Wind Solar Hydro

Commonly asked questions:

Wind, Solar & Hydroelectric Power
Design Guide

Q.  What size machine will I need?

A.  The size of machine needed depends upon the amount of power you use. The higher the electrical demand you have, the larger the machine needed. Also if you live in an area with low wind you would need a larger machine in order to produce the most power with the available wind.


Q. How tall of a tower will I need?

A.  A tower must be no shorter than 15 ft above any obstruction within 300 ft radius. The minimum recommended height is 30 ft.
A good way to find out how tall your tower will need to be, is to use 5 helium balloons with a 100 ft string. Every 10 ft put a ribbon down to the height of 30 ft, and watch which ribbon is sticking out straight, that is the height you want to put your machine for the best performance. The ribbons should be about 10 ft long.


Q.  How much power will a wind machine produce?

A.  Machines are rated at maximum output at wind speeds of 30-35 MPH. A 10 KW machine will produce 10 KW of power per hour at that wind speed. Since that type of wind is not always blowing, the multi-blade design enables the start up generation of power at 3-6 MPH and as the wind speed increases, so does the power output.


Q.  What if the wind isn’t blowing?

A.  If you have a utility interconnect there is no problem as the utility’s power takes over. If you have been connected to the power line and putting your excess power into the line causing your meter to turn backwards, you will have a credit until the end of the year that you can use when you have to buy electricity from the power company so you will not be charged unless you use more power than you have a credit for. With an independent remote power system, power that is stored in batteries can be used during times when no power is being generated.


Q.  With an independent remote system how many batteries will I need?

A.  Battery output should match the machine’s output. Look at Batteries like a Bank account. The more Amperage you have, the longer you can draw out. Figure out how much power you are going to use in Watts, add up all your Appliances.


Q.  What kind of tower should I have?

A.  You could have a compression tower, which is less expensive or you could have a free standing tower which costs more. A free standing tower does not need to have guy wires so it uses less overall ground space, and a free standing tower also has better stability.


Q.  What is a compression tower?

A.  A compression tower is not a self supporting tower so it needs to be guyed with cables in three directions.


Q.  How do I erect a tower?

A.  There are several ways. There are examples below ,and on the next page.


Q.  What does an inverter do?

A.  An inverter converts DC power to AC power.


Q.  What voltage can I use?

A.  Inverters come in 12V—24V—48V, 120V DC to 120 Volt AC power.


Q.  What voltage do I need to run an inverter?

A.  You must first calculate your total power consumption. The inverter you use must be rated at least 25% higher than this figure to prevent overloading it.


Q.  What is a Sine-wave Inverter?

A.  A Sine-wave Synchronous is true 60 cycle just like household power from the power company.


Q.  What is a modified Square Wave Inverter?

A.  Modified Square Wave works with most appliances, but can not be interfaced with the power line.


Q.  Can I run my house with wind power?

A.  There are many people out there without power lines. For example I sold a 5 KW machine to a customer. When we had the last ice storm he was without power for two weeks and he said if they would have never reconnected him it would not have bothered him.


Q.  What is the power factor in the Wind?

A.  Every time the wind doubles, the power factor increases 8 times (8:1 ratio). For example, if you have a 10 KW wind machine and the wind would blow at 12 MPH for 24 hours you would get 49.9 KW in that time. But if the wind would blow 24 MPH but only for 12 Hours, you would get 419 KW in that time.


Q.  Should I get a three blade, a single blade, or a multi-blade machine?

A.  If you have a constant high wind, you could use a two or three blade machine. If your average wind is below 12 MPH you would be much better off with a multi-blade, as they start at much lower wind.


Q.  Do I need a gearbox?

A.  A gearbox has up to 50% friction loss. You decide!


Q.  What size machine should I buy?

A.  Big enough to take care of your power needs. It is recommended to go 25% above your power consumption. If you set up your equipment properly you can be just as comfortable as you would be with the power line.


Q.  Can I sell my excess power?

A.  Yes you can sell your excess power. The Federal Government requires that the power company buys the power. Also check with your state utility commission as different states have different incentives for alternative energy.


Q.  What if I have no power line?

A.  You can use your own power and nobody will send you a electric bill or disconnect your power.


Q.  What machine is best for me?

A.  The permanent magnet machines are the best in direct drive generators because they are 90% efficient.


Q.  What is a permanent magnet alternator?

A.  Permanent magnet alternators are self energizing. It does not need to be fed with power.


Q.  What about water turbines?

A.  If you have a creek, you have a gold mine because it is steady
power day and night.


Q.  What kinds are there?

A.  Micro Hydroelectric from head range from 20 to 200 ft or a floating turbine.Micro Hydroelectric comes with two or four nozzles intake, each with a 2” intake pipe.
A floating system must be custom built for the amount of water, and the speed at which it flows.


Q.  Is solar better than wind?

A.  Solar is a good power source, except it does not work at night. It is also more spendy per watt compared to wind power, (Solar can cost between $4-$6 per watt. Wind machines cost $1-$2 per watt.) The average sunlight in the Northwest is 4.5 hours a day a day.Wind can blow DAY AND NIGHT.


Q.  Should I combine wind & solar?

A.  It is a good combination to combine wind & solar. You will always get some amount of power from solar during the day, even if it is cloudy. On most cloudy days it is windy, and on most clear sunny days there is little wind so they compliment each other.


Q.  What if I do not get enough power from wind & solar?

A.  You could add more wind machines or solar panels, or you could add a generator for stand by power. You may need to cut back on your consumption to conserve energy.


Q.  Should I buy more batteries?

A.  Remember that you should never mix old and new batteries. Batteries are like a bank account, no matter how much you start out with, if you keep drawing out of it, and don't replenish it you will run out!!!
We can calculate for you how many batteries you will need if you let us know how much power you use in your household.