The vast majorities of these “informational” articles are actually marketing articles that are written for the sole purpose of promoting e books through linking and appear to be authored by individuals with little or no wind power experience. Take for example the earth for energy folk who link to everything and regularly give the consumer terrible advise relating to building a wind generator. In our opinion these are the things you need to be concerned about when constructing a wind generator. As you know the major part of the wind generator are the Rotor or blades, generator, mount, tale, and slip ring. Depending on you ask the Rotor / blades and generator are the most important decisions to make when collecting parts for your project. A wrong decision on either will make for an unsuccessful project.
My first major principle to consider when collecting components for your turbine is service life. How long will the wind generator last? To be cost effective I would not even consider building a turbine that I expected to last for less than 10 years. A more desirable goal is a 15 – 20 year service life. Second factor I take a hard look at is maintenance. Once you mount a wind generator how often do you really want to raise and lower it? For me once I raise a turbine I think it is reasonable to bring it down once a year to check connections grease parts and do any repainting needed. Choose the wrong materials and you will find that it is much more like a weekly event.
With those considerations in mind what materials would you choose? Rotors are being constructed out of plastic, pcv, pipe, wood, fiberglass, and aluminum. I am sure I am missing others but for me this is a simple choice. I have seen “experts” in this field, advocate building blades out of wood. Lets consider this a moment. I have not had a deck or picnic table last more than about 10 years without refinishing the materials regularly. It never seemed like a great idea to build a turbine blade out of wood to me. The material does not offer much in the way of flexibility and seems to be a safety issue when putting wooden blades under the forces exerted on a turbine rotor. I am not going to say much here concerning the use of pcv pipe and plastic in a blade system. Anyone seriously considering building a rotor and applying common sense can conclude this is not a good idea. , as only on e bay and e marketing booklets does that seem “smart”. I Carbon and fiber blades often dry crack and have short life spans when placed in the elements. Most reputable wind generator builders have gone to aircraft grade aluminum as their material of choice.
The generator is a huge decision for any turbine project with the wrong decision dooming the finished project. Much misinformation has been circulated concerning using different units as donor units in wind generators. Generally speaking the expenditures DIY wind generators builders have made on dc motors have been a disaster. The ametek line as well as many other generators such as treadmill motors, and everything else under the sun just don’t get the job done. These motors were never intended to serve as generators in most cases. DC motors are marketed as “wind generator motors” in many cases do not produce voltage with low enough rpm to charge a battery bank. Motors are burning up as the windings are too small to work as a generator in the application they are being used. Builders are encasing the dc motors in PCV to weatherproof the motors compounding the failure issues related to overheating
The forces and yawing that exist with a wind turbine can cause bearing failure if a product is used not designed to be employed in such an application. A quality generator head is a must for a DIY wind generator. It is important to select a brushless generator as often DC motors have brushes, many of which are obsolete and no longer made. This should be a paramount concern before buying the bargain” surplus” DC motor. In many cases once the brushes are worn out replacements will be next to impossible to locate. The majority of quality generators that make good candidates for projects are 3 phase ac however a wide variety exists and caution should be exercised when selecting a product. Be sure to do your research and buy from a reputable vendor.
The body, tail and slip rings are fairly straightforward. We will address the nuances in future articles. One concern with slip rings I would mention though is it seems a lot of new products with exposed rings are showing up on different sites. Stay away from these as customers are reporting failure soon after these are installed. Building wind generators is a rewarding and energy efficient project if done correctly with quality components. A lot of misinformation however has painted an over to simplified view of what is involved and what should be used to construct a wind generator. This is not speculation or conjecture but based on experience from serving my customer daily.
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Article Added on Thursday, February 4, 2010
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