The Basics: Essential parts of a wind turbine

The Basics: Essential parts of a wind turbine

Though the basic mechanics of the old-fashioned windmill are still present in the engineering of a personal wind turbine, time and technology have created a more efficient and effective machine. In our “How does it work?” series, we will discuss the ins and outs of how wind turns into watts.

In general, personal wind turbines are made up of a rotor, generator or alternator mounted on a frame, a tail (sometimes), a tower, wiring and “balance of system” components that include: controllers, inverters and/or batteries.

The amount of power a turbine can produce is determined primarily by the diameter of its rotor or blades, which create the “swept area,” or the quantity of wind intercepted by the turbine. Through the spinning blades, the rotor captures the kinetic energy of the wind and converts it into rotary motion to drive the generator. The tail keeps the turbine facing into the wind.

Because wind speeds increase with height, the turbine is mounted on a tower. Tower height can determine the power the wind system can produce, so the higher, the better.

The “balance of system” parts depend on whether the system is grid-connected or not. An on-grid system includes a controller, storage batteries, a power conditioning unit (inverter) and wiring. The inverter makes turbine output electrically compatible with the utility grid. An off-grid system requires batteries to store excess power generated for use when the wind is calm.

Specific parts and construction varies depending on the product, but for the most part the basics come standard.

To find out if a personal wind turbine is right for your home or business, visit our Sitelook tool for a free evaluation and estimate.

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