INSTALLING A SMALL WIND GENERATOR
(THE SOUTHWEST WINDPOWER "AIR 403")

 

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PROCEDURES - EQUIPMENT LIST AND COSTS
PERFORMANCE EVALUATION - RECOMMENDATIONS




The wind generator is installed on a 25' high two-inch "Schedule 40" galvanized water pipe.

Four guy wires are attached to a special fitting at the 21 foot level and are anchored at ground level to 12" eye bolts set in concrete. Each guy wire is grounded separately to a 5/8" copper rod driven eight feet into the ground

Two conductor, 12 gauge wire is run in PVC conduit buried in a shallow trench and attached directly to the battery bank.

The housing of the wind generator is grounded with a separate wire to a 5/8" copper grounding rod driven eight feet into the ground.


EQUIPMENT LIST AND COSTS


Southwest Windpower's Model "Air 403 Marine" Wind Generator - $850

(400 watts output at 28 M.P.H., startup at 7 M.P.H., 48 volts DC)


25' Wind Generator Tower Mounting Kit - $200
(heavy iron bracket for pole, wire, hardware)

12" Eye Bolts (4) - $20

Turn Buckles (4) - $30

21 Feet Long 2" "Schedule 40" Galvanized Pipe - $60

5/8" 8' Copper Grounding Rods (5) - $75

Grounding Clamps for Rods (5) - $20

Backhoe Time to Dig 5 Three Foot Deep Holes - $50

Two Cubic Yards of Concrete to Fill Holes - $120

TOTAL SYSTEM COST - $ 1450




PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

Our "Air 403" is rated at 400 watts at 28 mph with a maximum of 800 watts at 40 mph (though we have never seen this high an output from our generator). For a small and relatively inexpensive wind generator, these figures are fairly impressive. However, at wind velocities below 28 mph which occur more frequently in most locations this wind generator produces only a small amount of power and not as much as other more efficient models now available (see recommendations below).

If we had consistently good wind on a daily basis, our electricity would cost far less per watt to generate with a wind generator than it would with PV panels. However, we found the wind in our particular area in the Sonoran desert to be quite unpredictable. There were many days with no wind at all -- leaving us of course with no power going into our batteries and lots going out if we were to depend only on wind power alone. When the wind blows, we are very glad we made the investment. When it doesn't, it's frustrating, but overall we have many, many more amps in our batteries every month than we would without it.

Often when the wind blows it is at night or when a frontal system is moving in and there is no sun. A wind generator and solar panels are thus the perfect combination supplemented by a gasoline generator for the days with no wind or sun at all.

Our "Air 403" is advertised as "quiet" in operation. In a small wind (10-15 mph), it makes a pleasant but audible "whishing/whooshing" sound. In more moderate wind (15-30 mph), the wind generator makes a much louder "whirring" noise which some would find annoying. In fact, our "Air 403" has been dubbed "Whirrbird".


RECOMMENDATIONS

There are quieter and more efficient models on the market today than the "Air 403" though they are somewhat larger and more expensive. Examples are the Whisper 500 and the African Windpower generator made in Zimbabwe. The African Windpower wind generator is highly recommended.


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