Testing a wind generator before installation

Skysthelimit Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 1
Greetings All:  A friend and I each bought a 5kw wind generator package which included the generator head, blades, 25' pole, dump, inverter, and other components to be used for a grid tie set-up.  We only found out that the system was designed for gird tie after the guy moved his operation to TX and now we're somewhat up the creek since neither of us are on the grid.  My question is, how does one test the generator to be sure it puts out power?  Logically, I'm thinking I just hook up a meter to the 3 wires, which I really don't know how to do, spin the shaft, and see what the meter says.  Am I on the right track here?  The main reason I want to check it out on the ground is that the pole weighs about 1000 lbs and needs a large concrete base to hold the heavy set up.  Anyone have any pointers or advice on how to test the generator head?


  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,476 admin
    Welcome to the forum Skysthelimit,

    You can connect an electric drill or pulley+belt+drive motor and spin the turbine and see what voltage is output, and put an electric heater across L1-L2, then L2-L3, and L3-L1 and make sure that each of the phases outputs current...

    You will not be able to test the turbine at full power--5 kWatts is something like >6 Horse Power--Not a small turbine.

    Next comes the researching of what hardware you will need for the turbine. But you will need to know the specifications of the turbine (output voltage and current), if it has anything to limit RPM (brake, furling, feathering) and how you may need to control that.

    HAWT (horizontal axis wind turbines) can work nicely (good site, matching blades to alternator torque/RPM requirements, and good support electronics)... But they have a tendency to overspeed if acidently "unloaded" (sometimes to destruction) if they are not connected to a load (typically a battery bank and/or dump load, backup brake/furling/feathering). Better wind turbines have several methods to limit RPM such as (perhaps) a primary control through battery/dump load and backup furling, backup to backup mechanical brake, etc. if primary RPM control fails.

    And, you will need an area that is clear of obstructions (buildings, trees, etc.) and the turbine needs to be installed above any upwind obstructions (installing a turbine on a short tower in a forest--Not good)--A wind turbine needs "clean air" to harvest energy... If there is turbulent air, there is very little energy in such conditions.

    In general, you have two major ways to connect this turbine.... One is to connect a 3 phase rectifier (to DC voltage) and connect directly to the battery bank. Here, you need a turbine that is designed with the proper output voltage to charge the battery bank (too low of output voltage, it will not charge the battery bank... Too high of output voltage will waste power from the turbine because of voltage mismatch).

    Another is to use an MPPT type charge controller... They can take the high voltage/low current from the turbine, and efficiently down convert to the lower battery voltage/higher battery charging current.

    None of this is trivial... And the wind turbine itself can be the "cheapest part" of the system. Tower, concrete, electrical, electronics, any additional support equipment and labor (crane truck to lift turbine/man lift to service, or a which if the tower is a tilt-up).

    I, personally, am not a fan of wind turbines.... Many turbines do not seem to output near their promised energy. And the yearly (or so) maintenance is a lot of work (and expenses if rented equipment needed for service).

    We are not a big wind forum... Here are some others that may be can offer more help for your specific turbine and needs:

    www.otherpower.com (good forum for DIY Wind Power)
    Hugh Piggott - Scoraig Wind Electric site for tons of info (from mike90045)
    Scoraig Wind "Recipe Book" for DYI Turbines (from Chris Olson... From his 4/11/2013 post)
    www.greenpowertalk.org (added from "russ"--Like here but more wind/less solar)

    I always like to help folks as much as I/we can on this forum... But we do have our limits.

    I suggest solar panels is a good place to start--And if additional power is needed (far north, no sun in winter, but good wind), then a wind turbine can help (assuming a reasonably windy location, a tall tower, etc.).

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • 706jim
    706jim Solar Expert Posts: 515 ✭✭✭✭
    My place is on an island. My system is strictly solar and has worked well for many years. Another part time resident installed a small turbine on a flagpole adjacent to a 100' high cliff, actually a pretty good spot for wind harvest. His intention was to harvest wind energy when it was foggy or at night. That thing ran for maybe a week before self destructing and the bones of the installation lie on the ground. You might consider selling the turbine and investing in solar as a less labour intensive alternative. I've experienced winds at lake level that felt like they could just about blow you over yet these measured maybe 25mph on a Dwyer wind speed meter. So as Bill has stated, wind power has some advantages but IMO more drawbacks for a residential user.
    Island cottage solar system with 2500 watts of panels, 1kw facing southeast 1.3kw facing southwest 170watt ancient Arco's facing south. All panels in parallel for a 24 volt system. Trace DR1524 MSW inverter, Outback Flexmax 80 MPPT charge controller 8 Trojan L16's. Insignia 11.5 cubic foot electric fridge. My 30th year.