Advantages Of Wind Energy: More on Wind Generators and Home Wind Power

Ever consider the advantages of wind energy? Here are a few more options if you're considering using home wind power for electricity by buying or building a wind generator.

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    Diagram of a wind generator.
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    Right side view of a wind generator.
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    Top view of a wind generator.

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In MOTHER EARTH NEWS NOS. 24 and 30, I wrote some articles about my experiences with wind generators. The first ("The Answer Blowin' in the Wind") dealt with the old Jacobs and Wincharger generators, which were common on farms and homesteads before the advent of the Rural Electrification program. The second ("Wind Generator Notes") described my experiences with the M-1222-H Wincharger, the only such wind generator still in regular production in the United States. Since the publication of those two pieces, I've received a considerable volume of mail from folks wanting more information on the advantages of wind energy and wind power, so here's my response to those letters, and to the sincere interest many people have shown in the wind as an energy source.

A great many of you have asked where you might be able to locate an old Jacobs turbine or some other "leftover" machine. Well, let me bring you up to date:

In 1973, when the first article was written, there were still a few used wind generators to be discovered by anyone who had a vehicle, enough gasoline, and a sufficient amount of perseverance. Today-perhaps partly because of my writings in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 24 what were once rare "finds" are now all but extinct. I've heard there are actual crews who do nothing but drive the backroads of the Great Plains states, buying and later reselling all the old machines they can find. Consequently, the prices of those "veterans" have skyrocketed. I know of one individual who paid $5,000 for a rebuilt Jacobs!

I don't mean to say, of course, that all the old wind generators have been bought up, certainly there must be some still stashed away in the more remote sections of the country. There are a lot fewer than there used to be, though, and the odds against turning one up are getting higher every day. For those who still think they'd like to give the search a try, the best advice I can give is to check with the Rural Electrification Administration to learn which regions in the country were the last to be hooked up to "modern" electricity. Such areas should be good places to investigate for used machines.

For those of us who don't live out on the Plains, today's conditions — the current cost of gasoline in particular, and everything else in general — make an extended "hunt" a pretty expensive proposition. New wind generators in the higher wattage ranges cost an arm and a leg, and the relatively inexpensive low-output units (such as the M-1222-H Wincharger) aren't really practical for much more than a few 25-watt light bulbs and maybe an automotive-type stereo. Most folks unless they don't mind an electrically Spartan existence-want more power than a 200-watt windplant can provide.

As long as we're on the depressing news (let's get it all over with at once!), it should be emphasized that no one short of Howard Hughes or the Shah of Iran can afford a system that will produce all the power most Americans are accustomed to enjoying at the flick of a switch. Hardly a week goes by that I don't receive a letter from somebody who wants to hook up his all-electric home to a wind generator. To understand why this idea is unrealistic, we must remember that most of the old systems of R.E.A. days were rated in the 1,500-2,500 watt range. In an area with an average windspeed of 10 mph, a 2,000-watt unit will produce about one hundred kilowatt hours of current a month.

8/21/2007 3:12:12 AM

hi there could u plz send me step by step instructions as to how to go about in building a wind generator i am currently busy with a project, its my last subject at cape tech and i have to build a wind generator thank you very much it would be well appreciated if u could send me these instructions and information. Truth is i wanna use your info as a guideline to building my own wind generator thank you very much regards Sadick



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