Mini Wind Turbines

Mini or micro wind turbines (makes no odds) we are talking about those that specify between 50w and 2000w available in 12v form right up to 48v types, i myself use Ista Breeze i500 12v that cost a whopping £250 to setup, now i never expected much from it but from my point of view the outlay was worth it, when solar goes through it’s ‘bad stage’ namely autumn and winter, we generally get windy, wet days and 24 hours of it! So all i wanted was something to stay on top of my battery bank charging when solar was poor, the i500 is rated at around 450w and 25amp @18v the best i have seen is just over 300w but the point is, day and night as the wind blew my battery bank was charging! Having said that, i have also tried a cheap Chinese 300w turbine which produced nothing even though it got up to speed in a lot less wind, which sort of proves a point of don’t buy cheap!

What they can do:

Micro wind turbines are a bit problematic and need a good source of wind to generate any substantial amounts of power. This makes them the perfect solution for providing power in remote locations where no connection to a main power grid is available or solar doesn’t quite cut it. As humans we have an ever increasing list of electrical consuming equipment that needs to be fitted and used in places where there is no access to a mains electric. Remote dwellings, security equipment, water pumping, amenity lighting, just to mention a few. Currently these ‘off-grid’ systems may be powered by solar or diesel generators that require a constant supply of fuel (sun for solar) that needs to be transported to the site in large amounts. Not an easy task even before we consider the rapid rising cost of fuel and all of the other problems associated with diesel generators (another story).

A micro wind turbine system can be installed at a relatively low cost and can provide free clean power all day every day. Due to the location of remote sites the wind speed associated are usually good or excellent meaning that wind turbines have an abundant amount of free energy, namely wind. Small wind turbines in off-grid applications often work alongside solar panels to create a remote power system that can provide power whatever the weather. Obviously solar panels will not generate anything at night or during low light conditions, but a small wind turbine has the capability of providing power to the system day and night. This means that the two combined work together very well to provide you with electricity where there otherwise would have been none!

Payback periods on a system like this can be exceptionally quick when you compare it to the alternatives of paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to connect to the main grid or having the high operating costs of diesel generators and even the fitment and outlay (initial costs) of solar panels!

What they can’t do:

Small wind turbines have received something of a slating over the years mainly due to the fitment being in totally unsuitable locations. The amount of people wishing to be ‘off grid’ in recent years has seen a noticeable increase in purchases (mainly China) and the fitment of all sort’s of weird and wonderful turbines on balconies, roofs etc.

The truth is of course that there is precious little ‘high enough wind speed’ available in most areas where these turbines have been fitted, so the basic’s is they make next to nothing and certainly will not keep your house going all by themselves, on the other hand, if you consider your site well enough and just need them to charge a battery bank when solar isn’t available then the cost speaks for itself and so long as you don’t buy cheap rubbish then they should work straight from the box.

The main thing to remember is these turbines cannot produce energy from nothing. Wind is crucial for any type wind generator (an obvious thing but missed by so many) so if you have mild constant breeze you are not going to be able to benefit at all. A constant shore breeze would be a different story!

New concept vertical axis turbines (the type that stand vertically rather than a propeller following the wind), are clearly a favorite for reasons of noise and space etc. They are also supposed to be more efficient given the fact that they will spin regardless of wind direction and not have to ‘face into the wind’ like traditional turbines. However this is mostly crap, it is true that a vertical axis turbine does not need to turn into the wind and are quieter but the simple fact’s are they convert between 3 – 10% of power, a traditional turbine (propeller type) makes between 25 – 35% of power available.

So if you live in a town/city with mostly buildings around then solar panels are your way forward and not wind turbines 🙁 sorry!

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