Why Wind Power?
Both wind and solar power are free sources of electricity once you have the equipment to capture and process it. Both systems on their own are capable of putting a sizable dent in your energy bill. And both systems are limited in their own ways. Power production with solar panels drops to zero at night, in the shade and on cloudy days. Wind turbines have minimum wind speed requirements to produce power, which are improving as efficiency increases with new technology.
But a hybrid system employing both solar and wind power one’s weakness is the other’s strength. Your solar panels will produce power during calm, windless conditions and the wind generator will take over power production at night or on cloudy days when solar output is nil.
Turning Wind into Electricity
Wind energy is not a modern concept. Windmills have been used for thousands of years as the mechanical source of power to grind grains into flour and to draw water up from wells. Today, the windmill has evolved into a turbine to generate electricity. The turbine produces electricity when wind interacts with the blades attached to a rotor begin to spin and in turn, rotates a shaft connected to a generator. The types, designs and complexity range wildly today but those are the essential components to turn wind into electricity.
Is Wind Power Right for You?
While renewable power and the independence it promises is the dream of every prepper or anyone preparing their household against a disaster, the source you choose needs to match the region where you live.
A region with low average wind-speed or urban centers may not be conducive for a wind turbine set high on a tower. However, if home is along the coast, down along a windswept valley or somewhere in wide open rural plains wind power would definitely be for you. And if that area where you call home also enjoys days upon days of clear, sunny skies then coupling solar and wind together into one hybrid system will take full advantage of everything that environment has to offer.
The How-to’s of Wind Power
There several considerations to take into account when planning your wind power system. Begin by determining if your area is suited for generating power from wind. Over the last few years, as this alternative form of energy production has gained favor, wind maps of the US have been developed.
These are an excellent starting point to see how your area rates. In high-wind, well-studied regions there are large scale maps that show rating down to the community level. The Department of Energy suggests a minimum 10mph average wind-speed. If favorable for wind power then next check into local regulations and codes for setting up a turbine. Urban areas and neighborhoods may have restrictions for this type of construction.
Once your home is identified as a viable location for installing your own system begin shopping around for the type of turbine you want. Be sure to factor into the costs, along with the 30% federal tax credit and other local and state incentives offered.
There are 2 basic types available on today’s market, a horizontal axis and a vertical axis. Horizontal are the traditional windmill style, which are also the most popular and tested design. Vertical axis generators come in a wide variety of designs, some proven and many not so well tested.
When deciding on a style go with the well tested, established designs and manufacturers. Having said that, there are innovations on their way to markets in the near future with designs adapted for more populated areas to take advantage of, for instance, the man-made wind-channels between high-rise buildings in large cities.
Most turbines will be set atop a tower. This allows them to reach high enough to benefit from the higher wind speeds which increase in strength the further they are above the ground. Roof mounted generators do not sit high enough to make them efficient. Consider purchasing a tower that can be lowered to the ground for maintenance rather than one that requires you to climb for repairs. And remember to ensure your investment against damage. Some homeowner’s policies will now ensure residential, renewable energy equipment.
While there are a great many commercially produced generators available, money always comes into play and if the markets have yet to offer something in your range of affordability consider, if graced with the appropriate engineering skills, constructing your own. People have come up with ingenious designs of their own with a range of output potential. If the heart of a true prepper beats faster at the thought of doing it yourself, there a large number of people who have done this very thing and published their results and instructional designs online. Begin your research here, with the USPreppers list of resources.
Planning for disasters, let alone for the complete collapse of TEOTWAWKI, is daunting requiring significant time and expense and piling on the costs of a full alternative power system could drive anyone to throw their hands up in the air with exasperation. But consider this, if you make a concerted effort to make you home energy efficient, reduce the electricity used and save up to wind power system solar-wind power system, it could actually become a money making an investment.
By improving your household’s overall energy consumption and installing a renewable energy system you could end up producing more electricity than you use and sell the difference back to the utility companies. If that is not motivation enough, what is?