There are two primary ways to hook a wind turbine to your home to provide AC power, which most household appliances use. If you are installing a stand-alone or off-grid system, you will need to install an inverter, a battery bank and should consider installing a backup generator (particularly if you have periods of the year without much wind). If you're making a grid-tied system, you'll need a power conditioner and don't need to install backup batteries. Before starting, check to make sure regulations in your area allow grid-tied systems and if they allow you to feed into the system, helping to reduce your electric bill when the wind's blowing and you're not using the power. One section deals with an off-grid system and the other section a grid-connected turbine system.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Inverter (large enough to handle the power generated by your turbine)
- Charge controller with rectifier (Some inverters now have a charge controller, rectifier and power conditioner built in)
- Deep-cell batteries (enough to power your home for about 3 days when fully charged)
- Wind turbine wiring harness
- Wiring to connect to batteries and electric utility box.
- Wind turbine
- Power conditioning inverter
For an off-grid turbine, get the rest of the equipment you need. The majority of this equipment will likely be available from your turbine supplier. If it's not, visit the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA's) Small Wind Turbine Equipment Providers web page, to find a supplier. Talk with the dealer to make sure each piece will work for your system. The page also offers advice on what to ask dealers.
Decide where you want to locate the battery bank. It can be an uninhabited area of the home, such as a concrete basement or a garage away from any explosive or flammable materials. Alternatively, you may want to place the bank in a shed with some protection from extreme temperature swings. Deep Cycle batteries contain corrosive materials and can explode.
Wire the batteries together. Free Sun Power's website offers a tool that shows you, based on your battery bank's size, amperage and more, how to wire the batteries to the power charge controller and the inverter. Failure to wire the system properly can result in damage to the batteries or the electronic components.
Connect the battery bank to the controller. Make sure all connections in your home are off. Then connect the inverter to your electric utility box and to the charge controller/rectifier.
Connect the charge controller/rectifier to the turbine's wiring. The turbine puts out three-phase alternating current, which must be turned into DC before being used. The rectifier will change the turbine's three-phase electrical output into DC power, and the charge controller will make sure that the battery bank won't overcharge.
Connecting an Off-Grid Turbine to Your Home (Off-Grid)
A grid-tie system allows you to avoid building a battery bank and a charge controller. However, make sure your inverter has a power controller or purchase a separate power controller. You can get the majority of the equipment from your turbine supplier. If they don't have what you need, visit AWEA's Small Wind Turbine Equipment Providers web page to find a supplier. Talk with the dealer to make sure each piece will work for your system. The page also offers advice on what to ask dealers.
Connect the turbine to the power conditioning unit. The unit will convert the wind turbine's three-phase alternating current to electricity that matches the frequency of your local utility's lines. It also keeps the turbine from being fed by the grid and working as a fan instead of a turbine.
Make sure your utility has turned your power off at the hookup before you complete any more of these steps. Leaving that connection on while trying to connect the power to your utility box could electrocute the installer and damage the equipment.
Connect the electric hookup to your power conditioner, then hook the conditioner to your utility box. At this point, check all connections to make sure they are secure, proper and protected. Then have your utility turn the power back on.
A grid-tied system could also be hooked up to a battery bank. If so, adapt the steps in the off-grid system to this system. In such a set up, install all of the off-grid equipment first, then perform the grid-tied steps.
Connecting the Turbine to Your Home (Grid-Tie)
Tips and warnings
- Check with local and state governments for any regulations and incentives regarding your wind system. It could save you a lot of time and money later.
- Before installing a system, it's a great idea to shrink your use of energy as much as possible. It could allow you to install a smaller system.
- Automotive batteries won't last long. They're not made to withstand continual charge and discharge cycles, while deep cell batteries are.
- Always use protective, insulating tools and gloves when dealing with electricity. It's also good to wear rubber-soled shoes.
- It's best to have a licensed electrician install the system and wiring.
- Be careful when installing the batteries to make sure they were wired correctly and handle them carefully, the sulphuric acid in the batteries could burn your skin or eyes.
- Tell your utility what you are going to do. They can tell you what you need to know about connecting to the grid.
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