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The Basics- Site Survey

could be described as windy, based on these observations, then consider an alternative to wind power.

Using a Recording Anemometer

If you feel your site is windy, and you are serious about installing a wind turbine, then install a recording anemometer. In some areas, a check with the local weather station might be sufficient to determine average wind speeds. Wind data from airports is not very applicable to wind power sites because airports are intentionally located at sites with minimum winds. Don't consider wind power without a thorough measurement of the wind speed at your specific location. In most cases, four months should be the minimum recording interval and one year is preferred. If you are going to spend a lot of hard earned money on a wind system, this extra eight months could mean the difference between a good investment and a bad one.

Proper Tower Placement

Although a recording anemometer is a very accurate instrument, its output information will be accurate at a specific location. In areas of rolling hills or tree cover, the wind speeds can vary 30% or more between sites only 100 feet apart. The location of an anemometer on a specific site, as well as height above the ground and any obstruction, is critical to recording the highest winds available. On level land with no nearby obstacles, a 40 foot tower should be the minimum height for your anemometer or turbine. It is essential to measure wind speed at the actual height you plan on installing your turbine. Obstacles or short towers are only robbing you of power. If you are considering placing your turbine on a hill to gain wind speed, place the turbine high enough on the hill to enter the smooth undisturbed wind stream.

Installing a wind turbine is not a matter of simply erecting a tower and putting a generator on top. Only through accurate wind speed data on your particular site can you hope to install a wind system that is capable of supplying the power you need.

Larry Elliott

Specifying Wind Systems

Editor's Note: The following wind survey concept arose between Mick and I during a phone conversation. It bears so much relevance that I have included it here. RP.

Alternatives to a Recording Anemometer

Average Wind Speed

While average wind speed is meaningful, there are other wind parameters that are just as meaningful. Other wind parameters worth knowing are maximum wind speed, number of days (hours) between winds of greater than 10 mph. Number of consecutive days (hours) where the wind is in excess of 10 mph, and the times of year where the either wind or not wind periods occur. All this data is not available from garden variety recording anemometers.

A recording anemometer that will take all the data mentioned above will cost a bundle. Such anemometers are more computer than wind sensor and cost between $2,000 and $4,000. I offer the following alternative.

Install a Small Wind Machine

For the cost of a detailed recording anemometer, you can install a working small wind machine. Consider that a Whisper 1000 or a Windseeker can be installed at about the same cost as a sophisticated recording anemometer. With the addition of an accumulative Ampere-hour meter (about $200), this setup not only


provides real and hard data about wind powered electric generation, but also supplies power at the same time.

What if I don't really have a site suitable for wind?

It is much easier to sell a working wind machine than a sophisticated recording anemometer. If your site turns out not to have appreciable wind power potential, you can more easily get your money out of a wind machine. If your wind site has potential, then you have a great head start on your wind electric system.


Mick Sagrillo, Lake Michigan Wind and Sun, 3971 E. Bluebird Road, Forestville, WI 54213 • 414-837-2267.


Home Power #21 • February / March 1991

Build a Time Machine

Richard Perez

This electronic device is a time machine. It makes precisely timed pulses of electricity. The pulses can occur as often as you wish and last for as long as you wish. Some of the many applications for this device are: a super efficient 12 VDC motor speed controller, an high efficiency electronic rheostat for DC power control, and an electric fence charger that keeps pesky critters where you want them. All of this and more from precisely timed electronic switching!

A Time Machine?

You bet. This circuit uses two NE555 electronic timers to make custom tailored pulses of electricity. The first NE555 timer, U1, is operated astable as an oscillator, or in techie lingo– a multivibrator, or in nerd terms– a flip-flop. U1 determines how often the pulses occur. There could be one pulse every ten seconds or thousands of pulses per second. The second NE555 timer, U2, determines the amount of time that the pulse spends ON, or in other words, the duration of the pulse. U2 is operated as a slave to U1. U2 only emits a pulse when U1 says to do so. U2 is operated in monostable mode, as a "one-shot" multivibrator. The pulse produced by U2 may have a duration of seconds, or may have a period as short as microseconds. The resulting pulse train is fed to a power amplifier that switches the load. And that's the whole point of this device, chopping electricity into pulses in order to control power.

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