'personal' wind mills

radioguy4everJanuary 25, 2007

hi all, new to this section of the forums...

my father in law is currently in the process of having commercial wind mills put on his property by horizon. horizon was pretty quick to decide to put them there because of the "wind tunnel". that got me and my wife thinking about when we build our house about a 1/2 mile from there. is there such a thing as a "personal" wind mill that would generate enough to power our entire house? what would the cost of someting like that be? 10-15k? i think that price would be worth not having an electric bill. what else would be involved with something like this in terms of maintainence? what if the wind doesnt blow? is it even worth our time to look into it?

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You can get wind generators in practically any size you want. If it's a good site for "them"; then it's a good site for you. There may be some restriction(s) on what you can do in the area => like putting up your own wind generator . . that interferes with the wind patterns THEY are trying to take advantage of . . . . you should also check local zoning / building codes for possible issues; though seemingly that has already been done . . . They also generate some very low frequency vibrations . . which while seemingly harmless; can affect / bother some people.

As far as when the wind doesn't blow . . . this may well depend upon your state and it's laws / regs regarding individual generation facilities. In New York; they HAVE to take back power you generate. So, when the wind DOES blow; anything you don't use gets you a credit => kWh for kWh ; aka net metering. When the wind DOESN'T blow; you take some back. You basically are using the grid as a storage bank . . . put into it when you can; take it out when you need it. How "well" it works out for you depends upon your size. There are also ( or at least were ) federal tax credits for such systems; many states also offer tax benefits and/or plain old incentives. If you DON'T stay on the grid; you're suckin' swampwater when the wind doesn't blow unless you've got some other means of generation . . .


    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 7:23PM
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There are a lot of much smaller wind generators out there. Lots of the cruising sailboats come into the harbor with them on the back of their boats. The smaller generators are a lot less expensive than the big ones, too. You could get an array of smaller ones which would be easier to install and if one goes down you'd still have some power coming into your system. At the moment we are on photovoltaic and are planning on adding one of these small windgenerators. Solardyne makes an "Air X" generator which is what we will probably get. It just seems much more manageable than a big tower.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 2:52PM
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I have been looking into this as well since I live at the top of a fairly windy hill. Depending on the constancy of winds in your area, which sounds good since some company is investing in utility-scale turbines, you might be able to go off-grid but you would need battery back-up for when the wind doesn't blow. You also have to consider the load you new house will require.

The turbines I have been looking at are VAWT's, (vertical axis) since they tend to be quieter. I have put a link to the PacWind turbines and you might want to look at the Windspire from Mariah Power as well. There are obviously many brands of standard horizontal axis turbines. Try to pick-up a copy of Home Power magazine or look on their website; they have articles on wind every issue. Good luck

Here is a link that might be useful: PacWind

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 8:33AM
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I recently read an informative article on individual or residential wind power. It summarized the recent progress in electrical generation from wind, and included some excellent resources from the Department of Energy's Wind Energy Program. I won't try and reiterate because the article does a nice job of that. I will say that electrical production through personal wind generation is becoming more and more of a reality for residential home owners.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wind Power In Your Backyard

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:27AM
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I would try to carefully place your wind mills so that you can both catch the wind and not hurt birds and migrating birds. Watch for awhile and see where the birds usually travel.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 9:30AM
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In this modern world where we are trying to find alternate sources of energy, it's interesting to note that over 100 years ago Thomas Edison proposed the use of personal windmills. "With a windmill coupled to a small electric generator [a rural inhabitant] could bottle up enough current to give him light at night." (Atlanta Constitution article, 1901.) In fact, an even earlier attempt at wind power was actually implmented by Charles Brush in Cleveland in 1888!

Plus ca change...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 12:05AM
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I'd love to have one! I could mount it on the side of my house and get plenty of power out of it. It wouldn't be anymore unsightly than the t.v. antennas and satellite dishes around here.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 12:30AM
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In the 30's Jacobs made the Cadillac in 32VDC wind generators and there haven't been better since. Even today scroungers will comb the southwest in search for derelict wind units and they still command a good price. They take them home and rebuild and return them good as new and will last decades more. They have the proportional weigh of the Cadillac as well built husky to take the elements. I think they go for 800lbs or so can't remember. No small feat getting them on the tower.

The generator doesn't power the house directly, but is used has a charging system for a row of batteries. The batteries need to be deep discharge tolerant so the Nicad batteries are used, but you could use lead car batteries but they would last a couple of years at most with the deep discharges. People scrounge the scrap yards for the forklift batteries and other machines where they are used.
These batteries are large and they are glass contained and liquid filled so are fragile.

The battery current needs to be coverted to 120VAC, so a converter is used for that. Converters themselves take up a small percentage of the battery current, and in the old days the percentage was sacrificially high, in the order of 25% and they were noisy and mostly mechanical. Today the fortunate shopper has a wide range of high efficient electronic converters at his disposal ranging up to 1700wattts or more. The electronic converters of old were meant for smaller applications and weren't robust like they are today. The power unit is kept in a small shack near the tower. DC voltage calls for the generator to be close to the batteries. From then on the converted AC can run to the house on a longer line. You can't run DC current on a long wire to the batteries without getting high voltage drops.

Power is from the wind and usually a wind speed of minimum 10MPH is recommended. I get that around here but I sure wish I had the winds of the maritimes!. Better still than wind is stream turbine hydro power. Better power regulation and easier to maintain. Here you have the conservation people to contend with. They consider people who make dams and electric power as only moderately advanced in intelligence than a pesky beaver blocking a turnpike culvert.Ha!

You can't expect the system to power the complete demands
of the house at one time. Current demanding appliances will need to be used sparcely. Electric heating is pretty well history and other sources of home heating will need to be substituted. Motors are more efficient these day but draw 4 to peek 9 amps depending on HP. One fridge and maybe a freezer is tops. You will need to calculate usage times for your house demands and use the battery resources sparingly.

As you can see hydro takes care of a lot of things that you would need to take over. If you decide an independant system it will be up to you to distribute demand and decide when to use how much power. Regulation will be in your hands, and you will need to become mechanically adept and a mechanical houdini/contortionist as well. Handling a wrench while holding on to the tower at 30ft in a wind is scary stuff, and it will happen too.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 8:21AM
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A point I read about, which will vary, but I thought was interesting.

To save on batterypower needed, pair solar energy with wind energy.

The idea is that when it is sunny out, solar provides the dominant energy, but during stormy and cloudy weather the windmill provides the most power, hopefully giving a more consistent electrical generation input.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 8:46PM
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I used to own an Export Company and I had several clients that OWNED THEIR OWN ISLANDS. Small, granted, but their island nevertheless. They all used wind power and batteries to store the juice. They of course did not have to contend with COLD weather in the islands. AND OF course they did not have A/C either, but they were as happy as pigs in the swill. All the fish and shellfish they wanted and eggs form their chickens and of course a garden.
I am looking into this and also water power for when I buy my small piece of land here in Carolina.

1eyedJack and the Dawg

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 5:56PM
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How can you determine if you have enough wind to make this worth while? I am in a suburb of Baltimore, MD and my gut says we don't have enough wind around here for something like this. Also, currently, we have almost everything in our house on gas (hot water, stove/oven, dryer). Electric is just the electricity and the a/c. Not sure it makes sense to spend too much to reduce the electricity right now.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 10:10AM
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Another consideration is how cost effective is a windmill? If one has to borrow $10,000-15,000, as was price quoted above, how long must you operate the windmill before you pay it off?

I calculated my $100 monthly bill, on average, and it would take me 8-9 years to pay off a $10,000 windmill. That's if I'm able to go completely off the grid.

I'm also curious about maintenance costs. Does anyone know about this? What's the lifespan of a windmill? I'm thinking of two in my area that no longer are in use. I'm wondering how the owners can afford to put them up and then allow them to be in disrepair.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Mushroom Factor

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 8:59AM
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I saw this in a Popular Mechanics Magazine last year and have been looking into putting one on my property. States Low noise and all electronics to convert to 120volt are self contained. If you connect to the electric grid, you need a Bi-Directional or reversing electric meter so if you generate more power than your using (At night) The electric company gives you credit. You can contact your local utility to see if there are rebates or incentive programs for equipment purchase.


Here is a link to the Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Map


Hope that helps,

Dan Martyn

Here is a link that might be useful: Sky Stream

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 11:47AM
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Radioguy, I am in the final phase of building a wind turbine and have tons of info I am willing to share.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 9:27PM
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