Actually Günther Hacker just intended to buy a small wind turbine for his own home. When this ended up being the wrong purchase, a nearly unbelievable story for Günther Hacker and his friends set in. After three years of flops and strange coincidences they gained success: the first really working small wind turbine for feeding into the grid was born! People who are interested in small wind turbines that recharges batteries or feed the energy directly into the in-house system will not only find an interesting technological story in words and pictures but also an abundance of information on the right choice for modern small wind turbines, technology for feeding the grid, a suitable location, installation and proper operation. The technical part is complemented by a test about 25 small wind turbines from Europe, China and the USA being tested in a blast duct and outdoors. Günther Hacker, teacher by occupation, has quit his former job prematurely to make his hobby of solar and wind energy his profession. His solar-wind-team, which is honoured with four environmental awards, has become famous due to its developments in the area of solar energy and its comprehensive tests of wind turbines for house grid.
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WIND INTO THE GRID
All on small wind turbines for in-house grids and battery charging
by Günther Hacker
WIND INTO THE GRID
Copyright © 2014 Günther Hacker
published by epubli GmbH www.epubli.de
Starting out, all Günther Hacker wanted was to buy a small wind turbine for his house. However, when that turbine proved a bad investment, an almost unbelievable technical adventure ensued for G.Hacker and his friends. Three years of failed attempts and crazy coincidences later, they had reached their goal: the first fully functioning small wind turbine for grid feed was born!
For people with an interest in small wind turbines that can charge batteries or feed energy to their in-house grids, this book will provide the amazing story of its conception in words and pictures, as well as a regular fountain of information on the variety of modern small wind turbine models, on grid feed technology and on the correct placement, installation and operation of the devices.
The technical part of this book is further complemented by a detailed test description of 25 small wind turbines from Europe, China and the U.S.A. that have been put to the test in wind tunnels as well as open spaces.
Author Günther Hacker, a secondary school teacher by profession, left his teaching post to turn his former hobby, new technical solutions to solar and wind energy, into his new main profession. His solar-wind team’s new developments in solar technology, as well as their comprehensive testing of small wind turbines in pursuit of the best model for in-house grid feed, earned them a high level of recognition and four awards to date.
Note: This eBook contains various links to Internet content (websites and videos). Dated eReaders in particular might not be able to display the linked content, which is why we made sure to provide you with the specific web addresses so that you can follow up on the content on your tablet, PC, Laptop, etc.
Wind-wheels have always had a fascinating appeal to children and adults alike, which is illustrated by the many colorful models, often handcrafted, that can be found on balconies, in backyards and community gardens. However, how crazy does one have to be to believe that these basic “toys” could actually be used to generate and harness energy? Energy that you can feed into your in-house grid?
We were just crazy enough and dreamt of creating our own means to generate energy to supply our normal residential house, given that it was not on the coastline but located in a residential area in Germany’s Black Forest. Technically, it shouldn’t be too hard, we thought; after all, our pioneer solar-power plant worked perfectly fine. So all we would need was a good small wind turbine and an inverter, and maybe the numbers of a few experts in case we got stuck.
Little did we know that we would have to buy and test a total of 25 wind turbines and ten inverters, guided along by countless calls to experts and innumerable meetings. Eventually, we had to come to terms with the fact that wind turbine technology was not as easy as it looked, and that even with the advice we received by so-called “experts”, the turbines would not work at all, or at least not the way we wanted them to.
But to quit now? After we had put so much money and effort into our idea? Now more than ever, we were determined to make it work. With no constructive help to be had, we would have to help ourselves and develop a turbine of our own: and we did it!
With the help of our friends and two courageous electrical engineers, our dream became reality: our small wind turbines are now mounted on our own roof and on masts all over Europe, mainly producing energy that is fed into in-house grids since selling it to the general grid hardly ever pays off.
Even without an existing grid, our wind turbines can provide a 230-volt grid when combined with solar modules and a battery pack. All of this took us years of work, of hope and disappointments, but we learned a lot during the process. A lot of it seems pretty unbelievable in retrospect, but see for yourselves.
For readers with a special interest in technical developments, the first part of this book will provide you with an insight into the almost incredible experiences we had with various turbines and companies, as well as some knowledge we collected concerning the installation and operation of different models. These insights in particular will be helpful to you, should you plan to build or install a small wind turbine of your own.
The second part of the book will provide you with a brief technical introduction into wind generation and the workings and construction of different wind turbine models.
Part three will shine a light on our purchase criteria for various small wind turbines, which we developed by extensive testing in wind tunnels and open landscapes. Our often surprising findings will be of invaluable help to you when it comes to choosing the right wind turbine for your specific needs.
Part four explains the technical details of battery charging and grid feed.
The fifth part concentrates on detailed practices of determining the right location for your turbine, measuring wind speed, erecting masts, acquiring permits and operating small wind turbines.
In the sixth and final part, you will find valuable addresses and web-links for further information and purchase options.
A few already outdated books on wind turbines for handymen offer helpful tips on the construction of small wind turbines with wooden or metallic blades and modified car alternators. Additionally, various different blade models and often useless generators for self assemblycan be found online.
As many callers and visitors have confided in me, this may just work for enthusiasts and DIY specialists – as long as they are prepared to spend a lot of time and money, and are further willing to cope with the many disappointments in store for them until their wind turbines work as intended.
However, since there are industrially produced high-performance wind turbines available these days, I personally recommend choosing one of those and familiarizing yourself with their correct application and operation. All these experiences led me to write this reference book. After its first two print editions, it is now available to you in this carefully revised eBook version.
The work we put into testing and developing wind turbines is only the first step towards a decentralized energy supply for residential houses. With your help and that of other wind energy enthusiasts, however, it may turn into a giant leap for more environmentally friendly produced energy worldwide.
Meet the team! First is author Günther Hacker, a former teacher who gave up his secure position for his newly founded solar- and wind energy company and went on to win four environmental awards with his SOLAR-WIND-TEAM.
Then there is his wife Monika (“Now that you have put so much money into this wind turbine thing already, you have an obligation to keep going!”) and their two sons Steffen and Peter (“Dad, you take care of the turbines, we’ll take care of the homepage and the trade fair presentations”).
The team’s driving force was mechanic Jörg Linhard (“Don’t give up so quickly! So we’ll look for another one, or simply build a turbine of our own!”). Gabriele Jerke assembled the turbines we had developed and she also helps to set up the exhibitions at trade fairs and informs visitors about the technical details of the wind turbines.
Andreas Armbrust is a certified graduate engineer; he developed the first fully functioning grid feeds for our small wind turbines and continues to build them to this day.
In Eastern Germany, Michael Heyde is responsible for the aerodynamics of the blades, while Klaus Fischer in Romania is in charge of the wind turbine prototype and serial production. While Rolf Heckmann’s contributions from Canada were of a predominantly critical nature (“If your wind turbine can survive a Canadian winter in these storms, then you’ll know you did it!”), he still helps out with his valuable testing and his many business contacts.
Wolfgang Zwick in Northern Germany and Jürgen Ragg in the South are always quick to help when electrical or electronic problems occur. Additionally, we would be facing extensively longer testing-periods in remote locations if it wasn’t for Tjeerd van der Bij, who generously provides us with testing masts and his webcam near the Dutch Northern Sea coast.
It all started with a visitor’s story on one of our “solar weekends” held at our home, but let me elaborate:
My wife and I, both teachers with two sons, had installed a solar water heating system in our dated, personally renovated and thickly insulated home. Our second system, by the way, since the first one (a supposed bargain bought at a trade fair), broke down after only one winter: the collectors were permanently wet and the panes clouded.
It was the time of the shocking nuclear plant meltdown in Chernobyl, the beginning forest decline and the subsequent birth of “green” parties and environmentalist organizations: interest in environmental issues and a greener way of life was on the rise.
As a consequence, friends and colleagues repeatedly asked my wife and me about our solar water heating system. We therefore decided to host the aforementioned “solar weekend” and were positively surprised at the great number of people that attended.
Photovoltaics was still in its fledgling stages back then, which is why I was fascinated by the story one particular visitor told me: he supplied his house with energy generated by a small wind turbine model by LMW. Since we were about to attend a solar energy lecture in Northern Germany anyway, we ordered a small wind turbine in the Netherlands and proudly took it home to the Black Forest for USD 3000.
Our friend Peter Stermann, an engineer who later developed a well-functioning tracking system for our solar energy system, quickly came up with a solution for a suitable mast: The city stored old street-lamp posts near the municipal sewage plant that had been damaged by rust during the winter. We picked up one of these posts, had it flexed down and freshly galvanized and a locksmith provided us with a fitting flange plate for the socket.
Next was the digging and the placing of the concrete: for structural reasons, Peter Stermann required a round plate, 60 cm in diameter and 80 cm deep, to be placed in the garden next to the fruit-bearing trees. After a while, the mast was in place, the three wind generator cables had been threaded through the mast and the wind blades turned.
We had connected an old car battery with a charge regulator – though what would happen once the battery was full, we had no idea. The important thing was that the wind wheel turned and our neighbours were as happy as we were.
Sadly enough, the wind turbine never did reach a satisfactory peak performance. Was it the unfavourable positioning behind the house, or maybe the car battery was too small? However, it was never fully loaded – so how could the visitor on the “solar weekend” have supplied his entire house with the energy generated by the same small wind turbine? Had he lied to us – but why would he?
We would only learn much later that being a wind turbine enthusiast doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always completely honest about the results. In addition to the battery problems, I noticed a strange, grating noise on the way to school one day.
Peter took the wheel down from its mast and examined the generator on a lathe. It turned out that the bearings had been unevenly placed, the spaces between magnet and coil differed in width: small rust particles had scratched the magnetic ring. Peter tried to carefully remove the magnets but failed. The LMW trader in the Netherlands was unresponsive, neither calls nor letters were answered. It would later turn out that this behaviour was all too common with wind turbine manufacturers when it came to reclamations – a deeply frustrating experience.
So, our “Malfunctioning Dutchman” was a case for the junk yard – still, a handyman found use for the blades and apparently his wind turbine lasted for several more years.
In the meantime, we had – with great difficulty – purchased a solar energy system with Japanese 48 Watt modules, as well as a grid-feed inverter – as big as a wardrobe – fresh from testing by the Fraunhofer Institute in Freiburg.
We were proud to have our own solar energy supply and were especially pleased to learn that we had installed Germany’s first private grid-feed unit. This news attracted even more visitors to keep my small solar team comprised of family and friends fairly busy:
We organized lectures and courses on how to install solar energy systems, we fixed broken systems, invited politicians of all parties into our home, convinced mayors and local councilors to subsidize communal solar energy and shared our knowledge and experiences with handymen and mechanics. In turn, our efforts were rewarded with four environmental rewards over the course of the next subsequent years.
It was a roaring success and thanks to the subsidies by the surrounding towns, more and more solar energy units emerged. And that was where the problems started:
Taking advantage of our free advertising, some mechanics sold their enthused customers parts not suitable to the task just to keep their prices low. Others were simply too inexperienced to properly install the units. For years we battled with construction defects and malfunctioning units.
So we took the next logical step: I left my secure job as a school teacher and founded a company for the development and distribution of solar energy systems. Young mechanics were willing to install the units and put up with my mandatory final inspections and testings. This ensured perfectly functioning units and it didn’t take long for word to spread.
Subsequently, people interested in having their own solar energy systems came to our house almost every evening, much to the dismay of my two sons who only wanted to watch TV. It soon became obvious that we would have to look for a bigger house, ideally with an office space and enough storage room in the cellar.
The house we finally chose was located in the sunny part of town, with a nice office space and an easily accessible roof big enough for my solar energy-requirements. In this new and quiet residential area, we installed our old solar energy system to the roof under the neighbours’ close scrutiny. Additionally, we installed a big thermal solar unit complete with new and secure large area flat-plate collectors, that I had developed together with a manufacturer of collectors.
We replaced the old oil-fired boiler in the basement with a modern 1000 liter combined thermal/solar-storage-tank. Using the 16m2
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