Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wind and fashion

Felis (above) and I are currently obsessing about wind power. So we have just read two new books with detailed plans about building wind generators, Home Brew Wind Power by Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink, and A Wind Turbine Recipe Book by Hugh Piggott.
Both books are very hands-on, and describe very similar designs. (Piggott and "the Dans" often mention each other, the makers of wind generators are not a large community, after all.)
Only some years ago, most information on home made wind generators was based on designs that incorporated either electric motors or car alternators. This goes for the early construction notes from these authors too, who maintain aesthetically unfortunate but incredibly interesting and informative websites, Otherpower and Scoraigwind, respectively.
Now it seems, the cutting edge when it comes to making wind generators is making them from scratch, the electric motors and the alternators were not intended for generating electricity from wind anyway. Obviously the people who know what they're doing in this field have become thoroughly sick of maintaining and repairing machines that incorporate these elements.
This move away from what seemed like a short cut is very similar to what happened to hippie home builders in the 1970's. There was an intense interest for a short while in building geodesic domes. "The building's round, man! Down with the corners of patriarchal tyranny and capitalism!" However, beautiful as the domes were in many ways, they seem to have proven themselves to be almost impossible to waterproof. Even the people who made the how-to guide Dome Book lost interest, and started writing about how to build much more conventional buildings instead, notably in the wonderful book Shelter.
Sometimes old ideas are just nonsense, burning witches and beating children comes to mind. But sometimes new ideas aren't too hot either, I guess.
But these axial flux permanent magnet wind generators, they seem pretty cool.

There are still lots of plans around for using small motors in wind generators, such as here. And there is a site called Dome book with a cool 70s vibe, but it's not exactly the same as the old bible for dome builders mentioned above.


workbike said...

Thanks for the handy links. I suspect we're going to follow the same general lifestyle as you, so it's good to have access to more resources about wind power.

Personally I'd like to run a dog sled too, but I'm not sure I can persuade my wife...

Northmark said...

Ah. Some interests are simply mutually exclusive. Part of me tells me to accept what can not be changed. Another part says "why not have it all?"

Jaysen said...

What about hydro? A while ago I did some looking into alternate power and it seems to me that hydro is most viable. 4' with 2" PVC would provide a pretty significant source.

Northmark said...

Believe me, I've thought about it. My site, however, is not that great seen from an RE perspective. The trees block out the sun and obstruct the wind. And there's no decent river on it.
I have contemplated guerilla hydro, though! There's a decent river a mile from my cabin. I could transport batteries to and fro on while training the dogs. Nobody would notice for a long, long, time. If ever. However, setting up expensive infrastructure on somebody else's land takes some real gall.

Jaysen said...

That is unfortunate.

My area (upstate NY) has more water and drop than needed. Working on the boss to get funds for a small plant. If she gives in I'll post it somewhere.