Bamboo Jones Says...

Finding the balance between saving money and getting the job done right is always a juggling act. I want products that work without making me change my entire lifestyle or living standard. I want to be proud of how the equipment works and how it looks. If it means calling rusty tin cans spinning above my roof wind generators or wires running down through my windows from the solar panels– then I’ll have to keep looking for a better solution. Bamboo Jones Recommends

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bigger Blades, Better Power?

In most locations, GENTLE winds (5-15 mph) are the most common, and strong winds are much more rare. As you'll see by examining our latest wind generators, our philosophy about designing wind turbines is to make large, sturdy machines that produce good power in low wind speeds, and are able to survive high wind events while still producing maximum power. The power available in the wind goes up by a factor of 8 as the windspeed doubles.
Other critical factors are rotor size and tower height. The power a wind generator can harvest goes up by at least a factor of 4 as you double the rotor size. And making a tower higher gets you above turbulence for better performance and substially increased power output. Putting a wind turbine on a short tower is like mounting solar panels in the shade!
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

How To Calculate Wind Generators Power

The power ratings usually given by the manufacturers for wind generators are nearly useless, in that they are determined at wind speeds much higher that you will normally see. A good rough formula to keep in mind in evaluating different wind turbines is:

Annual Output (KWH/year) = 0.01328 (D^2) (V^3) source...

Where D^2 is the blade diameter in feet squared, and V^3 is the wind velocity cubed in mph -- this is the year around average wind speed.  Another way to show it is (0.01328 x D x D x V x V x V).

So, a 10 ft diameter wind turbine in 12 mph average winds might produce about (0.01328)(10^2)(12^3) = 2300 KWH/year.  With a 15 foot diameter it calculates as (0.1328)(15^2)(12^3) = 5150 KWH/year.  Notice that a 50% increase in blade diameter equates to a 120% increase in power.  Another way to look at it is that a 15 foot diameter blade in 9 MPH winds will produce almost the same energy as the 10 ft blade in 12 MPH winds.

Pay very close attention to that formula when you are designing you system.  The power output is the square of the blade diameter and the cube of wind speed.  Locating your wind generators where you get every last MPH out of the wind is vital.  But since most people don't have control over their wind speed, the diameter of the blade makes the biggest difference.  Even a modest increase from a 10 foot to 12 foot diameter increases the output by 44% in 12 MPH winds.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Do You Have Enough Wind For Your Wind Generators

To generate wind power you need wind speeds that exceed 8 MPH - ideally you would like an average wind speed of 12 MPH.  Now you don't need this all the time of course, but the more often you have wind the more often you will be generating wind power.  I know of wind projects - large wind farms in fact - that were designed knowing there would only be adequate wind 29 days a year.  If they get 32 days the investors are celebrating because of all the extra money sailing in (pun intended).  But for wind generators at home we would prefer more days to justify our efforts.

So - where can you look to get an idea if you have enough wind?  Try these links:

For USA: Click Here or Click Here

For Canada:  WUnderground Click Here

UK or Europe:  XCWeather Click Here

Australia:  WUnderground Click Here

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Since I'm in a small town in Colorado my specific data isn't available but i can do a little extrapolation.  Denver seems to average 8.7 MPH for the year.  Colorado Springs averages 10.0 MPH for the year.  And looking at the rest of the Colorado towns it appears that there is a good amount of wind most of the year.

One of the things I find surprising browsing through the data is that places I have always assumed were windy sometimes just aren't.  Wyoming has a reputation for wind, but when I look at Lander, WY I see they average less than Denver.  Cheyenne and Casper - they're begging for wind generators.

Make sure you do a web search on your area if you are not specifically listed.  Even though my city wasn't listed on the web site it turned out that Colorado State University had performed a 14 month study recently up here.  Sometimes you just get lucky.

In future articles we'll cover the next considerations for building and installing wind generators: power needs, storage, backup plans, etc. In the meantime if you are serious about building your own wind generators here is a source that has passed our tests and is probably one of the best out there for getting you started.

Not in an area with enough wind?  Then maybe it's time to consider solar.  Watch for that series of articles too.
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Windmill Blades – Make them or Buy Them?

So you’ve decided to build your own wind generators, you know a windmill that produces power for your home. Possibly you took the right steps and purchased one of the top guides that teach the subject. Or maybe you’re more daring and trying to do it without professionally written instruction. In either case one area where many people get stuck is when it comes time to create their windmill blades.

Really when you get to this step you have two separate options:

  •     Build them yourself – Obviously this is the least expensive route
  •     Buy Premade Windmill Blades – Costs more but is a lot less work

From that I wanted to take some time to talk about the advantages/disadvantages of going either way. In reality if you put a value to your time, by the time you finish building the wind turbine blades yourself, the cost is close to equal. On the other hand, if you’re cheap like me, it might be that you’d rather do it yourself and save the money. In either case there are advantages to going either way.

Buying Your Windmill Blades

First let’s cover the advantages of buying your blades. In this case they are really quite obvious.

  •     The blades are professionally made
  •     More varieties of materials you can buy your blades in
  •     Less concern about getting the correct shape to catch the wind.

Of course there are also disadvantages to buying windmill blades instead of making them yourself. First, it becomes more difficult to tailor your blades to the generator you selected/created for your DIY windmill. And then, of course, there is the cost involved.
Machined blades can run you as much as $1,000 or more. To offset that cost, you may want to check eBay. Often you can find premade blades there, in diameters of 4’ to 6’, for around $100.
Making Your Own Windmill Blades

While there are advantages to buying your windmill blades, there are also some big advantages to building them yourself.

  •     The blades are created with your actual windmill design in mind.
  •     You save your money, and your home power system will cost less.
  •     You get to choose the style of turbine blade to fit your area. Especially in low wind speed areas, this is important.
  •     You get the satisfaction of telling everyone – you did it!

If you do choose to build your own windmill blades, I suggest you take the time to learn about the top three wind power conversion guides. With my top pick specifically, they recently added a video that teaches that exact topic.
In any case, be sure to take the time to design your blades to fit your application. Taking the time to do so will ensure your wind mill operates trouble-free for years to come!

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