Is Wind Power a Viable Alternative Energy Source for the Home? – Part 2

When my wind generator finally arrived, I was actually pretty excited. My father had actually had a very similar setup when he was a small child in the more rural regions of southern Ohio so I knew it would work for what I needed. However, the differences in equipment were a bit extreme. His wind generator was made out of the rear end of an old Ford. The “Blades” were actually vertical halves of an old 55-gallon drum.

He built a cambered shaft to convert the gears from the horizontal to the vertical and attached a belt to drive an old generator (off the same old Ford if I am not mistaken) and this was used to charge car batteries which in turn, powered his 1156 (turn signal light bulbs from the older cars) and a car radio. You can laugh if you want to but back in the days when nobody in those parts of the woods had electricity in their homes yet; that was a set up that did indeed impress all the local girls.

My wind generator, as I said, cost me about six-hundred US dollars and even had an extra set of blades and an automatic shut-off to prevent over-charging … as well as a little red light so that you could see (at night at least) when it was charging and when it was not. I set it up on a single, 40 foot pole about twenty feet from my house where there would be no obstructions.

Winds of ten to twelve miles an hour were more than enough to get it spinning and get it into gear so to speak so when we had more, it was just an added bonus … though strong winds were one of the two drawbacks when going with a wind generator. When the winds would pick up and become very strong, the wind generator made an audible humming that did disturb some people if they were close by and had an open window. It was not enough to cause much harm but it did tend to annoy some people.

The other drawback was that I had to buy six heavy-duty marine batteries. I knew power consumption would be light but I did not know that maybe I would leave the lights on or fall asleep working or reading as I sometimes did. It just seemed to be better with a couple of extra batteries. I could probably have done just as well with four of the batteries but it was a relatively small house.  Once all of the conduit and wiring were done, it was a matter of installing light switches.

I did not bother removing the old light switches but it is certainly an option if you want everything to be pretty. I did at least get switches that were pretty close to regular light switches though so as not to be too obvious. While I was installing those, I fired up the wind generator and let her roar. Now bear in mind that these are all 12 volt lights so there was no need to  buy a power inverter or any other fancy equipment. Once the batteries were charged, it was time to test out my new system.

I did have to make some adjustments to the lights directional as the LEDs tend to “spot” more than “spread” the light. I also had to make some minor adjustments to my reflectors but these were generally reflective, slightly parabolic dishes with an insert to house the lights and face them in numerous directions. I made mine out of wood but while plastic may not be a good idea, you could probably make the light “holders” out of any durable material.

Believe it or not, in some of the smaller rooms I actually had to reduce the number of lights I had initially used. It took some tweaking to get it right, but once it was done, I had lighting every bit as good as you can get with 110 volts and with less than a thousand dollars invested, I would say it was well worth it.  Is wind power a viable alternative energy resource for home use? In my book … and in my home I would vote for a solid YES!