Wondering about wind energy

System Posts: 2,511 admin
So my father lives up on a lake in northern maine where the wind is almost constantly blowing in the winter. The house is narrow, 3 stories, full of windows and is 10 feet from the shoreline with no trees to block the winds. on a peninsula.

We set up a weather station last fall, I haven't read any data from it, (probably should have before posting lol, but its 180 miles from me right now), but in the winter it can be brutal... Wind blowing across a few miles of snow straight onto the house at 20+ MPH... I have seen up to 70 MPH gusts on the weather station.

Naturally, it costs a lot to heat, and uses a lot of gas to keep this house heated in the winter. Last fall it was re-insulated and sealed all around, but he still spent a LOT keeping it heated.

Now because of this location, were are naturally very interested in generating some wind energy, however i have read a lot of negatives... Such as needing a lot of land in case the turbine blows apart, and it cant be mounted on a house because of the vibrations... Also the house is part of a condo association, and there are about 5 other homes sharing the 2 acre penninsula... So we have neighbors and we heard that typical wind turbines are noisey. (Whirl Whirl Whirl Whirl.....)

But then i was watching living with Ed and he had a vertical turbine, and they said it was completely silent and there was virtually no vibration, and gusts don't matter because its vertical and wind can come from any direction.

So i went to the web page that sells this stuff
And I think we get more than enough wind for the seahawk (made for urban neighborhoods with low breezes?) And i started looking at the AEOLIAN, I'm wondering if anyone else on here has one of these machines and what their experience is with it? We're probably looking for grid tied, We dont want to be off grid, we want to help offset the immense amount of oil (& the cost of oil!) it takes to heat this property during the winter.

Ohh, just looked at this website's image
and we're in maine in the dark purple area. (vertical center, slightly left of horizontal center of the state)

EDIT: hmmm j/k the Aeolian is pretty damn expensive... Looking at the Delta I now, pretty affordabe & 2Kw


  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,404 admin
    Re: Wondering about wind energy

    I am not sure there is any vertical axes wind turbine that is worth the cost of concrete and pole to install...

    VAWT have some nice advantages (do not over speed)--but they, in general, do not seem to generate very much power for their size.

    I would stay away from them unless you physically see a site actually running with a good year of data (wind and kWhrs generated) and can guarantee the data (such as a separate kWhr meter logging the data--not just the "turbine" software). And this recommendation would be true for virtually any wind turbine--there are only a few out there that are really rugged and reliable.

    And--using electric heat (resistance heater) from solar RE is usually way more expensive than any other method of heating... The true costs of solar RE electricity is usually some 3-10x the cost of utility power and only makes sense in some limited settings (far from utility lines, grid-tied solar with rebates, and such).

    So--back to our "mantra"... of Conserve, conserve, conserve. ;)

    Virtually--any amount of money spent on conservation will be better spent than just building a larger wind-sun electric power plant for your home.

    First--do everything in your power to insulate and seal the home. I live in a relatively temperate climate but found that double pane vinyl windows where a huge improvement over my old wooden single pane 30-60 year old windows. And for me, had better results that insulating the walls alone would have provided. Virtually, no amount of solar RE heating is going to be cheap if you are radiating through windows and have large amount of air turn over (because of the wind).

    If your family likes "fresh air" (my wife hates closed windows)--look at a heat recovery ventilator system (recovers the heat-cool from the conditioned air that would normally be lost outside when bringing in fresh air).

    Next--if you have any sun available--look around for solar hot water and/or solar thermal heating systems (such as this thread). The are relatively cheap (when compared to Solar PV Panels or Wind Turbines) and much more cost efficient than any other "high tech" solar RE system.

    Then, look at saving energy through energy star appliances and -- if it makes sense for your location -- possibly a high SEER heat pump (or even ground sourced heat pump) for your home (I certainly am not a HVAC expert--so I do not know how well a heat pump would work in your region).

    In the end--conservation will almost certainly save you more energy (and be greener) than just sticking wind turbines and solar PV panels around the property. Be open minded and flexible. Make sure you have done everything possible to reduce your energy usage first--before figuring out your heating/electrical requirements. You will be much happier.

    And--whether you saved $$$$ because you use less oil or installed solar RE equipment--the end result is the same--a greener home and less out of pocket expenses.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Wondering about wind energy

    What Bill said,,,, times two.

    One addition,,, to use electricity to heat is VERY expensive. If you have to create that energy from RE get VERY, VERY expensive. To use solar PV to convert to heat is a very inefficient way to convert,, you would be way better off to convert solar directly to heat,, via air or liquid medium.

    As for the efficiency of converting from wind is probably a bit more complicated calculation. My basic intuition is,,, that there is no small scale wind system that makes sense for MOST locations.

    It sounds like you have enough issues just with the condo assc. to make it even harder. Now if you could convince the condo assc. to pool it's resources to build a large scale system that might be an interesting endeavor.


    PS. I would take much of what "living with Ed" with a grain of salt. If the technology was indeed as good as "advertised" then we would hear more about it on more mainstream media. (including users here)

    Second, as Bill suggests,, conserve, conserve, conserve. Look at your gas burning furnaces and consider if there are more efficient systems out there. Since you are on a lake,, I would seriously consider the idea of using lake water heat pump. I know folks near us who are on the grid,, and they use a lake loop heat pump,, and even with the lake frozen 7 months a year,, heat their house for 1/4 the cost of Propane.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Wondering about wind energy

    adding to what was already said i think i saw that vawt as i got a free month of that green planet channel. if it is the same one i saw they look nice, but i wonder how they got them started as that design isn't normally self starting. also, if it is noise and vibration free then i hate to say it, but it isn't moving.
    i read that more insulation was added and it does cut down on btus lost providing there aren't any air leaks that will negate you efforts. unfortunately it will still cost $ for the heat you need and being in a condo does present limitations of what one may do. i would've thought the heat costs would not be as bad seeing as how your place is up against the next place (if i've got it right). heat loss goes to your neighbor and visa-versa unless the walls in between are such that they are open to the attic or roof area and lack insulation. this is possible as many such places used concrete blocks to allow for strength and sound deadening, but this left holes straight to the attic or roof area that are uninsulated and negated the benefit of being beside your neighbor for their heat.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Wondering about wind energy
    niel wrote: »
    unfortunately it will still cost $ for the heat you need and being in a condo does present limitations of what one may do. i would've thought the heat costs would not be as bad seeing as how your place is up against the next place (if i've got it right).

    A condo association is a land ownership agreement, where several houses share the same land, we're all separated by about 100 yards... so we need permission to make changes to the land, every one has to agree.

    I'm interested about the lake loop heat pump... The lake is frozen from end of november until april, but it is relatively deep... But how am i supposed to heat a house with 40 degree (how cold is water under the ice usually?) water under the ice?
  • Ecnerwal
    Ecnerwal Solar Expert Posts: 101 ✭✭
    Re: Wondering about wind energy

    By using a heat pump. You pump in 40 degree water (or run an antifreeze loop out into the pond through the 40 degree water) and cool it to 35 (or 30 with antifreeze) degrees with a "refrigerator/air conditioner" like system, and the hot part of the refrigerator is what heats your house. Every pound of water you cool 5 degrees is 5 BTUs. It works. If you have grid, and can bear the cost of the system itself, it's cheaper than oil or gas to run, even though it's electric. Compared to electric resistance heat, it's 3-5 times more efficient.

    Look up waterfurnace, ground source heat pump, water source heat pump. There is a federal tax credit on these systems at present (IIRC, 30%, similar to the solar water heat and PV credits.)
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,404 admin
    Re: Wondering about wind energy

    You can look up water sourced (or ground sourced) heat pumps--here is one such site and some of their case studies (I know nothing about the site or their equipment).

    Basically, there is "heat" in 40 degree lake water--and it is more efficient to move the heat from the lake to your home than it is to use an electric resistance heater instead. Basically, you are "cooling the lake" to warm your home in the winter (and if you need A/C--this is also a great solution to reduce your summer costs too).

    From what I have read, heat pumps remain pretty efficient (as heaters) as long as the temperatures remain above freezing. And become much less efficient as the temperatures drop well below freezing.

    You can also use a "desuperheater" for "free" hot water in the summer (and possibly reducing your winter hot water heating costs too--though I am not too sure of that).

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Wondering about wind energy

    Water under the ice is COLD I can attest, as one who has fallen in through the ice!

    When I pump water out of our frozen lake,, by the time it gets to the tank and I measure it,, it is indeed ~40F. Having said that,, as Ecnerwal has put so well,, it is a remarkably efficient system. One of the great advantages is the the relatively stable temperature of the water,, thought the heating season. It comes with a very predictable operating costs. As Bill suggests,, air heat pumps begin to lose their advantage as the temperature drops below freezing. With a lake loop,, the water never gets below ~40f.

    I suspect that there are permit/safety issues with glycol systems. I know nothing about them. I believe that the one system that I know of in our locale is water only. The pipes are buried as they pass into the lake, as well as being well insulated. They may even have heat tape in the event that the grid fails and they freeze. The heat tape can then be used to thaw them. (Pex tubing will take a freeze with out damage,,, over and over again)