A Towering Space-Saving Barn With Wind Generator

This space-saving barn with wind generator holds traditional barn hay while generating energy for the farm. Includes construction information for building this 30-foot skinny hay barn.

| November/December 1982

This space-saving barn with wind generator structure has three legs, a hole in the middle and stands over 30 feet tall and serves two purposes: generating wind energy and storing hay. 

Folks drove by my place v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y while my latest project was under construction . . . staring and wondering—no doubt—just what in the world I was building. And when anyone came right out and asked me about the structure, I couldn't resist perpetuating the mystery just a bit: I'd point at the odd triangular assemblage of lumber and say, "Why, that's going to be the skinniest hay barn in the county!"

Alas, however, all good spoofs must end, and one day I was forced to reveal the project's true purpose by installing a wind generator atop the uppermost platform of my wooden whatchamacallit. My neighbors realized then (I hope) that I wasn't totally wacky . . . in fact, you might say I was crazy like a fox.

You see, my local utility company had quoted an awesome figure when I asked how much it would cost to run conventional electrical service to my northern Idaho farm. So I decided, instead, to try a do-it-myself approach . . . and bought a 12-volt, 200-watt Wincharger.

The machine, I knew, would be able to provide me with enough current for lighting and a few other basic conveniences . . . but I was also aware that the little 10-foot tower that came with the unit wouldn't be adequate. Most experts recommend placing a windplant at least 15 feet higher than anything else within 400 feet of it . . . and suggest that—even on a level, unobstructed site—the installation height should be a mini mum of 40 feet.

I realized, therefore, that I'd need a taller support . . . but frankly, I wasn't excited about any of the more obvious options available to me. The tall steel-framework models that resemble radio transmission towers are very expensive, and the somewhat lowerpriced metal-pole-and-platform types—the ones that look as if they belong at either end of a circus tightrope—require a fairly complicated network of guy wires for support. Some folks simply top a live tree and mount the windplant on it, but even that method requires tiedown cables for reinforcement . . . and besides, the site I'd chosen for my generator was in the middle of a treeless alfalfa field.

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