01 November 2008

We are wired for wind

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!


  1. Need wind? We'll gladly send you some! Good to hear things are coming together!

  2. Anonymous6:37 am

    Looks like a version of the old TV towers we used to have. Soon you guys will be so self sufficient you will never come out into the world with the rest of us. Very interesting concept. Who comes up with all these ideas?

  3. Anonymous2:11 pm

    what's next? tapping the heat from deep underground? :)

  4. We get our ideas from a bunch of other people who have tried these things before: like I keep telling the kids, if you can read, you can do anything! The information is all out there, you just have to go read about it.

    Our objective is not really self sufficiency ... I mean, there's no way for a single family to be self-sufficient (well, not a normal sized family on six acres, anyway!). Still, the more we can do for ourselves, the less money we have to spend on 'necessary things' like heat and power, and the more food we produce here, the less we have to pay someone else for that same food (and the more confident we can be about the quality of the food we are eating).

    Doing more for yourself (improving what some call "the household economy") means we can spend those dollars on things that we would like to have, or, we can continue to be comfortable if there are fewer dollars to go around for any reason.

    And no, we won't go with geothermal energy. We did consider it, but the cost is just way too high, plus the pumps needed to circulate the fluid require a decent dose of electrical power ... and power is at a premium in our situation. Wind and solar we can install on our own (now that the baseline systems are in place, anyway) - we can add on, as the systems were designed with that in mind - but geothermal would require some major professional input.

    For heat, well, we have plenty of sustainable timber around here, so we'll get our heat from wood and passive solar. Besides, I love the wood stove.

    It's really startling when you think how much of what we do now was done by our grandparents as a matter of course: canning, preserving, heating with wood, 'making do'. These things were considered every day virtues not that long ago - the kinds of things that good responsible folks did, because they were ... well, good and responsible things to do. In our current culture, somehow these same things have become oddities.

    I'm okay with being weird, when weird means that my lights are still on even though the grid is out, when my house is kept comfortably warm at a reasonable cost even when natural gas costs an arm and a leg, when the food on my table is guaranteed to be free of nasty things like BSE or growth hormones or artificial stuff of any kind. Yep, weird is okay with me. :)

  5. Congrats on getting the wind up. I am hoping to get my parents' farm running off solar and especially wind (we get an awful lot of it up here)in the next couple years.

  6. Wow - you have a windmill! That is fantastic! And I agree with you, a little weird is a good thing :)


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