Mounting on a lookout tower?

A relative of mine has a cabin on the side of a mountain and currently it is connected to the grid. The issue is she lives in the cabin year round and during some winter storms she losses power for days. She has asked me to come up with an alternative power system to the cabin which can keep the cabin running.

I know I could go with a guyed tower or a lattice tower. I have been thinking of building a 40-50 foot lookout tower to get above the tree levels and then using a more standard mount to get the extra height to add another 10-20 feet. Do you think the tower would add to the turbulence?

The thinking is to build a shed structure at the base of the tower to hold the battery banks and other items for power generation and even the gas generator for if the banks ever are drained.

• Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?

Buy a reliable small generator instead. A simple off grid system to power a house for lengthy emergencies is very expensive. A Honda eu 2000 generator will power most non all electric houses for under \$1000, and will use ~ 1 litre of fuel every 4 hours or so.

If you are really intent on doing so, calculate the loads first. All solar system calcs begin (and end) with the loads.

Good luck and welcome to the forum.

Tony
• Solar Expert Posts: 27
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?
avengerki wrote: »
A relative of mine has a cabin on the side of a mountain and currently it is connected to the grid. The issue is she lives in the cabin year round and during some winter storms she losses power for days. She has asked me to come up with an alternative power system to the cabin which can keep the cabin running.

I know I could go with a guyed tower or a lattice tower. I have been thinking of building a 40-50 foot lookout tower to get above the tree levels and then using a more standard mount to get the extra height to add another 10-20 feet. Do you think the tower would add to the turbulence?

The thinking is to build a shed structure at the base of the tower to hold the battery banks and other items for power generation and even the gas generator for if the banks ever are drained.

No,if you are directly above it,sounds like a grat plan to me!
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?

The plan is to have it directly above so I was pretty sure it would be fine. The other reason for the lookout tower is to get a great view. A generator is already onsite, the eventual plan is to go off-grid with the addition of solar and thermal electric generators(primarily attached to the wood stove). Lots of plans so far with up to a 5-10 year outlook on complete implementation, but looking to get started more than likely next summer as time is quickly running out to get things started before heavy snows come.
• Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?

Are you thinking of a wind generator, or a solar panel array ??

200W of solar panel will keep a couple lights on, you can get a simple "pole side mount" to hold the panel. A small charge controller, inverter and 150Ah of 12V battery would finish it up. Maybe \$1,000 to do it right, to keep 1 or 2 lights on, or a TV for 5, 7 hours, for each sunny day.

I would not consider a wind turbine. There just don't seem to be any good ones.
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

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Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?

Primarily a wind generator, the site is forested so solar would be more of a fall back. And depending on the solar panel locations during the winter they could very easily be buried under snow which has been known to get up to 12-18 feet at times(Yes she frequently gets snowed in). The wind turbines would have the advantage of being high enough to not have that issue. When everything is said and done the site will have both since during the summer the wind falls off but it blows strong during the winter.
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?

Lightning can be a big issue too... Wind turbines (or anything) on towers will be a problem (and rock offering poor grounding).

-Bill
Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
• Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?

Please consider carefully your choice about small scale wind. Read all you can, especially on these boards. Few here are very keen on small scale wind, as it has a ironic problem. If you have enough wind to be truly useful, you most likely have too much wind for hardware to endure very long. Too much wind (especially gusting) is very hard on the hardware. Couple that with moving parts, out in the weather 12 months, hard to service parts that are way off the ground etc leads to a lot of hardware failures.

It is also important to realize that in order for wind to be very useful, turbines need to be 30-50' above any obstructions that may exist for a considerable horizontal distance. So if you have 50' trees, your wind tower needs to be 80-100' tall.

It all gets complicated and expensive, (and not very reliable) hence the reason that most people who have tried it, especially those who didn't do thorough home work, have given up on it, and added more solar.

Tony
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?

I was already taking the lightning potential into consideration in my plans. From previous experience I can tell you to improve grounding you can sink multiple grounding rods into the ground in various patterns and depths. You can use a device called a megger to determine the grounding potential of the ground that has been placed. It is also best to recheck your grounding every year, but checking it at various times and ground conditions throughout the year can tell you if it is sufficient or needs further improvement.

I am used to very thorough research before finally starting a project. If you jump into a project without due diligence when you hit that first obstacle you give up. A plan needs to be able to be confronted by the obstacles and merely turned into a road bump. An entirely solar system has its own issues also. When determining the alternative power system to use at a given site many considerations need to be taken into account. Some sites require more than just solar or wind but a combination.
• Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?

i'm with the guys on this one as small wind would not be a good reliable source of power especially under the adverse conditions you describe. being forested does mean the pvs need raised some to catch the sun, but a wind turbine needs raised about 30ft above all surrounding obstructions making wind a more difficult project. raise pvs above the highest expected snowfall depth and angle then for the winter by giving them a steep tilt (nearly vertical will prevent deep snow buildups). with all of that snow it will reflect sunlight to the pvs.
• Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
Re: Mounting on a lookout tower?
avengerki wrote: »
I was already taking the lightning potential into consideration in my plans. From previous experience I can tell you to improve grounding you can sink multiple grounding rods into the ground in various patterns and depths. You can use a device called a megger to determine the grounding potential of the ground that has been placed. It is also best to recheck your grounding every year, but checking it at various times and ground conditions throughout the year can tell you if it is sufficient or needs further improvement.

I am used to very thorough research before finally starting a project. If you jump into a project without due diligence when you hit that first obstacle you give up. A plan needs to be able to be confronted by the obstacles and merely turned into a road bump. An entirely solar system has its own issues also. When determining the alternative power system to use at a given site many considerations need to be taken into account. Some sites require more than just solar or wind but a combination.
Why would a site require a combination of wind and solar?

Solar is pretty easy to predict. Wind, not so much.