wind :: research

I’ve been monitoring the wind at our cabin for about two months now using an application called Seasonality on my iMac. There are periods where we get some solid 15+ mph wind that is more or less sustained for extended periods of time. Most of time (~80%) we have sustained wind above 5 mph.

Then again, wind is unpredictable…

The cabin sits on a maple ridge and in winter there is not much to obstruct the wind. The geography amplifies the wind surprisingly well (in winter at least). If there were a way to supplement our PV panels in winter it’s going to have to be wind powered. Adding more panels won’t make much of a difference when it’s overcast 9 out of 10 days in the winter. We can easily pull enough from the sun to power the LED security lights, but much more than that and we’re left with a deficit that only the generator can replace.

The Honda EU3000 is a magnificent machine. It’ll sip 3.5 gallons over 20+ hours on eco-throttle and idle down to 750 watts to conserve fuel. This is simply brilliant for charging batteries because our charger will push over 1300 W into batteries and then slowly drop. When we get to about 300 W we can cut the generator. When charging the batteries at night we can use the excess generated for lighting and TV or radio (about 250 to 300 W).

Unfortunately, while efficiency is highly desirable, we’re still burning through a resource with a variable price (that usually goes up).

S0… another list is in order.

The wind turbine criteria that need to be met:

  • quiet (it’s going to be with in 50 feet of the cabin)
  • power production starting at 5-8 mph
  • able to operate reliably in variable windspeed
  • able to operate reliably in turbulent wind (inconsistent heading)

Possible stumbling blocks:

  • manufacturer’s of wind turbines tend to be overly optimistic about the performance of their products
  • thorough product reviews (in which a turbine is evaluated in the real world – as opposed to in a lab/wind tunnel) may be challenging to find, but are necessary in order to evaluate a product prior to making the investment
  • the possibility of self-installation may be limited by the size/weight of some turbines, especially VWATs
  • due to the high initial investment required to install a turbine, a complex site evaluation should first be completed to assess the viability of successfully utilizing wind as an energy source

Right now the most promising turbine is the Honeywell WT6500 Wind Turbine. Here is a data sheet on the output capabilities: WT6500 output data. Another promising design is the vertical axis wind turbine (VWAT). I’ve discovered Windspire, but so far I haven’t found something that my Dad and I can install ourselves (something that our limited budget will likely require us to do). Another VWAT worth looking into is the 600 W or 1.2 kW Falcon from WePOWER.

I’m at the very beginning of my research. The Honeywell literature claims that it can put out around 50 watts at just 6 mph and over 300 at 15 mph. That would be perfect! But I’m worried that turbulence would hurt those numbers, and that a vertical turbine would be better suited for inconsistent wind with a variable heading.

One thing is for sure; winter is tough in the U.P. when you rely on the sun for electricity.

Some notes on my research techniques:

  1. first I attempt to find a product: exact product number and name if possible
  2. next I google that product and look for detailed product reviews – I save the best ones as web archive files

Product reviews can often help in two ways; first they help expand my knowledge of a given product, and secondly they can help identify comparable products. Often a reliable product reviewer will prove there credibility by offering comparisons to similar products. This practice of “credibility flexing” can then be exploited as a way to direct research from an initial product to an eventual best-fit product for the application.

 

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One thought on “wind :: research

  1. Becky Anderson

    Wow, this is really cool, Sam! I had no idea that you guys were so into the whole green energy thing. Dov and I have also discussed alternative energy resources for when we finally build our “dream” home, once we get more settled, and I’ve been intrigued by wind power myself, since we plan on having a sizeable amount of land. Thanks for the cool links- I will definately get some use out of them! And thank-you for the post/ blog- good reading!

    Reply

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