Installing a wind turbine to power my home!

Written by: admin@makezilla

Picture of Installing a wind turbine to power my home!

I finally got my Aleko WG400 wind turbine installed. This generator feeds power into my home which is already solar powered. I have become the first person on my beautiful island to implement a hybrid (solar and wind) power system for their home (not counting those yachts!).

Wind power is not a reliable resource in my location. Solar is the real resource and it is dependable. This project I did in order to test a theory. So far the results have been quite interesting. If you live in high wind areas such as at a coast line then wind power should be viable for you.

If you want to install a wind turbine please note that this is not a device you can install straight out of the box. It requires work first and in my case, significant modification. Most manufacturers produce a sub par product and as a DIY person I needed to make sure it would work upon commissioning. Here is the instructable on the work I did to prepare my turbine. In my opinion its better to buy a turbine then modify it rather than build one from scratch.

Also here is the instructable on how I solar powered my home.

After the work involved I can safely say that solar alone is a much easier installation.

Notes to remember in this instructable:
1. My country does not permit grid tie. I cannot provide technical help on grid tie questions.

2. The entire design and installation I performed myself. In your case you will either need to be competent in electrical installations or hire an experienced electrical professional to do it.

3. I have fulfilled code (NFPA 70, TTS-171 Part 1) and power utility requirements.

4. Owning a power harvesting system means you are responsible for it. You can't expect to always call someone should there be issues during operation. Take control!

5. This is technical only instructable. I shall not answer financial questions.

Read on for how I installed my wind turbine.

Step 1: Preparing the support pole.

Picture of Preparing the support pole. IMG_20150701_103935.jpgIMG_20150701_112722.jpgIMG_20150701_112811.jpgIMG_20150701_112950.jpg

We used a 3 inch galvanized steel pole as the grade to roof support and a 1.5 Inch schedule 40 galvanized pipe on top of that to mount the turbine. 

From grade to the top of steel for the 1.5inch pipe, we used 218 inches. Below grade we used 10 inches. 

The top of the 3 inch galvanized steel pole we welded metal flats to keep rain water out.

Step 2: Additional support mount into the side of the roof.

Picture of Additional support mount into the side of the roof. IMG_20150701_101503.jpgIMG_20150701_102234.jpg

We used a metal flat welded to the 3 inch galvanized steel pole to allow better stability at the roof. Between this flat and the roof we put a rubber strip to dampen vibrations. The flat was installed (by welds on the 3 inch pole) at the same angle as the roof.

Step 3: The turbine support pipe.

Picture of The turbine support pipe. IMG_20150701_115736.jpgIMG_20150701_115749_1.jpg

The 1.5inch schedule 40 pipe was 38 inches in length to ensure the blades wont touch the larger 3 inch pole.

The turbine slides into this pipe and is secured by its two bolts through the holes we drilled.

Step 4: Below grade preparation.

Picture of Below grade preparation. IMG_20150701_113727.jpg

We welded 2 metal crabs made from pieces of a solid square rod. This will ensure the base of the 3 inch pole stays in place when the foundation cement cures.

Step 5: Corrosion protection.

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Using a spray can of cold zinc and a wire brush, I implemented corrosion protection of all above ground welds and abrasions. Even my finger got shiny..perhaps I may be worthy to enter Valhalla!

Step 6: Lining up the pole, securing to the roof, pouring the foundation.

Picture of Lining up the pole, securing to the roof,  pouring the foundation. IMG_20150701_120252.jpgIMG_20150701_120246.jpgIMG_20150701_134217.jpgIMG_20150701_134710.jpgIMG_20150701_145559.jpg                IMG_20150701_161832.jpg

We dug a 14inch cube hole next to the house. I used a wire brush and spray on cold zinc to protect the weld joints and metal pieces. I temporarily displaced an earthworm from its home (sorry!). 

Once the pole was lined up, I bolted the metal flat onto the roof. The rubber damper was 
sandwiched between it and the roof to help minimize noise. 

Premix cement was used and we mixed 4 of those bags to get the foundation set. Two days later and it was ready to take load as you can see in the last pic.

Lots of work to get that pole fabricated and positioned!

Step 7: Getting the power cable through the roof.

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I used a 3core 2.5mmq Rhino cable to deliver power from my wind turbine into the house. To prevent slipping of the cable I used two plastic cable ties and secured them on the cable. Next I used silicone to weatherproof the roof penetration.

Step 8: The charge controller.

Picture of The charge controller.

I didn't trust the oem charger that came with the turbine. Also since I don't experience consistent wind levels in my area, I don't need a dump load. My batteries always have a load on them. If you have high wind levels (greater than average of 9m/s) and do not have a load always on your batteries then you will need a dump load. 

I used a low input voltage (3V) DC DC Buck Boost Converter as my charge controller set to give a constant 29 volts into my 25.6v Lifepo4 battery bank. Due to the wind strength in my area, the loaded output from the PMA is up to 14 volts max. The lower the input voltage and higher the output current for the DC DC converter is the best method to extract the most energy from the PMA into the battery bank. I learnt the hard way that a blocking diode is needed between the battery and the converter output.

I didn't need to buy a hybrid charge controller. I effectively have two chargers in parallel with my LifePO4 battery bank i.e. an Outback FM80 and my DIY wind charge controller. There is no danger to either charger, it is safe to have multiple chargers onto a shared battery bank.





Step 9: The electromagnetic brake.

Picture of The electromagnetic brake. IMG_20150706_190224a.jpg

When the alternator output leads are shorted, the rotor becomes much harder to turn. This is an electromagnetic brake. It's important for safety and general outdoor maintenance of the wind turbine generator. 

My Brake is actuated via my home automation system. Both turn on 5 volt relays to short the leads from the generator. In the future I plan to measure the turbine rpms and let my home automation system decide when auto braking is needed. 

Don't ever leave the turbine open circuited. The leads must be connected to a load (via the charge controller) or shorted. When I first put the rotor blades on the spindle, the turbine spun like crazy under no load and made a loud noise (more like a loud swishing sound). If I left it under no load it could easily become damaged.





Step 10: Preparing the wind turbine generator.

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I used a 10ft length of 2.5mmsq 3core Rhino cable to get the DC power from the slip ring leads. The end of the cable I terminated with a 3 pin male plug.

Assembling the blades onto the rotor took some patience but it got done. It's important to never over tighten the bolts since the blades are nylon.





Step 11: Installing the turbine on the pole.

Picture of Installing the turbine on the pole. IMG_20150704_104911.jpgIMG_20150704_100620.jpg

The turbine was secured onto the 1.5inch pipe by two bolts. The blade hub assembly was installed on the spindle and the cotter pin inserted. The nose cap simply did not clip on properly so I left it off.





Step 12: Commissioning and results.

Picture of Commissioning and results. IMG_20150704_115522.jpgIMG_20150704_125846.jpg

During the first half hour of real world operation, I saw a peak of 62.5 watts. Mind you the wind is very intermittent and my Solar charge controller did the bulk of the work while it is sunny. After 2 months, I noticed peak power of 244Watts! I'm guessing the bearings were now ready for proper operation.

After the significant modification on my ALEKO wg400 and the work involved in making this wind turbine generator a part of my home hybrid power system, I'm very happy with the results.

The electromagnetic brake for the turbine I even mapped into my Home automation system. Now when I'm on the roof I can brake the turbine from my Phone!

Here is a video clip of the turbine in action!



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