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Publication Title | Wind Generator Towers

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Wind Generator Towers

Mick Sagrillo

Towers for wind generators come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, heights, and

prices. However, the often forgotten purpose of a wind generator tower is to get

the wind generator way up there, and, most importantly, to keep it up there. "Keeping it up there" should, therefore, be the prime consideration in selecting a tower for a wind generator installation.


Towers for wind generators come in two basic styles: freestanding and guyed. A freestanding

tower is just that; no wires or cables to help

keep the tower in an upright position. They

are self-supporting. These towers include the 3- or 4-legged lattice or truss-type of towers, and either metal or wooden poles.

Guyed towers require the use of cables or guy wires to keep them standing. Most television and radio towers fall into this category. They can also be either lattice-type, or wooden or steel poles. Guyed towers are generally less expensive than freestanding towers, but, because of the guy wires, require considerably more space.

3 & 4 Leggers

Most freestanding towers are of the lattice or truss style (figure 1). They are either 3- or 4-legged, with diagonal and/or horizontal braces holding the legs together. These braces are what give the tower its lattice or truss look. They also provide the strength and rigidity to keep the tower upright.

Lattice or truss towers are tapered from top to bottom. Towers made with light gauge metal will be tapered more than heavy-duty towers. Light-duty towers will have a height to base ratio of about 4 or 5 to 1. This means the base will occupy, from leg to leg, one fifth of the distance


Towers that use angle iron for the legs will be 4-legged in order to get the diagonal and horizontal braces to bolt properly to the legs. The legs of the 3-legged towers are usually made of specially formed 120 degree angle iron, or round pipe or tubing. Lattice or truss towers always have some sort of ladder built into them so that you

can climb to the top and service your wind generator.

New heavy-duty towers sell for about $80 per foot, while used ones go for about $30 to $40 per foot. Used light-duty towers will sell for about $15 to $25 per foot

while new ones sell for about double that price.

Steel Poles and Tubes

Metal structural steel tubes can also be used for wind generator towers. An example of this type of tower can be seen all along our interstate highways. Gas stations often use metal tubes to get their signs high in the air. These tubes are also frequently used by utilities for their high lines. They are very heavy duty, and usually taper from about one foot at the top to to three or four foot in diameter at the bottom. They usually incorporate some sort of removable

steps for climbing to the top.

There is no hard and fast rule for prices on these towers. Used ones are very hard to come by. New ones are usually sold by the foot while used ones sell by the pound, like scrap steel. $20 to $25 per foot is not an unreasonable price to pay for a used steel pole, as they sell for three to four times that new. Get a second opinion on

any price quote.

"Telephone" Poles

Wooden poles, the creosoted kind used by utility and phone companies, can sometimes be used for wind generators. Unless you guy the pole, you should only put a small wind

©1991 Mick Sagrillo

of the height. An 80' tower would, therefore,

have a span of from 16 to 20 feet between

legs. Heavy-duty towers typically have a

height to base ratio of about 9 or 10 to 1. An

80' heavy-duty tower would have a span of

only about eight or nine feet between legs.

The area that the tower base occupies only

becomes important if space is a

consideration. Figure 1

32 Home Power #23 • June / July 1991

Image | Wind Generator Towers

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