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Tracker 1&2  Control Center  Wind Turbine   Wind turbine page two  Wind Turbine Page 3  Wind turbine page 4 2011 For the latest developments in 2012 CLICK ON THIS LINK TO JOURNAL DECEMBER 2012  Studio Roof  Home   Solar Hot Water   Journal

This is Wind Turbine Page Two, starting 1/1/2009

Anyone interested in small wind power should strongly consider a Kestrel Wind Turbine by Eveready, the battery people. The upfront extra cost may be cheap on retrospect!!!! After our SWWP Whisper 500 has had a history of failure after failure, I am looking for a way to buy the Kestrel e400i. The line voltage developed by the high voltage Kestrel is many times the voltage of the high voltage Whisper 500, and better suited for a long wire run to the summit of the mountain. I am not the only one to replace SWWP machinery with Kestrel.  It is my experience that the South West Wind Power Whisper 500 built in 2007 is a bad investment.

Here are photos of the installation.  Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5  Page 6  Page 7  Page 8  Page 9

Here are some stats on turbine production after raising the tower to 96' for our 3.2 KW Whisper 500; For the month of February 09, 157.57 KWh. March 09, 159.21 KWh. April 09, 185.75 KWh. In May 09, the turbine yaw shaft shorted out and stopped all generation, and it looks like it will take all month to get through to the warranty department for repair.

The Whisper 500 wind turbine is broken again!! That seems to be the theme of this turbine installation!! It now seems the yaw shaft could have caused nearly all problems and was never diagnosed properly.

SYSTEM DIAGRAM      Here is a wiring diagram of our complete system.

1/6/09 Ordered the hardware to add 30' to the tower mast. I will buy one joint of 21' and weld on the leftover 9' piece from original installation, adding in the extra just above the first joint of the mast and replacing all the guy wires that have rusted, (original cable guys supplied by South West Wind Power have rusted badly in less than one year).

1/25/09 All hardware and the new pipe are here. The new pipe is 30 feet 10 inches long. It will be added above the first joint in the tower. The pipe is ready to add to the tower.

1/26 I let down the turbine today. The cracks on one of the props are growing ever larger. I'll try to take a picture.

1/29 progress installing the extra 30 feet of tower mast. Picking up the last parts needed tomorrow.

2/1/09 The 96 foot long turbine mast is assembled and in the air on the dry run, without the turbine in place.

2/3/09 Finished the turbine and it is back up and spinning at 96 feet tall. It seems there are three things that need to be considered about placing a turbine; Height, height, and more height.  Under 140' may be a mistake. In any case raising 31 feet seems to have helped a lot. It is generating less sporadically and more often. At times much greater than the wind speed reported by TWC. I think I will be on the lookout for a used rohn tower of 140+ feet. I am sure I can rig a tilt up design at this height.

2/17/2009 Turbine performing better at 96'. Generating 80% of demand for days on end.

3/27/09 Thanks to raising the turbine to 96 feet, I have stayed off grid and heated water with electricity for an entire month. Something never approached with the turbine at 66'.

5/3/09 I seem to be having an odd problem with the turbine braking and then charging, braking and then charging, at normal operating voltages. Nothing to do with the charge control.

5/7/09 !!Wind turbine and tower survive direct hit of super cell and tornadoes that flattened most of the surrounding timber!! The winds must have been in excess of 100 MPH to do so much damage. Grid power is destroyed in our area. I never lost power with my RE system! The antennas on the cell tower are extremely bent over, just up the hill from our turbine. I had to turn off all power to the turbine charge control and when I turned it back on and the control rebooted it immediately started to charge. NOTE: Grid power was out for 15 days.

5/13/09 The turbine has quit generating and seems shorted even when disconnected and the brake is off. 

MAY 15, 2009 Lowered the turbine tower today and traced a short to the yaw shaft inside the turbine housing. Also missing and broken bolts, rusting in many places. Considering replacing it and making this turbine into my back up generator with a gas or steam engine running it without the props.

5/26 After calling South West Wind Power and trying unsuccessfully to get through to the warranty and tech department, I decided to simply call the parts department and purchase a replacement yaw shaft and accompanying bearings to get my turbine back in the air asap. What happened is the strangest thing yet. I gave them my credit card info and there was some discrepancy about the bearings. Their books indicated only one bearing was needed and clearly there are two in the yaw housing, an upper and a lower. The parts man said he would call right back when he figured it out. No call back all day, no credit card activity, nothing has been done. So now after 11 days I still have no replacement parts ordered for the wind turbine. Three calls into parts, three emails, many calls into tech support without answer, now offering to purchase the failed parts, and nothing. 

5/27 At this point I am so mad I will not dignify the Whisper 500 with mounting on top of my tower again! Even after trying to buy the yaw shaft and bearings to fix my turbine, there is no one at parts or tech able to, or cares enough, to sell me the parts to fix my turbine.

5/28 Note the photos above...the black lead is attached to the yaw shaft where it bolts into the tower mast adaptor. The positive is touching each brush ring in turn, and shows continuity through the yaw shaft on the middle and right photos, in other words, two rings are shorted to the tower mast. This turbine was only in the air for part of the time for 14 months because of so many failures.

6/1 We have a confirmed order in for a yaw shaft to be built and shipped this week. Fixing the turbine and putting it back up is all I can afford to do. I'll seal and locktite the brush card into place so this doesn't happen again. Maybe if I put John Deere green paint on the turbine it will last a long time. The thing is this should have been the outcome of the first call to parts on 5/16. Small wind is not cheap power!! Anyone reading this in Missouri should spend their money on solar panels instead of small wind power. Anyone telling you different has not installed and lived with both or only wants to sell. !!LET ME TELL YOU RIGHT NOW THE WORKHORSE IS SOLAR PV.!! Wind is only supplemental power, not primary. Solar PV power is primary generation. INVEST IN A PV SYSTEM! NO lightning worries, no constant fixing, no moving parts...duuaa! The higher cost per watt of rated power for PV is cheaper than the operating cost in the long run for wind. If you install wind power, you will soon agree. All that said...it will be good to see the turbine up again.

6/2 The yaw shaft is shipped. Thank you Wind Energy in Flagstaff.

6/8/09 The yaw shaft arrived today and now it is clear why the old shaft failed, it's insulation between the brush rings and steel shaft melted. I assume it heated from arcing between the brushes and brush rings, however there is no sign of burning on the brush rings, they seem smooth and unspotted, but the brush card had loosened and was nearly falling out when I took it down. The brush card was tight and had all four screws three months earlier...the last time I took the turbine down, to lengthen the mast.

6/9 I needed a bolt that had broken and a screw that fell out while in the air, but when I asked to buy them from wind energy parts department, it seemed like a hassle to them and they told me to find them locally. Ha! Locally is 37 miles away for metric bolts! And only 8.8 grade are available, not 10.2 grade. Although locally available 8.8 grade may be higher quality than the stuff from Wind Energy.

6/10 Now it seems one wire soldered to the brush card has fallen off and the threaded holes in the yaw housing have their threads rusted together and won't allow me to tighten the brush card. The original brush card screws will not tighten into the yaw housing without breaking off. I guess I will need to drill and tap new holes and use oversized screws or bolts. I think I will take some time off, away from the turbine. Bottom line...the turbine is still not repaired and will need machine work and more new parts if it is to be returned to the tower.

6/11 So after 15 months and $21,500 initial installation and purchase costs, another $2,000 to raise the mast, and $800 in parts and shipping charges, and 1000 KWh generation or $100 worth of electric generation, I have no wind turbine without further costs, and my 5 year warranty seems to have run out after 15 months. I now wonder how much of the turbine's original problems were caused by the yaw shaft from the beginning and never realized by the Wind Energy tech staff while in their possession for warranty work. The original problems were shorting and unbalanced voltages seen at the transformer, all possibly related to the yaw shaft and not the windings of the stator. That could explain why after repair of the stator it still had improper voltages, exactly the problem we had this last round. In fact, now that I think about it, they had me send back the stator head and not the yaw shaft housing, so they never checked it out and thought I was incompetent that I kept finding faults with the system here and it checked out there. SO! the yaw shaft could have been part of the problem from the beginning. I sent an e mail to Ross at windenergy.com about this point and he has not responded with anything, yet. This round of problems has never resulted in any response from wind energy tech department. On top of all this, the original screws that held the brush card will not tighten without breaking off and one wire of three soldered to the brushes has fallen off. It cannot be re soldered because the screws holding the brush assembly to the brush card broke off when I tried to remove them. The turbine is still inoperative and will need machine work and more parts before it is fixed.

6/15 Ordered the brush card assembly today. I want to get this turbine back in the air!

6/19 Our brush card assembly should be delivered today. The more I think on it, the more I think yaw shaft failure has caused nearly all my problems from the second week of operation. Very curious how it will work, now that it is fixed. It also brings up the possibility that a lightning strike may have caused my problems within two weeks after erection. Buy solar panels!!!! The brush card assembly arrived! I tried one more time to bolt the brush card on and the fasteners simply won't screw in far enough to tighten the card in place. Another bolt broke off.

6/21 I had to make a tap out of a 4mm bolt by grinding three groves in the end, as cutters, with a jewelers file and used ample apricot kernel oil and re-cut threads into all four bolt holes successfully. Finally, the turbine is ready for re assembly to the tower.

6/22 9:56, The turbine is back up generating! 0.55 KWh compared to 20.64 KWh from the solar panels.

6/23 0.21 KWh from the turbine compared to 22.55 KWh from the solar panels.

6/26 Our system was inspected by a Master Electrician and passed grid tie coding. The only item that is critical is I must not run the turbine until I take it down and re tie up the conduit inside the tower because it dropped and kinked the flexible conduit necessary for tilting the mast.

7/6 Finally tilted down the tower, disassembled the guy wires and took apart the tower sections to get at the kinked conduit at the bottom. It is now fixed and hung so this won't repeat. Tilted it back up after 12 hours labor, but still need to align the mast and tighten the guys tomorrow morning.

7/7 Turned on the turbine again.

7/29 Update; The wind turbine has operated without incident to date. The one day it generated a modest amount, it was needed to stay off grid. Meaning most of the time 0.17 KWh per day is about useless. I have tried to use all possible generation of our  system so the turbine has rarely been on regulation, or automatically off, so as 'not' to over charge.

8/4/2009 The wind turbine generation is now grid feed.

8/11/09 A good day of generation in summer is nearly 2 KWh! I had one day of 7 KWh six weeks ago. At least the turbine is working.

8/12 I noticed a whining sound from the turbine today. Don't know if it was just the wind or if the stator bearings may already be failing. I will keep an eye on it. 

8/13/2009 The turbine main bearings have a definite noise. Now I must take it down again to inspect the stator bearings. Five weeks have gone by since I had to lower the tower last time and 7 weeks since the last time it had to be repaired from failure.

9/4 I have about convinced myself to get rid of the wind turbine and in it's place, utilizing the site and wire run, a dual axis tracker with about 1500 watts of solar panels. At less expense than the turbine alone, about $8,000 for equipment, we will have a great deal more generation. It will generate daily earlier and later than any other system we now have, and add any generation needed to fully run our sawmill on this site. I am simply tired of taking down the turbine over and over to fix it. And two weeks of tracker PV generation will equal 8 summer months of turbine generation.

9/9/09 Still have not taken down the turbine to replace the main bearings. I am very tired of taking the turbine down to repair it. The extremely small amount of power it supplies to our system is...well...not worth the powder to blow it up much less take it down to repair. A friend and colleague who installs wind power in Missouri suggested all small wind turbines in Missouri should be buried. My argument that it is worth the cost to compile data sets is growing ever more irrelevant.

9/16 It now seems the turbine power compiler may be off by up to 1/3. The turbine compiler was reset this morning at 3:00 and now reads 3.6 KWh at 7:00. The Sunny Island grid feed compiler shows 2.2 KWh grid feed before the PV comes on line. I set the voltage of the battery bank down from 52.5V to 52.0V at the same time. So the argument that some went into the batteries doesn't work in this case. More likely vice versa, some of the SI compiled grid feed came from the battery bank. I realized the turbine compiler and the SI grid compiler were significantly different, it's just this is the first time it has been windy enough and I have been set up to carefully register the discrepancy. Now, to add insult to injury, all this time the turbine compiler has been incorrect and over registering to a tune of 1/3 of the true usable power into the system. Why am I not surprised?

10/30/09 Last night between 1:30 and 2:30 the turbine stopped generating with high wind and steady rain, no lightning and the short is not in the charge controller. The prop is stopped with the main disconnect OFF. I guess it's time to let it down. If the problem was in the wire run to the turbine it would be doubtful that all three wires are shorted together, so it must be in the turbine. 16:14, found the problem, water fills one prop making it out of balance. There is a crack in the edge of the trailing edge of the prop with water pouring out. SWWP is replacing both props and sending out the main bearings as well, that have been making noise for two months. Finally excellent warranty service on the first phone call. Thanks BO of Wind Energy. Update; The turbine is still shorted and will not free wheel.

10/31/2009 Two of three wires are shorted inside the stator and the third wire is shorted and melted the yaw shaft insulation, completely ruining the brand new yaw shaft I just replaced. The turbine is boxed and ready for it's fourth trip back and fourth to Flagstaff, AZ. My wire run down the mountain checks out without problems. All problems are in the turbine stator and yaw shaft, the stator bearings are bad, and one prop is so cracked it filled with water and was unbalanced, adding to the problems. This may be a record number of problems at once. I sent an e mail to Wind energy about this and will call them Monday morning 11/2/09.

11/2/09 South West Wind Power is willing to fix the turbine but apparently I must pay shipping to send it back, which is more cost than the cost of the total electricity the turbine has produced over the last 20 months. The first time I sent it back I paid shipping one way, the second time they paid shipping both ways. So just figuring shipping costs to repair the turbine it has cost total (if I send it back this time) $1.80 per KWh for all generation from the turbine, based on 1,000 KWh total generation, 1/11 of the amount developed by my solar PV, and array three was installed only lately. If I add up the shipping, cost of new parts, and labor costs to maintain this turbine, the cost of power generated is several dollars per KWh. I really need to question the logic in returning it to service.

I just read an article explaining that the wind speed charts for Missouri are wrong and over valued and besides that the readings are rated at 200 feet above ground level. Not where small wind power is located or financially possible. And only one area in NW Missouri has sufficient wind at 200 feet above ground level.

12/9/09 Wind energy will not pay for shipping to get their failed turbine back for repair under warranty. I hope to send it back this week. Another $200 out of pocket for their problems. Also, still have not received the new props promised a month ago. I have intuition that many problems may stem from Wind energy not greasing the contact brushes and the yaw shaft. I have repaired drum switches around the world and the most often failures are due to not greasing them. The Yaw shaft is nothing more than a drum switch that they operate dry. I am greasing my next one for sure. When I asked about this fact with Wind energy, they said they never greased them and never heard of such a thing being done at Wind energy. Maybe it is about time to try. 

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