Rooftop Wind Turbine System
The wind turbine system has established its reliability for centuries already. Today, as the people yearn to be more ethically green and sustainable, wind power was one of the most viable solutions foreseen by many as a cleaner and natural source of electricity. On that note, it had caused the demand for such a system to upsurge over the recent years. From agricultural farms to industrial wind plants and even individual domestic households, the wind turbines incessantly deliver clean electricity to conscious consumers. Moreover, the availability of technological innovation allows this energy system to be effective in both stand-alone and grid-tie applications with structural setups varying from small to large-scale turbines. In this article, we will dwell more on a small wind turbine system that is intended for residential use, particularly in the category of a rooftop installation.
What is a Rooftop Wind Turbine System?
Unlike the ginormous traditional windmills that we typically see in acres after acres of farmland or far out in the sea, the rooftop wind turbine system is more compact and lightweight enough to be suitably mounted in the homeowner’s roofing rather than its base installed on the ground. The height itself of the building provides the elevation needed to capture sufficient wind speeds thus offset the need for a tower. The size of the structure is considerably small and will not require too much space to be installed. Hence, this design is most especially applicable to customers who have limited land areas like those living in suburban locations.
What are the components of a Rooftop Wind Turbine System?
- Rotor – The rotor basically acts as the “heart” of the system as it is mainly responsible for harnessing power from the wind and converting it into mechanical energy. The overall diameter of the rotor is directly correlated to the amount of energy it can conceivably extract. As the size increases, so as the total energy that can be likely drawn. In addition, the rotor also serves to hold multiple blades that are connected to a hub.
- Rotor Blades – The rotor blade is an important component of the system. Its function is to capture wind and allow the kinetic energy produced to enforce the rotation of the hub. The blades available in the market today are commonly made up of fiberglass, aluminum, or carbon fiber materials which are known to provide a more appropriate strength-to-weight ratio.
- Hub – The hub is the centermost component from which the rotor blades are duly attached to. It is often constructed with sturdy cast iron or steel material.
- Shaft – The shaft is the very component that gets rotated by the rotor blades. It is also directly connected to the generator unit.
- Guy Wire – The guy wire is essential in maintaining the position of the shaft in place.
- Generator – The generator is the component liable for the crucial task of transforming the rotational mechanical energy into electrical energy.
- Gearbox – Typically, the rotational speed of a turbine is very slow. So a gearbox is inserted between the rotor hub and the generator to help increase the rotational speed and then facilitate the transmission of energy to the generator.
- Brakes – Commonly, turbine systems come with two types of brakes, an automatic and manual brake. The automatic brake is what’s in use regularly by small wind turbines. It works by producing cyclical braking to keep the rotation at a safe speed in fast winds while still maintaining nominal power output. On the other hand, the manual brake only comes into play during emergency situations or if the turbine is undergoing maintenance.
- Batteries – The batteries are an additional component that serves as a storage unit for the generated power. In most systems, a deep cycle battery is utilized and can also be wired together in multiple units to create a bigger battery bank.
- Inverter – The inverter is the one responsible for converting the DC electricity produced by the turbine into a usable form of electricity called an alternating current or AC.
How does a Rooftop Wind Turbine System work?
Just like its large-scale counterparts, the rooftop wind system primarily works the same. It’s just that it is built to be specifically installed in the roofing of houses or buildings as opposed to mounted into huge towers on the ground. So by principle, as the wind blows towards the turbine, the rotor blades get spun capturing the wind’s kinetic energy which prompts the rotation of the shaft that is attached to a generator. With the help of the gearbox, the generator produces direct current or DC electricity. This is then converted into an alternating current or AC electricity through the use of an inverter. Finally, the AC electricity can now be used to power common household appliances or stored in a battery system to serve as backup energy.
What are the requirements for a Rooftop Wind Turbine System to work?
Generally, a consistent wind speed of at least 10 miles per hour or more is required to initiate the wind turbines to produce an electric current. In order to achieve a consistently producing energy level, it is ideal for the turbine system to be set up about 30 feet higher than the highest surrounding structure, such as trees or buildings. Moreover, it is also advisable for the system to be at a distance of at least 300 feet away from any point of obstruction.
How much power does a Rooftop Wind Turbine System produce?
Given the constraints in the rooftop turbine’s size and weight, its capacity to deliver power is in a way limited as well. On average, it is expected to produce an estimate of 0.5 up to 2 kilowatts. It is sufficient enough to cover only a percentage of household energy demands. Thus, the wind power system works best as a supplement to another alternative energy source like a solar panel for instance, or to instead function as backup power for when the grid-supplied electricity is disrupted.
How efficient is a Rooftop Wind Turbine System?
It was said that wind turbines can convert almost half of the harnessed wind into electrical power. Nevertheless, the construction of the turbine’s generator unit itself also imposes some level of limitation. Usually, the generators are designed to handle a certain amount of energy at once. That being said, the average conversion rate is predicted at 45% but can reach a maximum peak performance of up to 50% in the most favorable conditions.
What are the advantages of a Rooftop Wind Turbine System?
- Green – Wind power is a cleaner and greener source of energy as compared to using fossil fuels, coal, or nuclear power. That is primarily because it does not emit harmful greenhouse gases during the production of electricity compared to other sources.
- Renewable – Wind power is a free and renewable source of energy. It is a naturally occurring element thus as long as the sun shines, the wind will consistently be available.
- Space-Efficient – Unlike the typical wind turbines, the rooftop-mounted wind turbine system does not require a significant amount of area to be installed. Hence, it is applicable even for people with minimal space like in the city or suburban locations.
- Low Operational Cost – The wind turbine system is cheaper to operate in comparison to other energy sources.
What are the disadvantages of a Rooftop Wind Turbine System?
- Unpredictability – Wind, by nature, is unpredictable and having it as the main source of power means that an intermittent supply of energy should also be expected.
- Maintenance – Since technically the wind system involves a lot of moving parts then specialized routine maintenance may likely be implemented from time to time to keep the turbine and its components running properly.
- Geographical Requirements – To ensure the efficiency of the system, it requires to be installed at a certain height to achieve sufficient wind speeds. Moreover, it also needs to be placed in an area where there are minimal obstructions like trees, tall buildings, or mountainous terrains so as to prevent the blockage of airflow.
- Noise – Due to its close proximity to the ground, the noise produced by the turbines tends to be more pronounced. Oftentimes, this can be perceived as an auditory disturbance especially if it is located within the urban areas where neighbors reside rather close to one another.
- Visual Appearance – Although the rooftop-mounted wind systems have a lesser footprint on the land, still some people may find the sight of it on top of the roofing less visually appealing.
What are the factors to consider when choosing a Rooftop Wind Turbine System?
- Roof Endurance – Given that the wind turbine system will be installed right to the roof, then it is imperative to ensure its durability and capacity to handle the weight and vibrations of the turbines. Thorough checking of the integrity of the structure, its thickness, and appropriateness of the construction material must be done regularly to assure safety.
- Noise – As mentioned previously, the noise given off by the turbine itself can post an issue to nearby residents. Thus, it is important to consider how loud the noise can be and how near are the structures within the vicinity to avoid untoward disturbances and complaints from other people.
- Vibrations – The vibrations created in some turbine systems can sometimes be too prominent that it runs the risk of damaging the roofing of the house. Thusly, the safety of the homeowners can be compromised. In this regard, it is wiser to choose a wind system with the lightest vibrations possible.
- Height – In the case of the rooftop-mounted wind turbine system, the height of the building is utilized to give the turbines the elevation it requires. Nevertheless, if the height of the house is not enough though, then an additional tower might be necessary to further raise the system towards a certain level.
- Aesthetics – Especially when considering to set up a wind turbine system in an urban area, it is essential to maintain an aesthetically appealing installation to ensure a pleasant visual of your entire house. In this manner, it would less likely affect the overall attractiveness of your neighborhood.
- Local Permits & Regulations – Just like other structures bound to be installed or constructed, the local government imposes specific rules and regulations that one ought to comply accordingly. Hence, before proceeding with the project, it is best to conduct research on such requirements to assure that you won’t encounter any violation.
The rooftop wind turbines system is truly indeed a very promising innovation. This multi-million alternative energy industry established impressive growth in sales and there seem to be no signs of it from slowing down. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that there’s still a long way to go to provide an absolute solution to its irrefutable limitations. It is good to know though that manufacturers are persistent in producing newer designs that are more powerful and efficient yet less noisy and vibrating wind turbines.