Your Options for Wind Turbines

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Solar power is not all there is to eco-friendly power generation for residential purposes.  You should also look into the possibilities of wind turbines to provide electricity for everything from your cell phone to your hybrid car.

In this regard, you have two choices, the horizontal-axis and vertical-axis wind turbines.  You will find that both perform similar functions although the pros and cons of each type must be carefully considered.  Keep in mind that either one requires a relatively significant financial outlay, which can be recouped largely by actually using the unit for power generation.

Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbines

If you have seen pictures of the traditional Dutch windmill, then you have just seen the prototype of the modern horizontal-axis wind turbines or HAWT.  Skipping the technicalities, HAWTs have their electrical generator and rotor shaft located at the topmost part of the tower.  A gearbox may or may not be included in the infrastructure.

The design has been around for centuries so it must have advantages.  Since the angle of attack can be adjusted remotely, you can harness the wind energy at its greatest amount despite the season and time of the day.  If the HAWT is located in an area with strong winds, the energy harnessed is increased by as much as 34 percent for every 10 meters in tower height.

There are disadvantages, however, to the HAWT design.  Not only are the blades very hard to transport but the taller HAWTs are also hard to install.  The heavy mechanisms also require massive towers while their heights often disrupt the landscape’s appearance.  If you don’t have vast tracts of land in which to place several units of HAWTs 10 times their widths apart, then go on to the next type of turbines.

Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines

The new design on the block is the vertical-axis wind turbine or VAWT.  As the name implies, its rotor shaft is arranged in a vertical manner.  The gearbox and generator can be placed nearer to the ground, which means that there is no need to build a massive tower to support the whole wind turbine.

The main advantage of the VAWT is that its turbine need not be positioned into the direction of the wind in order to be efficient, which is very beneficial in areas with variable wind speed and direction.  Also, the startup speeds for VAWTs are lower at just 10 kilometers per hour, meaning that it can start generating electricity even at such a slow wind speed.

Unfortunately, even the modern VAWT has its disadvantages.  It is more susceptible to blade failure by metal fatigue, no thanks to the frequent reversal of stress on the blades.  If you make the mistake of improper design, you will often have difficulty in changing the defective parts.  Plus, the energy generated by a VAWT with the same footprint and location as a HAWT is not as great because of ground drag.

So, now that you know the similarities and differences as well as the pros and cons of the two types of turbines, you should start looking into their power possibilities.

Related posts:

  1. Wind Turbines as Alternative Sources of Energy
  2. Small Wind: Powering Your Home With A Wind Turbine
  3. Fan and Floor Turbines
  4. Eco-Friendly and Renewable Energy Primer
  5. Purchasing Green Electricity

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