The wind tower went up today!
Our neighbours came by to help with the installation, and the whole process went quite smoothly. We had perfect weather: no wind to push the tower around while we were putting it up, the sun was out and it was a beautifully warm day.
The tower is a telescoping style device: it starts off at about 12 feet high, and has two more pieces nested inside the base. You turn a winch to extend it upwards, and fully extended it's about 40 feet tall. The turbine is mounted on the top and a long wire extends from it's generator down the inside of the tower, through a piece of rubber conduit to the power centre used by the solar panels. At the power centre it is connected to one of the many wires in the heavy duty cable that runs from the solar panels to the house, and at the house, it is connected directly to the batteries. As Solar Neighbour explained it to me, the power from the wind generator goes directly to the batteries, and the power from the solar panels goes to the charge controller which feeds the batteries until they are full, and will shunt any excess power elsewhere if it becomes necessary. Since the wind generator will never produce enough power to overload the batteries, it can 'go first in line', and the solar panels can be managed to fill up the rest of the power capacity.
We have three guy wires attached to hold the tower steady, and there are three more backup lines to go up as well. If the tower ever collapsed, it would most likely take the solar panels with it so we are putting in some extra backup lines just to be sure.
So far the blades are still, as the wind is pretty much non-existent today... but it won't be long! It'll be really exciting to know that when the wind howls around the house in the middle of the night we're making power.
Solar Neighbour has more pictures ... check back for updates later!