The area where I live suffers heavy power outages (in fact the whole country does!!) so I am considering building one of those wind turbines (with PVC pipes) but am not sure whether it's windy enough here for it to run (A Google result says its just 1.8m/s). So, is this project worth pursuing?

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    what needs are you hoping to meet? How long an outage do you hope to have power for? How much power do you want to use during that time? – Jay Bazuzi Jan 30 '11 at 16:46
  • power outages go upto 8 hours!! I'm expecting to use an ADSL router and possibly charge my laptop – user1649 Jan 31 '11 at 8:02

A generator would probably be a better choice.

You haven't given us a lot of details, so I'm going to assume that you live in norther US, Canada, or the UK, that you live in a middle-class detached house with a yard, and that you're faced with winter storms taking out your power for a day or two, and you want to keep the fridge cold and run a few lights until the power comes back on. You will burn something (propane, kerosene, wood) to stay warm, cook food, and make tea.

The main problem with wind power is that it's not necessarily available when you want it. During a storm it may be so windy that the turbine shuts down to protect itself. After the storm there may be 0 wind. You'd need a way to store electricity, which means banks of deep-cycle batteries, a charge controller, an inverter. As long as you have the batteries and electronics, you can charge off main power when that's available, and don't need the turbine as much. Batteries are expensive, they go bad after 5-10 years, require good care.

A generator provides you with power exactly when you need it. You can store an enormous amount of energy on site in a tank of diesel of gasoline, and you can buy more with a trip to a gas station, for long outages. If you already have propane or natural gas on site, you can get a generator that uses that fuel, which is way less hassle than pouring fuel in to a tank in bad weather.

If your loads a small and your expected power outages are long, it might make sense to get a small battery bank + charger + inverter to accompany your generator. Turn on the generator for a couple hours in the evening, so you can check your email and run some lights and charge the batteries, and draw on the batteries for the small loads the rest of the time.

So, it goes like this:

  1. Identify and minimize loads
  2. Install a generator with transfer switch
  3. Upgrade with a battery bank, charger, and inverter, if needs dictate
  4. Upgrade further with wind or solar power, per budget and interest
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Assuming you just want to use a router, some light and charge your lap top.

Can your router run on DC, most of the DC input?

12v lights are common for caravans and there are some laptop chargers for caravans that run on 12v (I don’t know if there will be one for your laptop)

If the above is true, a cheap “low teck” solution will be to use a 12 volt caravan battery that you have on charge at some, or in the boot of your car. (With some DC-DC converters if needed)

(Wind turbines have to be very big to work well, and you don’t always have wind, so everyone with wind turbines needs a plan b anyway.)

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Great idea! It's actually a fairly simple setup and not all that complex. Normally you want to use multiple power sources to attempt to charge your backup battery. Here's a simple diagram that helps explain a solar/wind power system:

enter image description here

You can build inexpensive small turbines for the wind portion but the battery tends to be the expensive part of the setup. You'll want something that can run your devices for a while if the generators aren't making any extra power.

I've seen a setup using car batteries before which worked as a cost effective way to scale up battery power over time by just adding additional batterys to the circuit's power grid.

Keep in mind this can be a very dangerous thing to build and operate. If you're uncertain at anytime of something involving electricity/current/hot wires/etc. make sure you have an electrician present to verify it's setup correctly.

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  • I plan on giving this a go XOPJ, but I've no idea what your wind/solar controller is. Can you link to some real world examples of products that do this? – Kieran Walsh Jan 5 '13 at 23:28

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