $20,000 depending on the size of the system and whether or not you do it yourself.

A large wind system is probably going to be 75-120 feet in height and comes with the wind turbine. The speed of the wind increases with altitude as there are fewer buildings, trees and other obstacles to interfere. The most cost-efficient tower is a guyed lattice tower, however a hinged tower may be easier to install and access in the case of maintenance.

The American Wind Energy Association suggests a wind turbine will lower your electricity bill by 50-90% and a total electric home can have utility costs of only $8-15 per month. They state, "Home use approximately 9,400 kilo-watt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. Depending upon the average wind speed in the area, a wind turbine rated in the range of 5 to 15 kilowatts would be required to make a significant contribution to meet this demand."

If you are planning to sell electricity back to the utility you should contact them in advance. The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 requires them to do so. You should not have to change any wiring in your home, however the utility company may add a meter to record the amount of electricity it purchases from you.

Glossary:

Wind turbine, wind generator, windmill - all used interchangeable to describe the overall system

Rotor blades - the 5 large fin-like metal pieces that are blown by the wind. Often made of PVC or similar material in smaller systems.

Shaft - As the rotor blades turn, they turn the shaft, that together collect kinetic energy from the wind.

Generator - Using the principle of electromagnetic induction, generators cause magnets to rotate around a conductor and create electricity.
For some systems you may also need a DC Motor, Charge Controller, Battery Pack and AC inverter.

In some ways obtaining electricity from wind power is easy and a great way to cut long term costs, however a good illustrated manual is very useful. We recommend a guide by Earth4Energy.com which at $49.97 is a great value.


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