Home Wind Turbine: Where, how big; how much energy to expect

This wind turbine charges a 12 V battery to ru...
Image via Wikipedia

In principle, home wind turbines of an appropriate size can, or at least should be allowed to be installed anywhere; at the home, on the farm, in your rural garden, by your caravan, on your boat. In reality, of course the story is different! Restrictions do apply in some sense to all of these and other applications.  You may be allowed to install a 5 – 10 Kw turbine on a farm, but certainly not in you back garden. In fact if your back garden is in a housing estate, you will probably be allowed no more than a mini turbine – at a push. So DIY wind power is not always as simple as it sounds as sometimes the application mechanism and associated ‘red tape’ can be more exhausting than the installation.

Further, as is the case in some countries, you may not be allowed to install a larger wind turbine on a DIY basis. You will be required to have an officially accredited supplier and installer. Also most governments want to have some control over our energy supply; and to take any credit for going renewable. Thus, we have the incredible escalation in the development of wind farms. The truth is that whilst on the surface, officialdom won’t be publically seen to discredit your quest for clean energy it still does not want you to be independent of the ‘system’. The national grid wants you tied to it! Yes, the apparent story behind the restrictions is often more than the real story behind the restrictions.

So what size turbine are we likely to be allowed to put, where, and how much is it likely to cost? One or more Bergey XL.1, 1 kilowatt turbines is a good choice for a DIY wind power project on a farm, to supply outhouses, barns etc with power. The turbine will cost about $3,000 inc. controller. Then of course you have the additional costs for your tower, batteries and ancillary equipment, which could almost double your outlay, especially if a quality inverter is involved.

Wind turbines are most at home in rural areas and that is where they are needed most. Residential areas are not really suitable.  A ‘residential’ wind turbine of any useful size will be seen as invasive and in the unlikely event of your being allowed to have one your neighbours are unlikely to accept it.  In any case this is the niche that the ‘rooftop solar’ companies are addressing and this make more sense – if it wasn’t for the fact that they are trying to tie you to the grid in doing so!

If you want to power a country home, again a minimum requirement would probably be a pair of Bergey XL.1 turbines working in tandem. But remember that certain technical / economic restrictions still apply. For example, for cost-effectiveness home heating should be provided by another source. Equally standard air-conditioning units should be counted out; and to further enhance you cost effectiveness, cooking ideally should be done by gas. So, carefully evaluating your needs, and working towards optimum energy efficiency is directly related to keeping you system cost down, and you sense of satisfaction up.

But then what about the days when the wind doesn’t blow?

My own favourite system is at a medium sized farm house, one that I had some involvement in, in Ireland. Cooking is done with gas, heating by two wood and peat fired stoves, (in turn feeding four radiators) and ‘air conditioning’ provided by open windows and the occasional use of fans.

So, all lighting, refrigeration, small workshop appliances (occasional use) radio/music system, TV/DVD (2-3 times a week), some kitchen appliances, ironing (1 hour per week) etc. is covered by a DIY wind power system, incorporating three ‘Air Breeze’ wind turbines rated at 500 watts total, backed by a solar array of 500 watts. So, the owners have a potential rated output of just 1 kilowatt, which generally gives them 2-3 kilowatt hours per day – more than enough to cover their requirements, and incidental needs that may crop up.

The system was easy to install and works perfectly!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tags: ,