Wind Scorpion Wind Turbine

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DIY wind power generation

I bought a Wind Scorpion wind turbine to augment the solar panels in the off-grid power system I use for my cottage. At the northern latitudes where I live the solar panels get covered with snow for most of the winter. This meant that there was always the danger that the batteries would get run down and freeze, which would ruin them. A wind turbine looked like a good option and Thermodyne Systems had what looked like the best bang for the buck.

I installed it last year, and so far it has run without any problems. I was concerned that it would be noisy, but the noise at full speed is equivalent to an electric induction motor running, which is okay. It’s cool to look up and see it spinning away generating electricity.

The turbine itself costs around $500 shipped, but you also need a tower and wiring. I used an old TV antenna tower and a length of pipe. The tower was free and the material and shipping brought the total cost to about $750. This is for the add-on to an existing solar system. If you are starting from scratch, the solar panels, charge controller, batteries and inverter for a small system will set you back a minimum of $1,800. That and your free labor is the cost of not having an electric bill in your mailbox every month.

The result looks a bit jury rigged, which I take a perverse pride in. You need to a have knowledge of electrical and construction technology together with tools and skills to do it yourself. Raising a 40′ tower requires planning and a bit of overarching self-confidence. A similar system I looked at that was put together by a professional contractor reportedly cost over $15,000. I am on the lookout for more tower sections so I can raise the turbine up another 20 feet to catch more wind. The challenges never stop.

Thermodyne operates through their website and pride themselves on being paperless. Email inquiries were promptly answered and the order was shipped the next day.

There are competing wind turbines, but I haven’t had any experience with them. They look more finished, but the advertised prices are about double for a machine with equivalent output.

-- Brian Hughes 07/17/12

Excerpt


Brian's wind turbine at home.

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