Wind Turbines are used to convert wind
power to electricity. They are not to be confused with windmills,
which use wind power to create mechanical energy and are used to turn
mills and other devices.
Many different styles of wind turbines have
been used over the years. Turbines can be either a horizontal or
vertical axis. Horizontal axis models with three blades is the
prevailing model. It is the style used throughout the wind power industry and
is considered to be the most efficient and cost effective design.
commercial wind turbine is composed of several parts, with each serving
a specific function as illustrated below:
Rotor & blades - Used for channeling the wind (kinetic
energy) and turning it into mechanical energy.
Low speed shaft - The shaft which is directly connected to
the rotor and blade assembly, moving at the same rotational speed as the
rotor and blades.
Gear box - Converts the rotational speed of the low speed
shaft, rotor and blades to a higher speed which is more suited for
generating electrical power.
Generator - Typically a DC motor
which converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy.
Controller - For monitoring electrical current flow and wind
speed and wind direction. Controls the brake and yaw systems for slowing
down the rotation of the rotor at high speeds and turning the tower
toward the wind.
Anemometer - Measures the wind
Wind Vane - For determining the wind direction
Nacelle - Covers and protects the internal components.
High speed shaft - The shaft connected to the generator,
which runs at a higher speed due to the gear box system.
Brake - Slows down the wind turbine at excessive wind speeds.
drive & motor - For turning the rotor and blade assembly in the
direction facing the wind.
Tower - Increases the height of the rotor and blades so that
higher wind speeds can be captured.
12 Volt Wind Turbine
Commercial wind turbines are usually more complex than residential
models. Residential models usually lack the yaw drive and yaw motor,
relying instead on the wind vane to catch the wind and turn the rotor
Residential wind turbines might also lack a gear box because the
rotor and blade already move at a high enough speed to generate good
power. Anemometers aren't typically used and braking systems are less
common. Furling is sometimes used to protect the turbine from high wind
Wind turbines can be a good supplement to any renewable energy system
because, unlike solar panels, they can capture energy at night and
during cloudy & stormy days.
Be sure to check out our wind
turbine buying guide before you begin shopping for wind turbines.
For the homeowner that wants to save the most money, it is also possible
to build your own wind turbine with very little technical knowledge
needed. See our review of
DIY (do it yourself) guides for more details.
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