There is an interesting initiative going on about designing a small wind turbine for use in Haiti that would produce energy for a simple lighting system. The goal is to design a 5W output wind generator that can be built for $25. The generator would be part of a battery and simple LED lighting system to help people who have no electricity at all and who are currently relying on kerosene lamps for lighting. There is a nonprofit which plans to install these in remote areas in Haiti, if they can be produced cheaply and can be shown to be reliable. The turbine would likely be used together with a small solar panel to keep the battery charged.
VAWTs are relatively easy to install and can be made very reliable and long lasting. If this initiative is successful, it may be possible to put together a sustainable single room lighting system for under $100.
if you click the above link it'll take you to a search listing page with all the VAWT projects that people have given step by step instructions for. i'd contact some of the builders of those projects for their insights.
When I worked in Antarctice, we maintained some solar/battery powered seismometers. For the most part they were solar with a bank of batteries to get though the (no-sun) winter. If the battery banks were fresh, they would generally make it through the winter. Still many of the stations would go dark in the winter.
On a few of the solar panel masts we attached decent size computer cooling fans and used them as wind generators. They actually worked fairly good for a scrap parts wind generator. They would keep the stations up longer. And occaisionally a station with completely dead batteries would come back alive during a really windy spell powered solely by the cooling fan.
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