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Old 07-02-2008, 12:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Wind power testing idea

It was crazy windy this weekend, so the wife and I decided to make the best of it and go fly a kite. Yay! We went out the lake near our house, because we knew of several large open areas that should suffice. Once we get there she picks out this nice area near the water and SURROUNDED BY TREES! I humor her and the kite actually made it up in the air! Then I started noticing that when the gusts would die down, it would fall just a couple feet and then it would be below the tree line. It would just flutter eratically, then once it was completely behind the tree, just fall. That got me thinking. If you're considering a new wind generator install and are unsure of the effect of nearby obsticles, go try to fly a kite there. If there's not enough wind to keep a kite up almost any time, it probably won't generate very much electricity too. I was also thinking some sort of scale could be attached to tell how hard it was pulling. That would give a quanitative value that could be compared to existing installations instead of just a qualitative feeling. What do you think? Does it have any merit, or does this idea not hold any air?

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Old 07-09-2008, 04:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yes, this is sometimes used in wind site assessment to see actual turbulence or loss of wind due to obstacles. Sometimes streamers are attachted to the kite string at intervals to see what is happening at different levels.
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Old 07-09-2008, 06:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Good thinking!

Flying a slow model plane could help as well.
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Old 08-20-2008, 04:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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That's about as elegant as engineering can get!
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Old 08-21-2008, 09:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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People do put up anemeters with a data logger before they plunk down 20k for windmill. The kite idea is good too though Usually the solution is go 30' above the trees with the tower.

You can also look for windswept hardwood trees as an indicator of wind speeds too.
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Old 08-21-2008, 12:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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There are some really good maps of wind energy potential available, but it still takes some knowledge and on-site study to determine how tall the tower must be (usually at least 80 feet, often 100 to 120 feet or even taller). Often the cost of an anemometer isn't justified on anything less than a wind farm sized machine, as an anemometer and the tower needed to get it up 90 or more feet is a sizable percentage of what a potential wind generator and tower will cost. In my opinion, you aren't going to get much of a wind machine for less than $20k installed with tower, and one capable of powering a house may be $50k to $80k or more. Conservation methods in the home have a great payback if you are planning to use wind or solar to generate electricity.
As IndyIan mentioned, a rule of thumb is to be at least 30 feet above anything within 500 feet of the tower.

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