Windmill Bashing

SystemSystem Posts: 2,511 admin
I see a lot of Windmill bashing here, but no recommendations about such and such is a good windmill. So I guess I'll assume there aren't any for the low end consumer market and everything realiable is commerical. Am I wrong in this assumption?

One of the things I've been thinking about is anything with moving parts will require maintanence from time to time. And renting a crane everytime you want to oil the gears on your windmill isn't cost effective. So I was thinking perhaps there was a way to build a retractable tower. Something with ten foot segments with teeth on each segment and a hand crank gear that when you turn it the segments either extend or retract based on the direction your turning. You could then set you tower lines to secure the tower all around it. As the tower extends these lines will be pulled tight or loosen up as your retracting.

That's my basic idea, it may need a little ironing out, but I believe the basic idea is sound. Like, No one gonna want to hand crank a 120 foot tower up or down, so the hand crank could be replaced with an electric motor to do the cranking. It will just have to turn slow enough so you could keep the securing wires out of the way of the retracting / extending tower.

Another thought is to have the windmill blades at the top of the windmill and have it turn a chain and the actual power generation would be performed at the base of the tower. Or have a fixed tower, but have a powered gear on the windmill with a hole in the middle of the it, where the tower fit into and you could have to climb your tower on up and down demand. (so long as the powered gear continues to work)

If you were able to easily access the windmill / power generation equipment, monthly or bi-monthly maintanence for your windmill would be a snap. Also repairs / modifications / replacement could be preformed. While it may cost more upfront costs, I think in the long run it will save you money.

Any thoughts?
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Comments

  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,108Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    There are extendable towers out there Rhone (sp) used to make on that extended from ~20' to ~60'. Often you can buy them used from Ham Radio guys.

    IMHO, I agree with your basic statement about small scale wind being a loser. After reading here and other evidence, there are very few people who are very happy after a few years. Between misjudging the wind potential, poor hardware, on going maintenence, it seems it is not for the faint of heart, (or wallet) If you love to tinker and know what you are in for then you may be the exception. I know I'm not!

    Tony
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    It would be nice if there was a gennie worth buying from the major manufacturers. But time and again, the turbines don't produce what their sales lit and power curves claim. I mean, this is not a once in a while occurence. Every time you see the "latest and greatest" turbine being rolled out to great fanfare, cheerleaders, and marching bands and then guess what? It doesn't deliver, it has serious problems they didn't work our before release, and just is not what they said it would be in any way-shape-form. Then you have the Chinese Fortune Cookie. That's the genny you get that you crack that puppy open and it says "Made in China". Or assembled in USA from Chinese parts, as if that's an improvement.

    The major manufacturers just don't sem interested in making a QUALITY product. They want to slap something together and get it on the market quick. Hey, anyone ever heard of the Southwest Windpower Whisper Link? Yeah, a year of so before they rolled out Skystream, they had this other grid-tie genny called Whisper Link. It was a Whisper 200 with a grid tie inverter and controller. And where is it now? Discontinued. Same with the Whisper 500 Grid Tie from what I hear. What good was that to the wind industry to roll out a genny you're going to yank off the market in another year?!

    Then you've got companies like Four Seasons bringing in complete garbage. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to say, "Yeah, a good genny is such-and-such" but can't in good conscience do that because there isn't one that I know of from the major manufacturers. It looks like they just don't learn the lessons from their own pasts. They just keep making the same mistakes and expecting different results each time.
  • WisJimWisJim Posts: 59Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    Proven and ARE make good reliable machines in the 2.5kw size, but they aren't cheap. My 1940s vintage 2.5kw Jacobs is running fine, after it was rebuilt in 1978 or so before I started using it, and then we replace the blades in 1998 when we moved, took it down, and reinstalled it. The Proven and ARE machines should have similar longevity. Some other bigger machines are well built, too.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,686Super Moderators admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    Jacobs is not a name I have heard here before--Looks like this is the dealer/manufacturer for Jacobs.

    http://www.windturbine.net/products.htm

    Interesting design... Alternator is below in tower and uses a hypoid transmission from the blades to the alternator below. Also uses feathering for high wind protection--another good thing. May also turn sideways to the wind if the alternator becomes unloaded (or excessive wind).

    Looks likes this has potential for a long lasting wind turbine.

    Jim, do you have any production figures for your system (kWhrs / day / month / year) and how do those relate to the wind charts for your area...

    How much servicing does your system require (yearly lubrication or what)? Can you do that by climbing the tower or do you have to take the system down (self supporting jib crane or do you have to rent a crane)?

    Is your system similar to the one on the link I posted? What is the generator design... Seems like from the 1940's it would be a brushed DC type--has it been upgraded to a alternator with slip rings or a permanent magnet alternator?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • dlenoxdlenox Posts: 42Solar Expert
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    TechGromit,

    I *made* my 17' diameter wind turbine!

    My tower is a 70' tall lattice (no guy wires), I built what is called a davit crane and a telescoping stub at the top. The stub extends/retracts about 9' which brings the turbine down to me (at the top of the tower that is).

    I use the davit crane for raising and lowering objects to the top of the tower.

    The initial raising used a commercial crane (~$1900). I may have been able to lift individual sections, but opted for the easier method to erect the tower. I do know others that did it them selves and made a device to help lift each individual section and place it. But I wouldn't advise that.

    I have chronicled the build on my website: http://www.briery.com/wind_turbine

    Still sorting out some small issues but last week I was getting 1100watts out of it in a 16mph wind. Eventially I may be able to get about 1400-1500 watts at that wind speed.

    Dan Lenox
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 7,792Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing
    dlenox wrote: »
    I have chronicled the build on my website: http://www.briery.com/wind_turbine

    drool ! Looks good. Thanks
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,686Super Moderators admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    And what have you seen in kWhrs per month/year?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    bb is right as you need particulars to be given. have you something inline to measure the power produced per month?
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    A very informative and damning piece of information regarding the Skystream.
    The microphone does not lie and I would be royally pissed if I had to listen to that crap anytime it got windy. You would think Southwest would have tested this thing properly before dumping it on unsuspecting owners and their neighbors. Another unfortunate example of wind getting a bad name.

    Kim
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    Yeah, so much for that "near silent operation" their sales pamphlets talk about. Again, if they really had tested this gennie, I mean REALLY tested it, all these problems would have come out in the testing and been fixed BEFORE releasing it for sale. You can bet someday some noisy gennies will create lawsuits and/or restraining orders that compel some town halls to pass zoning laws forbidding small wind. Then the manufacturers will whine and cry that local governments "hate small wind" when the fact is, its the manufacturers' own faults for the backlash. Some time back, about a year or so, there was another new story back east, New Jersey I think, about a noisy Skystream. In fact, here's the article. Seems a year later, Southwest Windpower didn't fix the noise problem

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/11/nyregion/11windmill.html?fta=y

    To the point, that's what makes it so hard to suggest small wind. The manufacturers just don't seem interested in doing their homework and getting quality out there. I mean, look, a year goes by and they don't fix problems.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,686Super Moderators admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    Boy, that NYTimes article certainly buries the lead...
    Tired of paying as much as $340 per month for gas and electricity at the Cape Cod home here where he has lived for 18 months, Michael Mercurio erected a 35-foot windmill in his backyard last fall that helped reduce his bill to about $114 — a year.
    ...
    ...(Mr. Mercurio already has 56 solar panels on his home.)
    ...
    The windmill, which generates about two kilowatts of power, can provide about a quarter of the energy Mr. Mercurio needs. The other 75 percent is generated by solar power.
    So--the turbine is 25% of his power needs... I can see why neighbors may not want a noisy turbine casting strobing shadows in their back yard.

    But, there may be a reason why Mr. Mercurio is pushing the subject...
    “It just makes sense,” said Mr. Mercurio, who is 61 and runs a company selling and installing windmills. “This is a clean, renewable source of energy.”
    You can see a video news report of Mr. Mercurio--gives a good idea of the neighborhood.

    Spent ~$15,000 for wind turbine and 1/4 of power bill... And $24,000 (rebates?) for solar panels and 3/4 of power bill...

    From the raw video (just let the video run)--he has a 1/6th acre lot and SWWP recommends 1/2 acre minimum (from township office?).

    Turbine certainly looks like it is in a poor location--35' tower among 20+' tall buildings...

    Sure would be interesting to find out how much power his turbine really outputs over time.

    Many of the blogs taking up the cause have focused on first paragraph and have left the implication that one wind turbine has given him a $4,080 per year power bill to $114 per year--and never mention the front of the home is plastered with ~28 solar panels--even though it is obvious from the photographs/video (NY Time article says 56--don't know if he has more on the back side of the home, or perhaps, the system is 5.6kW rated???)...

    I would be very interested to find out how much power he has generated with the wind turbine--I don't think it is anywhere near as much as has been implied by all of these articles/blogs.

    If he saves 22,000 lbs of CO2 per year (from video link)--and you assume somewhere around 1-2 lbs / kWhr of electricity, he would have been using 10-20,000 kWhrs per year (don't know if electric hot-water/heating or not--has natural gas for cooking--so should have NG heating)--Hmmmm... Just to many unknowns to go much farther in estimating actual power generation/usage...

    In the end--I wonder if the wind turbine is turning out only 100 kWhrs per month--and the solar panels + conservation has accounted for the other 90% of his energy savings. All of this over possibly $10-$20 per month of lost electricity generation from this turbine...

    This wind turbine installation may just be a "tempest in a teapot"... Every one (except the turbine owner) would be happy if this thing just went away.... Of course, if the Skystream operates with its usual reliability--it may be gone in a year or three on its own anyway (failures/high maintenance costs/etc.).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • WisJimWisJim Posts: 59Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    From what I have learned from other sources about Mike M's New Jersey installation, it is on such as short tower because it is a VERY windy site. It might be that the neighbors are offended by anything out of the ordinary, and if I recall right, it is just one neighbor that is being a pain in the behind about it all. The noise from the Skystreams is often mostly electronic noise which can be amplified by the monopole tower (solved by filling the tower with foam insulation).

    On th eother hand, experience made me doubtful about the Skystream when I found that it was a Southwest Windpower product, and I haven't heard anything about them that changes my opinion.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    This is Kim signing off for good. I never was a big fan of blogs and such. The only thing to write about small wind, in my opinion, is its failure to produce as advertised and the shoddy products that are available, so I am going to refrain from anymore posts. Good luck to everyone and your endeavors.

    Kim
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    Well, hate to see ya go, but can't blame ya at the same time. Lots of us have been waiting for years for a decent gennie to hit the market and we're still waiting. All the time the top manufacturers roll out the "new improveds" and turns out the genny is nowhere near even halfway reliable. I try to give folks the reality of the situation the best I know, but some folks are going to learn the hard way with their genny filling their lives with stress and headaches from multiple failures. Best of luck to ya!
  • crewzercrewzer Posts: 1,832Registered Users, Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    It might be worth keeping an eye on this combination, which I recently saw demonstrated at MREF in WI and at SolarFest in VT:

    http://www.chinookturbines.com/
    http://www.midnitewind.com

    Regards,
    Jim / crewzer
  • boBboB Posts: 951Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    And also, OutBack is shipping their (software modified) MF80 with the Abundant Renewable Energy (ARE) turbines.

    boB :D
  • crewzercrewzer Posts: 1,832Registered Users, Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    Right you are, boB! ;) Here's a link to more info on the ARE system, including the "Wind Tracker 80".

    See: http://www.abundantre.com/ARE110-48V_Owners_Manual_Electrical_Ver4.3.pdf

    HTH,
    Jim Goodnight
    "crewzer"
    Eastern Regional Sales Manager
    OutBack Power Systems
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing
    crewzer wrote: »
    Right you are, boB! ;) Here's a link to more info on the ARE system, including the "Wind Tracker 80".

    See: http://www.abundantre.com/ARE110-48V_Owners_Manual_Electrical_Ver4.3.pdf

    HTH,
    Jim Goodnight
    "crewzer"
    Eastern Regional Sales Manager
    OutBack Power Systems

    Will this system match the output and reliability of the Skystream 3.7?
    The Skystream from Southwinds will produce up to 500kw/h a month in 12 mph winds. That is going to be hard to beat for what they cost up front.
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Posts: 717Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    do they make a sky stream that works yet?
    plus the outback/are combo is a battery charging combo i believe
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    If there is a Skystream that works reliability I haven't heard of it. All I hear is people claiming it works great and when you ask them for hard output numbers they can't tell you. Some people have dealings with Southwest going back years to the old Air 303. They can tell you all about their legendary reliability, LOL!!!!!!!:p
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Posts: 717Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    yes it kills me when i drive by a sky stream on a 30 ft tower in this Lady's back yard but her yard is surrounded by 50 ft trees. good salesmen there i guess.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    Yeah, must have been some great training for the installer. "Get the money, get it up, and run."
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing
    Yeah, must have been some great training for the installer. "Get the money, get it up, and run."

    Do you know that the Skystream carries a 5 year warranty? I doubt they would release a product that they knew would fail. A 5 year warranty is something to consider. It would be in Southwind's interest to put out a good product and not have to make warranty repairs.
    5ookw/h per month is nothing to joke about. Check out their website if you don't believe me. They can't advertise something like that if it is not true.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,686Super Moderators admin
    Re: Windmill Bashing
    Do you know that the Skystream carries a 5 year warranty? I doubt they would release a product that they knew would fail. A 5 year warranty is something to consider. It would be in Southwind's interest to put out a good product and not have to make warranty repairs.
    5ookw/h per month is nothing to joke about. Check out their website if you don't believe me. They can't advertise something like that if it is not true.

    Hi Kimberly Cantrell! ;)

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Posts: 717Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    Oh my bad i forgot if it is on the internet it is true. all kidding aside it is obvious this guy/girl is got some kind thing for southwest windpower. i will be the first to say that the skystream looks great but they should have got it right before shipping it. i don't doubt they will get it right but i doubt it will be as powerful as they are promoting but then who's is?
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 7,792Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing

    > Check out their website if you don't believe me.
    > They can't advertise something like that if it is not true.

    This way to see the Egress Folks ! This way to the Egress.
    If all advertising has to be true, then there would be a lot of products off of the shelves. Advertising only has to be true under "undisclosed" conditions, sometimes, like folks that have tried to get SWWP to repair 1 year old turbines have found out - not covered. I suppose it will take a class action lawsuit to force them to clean up their act.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • WindsunWindsun Posts: 1,164Solar Expert ✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing
    5ookw/h per month is nothing to joke about. Check out their website if you don't believe me. They can't advertise something like that if it is not true.

    They are not "advertising" the estimated production. It is just what it says - an estimated production value under certain wind conditions. Advertising has nothing to do with it directly.

    There are specific laws that cover advertising, but none of them require that advertisements be "true". If there were, 90% of the infomercials on late night TV would be out of business.
  • boBboB Posts: 951Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing
    Windsun wrote: »
    There are specific laws that cover advertising, but none of them require that advertisements be "true". If there were, 90% of the infomercials on late night TV would be out of business.

    What ??? !! ??? You mean she's been lying to me to make me feel better ??!!? :blush:

    boB :D
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 7,792Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windmill Bashing
    boB wrote: »
    What ??? !! ??? You mean she's been lying to me to make me feel better ??!!? :blush:

    boB :D


    At least you felt better !
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

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