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Wind Energy

In this section you can find information on residential wind turbine systems.  This section provides detailed information on the equipment you need to harness wind energy and the requirements for wind energy sites. 


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Overview of Wind Energy

Wind energy has been a tradition in the United States going back to the 1800's and in Europe back to the 12th century.  Many of our cherished images of the great plains and western United States are replete with images of windmills being used to irrigate and pump water.  The use of windmills for generating electricity began in Cleveland in 1888 and by 1908 there were 72 windmills being used to create electricity. 

Today advances in the design of modern wind turbines are leading to a great revival in the use of wind energy. Wind energy is not limited to the giant wind farms that are sprouting up on hillsides around the world.  There have been tremendous strides in the efficiency of small wind turbines so that nearly anyone with an acre of land can take advantage of this free energy source.  In fact, the number of people with that potential is greater than many think.  According to the US Department of Energy, 21 million homes in the U.S. are built on one or more acres of land. 

Not every location is right for wind energy.  Most urban areas, for example, lack the acreage needed for windmills.  Moreover, in urban areas the obstructions created by buildings cause the wind to be much too turbulent for use in wind generation. Zoning and housing regulations can also impede the use of windmills even in suburban and rural areas where there is enough space.  Finally, not all areas of the world have enough wind to make wind turbines practical, though this limitation may be less than many people think. There are now many micro-turbines which have been specifically designed to work in low wind conditions. Tower height also makes a big difference.   The wind gets both higher and more stable as you move up and 100 to 120 foot towers can capture a surprising amount of wind even when the breeze at ground level is fairly mild. 

According to the American Wind energy Association you need an average annual ground speed of between 7 to 9 miles per hour of wind speed at ground level in order to make effective use of wind energy. The key thing to keep in mind is that this refers to an average wind speed not a constant wind speed.  As we all know wind is highly variable and if the wind blows only part of the time, but blows strong when it does, your average wind speed could be quite good. The best way to find out if there is enough wind in your location is to consult a regional wind map.  You can find the latest wind maps at http://www.nrel.gov/gis/wind.html.  Even more detail on wind maps can be found in our Wind Maps section on this site.

In this section you can find out specific details on small wind turbines and the wind towers that support them.  If you wish to do an in depth study of this topic we recommend you look at the Resources section where you can find listings of books, magazines and articles about wind energy systems.  Also, you might want to consider joining one of the many organizations who support this approach to energy generation.  You can find out about them by looking in our Organizations section.  Perhaps it is time you began to go with the wind. 

Special Feature
The wind energy field is rapidly maturing and becoming a major source of energy for a growing population. To see a perfect example of this check out our  new feature: The Evolution of Wind Energy in the Tehachapis. The Tehachapi mountains are one of the windiest areas in the U.S. and wind power has been established there for over 30 years. Learn how succeeding generations of wind technology have helped this area become one of the country's top energy producers.
New Products
400 Watt Wind Turbine

The Sunforce  400 Watt Wind Generator uses wind to generate power and run your appliances and electronics. Constructed from lightweight, weatherproof cast aluminum, this generator is also a great choice for powering pumps or charging batteries for large power demands. With a maximum power up to 400 watts or 27 amps, this device features a fully integrated regulator that automatically shuts down when the batteries are completely charged. The 44444 is virtually maintenance free with only two moving parts, and the carbon fiber composite blades ensure low wind noise while the patented high wind over speed technology guarantees a smooth, clean charge. Assembly is required, but this generator installs easily and mounts to any sturdy pole, building, or the Sunforce 44455 Wind Generator 30-Foot Tower Kit. The 44444 uses a 12-volt battery (not included) and measures 15 x 9 x 27 inches (WxHxD).

Wind Factbook
The first windmill for electricity production was built in Cleveland, Ohio by Charles F. Brush in 1888.  By 1908 there were 72 wind-driven electric generators from 5 kW to 25 kW. The largest machines were on 24 m (79 ft) towers with four-bladed 23 m (75 ft) diameter rotors.
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