Wind power is becoming increasingly popular as a source of energy for major power suppliers around the globe. The wind never dies, and turbines are becoming less expensive and more efficient with each passing year. However, when you crane your neck up at the 200-foot windmill along the highway, you must be wondering if you could possibly harness the same power efficiently. Luckily, the answer is yes.
What You Need for Wind Power
A lot of people assume that you need acres of space, dozens of windmills and high speed winds to generate enough power for your home. However, recent studies have shown that substantial energy production can occur at wind speeds as low as 11 miles per hour with 100 square feet to build on.
Due to building codes and space restrictions, a windmill might not be ideal if you live in a major city or a crowded suburb, but anyone with a little space in their backyard or who lives in a rural area can easily take advantage of this rapidly advancing technology.
Building Your Own Windmill
Of course, there is the cost issue. Luckily, there are a number of resources cropping up that offer plans for installing windmills by hand using homemade parts. Because a windmill’s basic design premise is so simple, homemade windmills are far easier than other renewable energy sources like solar panels.
Before you start a project in your backyard, thoroughly research about what your windmill should include. It does you little good to build a windmill if you don’t know how much power you need it to produce or how fast your wind speeds are. Here are some things to consider:
• Energy Use – How much energy do you currently use each month, and how much energy can you expect a residential–sized windmill to produce? If you used 800 kWh each month, your windmill would need to produce at least 5 kilowatts to be effective in cutting your energy bill. That would cover roughly 40% of your energy bill. A windmill producing as much as 15 kilowatts would produce upwards of 90% of your power. These numbers vary depending on a number of geographical factors, and if you can lower your electricity use, your windmill will be far more effective.
• Space – Review how much space you have to build your windmill. Ideally, you want your windmill to be tall enough to rise above any obstructions like trees or your home. However, if the wind source is substantial, it doesn’t need to go any higher than that. For some homeowners, a 20–30 foot windmill is plenty tall enough to gather the power needed.
• Building Materials – Your windmill will be tall, narrow and jutting into the wind every day of the year. You will also depend on it to produce a large chunk of your electricity so it can’t fall down on you during a storm. To combat these issues, make sure you buy only the strongest materials. A deep foundation, metal framing and strong supports are all vital to keeping that windmill upright.
• Electric Components – While you can build a large portion of your windmill on your own, including the frame, blades, foundation and head, you’ll still need to buy certain parts. There are plans for creating your own turbines and transfer systems, but even if you go the homemade route there, you’ll still need inverters, batteries, a charge controller, disconnects and other electrical materials. Make sure to research the market prices for each of these parts. Don’t skimp on anything when it comes to your windmill – this is your home we’re talking about.
Ideally, well before you start construction, you should know how big of a windmill you need, how much space you need, how many parts you need, and what it will all cost you. If any of those details are fuzzy, go back to the drawing board and continue your research.