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How Wind Power Can Save You Money

The basis for much of modern wind power technology dates back to ancient times. Wind power was first used as an aid to process grain and pump water into Persia between 500 and 900 AD. These early windmills were based on a vertical shaft design and featured large mats made of reed for the sails. Even though these early attempts were crude by today’s standards, they proved that the power of the wind could be harvested to help with manual tasks.

This early design has matured through the years and changed to the more familiar horizontal-axis design seen today as this technology made its way to Europe around 1300 AD. The reasons for this change to the horizontal design have been lost to history, but it is thought that these early European windmills borrowed some of their construction from the waterwheels that were popular there for centuries. A horizontal-axis wind turbine also allows you to take advantage of more of the available wind since it doesn’t require the shielding that a vertical-axis design demands.

Adopting these early models for the generation of electricity happened first in Cleveland, Ohio in 1888. This early wind-powered turbine could only generate a very small amount of current for its large size, but proved that this technology could be used as an alternative energy source. This initial design has been refined over the years to result in the modern version of these wind-power systems.

Residential wind power was slow to be adopted by homeowners because of the early model’s large size and low power output. The challenge for these early designs was that they were based on their very successful commercial brethren and didn’t really perform well in residential settings. The reasons for this were that even though these residential versions were smaller than the commercial units they borrowed their design from, they were still too large for many homes. They also required a very strong and steady wind to operate and had to be raised up in the air on a very tall and expensive tower to find this type of breeze. This tower would also create complaints from neighbors and led to many areas enacting rules about where these types of systems could be installed.

All of these problems have been addressed in modern versions of these wind power systems. The design of most modern wind turbines has changed to make them smaller and lighter, which allows them to harvest the slower and bursting wind typically found in most neighborhoods. Because of their smaller size, they don’t require the larger towers the older versions needed and most of these new wind turbines can even be mounted directly on the roof of your home. This helps to lower the installation costs and makes it easier to service the turbine if needed.

In addition to their smaller size, these newer wind-power turbines are also more efficient. Changes to their designs allow them to generate substantially more power from an average breeze than older models. This increased efficiency is due mainly to two design changes in these newer turbines.

First, the blades are designed to harvest more of the passing breeze. Where older blade designs only reacted to the pressure of the wind known as “drag”, these newer models can also take advantage of “lift”. This allows these modern wind-power turbines to spin in slower winds, which means they are productive for more of an average day. These new blade designs also enable these turbines to spin faster, and more revolutions equates to more power being generated.

The next big change in these newer wind-power turbines has to do with the generators used in their design. These generators are connected to the shaft that is spun by the blades and is the part of a wind-power system that creates the actual power. Modern generators present less of an obstacle to rotation because of improved materials and bearing designs. This allows the blades to react to lighter winds and actually spin the generator at these lower speeds. These newer generators are also more powerful and can produce a higher output of power from a single rotation. These two factors combine to allow these wind turbines to provide far more power than older versions in a given day.

Modern versions of these wind power systems enjoy another advantage over other alternative energy solutions (like solar power) in that they can operate day or night as long as the breeze is blowing. Even the most efficient solar power systems available can only operate for a portion of a given day and are actually dormant for more of the day than they are active. Most wind power systems can’t produce nearly the amount of power as a typical solar power solution, but they are active more often and can help to close the gap between these systems over time. In fact, many homeowners install a wind power system on their home along with a solar power solution to allow this complimentary technology to augment the electricity the solar power system provides.

Installing one of these wind power systems is simply a matter of mounting a wind turbine on your home and connecting it to your electrical system. Some of these units require an inverter to transform the DC current they produce into AC current that can be used by your home. Other models have a small inverter included in their design and can actually deliver AC power right to your home. This makes the installation very easy and allows a homeowner to do most of the work themselves. You will still need to have a professional make the final electrical connections to your home to be sure everything passes inspection.

The way these systems save you money each month is by generating free electricity from the wind and using this power in your home. This allows you to buy less of the expensive power your local utility is now selling you and will have a substantial impact on your energy costs each month. In some cases a combination solar and wind-power system can even generate more electricity than your home is using and will produce an income for you each month when your power company pays you for this excess power.

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  1. I read this interesting article and would like to know what vendors might you recommend?

  2. I have been following windmills for years. I just last month checked into the latest and most powerful version. A windmill that would supply 30% of the power I need would pay for itself in just over 80 years. The only way to save money with a windmill is to buy a house that already has one. Sure the smaller ones like in the picture ($6000 to $10000 ) will supply a fraction of the power you need but it’s such a small amount it will probably break down before it comes close to paying for itself. If you find one for $2000 to $3000 not be fooled, it will be cheaply made and inefficent with a very short life span. I would love to use a windmill to cut my electric bill but I have yet to find one that can come close to living up to the hype.

  3. I purchased 2 Southwest Windpower units in 1999, roughly 800 Watts peak each , but my mounting had to be at about 35 Ft AGL, which is about 8 Ft above the roof peak of my workshop, which is not really high enough to get away from ground turbulence. These were part of a small battery and inverter backup system for Y2K. While the generators do produce power, they only do so when the wind is noticeably uncomfortable, and there is a narrow band between producing about 50% peak power and making a LOT of noise. I put in a paging based decoder from Nighthawk systems to allow my neighbors to call the pager number and shut them down if the wind came up suddenly and we were away from home. We also turn them off at night… We live on 5 Acres, as do our neighbors, but we did not want to be hated for making a lot of noise, so I have kept the wind machines mostly for TEOTWAKI as an augmentation to our mostly solar power, with two 2.5 KW solar panel systems on WattSun AZ-225 trackers. “Shotei” above points out that the economics are just not there for wind. Plus, I would NOT put up a big Bergey or other large wind system in a residential neighborhood. It is a HUGE liability in the event that a blade comes off, and they are ugly and noisy and your neighbors will hate you. I wouldn’t put one within 500 Ft of my home due to the danger. The Windspire vertical shaft units are popping up all around town, but I worry about the noise from them, too. For their high installed cost and low output, 1 KW, they do not look promising to me. The Mojave Desert where I live has some awful windstorms, and I worry about the mechanical integrity of wind machines. The big ones require annual maintenance. A fellow that put in quite a number of Kedco windmills at remote cabins in the 1980s & 1990s has told me that they all eventually blew apart. The owners were not willing to spend the money for him to climb up and do the maintenance every year. Most owners are not trained or inclined to go up on towers. Please be safe. Solar is not really “green” either, as most people decide to install solar because of the incentives, which are dwindling in California. Also, the manufacture of solar cells overseas just means that the poisons are created over there instead of here. Still, I chose to put in solar power, doing all the installation myself, with permits, as TEOTWAWKI preparation. However, solar is an obvious billboard saying that “a Prepper lives here”…. Ed

    • There is a better windmill, actually Jay Leno had one installed for his auto collection, it is design after the Squirrel cage or the fan system they use in Water coolers of the southwest….they have a lot of narrow thin blades and only one shaft… they turn so easily no matter which way the wind is blowing…….

      • I live in the high desert area of So. Calif. (Yucca Valley) and I’m considering purchasing one of the FALCON Series Vertical Axis Wind Turbines in my backyard. They are not huge,. I’ve seen two different sizes installed and they were amazingly quiet. I’m trying to do my homework prior to making any commitments and would appreciate any infomation other OTG readers might have to share. more information is available at Apparently, there has been a lot of improvement in the engineering of these machines, at least according to the literature. Still, I am considering one of these devices because we do get a lot of wind out here.

  4. Solar is much more effective and beneficial in my opinion….we live in a windy area …one man spent 10,000 dollars on a windmill and got back 75.00 dollars after 6 months on his investment…sound good to you? not to me!!!

  5. Hello, I was hopeing someone here might be able to give me some info or leads on wind or solar. Solar from what I have been able to see would take one to two decades to pay for itself in general and is a large investement of 30,000 or so for what may work for me. Not to mention along the way panels would probably need replaceing or other work to additionallly drop the value of return investment. Wind is interesting, tho confuseing to me. I do have fine skills in mechanics and experiance with ilectrical as well as being a remodeling contractor, General contractor. This is all new to me and I am looking at these for home as a possible long term investment for myself. So here is what puzzles me: wind: actual output is variable of course. However information is a smattering of salespitch and irregular numbers for output . I have looked at many possibilitys. What perks my interest is the VAWT and then combine with DIY 3 phase generator/alternator. Some say these put out 60 amps. Others say in a graph on a 6′ blade fan 60 kilowatts in a 30 day period. That cannot be that both are correct? I use according to my average daily use about 55 kwh per day! Obviously I can cut my consumption and will. My other questions surround the electrical path from power generation to the home.

    • Afraid that that is about the truth, it doesn’t work. You will need a wind farm of about 6 – 6 ft blades to get the constant supply up to 55KW. The cheapest solar is to make your own to augment heating water. That is about it. It does not, and will not work with todays technology. and the cost effectiveness argument is another lie just like global warming. I sometimes think the left is just a giant marketing organization. If you buy into it, you fall in to the fool and his money thing. Reality is that a fool and his money are so lucky to ever meet in the first place that I relish every moment. If you just want a steady and reasonable (defined meager) but sustainable (that is as long as your batteries last) then the wind and solar is for you. But you won’t get your money back, it still takes a lot of oil to manufacture them, and there is a considerable supply train and maint schedule to keep them up. You DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, just put them up and sit back with your mint julep enjoying unlimited power and energy forever and ever amen! Oh and for your photovoltaics and other sun power gathering gadgets, one rock and there through. We have expeditionary mil spec versions that kind of work. better than nothing, I suppose, but they will not do as advertised. Sorry.
      The Col

  6. There has got to be a way to build a sturdy long lasting wind turbine unit (for a single family home) on my own property—One that doesn’t cost a darn fortune? All the ones I have found (on line) are either super expensive–and/or very hard to understand (directions wise) for the regular- do it yourselfer- to build. What the heck?

    I don’t know– but it sure seems like a frigging (stupid-assed-conspiracy) that someone got together with many other someone’s (higher up, where-ever) who build these things and have (priced them all) out of the regular homeowners pocketbook… On purpose? Is it just for the uber wealthy? Or is it just for the mega corporations to (buy and then sell) to the people in the form of electricity at sky-high rates?

    Is it unreasonable for me to want MY own unit, on my own property for (making juice for my family) to use and not to be sold (to me) on down the line??? I don’t think so!!! Mass produce these damn things already and bring the prices down- for the ordinary family to be able to buy them…

    Then the damn grid wouldn’t go down (all the frigging time) like it did during the last snow/ice storms (plural) we had here in Texas… Which was unusual in and of itself. We never have that much snow in a single year like we just did…

    This just proves our weather here on planet earth (happens in patterns) thru our sun–such as (solar cycles) due to our orbit around our sun and its orbit thru our galaxy. This planet is designed (by God) to be here forever barring any unforeseen meteorite/comet/asteroid collisions.

    Global warming my butt! Al Gore needs to get his (greedy LITTLE head) out of his butt and smell the friggin coffee… 😛 God Bless,

  7. All of the DIY wind turbine components are available at

  8. Sauer Energy has a new vertical axis wind turbine that will be coming on the market soon. It is only 3-4 feet high and will create power with wind at only 7MPH! It will be sold as an installed home improvement item at Lowes and Home Depots for about $6500. Look for it towards the end of 2012.

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