which windmill

SystemSystem Posts: 2,511 admin
Hi,

I am new to windmills, and need some advice. I am off-grid (solar) in a zone 5 wind area (offshore Maine). My requirements are:

quiet
survivability in winter storms (frequent extended wind over 50 knots)
corrosion resistance (island environment, salt water spray possible anywhere)
low maintenance

I have read a lot of complaints about windmills on these forums. Are there robust, economical windmills available? I define economical in relation to PV, not to utility power, which is not available here. Where do I look which is not just manufacturer's hype?

I want the windmill to supplement my solar system. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Rick

Comments

  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,962 ✭✭✭
    Re: which windmill

    There are none available that meet your requrements. And if you should choose to buy one, you will find that the initial "savings" when compared to a PV system of similar wattage will be gone before you even have a wind genny spinning, let alone after it fails with the first Noreaster, if it last even that long

    Spend your time and invest in PV, it meet all you requirement and the cost is realitive
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,314 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: which windmill

    Add PV, you will be way farther ahead in a decade! I almost drank the cool-aid, and after doing some research (here and elsewhere) I decided against it.

    Good luck

    Tony
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: which windmill

    Thanks guys.

    I have heard so many positive stories about medium wind systems, I am surprised to hear such a resounding negative. Can you point me to some other reviews, critiques, etc., perhaps not on this site?

    TIA,

    Rick
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: which windmill

    See http://www.wind-works.org/

    He is a fanatical wind advocate, and still slams most small to medium wind turbines.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,644 admin
    Re: which windmill

    Our host does sell wind turbines and on their wind page, they also have some links to other information:

    Home Power Magazine
    Is Wind the Answer
    Keep Turning (Skystream Grid Tie user group)

    If you have lots of wind, and you have lots of land to ensure that noise does not bother neighbors and falling components will not hit others--then, perhaps wind will be practical for you... But, even so, be prepared for much less power than predicted by installers (2% to 59% of original estimates).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: which windmill

    Hey Rick!
    I am 100% for renewable energy, however, beware of the hype and BS that is out there regarding small wind. I strongly recommend you contact otherpower.com for your small wind endeavors.
    Every commercial wind turbine out there is an absolute piece of crap... Well not according the glossy brochures and advertisements in magazines along with misleading reporting in the news.
    Unless you build, or possibly purchase the turbine I suggested (because it is the only one I have ever flown that has actually worked as advertised), you are going to get ripped off. Take it from me, been there and done that. I have flown many turbines from several of the big named brands and they DO NOT perform as advertised.
    Do not buy any wind turbine made in China and avoid Southwest Windpower like the plague. More over-hyped pieces of crap that DOES NOT WORK!!!
    I have built and commissioned 100+ wind systems. I know what I am doing and I can not recommend any commercially made wind system at this time.
    Kim
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: which windmill

    kimberly,
    i am curious if you have had any experience with bergey first hand as i'd like to hear comments regarding them if you have any?
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: which windmill
    niel wrote: »
    kimberly,
    i am curious if you have had any experience with bergey first hand as i'd like to hear comments regarding them if you have any?

    I have worked with the XL1 and the 10kw model. I am not impressed with either one, especially the 10 kw unit. From my personal experience, the 10 kw never produces what is claimed by the manufacturer. It actually fell quite short. The wind analysis did not match the potential turbine output.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: which windmill

    I'd like to point out something about that "Keep Turning" website. Some time back, that guy was hugely pissed because his Skystream took a dump and he couldn't get Southwest to do anything. So he posted this huge rant on You Tube and made some pissed remarks on some blogs. Well then suddenly the guy takes the You Tube thing down and then we see this website Keep Turning pop up not much after that. I find that damn fishy. Yeah I bet his works great and they'll make sure it stays that way. But I bet not everyone gets that kind of "service".


    The point is, there is just too much marketing fluff out there. Especially from Southwest Windpower. There is no solid proof their Skystream puts out near what they claim. They ain't got nothing but marketing paper that says it does. Then you hear about some "cold weather problem". Well, being its summer, they got it fixed for now, LOL! Wait til winter then you'll hear more complaints about it I bet.:cry:

    This Skystream is also very expensive. You better do some serious homework before you even think of buying this bird. Remember---there is NO free lunch. Free electricity my hindquarters! Ain't no such critter.

    And then we have the copycats. Always got to be copycats. These Chinese made windmills aren't worth the money that went into shipping them here. Ought to have just cut to the chase and took them to the recycler the minute they hit port. Really, anyone ever had a good look at Chinese made tools after you've had classic Snap On in your hands? It's like going from a thick porterhouse steak to a TV dinner salisbury steak in seven seconds. So when you see tools from China, how can their gennies be anything different? They're cheaper?! Big deal! Still money down the drain because they don't work.

    Be careful out there. There are lots of manufacturers who want your money and really don't care how they get it. This site is golden because its the first one I've seen that people can tell the truth on and don't get dogpiled by shills or people that work for the manufacturers. Until a manufacturer has a year of solid proof of performance in their hand---from more than one or two gennies---they are fluffing it. Anyone can say a kid's pinwheel is pumping out big time kWh without proof. The sales brochure ain't going to stop them and tell them it's BS. A manufacturer with a solid gold gennie is going to be right up front with what they got. They won't need to work hard to sell you on it because, hell, it'll sell itself.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: which windmill

    One more thing I ought to mention. The Skystream has had nothing but problems since it was turned loose on the market a couple years ago. Now bear in mind that Southwest themselves bragged they spent 5 years working on it before they released it for the market. So after 7 years, it still doesn't work. And it doesn't put out what they claim when it does work. Think about that. If you had 7 years to get something right and you don't then its not likely you ever will. Don't forget the electronics are in the gennie itself so if it craps out you have to pull it down or go up there in a cherry picker. That would add more money to your payback.

    As far as winter survivability that Krementz was asking about. Well, there was a lot of talk about "cold weather problems" with the Skystream. Southwest claims it was fixed, or rather some of their rah-rah cheerleaders on Keep Turning said it was. And how would they know? It suddenly turned spring and now summer, LOL! But think about that. That cold weather software problem tells you they did not test the Skystream in winter. Which means they did not do a full year of beta tests with it. So then how did they come up with the power curve they show on the marketing brochures and brag about? If they obviously did not do a year of testing on it, how can you believe what they say about output? Think about it. They also have problems with their Whispers and quality on those has taken a big tumble over the past few years. A Whisper 100 is about the only gennie of theirs I could suggest with the advice that you need to know how to work on it yourself from time to time. It won't blow chunks in a grand fashion, but you will need to service it or replace electronic components in the controller from time to time.

    The Chinese made gennies from Four Seasons flat won't survive a fart from a passing cow. Kim posted some pics of some of that great "quality".

    I haven't heard much about Bergey. I heard from one dealer that the controllers could be better and that they're very noisy. I have seen a report on the true output of them that sure wasn't flattering. I understand Bergey's are made in China. Whether that's true or not, someone else can chime in and say.


    A few years back there was a big hoo-hah about African Wind Power, but now you don't see anything about those gennies anymore. Too hard to get parts and service out of the manufacturer from what one dealer told me. They were heavy units which is a plus.


    Right now, the best thing to do is put your money in solar or visit Otherpower. A real mechanical person can build their own gennie and should.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,434 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: which windmill

    Now that you know what NOT to get, here's a useable answer:

    1) read Hugh Piggott http://www.scoraigwind.com/ TONS of stuff there for the DIY
    and his very complete PDF book (the free one)
    http://www.scoraigwind.com/pmgbooklet/index.htm

    Once you know all the pitfalls he's discovered, and how they are solved, you will be a more knowledgeable consumer.

    A DIY kit:
    http://www.forcefieldmagnets.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=22_30&products_id=188
    Just supply the tower !

    Strange design, but could work: Doug Selsam's Sky serpents http://selsam.com/
    (slow responding site)
    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 ,

  • BrianellulBrianellul Solar Expert Posts: 95 ✭✭
    Re: which windmill

    I would also check the AWP3.6 since I had read good reviews about it.

    Regards
    Brian
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,644 admin
    Re: which windmill

    Dr. Watson,

    Welcome aboard!

    We try here to discuss the good and the bad about all sorts of products. And try not to pile (too much) on any one person/company.

    Very interesting to hear your issues with SWWP--It sounds like they are still having problems in many areas (technical and service/install).

    If you want to see how close you came to having real problems... Take a look at this report from the State of Massachusetts regarding wind power and their subsidy program (our host, Northwest Arizona Wind & Sun, links to this very pro-wind site, but it also has the cons listed too).

    Wind-Works.org
    Massachusetts Small Wind Report 2008
    "MTC is now considering program changes to the Small Renewables Initiative that will apply to future small wind projects. MTC expects that these program changes will be announced in late summer, 2008.

    As a result of the information outlined in the following small wind progress briefing, MTC believes that it is in the best interest of the small wind community for MTC to stop accepting applications from new, small wind projects. . . ."
    Where are you at now in your RE / Conservation decision / implementation for your home/business?


    -Bill

    Update: Please note that the "Dr. Watson" post above has since turned out to have been posted by a single user posting under multiple names (Kimberly Cantrell, Dr. Charles Watson, and finally (as of this date) as George Borges. Don't know why this was done--but this confirms some nagging concerns I had with this poster.

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

    interesting story cw and welcome. maybe after the many horror stories with too many wind generators they may have decided it isn't a good idea to give public funds to back them.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: which windmill

    Kudos to Massachusetts for taking the first step towards stopping funding wind manufacturer hype. Ya know, I just don't see what is so hard about building a quality product that works? Solar delivers---there just isn't any other way to do it.

    Sounds like poor customer service worked out better for Dr. Watson. Isn't that ironic? Makes ya wonder who they got working there with such a don't-care attitude. Glad it worked out in the end.

    This is why I tell everyone to go solar and forget wind completely. Now on top of poor quality is poor customer service with wind manufacturers. I didn't know it was that bad but it doesn't shock me either. And it ain't old-fashioned to expect good service.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,644 admin
    Re: which windmill

    I cannot use wind myself at home... But does anyone have any thoughts about:

    http://www.abundantre.com/ARE_Wind_Turbines.htm

    The ARE442 was one of the best performing in the Mass. study (but the study also says that could have been just a very good wind site).

    Also seems like the regulations on utility interactive inverters (Grid Tied Inverters) for anti-islanding features (5 minutes of stable grid--but if wind is unstable, the inverters appear to re-start the clock--because the inverter logic is powered by the wind?) and such eat quite a bit into overall generated power in gusty/turbulent conditions...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: which windmill

    I want to make sure I interpreted Dr. Watson's post correctly.
    The sales guy from Southwest Windpower carbon copied Dr. Watson on an email that was sent to the dealer congratulating the dealer on a job well done when the dealer or Southwest Windpower couldn't take the time to give Dr. Watson any type of quote?
    If I read Dr. Watson's post correctly, OMG!!
    What the heck is going on out there at Southwest? I would love to see that email. Or maybe I wouldn't. Just the thought of it disgusts me.

    Kim
  • adasadas Solar Expert Posts: 136 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: which windmill

    Aloha, I have 2 Windbluepower.com units that suppliment my PV panels. The low wind gen models create voltage in 6 mph (13v or so). I have them hooked up to 1/2 a 24v battery system (center tap) and I just let them go. I am always using more power than I create or batteries are always being charged during the day and I have enough current draw at night to consume any wind power. Also the batteries are a total of 4050AH so they will be almost impossible to overcharge. so the windgennys go unregulated, but the MX60's regulate the PV on top of the Wind. So far I have not found any imbalance in my battery voltage, nor any overcharging. They were only $500.00 each delivered for the 3 blade models and now I see they have a two blade model for $400 or so on Ebay. It is a cheap intro to free power and fun to try for the money.


    Frank
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: which windmill

    Thanks everybody for your comments. I guess wind is not on my plate for a few years.
  • dlenoxdlenox Solar Expert Posts: 42
    Re: which windmill

    I made mine!

    It follows the 17' diameter wind turbine on OtherPower.com http://otherpower.com/new17page1.shtml which can output a true 3kw of power.

    Just got it into operation short while ago and created a website to chronicle the construction/etc http://www.briery.com/wind_turbine and starting to gather output stats.

    I am using Xantrex XW-6048 inverter with 48v battery bank.

    Dan Lenox
  • WisJimWisJim Solar Expert Posts: 59 ✭✭✭
    Re: which windmill

    Proven and ARE make some durable, well-designed units that have the potential of working for decades. Most people are unwilling to spend the money to buy a quality machine, install it properly on a TALL tower, and do regular maintenance on it. And there are lots of machines out there that can't do what is claimed of them.
  • dlenoxdlenox Solar Expert Posts: 42
    Re: which windmill
    BB. wrote: »
    Also seems like the regulations on utility interactive inverters (Grid Tied Inverters) for anti-islanding features (5 minutes of stable grid--but if wind is unstable, the inverters appear to re-start the clock--because the inverter logic is powered by the wind?) and such eat quite a bit into overall generated power in gusty/turbulent conditions...

    -Bill

    Bill,

    slight correction - the inverter is powered by the battery bank - as long as battery bank is basically charged the clock does not get 'restarted' unless grid is again disconnected.

    currently my Xantrex XW-6048 when inverting consumes about 100w of power, when not inverting it consumes about 20w.

    Dan Lenox
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