There are two basic styles of wind turbines; Horizontal axis and vertical axis. The horizontal axis is the type most people think about that resembles a fan. The vertical axis is the style that has the blades that spin around the tower.
* Horizontal Axis – This type of turbine requires ‘clean wind’. This is wind that doesn’t have obstructions like buildings and trees. You would need a 200’ radius around the tower that is obstruction free. This can be accomplished by installing a taller tower. If it is installed incorrectly, and you have obstructions, they can cause wind shears which can cause the turbine to self-destruct. This is very dangerous.
* Vertical Axis – This type of turbine can take winds from multiple directions and make electricity. Wind shear is not an issue.
Zoning – Most municipalities require that you have enough property that the tower can drop in any direction without hitting an occupied structure, set-backs from property lines and utility company easements. Many municipalities require one and a half times the tower height for their set-back requirements!
Power Production – While solar is fairly easy to gauge how much you will produce over time wind is much harder. The rating on a wind turbine is at a set speed, so a 2.5kW turbine might only put out 2.5kW at a 27mph wind. At an 8mph wind it may not produce anything and at a 12 mph wind it may only produce .5kW. If two people install the same type of turbine on the same height tower but one gets a 10mph wind and the other gets a 12.5mph wind, the 12.5mph turbine will have twice the power production!
New Technologies – A promising development is Mag-Lev technology for vertical axis turbines. This is where there are no bearings, just magnets. The magnets are positioned so the tower levitates. This allows the turbine to start producing energy at much lower wind speeds, some as low as 2mph! This will allow the turbine to produce power most of the year instead of just when wind speeds are over 8mph.
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