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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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site requirements for Wind Energy Systems

The first question that should always be asked when choosing a site is "Does it have enough wind?".  Fortunately this is a question that is fairly easy to answer.  Wind maps which show both annual and seasonal wind speeds are available from a variety of sources including the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the American Wind Energy Association and Wind Powering America.  These maps can help you determine if wind speeds in your area are strong enough to justify investing in a wind system. To get more information on maps for your locale click on Wind Maps in our menu.

If you are hesitant to rely just on generic government data or if data in your location is somewhat limited, another approach is to actually take wind readings at your site yourself using a recording anemometer.  Anemometers are small and simple devices.  A number of the newer units are digital hand held recorders which allow you to easily check wind conditions in different parts of your property.  The anemometers aren't hard to set up and many can record not only wind speed but temperature and humidity as well. If your schedule allows you may wish to take recordings at different times of the year in order to get a complete picture of how the wind changes at your location by season. Most portable digital anemometers cost between $200 to $500 and are available over the Web.

Another major consideration when selecting a site is the proximity of the wind tower to your home or business.  In most cases you don't want the wind tower attached to the building itself because of both noise and structural vibration considerations.  However, if the tower is too far away then you could incur significant costs in running a power line from the tower to your house where the electric meter is or, if you are off the grid, to where your batteries are stored.  That tower on the hill may sound nice but if the hill is two miles away you might find that it will cost you more to run the line then to have put up the tower in the first place.

Terrain is another consideration.  If you live in a hilly area it is good to take advantage of hills in order to gain additional height for your tower.  In particular, take care to avoid locations where you are on the leeward (sheltered) side of a hill since it would cut off the wind. Don't just consider existing obstacles. If you are putting up the tower prior to building a residence, consider the impact the home itself will have on wind patterns. Also take into consideration any locations where you may be planning to put up trees which could block the wind.

Never underestimate the impact even a small reduction in wind velocity will have on your ability to generate power.  Wind power increases exponentially relative to speed (V3).  A site with an annual average wind speed of about 12.6 miles per hour (5.6 meters per second), has twice the energy available as a site with a 10 mile per hour (4.5 meter per second) average.

Even if you have what appears to be a perfect site for wind power, you should always check state and local regulations before investing money in a wind energy solution.  Take the time to research local zoning requirements.  Many communities have put up strong restrictions on the height of structures.  Wind turbines perform better the higher they are placed but you may find that a 75 or 100 foot tower may violate local zoning requirements. For more information on the impact of regulations check out the Government Regulations section on our menu. 

Also be considerate of your neighbors, particularly if they live close to where you are thinking of placing your wind tower.  People can get awfully fussy about having their views block and what might seem like a trivial view issue to you may be a very big issue for them.  Talk to your neighbors before proceeding, and if there is a local community group for your housing area make sure you get their input as well.  Your neighbors might object to a wind machine that blocks their view, or they might be concerned about noise.

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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