As climate change worsens, businesses and homeowners are urged to switch to renewable energy sources. Solar energy grew popular fast, and solar panels are now less expensive. But how about wind energy?
In the past, farms and homes with their own windmills were quite common. A windmill is a wind-powered device that converts wind energy into mechanical energy using vanes. Now, we’re bringing wind energy back, but instead of windmills, we now use wind turbines.
Wind turbines are often seen in wind farms. The biggest ones include the Jiquan Wind Power Base in China, Jaisalmer Wind Park in India, and Alta Wind Center in the United States. Thanks to the towering poles and their gigantic blades, these farms supply energy to a whole city. That said, if you want to use wind energy, do you have to move to a city with wind turbines?
Not necessarily, because you can build your own wind turbine. In this article, we’ll see how much it would cost you and whether it’s a feasible solution or not.
Wind Turbine vs. Windmill
Is a wind turbine really necessary to draw wind energy, or can you use a windmill, like in the old times? Are they even different? Though the terms “windmill” and “wind turbine” can be used interchangeably, there are, in fact, a few differences between the two.
Their appearances themselves cause all those differences. The blades of a windmill are called vanes, and when they spin, they also make the grain mill spin. While the main function of a grain mill is to produce grain and flour, it’s also capable of pumping water to houses and homes. People in the past used windmills for their pumps, not their electrical devices, because they didn’t exist back then.
Wind turbines were first used around 1888, almost a decade after electricity was invented. Unlike a windmill, a wind turbine was specifically designed for electricity production in the U.S.
Wind turbines don’t convert wind energy into mechanical energy. Instead, it uses a generator installed inside of them and connected to the spinning vane rod. Hence, the generator also spins when the wind blows the turbines. As a result, an electric current is produced, which can charge batteries and power up electronics.
Building Your Own Wind Turbine
To build your personal wind turbine, you’d need its four main components, which are:
- Vehicle alternator with built-in voltage regulator
- Fan and clutch assembly
- Tower or pole
- Bracket for the generator
These materials could cost you no more than $1,000, depending on your chosen brands. If you’d built a more industrial type of wind turbine, expect to shell out a lot more. You might also require transportation services for the blades because they might not fit in your own vehicle.
You’d also spend more if you’d hire professional services for the construction of your wind turbine. It’s not a simple DIY job, after all. Though you can probably start the project with your trusty toolbox, it will be time-consuming, not to mention risky, if you have no prior experience building a wind turbine.
Installation and Maintenance
A wind turbine works best in windy locations. It should also be allowed under the zoning laws and covenants of the area. There should also be incentives for businesses or homeowners using wind energy in a particular location.
The wind turbine should be installed by a professional, whether you’ve built it yourself or not. A professional would, of course, charge, so include their fees in your budget as well. Once the wind turbines have been installed, maintenance should be easy without a pro.
Besides, you only need to check the wind turbines every year. Your annual maintenance checklist should look like this:
- Check and tighten the bolts and electrical connections as needed.
- Inspect machines for corrosion and ensure the proper tension of the guy wires.
- Check for and replace any damaged or worn-out parts.
- Replace components such as the turbine blades and/or bearings if needed.
If you’d order a wind turbine instead of building one, choose one that’s been tested and certified to national performance and safety standards. Get advice from an electrician or any wind energy expert. When built correctly, installed right, and maintained diligently, a wind turbine will pay off in energy savings and a better environment.
Considering all of these, it’s indeed feasible to build your own wind turbine for your home or business. The upfront costs can be high, but maintenance costs little to none. It can give you a secure energy source during a natural disaster, like hurricanes or earthquakes.