BHM's Homesteading & Self-Reliance Forum

Posting requires Registration and the use of Cookies-enabled browser


Go Back   BHM Forum > Homesteading > Energy > Hydro/Wind/Wood/Geothermal

Hydro/Wind/Wood/Geothermal And other types of alternative energy

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-10-2012, 02:28 PM
randallhilton's Avatar
randallhilton Male randallhilton is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Fort Worth TX
Posts: 1,443
Default Windpower durability

Just out of curiosity I would love to hear from those of you who have been harnessing the wind for your electric power for 3 years or more. Have your generators been durable? What sort of maintenance have you had to perform? What sort of challenges has the weather brought you?

thanks in advance!
__________________

Use less, lose less, weigh the benefits, count the costs.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-13-2012, 03:37 PM
Faith123 Female Faith123 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Illinois/UP Michigan
Posts: 221
Default

We recently bought a place with a turbine, and though we have limited experience, the previous owner was a meticulous record keeper, so we know a bit and are learning the rest.

I think this is the model we have:

http://www.windenergy.com/products/whisper/whisper-200

It has been in operation for 8 years or so. About five years ago, and again now, the windmill has had the same problem. There is a bronze bushing and a furling pin that allow the two halves of the windmill to separate. The bushing over time wears down and the two halves of the casing do not line up as well and casings start to wear, possibly jamming in an open position and allowing the elements inside the turbine.

Now this thing sitting on top of the 80 foot tower looked small, but when we dropped the tower and got a closer look, it is really big and heavy. I can carry the tail section comfortably, but the blade assembly with alternator is really really heavy. The blades are really delicate, and we just took those off to avoid busting them up.

Upon dropping the turbine, we found the nose cone was cracked, both casings needed replacement from wear (Including bushings and such), the tail fin had become brittle and broke off, and the brush assemblies that transfer the energy down the pole were all cracked and needed replacement. About $1000 worth of parts every 5 years, by our account. Still a must-have for us since we are off grid, though this time of year the solar panels do a bang-up job of supplying us with most of what we need. As far as we know the alternator is still functioning, we have yet to give it a spin and see.

The 80 foot pole is footed in concrete with 4x5 guy wires keeping it upright. The pole is sturdy, but is so long it flops around like a wet noodle without the guy wires. We dropped the pole for the first time last weekend and it was an all-day project, but with a little tweaking of the way the guy wires are set up, we could streamline it a bit. Mr. Faith had to buy $200 worth of rope to attach to the gin pole to drop the thing, and several $100+ pulleys. And Super industrial carabiners. And a tractor. A truck would probably do, but once that thing started coming down, I was glad it was attached to a big hunk of metal with ag tires on it, since I was the one 'catching' the thing as it came down.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-13-2012, 04:20 PM
grumble Male grumble is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: W NM, a rifle shot from the Great Divide
Posts: 2,640
Default

One of the smartest engineers I ever knew used to say, "I can give you 99.99% reliability if you will eliminate spinning masses and inductive devices." A generator is both.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-13-2012, 07:13 PM
Faith123 Female Faith123 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Illinois/UP Michigan
Posts: 221
Default

If we weren't so far north, we could probably get by with just solar. We were able to run a small refrigerator, microwave, compressor, and power saw while the sun was out with minimal drain that was made up quite quickly. In the winter we won't really need the fridge, so we could probably survive on just solar. Randallhilton, if you are setting up a system in Texas, I would suggest solar. Unless you wanted the novelty of a turbine. Think of it like a porsche. You could do without it, and having one is cool, but when something goes wrong, you are going to pay for your replacement parts.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-14-2012, 09:31 PM
Plowpoint Male Plowpoint is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 493
Default

My Uncle has one and it has been so-so. I think he has had his up for 10 years now, but it has not come even close to paying for itself. It is grid-tied, cost about 17,000 dollars and came from Southwest Power. It puts out about 5KW.

His has help up well, it is just that it is set up to shut down when it hits 32 degrees. He told the company they had to do something about that because this is Maine and we are below 32 degrees a lot. They adjusted it so it kicks out at 17 degrees, but they would not go any lower. That still stops a lot of power production in Maine.

But it has been pretty reliable.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-06-2012, 01:04 PM
randallhilton's Avatar
randallhilton Male randallhilton is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Fort Worth TX
Posts: 1,443
Default Wind power blunder

I appreciate the candid responses to my query. Off grid energy is hard. Wind power generation seems to be hardest.

It seems to me that wind power to operate a well pump, which helped to settle the West, is a far different equation than wind power to produce electricity.

Here's a recent report noted at one web site I frequent.

On a home based scale, I suppose that if there were no other energy source wind would be worth the price but somehow it has to be productive enough to create the revenues required to maintain it.

One of the important things I've gleaned from the wisdom on this forum is that learning to use less is absolutely crucial to becoming more self reliant.
__________________

Use less, lose less, weigh the benefits, count the costs.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-06-2012, 02:51 PM
Dennis G Male Dennis G is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 377
Default A question

I plan on having grid power for my farm house and warehouse/barn. Back up would be two 500 gallon tanks of propane PLUS a 25KW propane generator.

BUT..if the SHTF, I will assume the grid goes down for a few years and propane becomes hard to come by

SO, I plan to meet 30 % of my needs thru solar - that allows me to charge up batteries, and electric golf carts, and keep my freezers cold and run small pumps to move water around. Ok, no airconditioning in the summer, but that is fine. The solar keeps my lights and radios working.

IN additon, I am thinking of mounting two or three of these small wind units seeing as the solar set up will have the deep batteries and inverters and all that anyway.

http://shopping.yahoo.com/1023355074...4I2BpaI0IbFt0A

My idea is that at night when the wind still blows, these little units will continue to charge up the deep batteries.

I would welcome any input or comments or experiences.

Thanks!

Dennis G
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-06-2012, 03:24 PM
Txanne's Avatar
Txanne Female Txanne is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: SE Texas
Posts: 14,233
Default

Dennis--love the propane generator--we use them alot in this area--very stable.

But have noticed a serious increase in cost for propane--I heat with it.
One thing you can do in Texas--if you are a regular customer--sign up for a fixed rate.
Its a contract--helps the provider cut his cost and lock in prices.
Just a thought--had one resturant owner here after hurricanes Rita and IKE didnt miss
a step--didnt lose his frozen foods and was open for business the day after.
He had 2 monster units---

Sincerely
Txanne
__________________
TROUBLE RIDES A FAST HORSE
CASUS BELLI
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-06-2012, 05:37 PM
Dennis G Male Dennis G is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 377
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Txanne View Post
Dennis--love the propane generator--we use them alot in this area--very stable.

But have noticed a serious increase in cost for propane--I heat with it.
One thing you can do in Texas--if you are a regular customer--sign up for a fixed rate.
Its a contract--helps the provider cut his cost and lock in prices.
Just a thought--had one resturant owner here after hurricanes Rita and IKE didnt miss
a step--didnt lose his frozen foods and was open for business the day after.
He had 2 monster units---

Sincerely
Txanne
where I live in Norfolk is subject to the occasional power outage, I got tired of them one time when a hurricane blew thru so got a whole house natural gas generator...no hassle with tanks and all that.

At the farm (where I am going to retire to in a few years) the place has one full size freezer (besides the ubiquitous side by side) so I put in a propane standby generator. I was hoping that them little wind power units will work along with the solar panels to keep the deep batteries all charged up, day and night.

Dennis G
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-27-2012, 07:48 AM
Plowpoint Male Plowpoint is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 493
Default

I have said for years that there has got to be a better way to harness wind power then converting it to electricity. I am convinced it just is not the best conversion process for this type of energy. Myself I would like to see wind power be converted into heat because in my Maine home, heat is what costs me; whether it is to heat my house or heat my domestic water, heating water is expensive.

I recently read a mechanical book from 1903 and in it there was an explanation of thermodynamics that I am going to experiment with. I live on a huge hill where wind power companies have already determined there is sufficient wind for commercial use, so I know the wind energy is here, I just must tap into it. But like Grumble says, making a windmill is tough. It has the same dynamic forces as building an airplane...pretty daunting.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 09-27-2012, 06:45 PM
grumble Male grumble is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: W NM, a rifle shot from the Great Divide
Posts: 2,640
Default

The hardest part of an efficient alternative energy system is storing what gets produced. With water, it's fairly simple, just pump the water in a tank where you can tap it when needed. Electricity and heat are a bit of a different problem, much less efficient to store. Some wind systems pump water into a lake above the windmills, and use water flowing out of the lake to drive a turbine to generate electricity, or pump compressed air into a cave or mine shaft to do similar energy production. Not a bad plan, so long as more can be pumped into the reservoir than is used before the next pumping cycle. And, of course, assuming you happen to have a lake or mine shaft handy.

To directly produce heat from a windmill, you have to store it. Possibly using a compressible fluid for a heat pump type system? Phase changing crystals? Some sort of super-insulated heat sink, like rocks or water? Lots of possibilities, but certainly beyond my meager abilities to design and build.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 09-27-2012, 07:52 PM
Plowpoint Male Plowpoint is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 493
Default

Yeah I never really thought of it like that before...

The wind blows a lot here but not all the time, yet my water heater (year around) and my boiler (150 days a year) run keeping water warm so that I can have domestic hot water and heat. If I was to devise a wind mill that would convert wind energy into heat and supplement those two units, then for every btu I get that does not have to derive from propane, would save me money. Storage could be nill, but as you say, storing hot water is easy, and with pumps, valves and controllers, easy to manipulate where you want it too.

But you would have to devise a way to do that which was reliable and efficient...tough to do.

The other issue is, just because the wind blows does not mean it is the best energy to use. My garden hose gets pretty hot just lying in the sun, maybe my south facing roof on my 2300 ranch style home would be a better "heater"...

I guess that is the question???
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 09-27-2012, 08:21 PM
grumble Male grumble is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: W NM, a rifle shot from the Great Divide
Posts: 2,640
Default

For my way of thinking, I like the solar heater idea better than the wind. Seems like the design would be much "cleaner" and less complicated.

T'were it me, I'd try to use the solar- (or, if you figure it out, the wind-) generated hot water as a preheater to your current system. If there's no alternative hot water feeding the system, you'll be right where you are now. If you do get some alternative heat (which you should, except during the worst storms), every BTU added will be that much less wood or gas you need to operate your current system.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 10-01-2012, 08:37 AM
Plowpoint Male Plowpoint is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 493
Default

I agree...I am just not sure how efficient the system would be. I am sure in the summer the solar would work well, but summer here in Maine is not very long and being close to the water, we get a lot of fog. Then of course you have nightfall, so would it be worth building a system that can only be used 25% of the time...but work well when it does?

Wind on the other hand blows far more often here, but like you said, it would be a lot more complicated to design.

One possibility may be to go with a wood heating system in the winter, and then the solar system in the summer. I am in the process of getting my entire house retrofitted into having radiant floor heat. I am 60% there now, but have a very sophisticated, and up to date, radiant floor system. The computer handles everything so thankfully my only real design challenge is to get 100-150 degree water to my main boiler loop. It can handle that hot water from there.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 01-31-2013, 10:39 PM
act5860's Avatar
act5860 Male act5860 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 13
Default another possibility for hot water

I don't know much about them, but I've heard of hot water heaters used overseas called "flash heaters" or something like that. They run off propane and only fire up when needed to provide hot water.

Can anyone provide any insight about these?
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 01-31-2013, 11:54 PM
HuntingHawk HuntingHawk is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,409
Default

They are called demand hot water heaters here & used in RVs & such.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 02-01-2013, 12:07 AM
act5860's Avatar
act5860 Male act5860 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 13
Default

Sounds like they could stretch a limited supply of propane a long way. Other than the fact that once TSHTF there won't be a propane supply, what other drawbacks do you see?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 02-01-2013, 11:13 AM
DavidOH's Avatar
DavidOH Male DavidOH is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Central, OH
Posts: 2,440
Default Tankless Water Heaters

The "on demand" water heaters or "tankless" have been around for a decade of more.

http://www.compactappliance.com/Ecco..._Water_Heaters

Some will run on Natural Gas others on Propane.
Some use an AC powered igniter others use a battery powered igniter, and some will have a pilot light.

When my home needed a new one, I asked the plumber about one.
The home versions will need ventilation! THAT gets expensive.
The home versions were about $800 - $1100 PLUS installation.
A POWERED vent would be needed so that was another expense.
I choose instead a new tank, with a pilot light. In the end the cost would be less or about the same.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 02-01-2013, 04:30 PM
randallhilton's Avatar
randallhilton Male randallhilton is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Fort Worth TX
Posts: 1,443
Default tankless vs tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidOH View Post
The "on demand" water heaters or "tankless" have been around for a decade of more.. . .
When my home needed a new one, I asked the plumber about one.
The home versions will need ventilation! THAT gets expensive.
The home versions were about $800 - $1100 PLUS installation.
A POWERED vent would be needed so that was another expense.
I choose instead a new tank, with a pilot light. In the end the cost would be less or about the same.
(I've been a plumber for decades)
Actually, the tank type water heaters replaced the "on demand" water heaters back in the early to mid 1900's. The tank type heaters were a vast improvement because they didn't require huge burners. Demand heaters often exploded but so did the early tank models.
(here's a video I made)


These days, we have safer gas controls but physics never change. It still takes lots of btus to heat water "instantly." As 12Vman has noted, he simply uses the heat of a pilot light to keep his water tank warm enough.

Total cost of ownership of a tankless heater will be significantly higher than a tank type because the coils will lime up and those high tech controls will become fouled. If you're on a propane tank, you could end up with a cold shower if the tank is not full because of the big pressure drop you get from a high demand burner.

After saying all that. . .I will say that when it comes time to replace our tank I plan to install an "RV" sized demand water heater because we have reduced water usage significantly as part of our reduced reliance lifestyle. I'll still have a tank but it will be warmed by solar heat as a "pre-warmer" for the tiny demand heater.
__________________

Use less, lose less, weigh the benefits, count the costs.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 02-11-2013, 10:38 AM
Plowpoint Male Plowpoint is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 493
Default

Wind power is really tough. I think a lot of people look at wind power not realizing that a wind mill has the same physics applied to it as a small plane. I think if a person goes into making a wind mill with that in mind; and that is, it is going to be a challenging project to accomplish, they will do well, but for those thinking it is simple to harness the wind; I think they are literally in for a crash course on the realities of the dynamic forces of wind.

I recently read an article on electrical wave generation. It is really easy to get a device to take the up and down movement of waves and convert it into electricity, yet another to make a device that can survive the dynamic forces of wave action. Considering what our rocky shores look like in Maine, that too is a daunting task and the article in Smithsonian was intriguing into what it is going to take.

Myself, I just got through my biggest electrical demand month; January. But if I was smart, I would look at ways into reducing my demand. For instance my biggest electrical users generate heat; heat for my chicken coop, heat for my stock tanks and heat for my tractors engine block. There are multiple ways I could get rid of all of them, and I think that is where myself, and other people go wrong.

My Uncle spent 17 grand to save $60 per month on electricity with a wind mill. It gets attention, but he would be much better off financially if he took that 17 grand and invested it in efficient appliances. I think wise people would find alternatives to their high demand electrical devices instead of trying to cobble devices to make more electricity that they are really only wasting.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -2. The time now is 03:35 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© 1996 to Present. Backwoods Home Magazine, Inc.