Wind Energy For Kids

William asks…

How do you use energy at home?

I need some ways you use energy at home and what kind of energy they are. It can be like turing on a light or taking a shower or anything. By types I mean like heat, nuclear, wind, ect. Thanks in advance! =)

Windmill Farms answers:

I get my kids to power their own computer with a stationary bike hooked up to a small generator and big battery. Think it’s crazy? It’s in the toy catalogs now!

Yes, they hate me.

Linda asks…

What is the best wind turbine for my situation?

I use around 25000 kWh of electricity each year, which wind turbine would be best suited to meet all of my energy needs with an average wind speed of 20mph.

Windmill Farms answers:

Hey Kevin, I think people are avoiding answering this because the question is too nebulous, I’ll explain. 25,000 kwh per year, or about 2000 per month is quite a larege number for a residence, are you running a business? Our home uses 300 – 350 per month, a bit below the average for a 2400 square foot single family dwelling. Trying to get answers on this with usage and average wind speed is like me asking you what kind of car should I get, I live about 12 km from work. Any car can get there, but do I need cargo space, winter driving capabilities, do I have kids? And so on. We use a 900 watt Southwest Windpower model H-40, it is probably a bit too small for our home, something on the order of 1500 watts would work better, but we over did the solar array at 1.4kw, and in the end we make about 90% of our electricity, the other part comes from the power company.

Wind turbine output is a function of the cube of the wind speed. If you double the wind speed, you can theoretically get 8 times the power out of the turbine. But then some turbines have ideal design wind speed higher than others, so a lighter wind turbine in heavy winds will actually degrade from its power curve on a good day. Our site has really good wind in the fall and winter, and really good sun in the spring and summer, so solar and wind complement each other here. This is basically true of most places, just getting the turbine might be disappointing in the end. Three bladed units work better in gusty shifting winds, but are less efficient in lighter winds than 2 bladed ones. When you say your average wind speed is 20 mph, is it 20 most the time, or 5 mph for 3 days, then 40 mph on day 4? This makes a big difference in turbine selection.

What I’m really getting at is this isn’t a question for hacks like me online. In the 12 years we have been using solar and wind power, and teaching renewable energy at our local schools, I’ve learned that there are three things in vast supply, sun, wind, and missinformation. There are better ways to get informed on this subject than here, I will list some sources below to start you out. My first suggestion is to get a subscription to Home Power Magazine. They are the only periodical that get into the nuts and bolts of this subject. Then when the first issue arrrives, look in the calendar section for an energy fair near you. We subscribed 13 years ago, and went to the fair in Wisconsin in June that same year. Here we are today. It would be so easy for someone like yourself to buy into a machine that does not work well for your site, but works very well for the installer to make money with, trust me on this.

Check out the sources below, try to make one of the energy fairs, and then you’ll be in a position to ask some really good questions. Good luck Kevin, and take care, Rudydoo

Chris asks…

why wont Federal government pass extra funding for Wind Energy for Schools, to lesson Electric bills ?

currently the public school systems are going down the tubes, an the expenses are rising faster from the Energy companys for gas and Electricity. Every state has the same problem state wide for funding the school on yearly budgets. We have the answers to help the situation, here in our country. Do we have to outsource this answer also. The state budgets are being passed with higher numbers each year, so why not find a American way to stop the rising expenses and maybe even lower then and also help the electric company’s make more elelctricity. Putting up Wind Generation units accross each Dst. evenly in each state where enough wind is produced can knock the bills down for the school systems, and any extra electricity made can be bought back by the local electric companys at local rates for credit to the schools. Right now the electric companys have to barrow a lot of electricity from other states, at much higher prices, lets put a dent in this problem, for our kids future!

Windmill Farms answers:

The realistic answer: Wind Farms tend to be fairly aesthetically unpleasing (i.e. Ugly), and most folks will vocally object to having them in their back yard. The same can be said about Nuclear Power. There’s a strong NIMBY attitude about this stuff.
Your proposal might work, but until you can convince people that having a huge wind generator behind their house won’t cause their property values to plummet, the politics make it infeasible.

Sharon asks…

how do windmills make energy?

please send back

Windmill Farms answers:

We had a windmill as well as wind charger, when I was a kid on the farm. They have big bladed wheels on them that capture the energy of the wind as it blew. It’s like a fan in reverse. :)

Donna asks…

Among the many wind turbine designs, what do you like or appreciate most, and why?

Is it the Helix wind turbine? The Sky Serpent? The Selsam Super Turbine? The Loop Wing? Or what other designs you know that you find attractive and more efficient to use?
Thanks in advance for your answers!

Windmill Farms answers:

Hey Wind, take a good look at Charles answer to your question, it’s worth reading several times. I have to agree that the Helix, or the “Darrieus Rotor” is really neat looking. It is far from an efficient design. This is exactly the thing that got wind and solar into so much trouble in the 70′s, the misinformation that circulated around and was accepted as gospel by everyone. The vertical axis wind turbine is one of the most inefficient wind turbines in the world. This is the reason you don’t see any power companies installing them in their expensive wind farms, they would never pay for themselves. The typical VAWT runs about 5 – 8% efficiency, a far cry from the typical horizontal 3 bladed model, at around 25 – 30 %. But don’t take my word for it, it’s getting your information form hacks like us online that defeats the entire point of research in the first place. Get to the non profit websites like AWEA.ORG or MREA.ORG, or better yet, take a trip to the old fashioned library and check out some books, like Wind Power for Home and Business, by Paul Gipe, or anything written by Mick Sagrillo. Mick Sagrillo has a fantastic discussion on just this subject at the AWEA website by the way, he is considered by people in the business to be the modern day guru on wind power.

Better than all these ideas, get a subscription to Home Power Magazine, look up the event calender in the back, and get to one of the many energy fairs hosted all over the place. We went to one 12 years ago, and actually listened to Mick and other experts talk. Today our home is powered by the wind and sun, and I’m the guy that teaches wind and solar power to the kids in the local school here, that is where it has gotten us. If I listened to all the online pundits here 12 years ago, we never would have tried, and then I would have been just another guy sitting around telling the neighbors that, “Wind power doesn’t work,” because a guy told me that online. Put a little elbow grease into it, it will be worth it in the end. Take care, Rudydoo

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