How a Small Wind Electric System Works
The first question to answer is how is wind produced? The answer to that question is this, wind is created by the unequal heating of the Earth’s surface by the sun, this causes the air to move from the high pressure to the low pressure, and that’s wind. Now wind turbines can convert all that kinetic energy in wind into electricity. The wind spins the wind turbine’s blades, which in turn drive a generator which then produces the electricity. Most turbines have automatic over speed-governing systems to keep them from spinning out of control in very high winds, this is a good thing since you don’t want your source of alternate energy getting destroyed by the wind. A small wind generator system can be connected to the electric grid through your power provider or it can stand alone (off-grid). This makes small wind electric systems a good choice for rural areas that are not connected to any other power source like the electric grid. What makes up a small wind turbine system? A wind electric system is made up of several components. Firstly, a wind turbine mounted on a tower which provides better access to stronger winds. In addition to the turbine and tower, small wind electric systems also require the following components to handle the electricity your wind turbine produces. • A controller • Storage batteries • An inverter (power conditioning unit) • Wiring • Electrical disconnect switch • Grounding system Most manufacturers can provide you with a system package that includes all the parts you need for your particular application. TURBINES Most small wind turbines that are produced today are horizontal-axis, upwind generators that usually have two or three blades. These blades can be made from wood or aluminum, but are usually made of a composite material, such as fiberglass or carbon fiber. The amount of energy a turbine will produce is determined mainly by the size of its rotor. The larger diameter the rotor means it can use larger quantities of wind and therefore use more energy in the wind to produce electricity. The tail on the turbine body keeps the turbine facing into the wind so the rotor is always turning if there is sufficient wind. TOWERS In general, the higher the tower, the more power the wind system can produce. So a relatively small investment in increased tower height can yield very high rates of return in the production of electricity. For example, raising the height of a 10-kilowatt generator from a 60-foot to a 100-foot may cost 10% more to construct, but it can produce 25% more power. While tilt-down towers are more expensive, they offer the consumer an easy way to perform maintenance on smaller light-weight turbines, usually 10 kilowatt or less. Tilt-down towers can also be lowered to the ground during hazardous weather such as hurricanes.