Five Tips: How to Best Site & Configure your Small Wind Turbine

Five Tips: How to Best Site & Configure your Small Wind Turbine

Most vendors shipping small wind turbine products talk about location, location, location, with one goal in mind, top performance (produce as much power as possible to max out the "AEP" Annual Energy Production  total kiloWatts produced in 1 year.


Its a noble goal, max AEP, however one must also consider a few other goals one might have, to really get the most out of your small turbine, where some goals in fact, may have no direct monetary characteristics or impact. (gain/loss in $ terms)


BritWind 5kW (Formerly Evance) approx 15m height for large system, 10m for smaller system(1.5kW?) both on hinged, tippable monopoles

1. For Performance. Does this mean locating  the turbine in the right spot on the ground at the right height to ensure it is capturing the most kinetic energy at any given time and efficiently converting the resulting rotational energy into electricty or, does it mean self regulating the turbine properly to provide a steady, buffered well matched flow to differnt parts of your battery bank to maximize local availability for local uses during specific times during the day when  power demand is high and/or, store the excess power generated by the turbine for later use (when there is likely less wind power to generate electricity) nd/or, selling the excess power produced by the turbine directly (without touching the battery, or maybe passing through the battery with a time matched to best public grid rate algorithm, to sell the power back to the grid for the best price (usually when the public grid has a need for more power)? Hmmm not so easy...

TIP- make sure your turbine is at least 5 meters above the nearest canopy, aritificial or natural, building or tree top, and more importantly be at least 100 meters away from those canopies in the prevailing wind direction, 200 meters is ideal. And watch out for future tree growth. 



A Small WindSpire Farm of 1.3kW NP Turbines, IMO Way to close together.., OR counter-rotating in pairs semi-efficiently

2. For Aesthetic Quality. Does this mean satisfying your own perception of what "looks good" to you or, making sure you don't piss off the neightbours? (or both, also most of us have better half which also has a big say).  Or  planting that turbine in the optimum spot for performance and hiring a lawyer to defend it.  The latter is not my style, however there are those out there from all walks of life who "don't give a rat's ass" and will proceed with such a game plan for turbine siting more often than not:) Lots of fun.

TIP-  color your turbine to blend in with the background behind your turbine  your neightbor sees when they look at the direction at the height of the turbine, if its cloud/sly level, use light gray, if its hilles that are forested with use khaki , sothe turbine blends in, and it hard to spot. If they are downstream from the turbine , spec one which has low noice emssions, the egg-beater is best for verticals, sicle shape blades of  Skystream are quiet (but not the greatest power producer). Any turbine with a straight trailing edge (no curve) will be noisy because that is where the  (flapping, chopping) sound comes from... Why? the air flow  around the rotor blade airfoil shape leaves the  straight trailing edge at the same time along a long surface, to create noise at the same time, huh, go figure. :)



Ambor Structures Tilt Raising  Monopole System 

3. For Ease of Service. Maybe its a trade-off, getting the turbine sited properly into the flow at the right height, might make it also very hard to get at for service, like tipping the pole over with a Gravity/Neutral "G/N" Pole under hand or electrical winch power due to irregularities in the terrain or local level obstacles?  Taking a turbine down for service, or damage repair, or even to avoid a tornado or imminent hurricane or cyclone should be quick and safe. Also, the quicker you get the turbine back in action the more power is produced,  which in  post storm situations off grid might be seriously important to stay alive and thrive, versus  facing heat, light and even water absences post storm, which places all the local occupants under stress they really don't need.

        TIP- Literally tip your tower or pole on a hinge, make sure the hinge is height enough to give you clearance for service at a height that is comfortable for serving with your hands. Also, make sure where ever you are aiming the tip of your system for ground services that the ground is stable and reasonably flat (Bring a saw horse to prop up the pole tip below the turbine to take the strees off the hinge assembly of the pole), and  that the turbine is tipped at height that is easily accessible to the ground repair/replace/clean staff, and  is also accessible and flat enough to roll in any supporting equipment used for the repair, replace, or even clean the turbine while in the tipped position, with a wheel barrel or  large rubber tired cart. 



The age old battle rages on.. (source:


4. For Lowest Cost Connect to Batteries. Somewhat related to the above goal "Ease of Service", that is the further away the turbine is from the turbine in operation, you the owner and the instaler are faces with the Edison/Tesla standoff,  that is better DC efficiency with thicker more expensive DC cables versus less efficiency and lower cost  cables, yet potentially more cost hanging the cable from pole to pole, or trenching to hide the cable \, with Tesla's AC advantages of travelling long distance over cheap 3 strand wire, but then again, why can't we simply locate the batteries close to, or even inside of the turbine (small applications like lights and  CCTV cameras), and run cheap AC from the battery to where ever your distant  power use point might be further away from the turbine. Hmm, decisions, decisions.

      TIP- House the battery in a thermally managed housing near the base of the tower, go DC  from Turbine to base of Tower or Pole, convert to AC then run it to the source of use with cheap AC cabling.


nb-. If you need to run an aerial  cable system over hard rock to get your power to the use point, then use 3ft tall 1m diamter culvert sections filled with fine crushed stone mixed with  "crusher dust" (even finer, but moreexpensive) to stablise the crshed stone around treated wood poles on which the cables are connected. Wood poles which are usually cheap  and available in most locales, and  easy to work with (cut to length add fixtures to hold cables, etc..). If the poles are in the wide open, and the locations is suspectible to lightning on occastion, mount  a simple 36 inch length of 1" diameter Aluminum pipe strapped to the side of the pole at the top exposed 18" bove the pole and connect to cheap ground cable which is then lag bolted to the rock surface. You may scorch your pole a bit if it gets hit (less likely in damp climates) but at least you don't fry the more expensive aerial cables delivering power from the turbine generator and battery to your use point.


It all sound's great , Nant Energy breaking the $100/kwhr now, while Tesla's promotes their subsizided batteries are over $275/kwhr for PowerWall., but what is the real truth?


5. For Longest Durability. Of What? The batteries? The turbine itself? Both? At What Price/Performance vs. Absolute Price per KiloWatthour for the battery? Capacity Factor of the Turbine in reality (use/operation likely to be 24% or 2X better than solar for existing small wind tech) vs. the Vendor brochure (often stated coldly as always 33% a la Bergey et al) Ah yet another dilema and  a multi-set of trade-offs, many of which can be mitigated with right sizing of both the turbine generator nameplate, and battery charge  hour depth in light of what the power use profile looks like at the turbine site.

TIP- Nothing like some thorough planning, that is  examining primary, secondary and exception power use cases, done up front, to make sure you do get the ROI return on Investment you are looking for in light of local tax relief, that is if the tax payer is so kind to (unknowingly) subsidize your install (with one time tax credits,  lucrative public or private Feed in Tarrifs, etc..) because wind really can't compete with dirty thermal, coal or nuclear power generation (also heavily subsidized by the tax payer in weird and wonderful ways across the globe.) . As a general rule if your NP is 1kW you should have a ratio of 10kWhrs of storage at a minimum for most offgrid applications, so you can survive the worst case 4 or 5 still days without wind powered generation. For on grid its less critical, and is how long and often your grid goes down which determines battery depth to protect your perishables as well as the heat and light you need (and water pumps and sump pumps operating) to keep your abode safe and comfortable for your  living occupants, flora and fauna. 

nb-  ZincAir may be cheap (2X cheaper than Lithium it seems in 2019) , however Zinc baese battery chemistries  do lack  the same power density as lead acid or various types of lithium battery which tends to be 50% at least more dense of not 2X as dense. That said, China artificially controls the price of most all lithium used in battery production today, where as Zinc is available in most all markets at a very low price and it will stay that way for a very long time, plus Zinc is safer generally, although  Zinc Air systems do require some routine maintenance (cleaning/changing of air filters to ensure useful  "end of life" is reached, which is typically 12-15 years for ZincAir if properly cared for and maybe longer as it's new tech and we haven't really observed ZincAir in the wild for very long to make that call.

ZincAir  durability is today 2X better than Lead acid and  at least 35-50% better than leading edge Lithium Polymer chemistries for batteries,  where durability is determined by: a. how deep you can draw down the battery, Lead Acid Deep Cycle is 50%, so you need twice as many of them to match Lithium density which is 2X more expensive than lead, and Zinc easily matches and exceeds the depth of Lithium which is typically 85-90% of the battery Amp Hour rating, where as Zinc can be 100% effectively and ; b. - how many times can you draw down the battery  "cycle count" , whnere ZincAir which is really a flow type of battery, relies on successfully plating/de-plating surfaces (ZincBromine is a similar flow style of battery), where now, ZincAir has similar number of draw down cycles to lead acid with newer Lithium Polymer chemistries. Ther is a cost to "draw down, in that the deeper you go into Lithium Polymer chemistries ability to be drawdown, the cycle count is reduced, and the reduction factor is different for each chemistry.  lots more info on this type of effect can be found here.

Also it's worth mentioning Nant Energy is not the only source for Zinc Air, VIZN (USA), MGX REnewables (Canada),  are bringing ZincAir to market, and Redflow(AUS)  has a Zin Bromine variant which is proven to work well in  "year round hot" climates. So the market for Zinc based battery products beyond hearing aids, is growing rapidly. To check out various vendor claims in Zinc technology I suggest visiting the links below...

VIZN  Large Container Batteries , USA

MGX Renewables  Large Container Batteries , in modular slices , Canada

Nant Energy  Scalable Zinc Air Tech, built to application need from smaller rechargable cells , USA

Redflow   Zinc Bromine Plating technology, useful in "Always Hot" Climates  Australia


Decisions, Decisions. I hope these tips are useful.

TK over and out..







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Thunderbolt Kid Observations Report with Insights for investors small & big. I educate, offer tips, forecasts re: tech & people drivers operating "under the hood" moving the crypto market. work @ OrcASTRA #SOVRINTown

Breaking the Small Wind Mold- Darwind5 Circa 2012
Breaking the Small Wind Mold- Darwind5 Circa 2012

This blog is where I post about break thru "non-subsidized" Green Tech anything that helps.. like our new WRRhead four rotor tech (formerly TWIND Power 2 rotor tech) at, and occasionally I talk "BESS" Battery Energy Storage Systems which actually make wind and solar better options when the kWhr costs in below US $125.00 (Zinc Air based BESS VIZN, Zinc8, NantEnergy) with 20 year lifespan, lots of re-charge cycles w/ deep cycle draw ;)

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