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Low level, low wind generators?  RSS feed

 
Bill Bianchi
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I've read that small turbines are not worth the investment. Also, a lot of cities and towns have ordinances against them due to noise and neighbors not liking the way they look.

Personally, I don't have any problem with them and would love to have them working to power my home. I think that if the power goes out, they're worth every penny. But, the situation is what it is.

So, I was wondering if there might be a way to make electricity from low winds at roof level, without any turbine at all. I am not trying to beat the output of a proper turbine placed on a tower. I am trying to explore alternatives to turbines that might allow folks who can not have a turbine at all to still make electricity from inexpensive devices that operate at ground or rooftop level. I have no idea if these suggestions are viable or not, so I'll throw them out and see what you all think.

First up, the pickup. Electric guitars operate by plucking a ferrous wire, which is above a magnet and a coil, the wire within the magnet's field. When the wire is plucked, it vibrates. When the wire vibrates, the magnetic field vibrates with it. When the magnetic field vibrates, the coil reacts by transducing the moving magnetic field into electricity, which is what determines the sound that comes out of the speaker. (if anyone wants to correct any mistakes in this explanation, please feel free)
It should be possible to inexpensively set up this method at home for the purpose of battery charging. String a ferrous wire, the higher the better. Put magnets and coils close enough to the wire that the wire is within the magnet's field. Next, put a plastic flag on the wire so it "flaps" in the wind.
When the wind flaps the flag, the wire should vibrate. When the wire vibrates, the magnet's field should vibrate with it. When the magnet's field vibrates, the coils should produce electricity.
No, it won't make much electricity, but it shouldn't cost much to set up a lot of them. The noise from the flags may be an issue for some situations, though.

Next up, tree top generators. Shoot a line to the top of a tree using a crossbow or slingshot. Anchor a spring to the ground and attach the other end of the line to the spring. When the treetop sways, the line tightens and pulls the spring. On the line, set up magnets. By the magnets, place stationary coils. When the treetop sways, the line is pulled, the magnets move by the coils, the coils make electricity. When the wind slacks, the spring compresses, pulling magnets back by coils to their original position. Coils should make electricity each time the tree sways. Set up as many of these as you can around the tree, but not so many that the treetop can not sway.
Again, that will not make much electricity. But, it shouldn't make any noise and there might be ways to ensure it doesn't look bad to neighbors. Again, it should not be too expensive to set these up.

Next up, the balloon generator. This works much like the treetop generator. Anchor spring to the ground or roof top. Attach line to spring. On the other end of the line, attach a balloon. The longer the line, the higher the balloon can go. Attach magnets on the line and stationary coils near them. When the balloon is tugged up there, the spring extends, pulling magnets by the coils.
This one seems too hands-on. You need to fill that balloon with something to make it rise. Methane or HHO or wood gas or helium? It may not make noise, but that balloon will probably be seen by everyone in the neighborhood. Also, power lines near this would be bad.

Next up, wind levers. Put an angled blade at the long end of a lever. On the short end, place a magnet. Put a spring on the short end that pulls the short end against the direction the long end with the blade moves it. Put stationary coils in proximity to the magnet. When the wind blows the long end up, the short end with the magnet moves by the coils. When the wind slacks, the spring pulls the lever back into position, ready to be moved by the next gust.
I like this one because it employs leverage. The longer the arm and the bigger the blade, the more force applied at the short end. Much like lifting a car with a jack, a small force can be multiplied over distance distance to put a short but powerful force at the other end. It shouldn't be noisy or unsightly. It should be inexpensive to build one from repurposed parts. Many of these could be placed side by side along the peak of a roof to take advantage of the wind sweeping up the pitch.

All right, those are my ideas for generating electricity from low winds at low elevations. Again, I have no idea how much or how little energy these devices could make in a 24 hour period or how many would be required before a usable amount of electricity could be made. They seem to make energy from variances in wind speeds rather than from wind speed alone, which is something I haven't seen for wind power yet. Maybe there's a good reason I haven't seen it yet. Maybe it doesn't work.

For the more knowledgable here, I have a few questions. These devices wouldn't seem able to produce enough electricity, volts/amps, to make it into a battery bank. Could the small amounts of electricity they generate be accumulated in capacitors, which discharge when full with enough juice to pulse charge a battery? Is there anything you all can think of to make any of these ideas more viable or produce more energy?

The purpose of these devices would be supplimental, though if it could be more that would be great. They are supposed to be inexpensive, which I believe they are. But, if they won't make enough electricity to count for anything in 24 hours, they're pretty useless no matter how little they cost.

Is there anything here worth anything? Each of these devices should be inexpensive enough to make many more as time and finances allow. Would a lot of any of these devices make a usable amount of electricity?
 
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