Installing a Wind Turbine to Help Planet Earth
With the ever-rising price of electricity and the growing concerns about the environment, many consumers are looking for alternative ways of reducing their power consumption and their monthly bills. There are several technologies that offer very effective, environmentally friendly ways to help generate electricity for your home and help the planet. Wind turbines are one class of product that allows the average consumer to take advantage of naturally occurring forces and convert them to useful energy to lower their bills. Even a small wind turbine can have a major impact on your monthly cost for power and is easy to install and operate. It also runs quietly and unlike solar power will continue to generate power long after the sun has set.
Wind turbine technology has been in use since around 200 B.C. starting in Persia, and has evolved considerably since its early days. Initially wind turbine technology was applied to windmills that were used to bring water up from a well, or for the grinding of grain. These early applications had blades that were made of wood and covered in cloth to aid in catching the wind. The challenge was that they need to be placed in an open space to gain the most benefit of the rushing wind and because of their construction were generally low structures and did not catch all of the wind available. Another problem for these early creations was that they were in a fixed position and could not adjust to the changing direction of the wind, thereby reducing their efficiency even further as the wind shifted. Even with these drawbacks they were a very novel approach to generating power with a little help from nature. As the technology matured over the years, these wind turbines were modified to accomplish a number of tasks including improvements to grinding grain, water pumping, and eventually electrical generation. The first wind turbine used to generate electricity was developed in Scotland in 1887 and used to charge a series of batteries. Electrical producing wind turbines were introduced into the United States a year later, and the very first one was installed in Cleveland in 1888. These early models were fairly crude examples, but illustrated that power could be generated by the gentle blowing of the wind. In the years since they have been constantly improved upon and are a very cost effective way to generate power for your home.
When considering a wind turbine, there are a few details you need to sort out before you begin. First, there are a number of companies that sell kits for various styles and sizes of wind turbines and you need to determine the proper model to
install to meet both your location conditions and your power needs. There are also a number of vendors that will sell you plans to construct a very cool wind turbine from some basic parts and really save you some money. The thing to remember is that even though you are helping the environment by generating your own power and reducing the amount of fossil fuels used, you may also be doing the project to help offset your power bills. Saving all you can during the installation means that you are that much closer to recovering your costs. Some important considerations when you are deciding on the right wind turbine for your needs involve the size of lot you have, how high you are going to mount the unit, and what your budget is for the project. Also, before you begin, check with your local power company and township to make sure you are aware of any restrictions or guidelines and details of how you can connect the unit to your home electrical system. Some municipalities will have very clear guidelines on the installation of wind turbines and others will rely on national standards. The good news is that all of the states are in favor of you installing this type of equipment and will usually be happy to help with the process. Because of recent federal legislation, power utilities are required to assist in the connection of a wind turbine system to your home and it’s incorporation into the electrical grid.
Most wind turbines are free standing and are mounted on a tower. Depending on your elevation, this tower can vary quite a bit in height and usually is between 50 – 120 feet in size. It also needs to be just above the tree line to guarantee your unimpeded access to a consistent breeze. You also need to make sure that the wind turbine will be able to swing in a circular arc to adjust to changing wind conditions. Other than that you are free to locate it wherever you wish, just remember that you will need to connect it to your home so try and pick a location that won’t require you to run excessive amounts of cable over long distances. The wind turbines themselves come in various sizes and you should select one that provides the right amount of power for your needs. The average house requires about 800 kWh of electricity per month and depending on wind speed and location the smaller wind turbines can generate between 5 – 15 kW and have a very nice impact on lowering your utility costs.
Connecting the wind turbine up to your home is a fairly easy process, but should be done by a licensed electrician so that you meet the local electrical codes. The connection is done through a device that allows you to switch between local power and your wind turbine. If the wind turbine is generating power, your home will use that power first and if there is an excess, you can actually sell it back to your local utility at prevailing rates. In periods of low wind, you would use your
local utility to supply the power for your home and this switching device would handle the crossover and guarantee a seamless transition between the two. The idea here is that you would generate enough extra power during periods when the wind turbine was spinning to offset the periods when it was idle and you were buying your power. This process would allow you to become utility neutral if you had the type of location that supplied a consistent wind.
The other thing to consider is that you have the option of using a wind turbine as a stand-alone alternative to your local utility or combine it with a solar panel system to generate even more power. There are folks that have good locations for both that are actually exceeding their power requirements each year and making a tidy profit by selling the excess power they are generating back to the utility. The cost of a system can vary due to factors like size and location, but an average system will run $6,000 - $20,000 depending on how much power it generates. This means that the average return on investment for a wind turbine is about 6 – 8 years before it pays for itself. These systems require very little attention once they are installed and will operate for 20 years or more with very little trouble. Another thing that makes this an attractive alternative to buying power is the fact that both local and federal grants and low interest loans may be available to help with the purchase and installation of a wind turbine system. In some cases, this can help offset between 50% and 90% of the cost.
Considering all of the advantages of installing a wind turbine system, you can see why they are becoming so popular. They help offset your local utility bills while helping the environment. It means you’ll need to purchase less power from the utility company, which in turns means they will burn less fossil fuel to generate it and create less greenhouse gases as well. It seems like the perfect solution for most homeowners and is a great investment.