Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wind Power

One of my concerns about wind power is that most generators, at least a few years ago, were designed for moderate winds -- many did not even start to turn until they reached 12 MPH.  There is a good reason for this: power production goes with the cube of wind speed (or at least I have a recollection that it is something like that).  I see now wind generators designed to at least start generating some power at much more reasonable speeds.  GudCraft sells a nominal 450 watt generator that actually starts to generate a tiny amount of power at 3 meters/second (which is a bit more than 6 MPH).  The power production is tiny, of course, but if you have a place with a consistent wind and occasional bursts of 20 MPH, and it only costs $300 for the generator, you can start to think of having several of these running at once.

My guess is that these are an importer for somewhere in the Far East, based on price, and the tragically bad English on their website.  It does make me consider the possibility of using a generator, a charge controller, and a deep discharge battery to provide at least lighting and electric garage door opener power for the telescope garage.  The initial costs for something like this is around $500 to $600, if I do this myself, and that is cheap enough for a science experiment.

The downside is if you buy a charge controller big enough to expand to an orchard of generators, you have spent a good bit of money.  But it should be possible to figure out from one generator whether this is going to make sense to to scale up to a bunch of 450 watt generators.


  1. Remember that they don't generate if the wind is too strong.

    In Britain our peak demands for electricity occur during our coldest days when, typically, we have a high pressure zone settled over us and therefore practically no wind at all.

  2. I'm extremely dubious about the reliability of such a generator (at that price point and from that vendor, that is).

    For lighting alone, I'd say just a solar-cell system and some LED lights - the whole system would probably cost less than that generator, and be more reliable; you'd only need maybe a 5 or 10 watt panel, tops, to get enough power to run some LEDs and charge a small battery, even in winter.

    Not sure what kind of drain the door-opener presents, or how practical that'd be.

    Of course, realistically, one uses a garage door so rarely that the same solution is to just wire it to the mains system.

    Or open it manually.