Wind power, solar power, and the little known micro hydro- electricity are generally considered to be the most efficient and productive means of generating power for the homestead or off grid living sector.
Wind power technology has come a long way, but how does it stack up as an off grid energy solution?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the requirements for an off grid energy source and see how many boxes this energy generation option ticks.
Requirements for off grid energy
- Renewable – wind power is certainly renewable, as it does not get used up
- Green energy – Wind power is green energy, since it’s production does not harm the environment
- Reliable – this is where wind power may have some short comings, depending on your location
- Cost effective – startup costs need to be reasonable.
Wind Power – Is it Viable
Wind power is certainly a renewable, green energy source, but where I have my reservations is on the reliability. If you live in a coastal area where the wind is reliable, then it is a wise choice for generating energy. For the rest of us who don’t live on the coast, this brings a few challenges.
The height of the towers for the turbines and the wind turbines themselves may be unsightly and the safety aspect needs to be considered in placing them close to your home. Strong storms may blow the structure over, becoming a safety risk. Generally the wind turbines for domestic use are not too large, so this risk may be less concerning.
The cost of wind systems may work out more affordable that installing arrays of solar panels. This is due to the cost of domestic use wind turbines reducing over recent times. They have become more easily available. The cost of maintenance and repair is a factor that the homesteader should consider as the turbines do have moving parts that wear out.
The wind turbine is one component in your off grid wind power system. Similarly to solar systems, you will need to install a charge controller, a battery array and an inverter.
To answer the question of viability, it all comes down to your location and the reliability of the prevailing winds in your area, since cost is not really a limiting factor any longer.
Wind Solar Hybrid System
In my opinion, the best way to use wind power is in a hybrid system. Let’s face it, in most locations, sunshine is more reliable than the wind. Wind power in a hybrid system can complement the solar system by providing power generation when the sun does not shine.
Power can be generated by wind during thunder storms when the sun is obscured by clouds. At night if there is a breeze, it can generate power to the batteries while your solar panels are inactive.
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