Small wind turbine buyers guide

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Wind generators can be the primary power source in a renewable energy system, providing you have a suitable site and select the right machine. Alicia Webb updates our guide from ReNew 89 to help you plan a successful wind power system.

As readers of ReNew magazine, we’re probably all of the opinion that renewable energy is a great way to power a home. And it is.

However, before rushing off to purchase a shiny new turbine, it’s worth considering a few very important factors such as the available wind resource and planning regulations. Putting a wind turbine in the wrong place can be a very costly mistake. As a basic guide, houses on the coast or on hills in flat, unpopulated rural land have good wind, and houses in urban areas away from the coast have less wind.

Getting a good estimate of wind resource is the most important step in ascertaining how much energy you’ll be able to get out of your turbine. The power available in the wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed. This means that if the wind speed doubles, the available power increases by a factor of eight. This cubic law also means that for low wind speeds, even if your turbine is turning, the power generated could be next to nothing. The other big issue is turbulence, which is rapid changes in wind speed and direction, caused by obstacles such as buildings, trees or land formations. A turbulent site will not only reduce the power output of a turbine, it will also significantly increase the wear and tear on the machine.

In this buyers guide we look at issues you need to address when purchasing a small wind turbine including; measuring your wind, power requirements, horizontal vs. vertical, turbine height and towers, overspeed control, regulation, voltage, net metering, inverters, maintenance and costs.

Read the full article in ReNew 100.