Monday, March 22, 2010

Why are there three blades on a windmill?

Well some of you know that I was in Norman, Ok for training of the Bergey wind turbine. But I am now back and it was worth the trip to their company.

There was a lot of discussions about all the various types of turbines available on the market. Everything from vertical turbines right on up to the different turbines with one blade on up to the old fashion Aeromotors.

So because of these discussions that we had I am losing one of the turbines that I have in my line up. Let me go into more detail about why I am not going to use this particular turbine and various others.

I am going to start with the vertical axis type first, like the Windspire for example. Bergey actually tried to make this type of turbine work back in the 70's and was unsuccessful because they could not get the rpm's needed to generate power. But what they did find out that they could get torque which works great for pumping water, not good for electricity making. Also the blades are in a constant battle with each other in the wind never achieving the rpm's needed without a lot of wind speed.

Next is the one bladed machines. Which they are technically what you need to make a wind turbine generate a lot of power. But they are so lop sided that there is to much to go wrong. The other thing is you need a lot of wind to get it started. But once that happens it spins very fast and that's where things go wrong.

Two bladed machines are the next better choice. Again they are plagued with their technical problems. The problem with them is the blades get teetering back and forth causing alot of strain on the blades and the hub bearing. As the blade passes the tower it causes the blade to unload the wind blowing against it. Because the wind has to move around the tower. So the bottom has less force and the top blade has all the wind's force causing this teetering effect on the blades.

Three bladed is what turbine manufactures use because it is reliable and it helps get rid of some the other issues that other turbines with other blade configurations have. It is easier to balance the load on the hub with three blades. Like the two bladed turbines the three bladed turbines can counter act the teetering effect much better. Because there are always two blades in the wind. With the turbine being horizontal all the blades are in the wind at any given time not like the verticals which are not.

Now on to the reasoning of why I have decided to drop one of the turbines that I currently have. It's because it is a multi-bladed turbine. Since it has more then three blades the turbine will actually slow down, producing less power but more torque. Just like the Aeromotors in the old pictures of farms with windmills that you see with a lot of blades. Those turbines were designed for more torque in less winds to pump water out of the ground. Not for speed to generate electricity like we are today with the new wind turbines.

You may say just because I went to Bergey and they talked about these different blade styles. How are they correct? Well here is my take on that, they have been around thirty years and they are one of the very few left from the energy crisis back in the 70's. So to me that gives them a lot of credibility in my eyes. There are a lot of companies today that are trying to get rich quick and I'm not one of them. I believe you get what you pay for.

My mission is, "To seek out the best turbine, producing the most power, that can be reliable, and at is most reasonably price possible."

Stop back in the next few days and I will have more to say about my trip to Norman, OK and the Bergey product. I will also be talking about the turbine that is replacing the Skystream and Raum wind turbine too.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Win the Smart Strip Game:

Here is how the game is going to be played. I am leaving town around March 14th, to go to Norman, OK for training on the Bergey wind turbine that I sell and on the way home I will be stopping in Freeport, IL to meet a wind turbine dealer that I know there that has installed the new wind turbine that I have been thinking about carrying. I will be posting some video of this turbine and also blogging about it when I get back to Traverse City.

The game is simple:

1) You have to be a Fan on the J.D. Stratton Electric Facebook page to win.

2) You will need a Twitter account to follow me at or go to my blog there is a Twitter feeder there you can use it to follow along too. I have my Twitter account linked to my Fan page, but to be safe I would do one of the other two items just in case.

3) As I am going through different towns along the way I will tweet where I am in my trip. I will be driving to OK one way and to IL a different way.

4) You will have to write the towns down each day, in order, as I tweeted them. When I reach Norman, OK, the first person to post on the JDSE Facebook page the towns in order will win the first Smart Strip for leg number one.

5) I will be there for three days. Don't stop following because I'll be tweeting while there at the training at Bergey's facility. Once I leave there I will start the second part of the game and starting the tweeting again for that leg of the trip.

6) Please pay attention there will be a bonus Smart Strip given away at some point through out my trip for one lucky person. Might be a question, something I posted, or even a video that I have up loaded.

7) Once I've announced that I am back in Traverse City. The second person to post on the J.D. Stratton Electric Facebook Fan page will win the other Smart Strip for use at their home or business.

8) Here's the catch! The winners of the Smart Strips have to give a testimonial on how well the strips have been working out for them after a month has past. Which I will post on my blog and website. You most be willing to do this to win.

9) Only one Smart Strip per winner or household.

Anyone can play along, so tell your friends and family members to signup to become a fan and to follow along. This should be a lot of fun!


Snake Oil Medicine Salesmen Coming to Your Neighborhood Soon.

I met with my neighbor last night to talk about a possible solar panel system for her house. She had gotten a quote from another guy that is trying to do the same thing as I am. The reason she had gotten a quote from another guy was because she thought that I only did wind turbines, but I don't. I started out to do solar first but just fell into the whole wind turbines by accident.

But my question to her was is this guy even qualified to do something like this? The guy was a roofing salesman for a roofing company in Traverse City. How can a roofing company install solar panels without being a licensed electrical contractor is my question. That would be like me coming over to your house and trying to sell you shingles. I'M NOT QUALIFIED AND/OR LICENSED TO DO IT!!!!

None the less I was able to beat their price by $6000, their price was for $25,000. I quoted her the a little bit smaller system (just .2kw difference) on a tracker. Which is better because it is off the roof and it moves to follow the sun giving her 25% more power. Their system mounted on the roof and faced to the West that's ok, BUT it really needs to be pointed South.

So buyer beware of the Snake Oil Salesman coming to your door. There are somethings you need to be asking these guys:

Solar installer questions:

1. Are you a licensed Electrical Contractor or who do you use and are they licensed and insured?

2. How many systems have they installed?

3. Are you insured to do this type of work?

4. Do you work with the power company?

5. Do you handle all the permits? If they ask you to get them you need to say bye bye.

Wind turbine installer questions:

1. Are you a licensed Electrical Contractor or who do you use and are they licensed and insured?

2. Are you a licensed Building Contractor or who do you use and are they licensed and insured?

3. Do you have a licensed Engineer that you use? Because wind turbines are a structure and when getting a building permit you need a stamped foundation drawing.

4. How many wind turbines have you installed?

5. Are you insured to do this type of work?

6. Do you work with the power company?

7. Do you handle all the permits? The only permit that I do not get is the zoning permit, but will supply all the paper work needed to get that permit.

These are some basic questions that you need to ask your potential renewable energy installer. This is a big investment and if it is not install correctly your going to waste a lot of hard earned money.

So many times since I have started doing this type of work so many guys have since moved on. I know of three companies that all started about the same time as me and they have since disappeared. But I'm still here. I have since taken over one of the companies customers because he is not in business.

My thing is not just the installation but it's the service after the sale. So many are about the sale and not coming back after the installation. I generally try and make two visits a year to all my installation that I have done because it is important to me that you are happy with the product you bought from me. So many of my customers have become good friends.

So beware of the Snake Oil Medicine Salesmen, one day there here, the next day their gone, never to be seen again with your hard earned money.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Words from the Woman

Greetings from the inside! This is Andrea. I'm Jeff's wife, and the co-conspirator involved in these experiments. I have been teasing Jeff that "the other half" ought to have a chance to voice the impact that trying to be more energy conscious has had on me.
Jeff has graciously given me a moment on this forum, so....

The LED lights weren't so great. Good idea - poor execution. Made our hallway look like an art museum. Not the look I need when heading for the bathroom at midnight!

The CFL lightbulbs have taken some getting used to - but I love the energy savings. The first generation bulbs cast a brownish light, but these current ones warm up to a yellow, and offer plenty of light. They are even in our bedside lamps.

Jeff put in a programmable thermostat (over my boisterous objection!) - but he's right. It does make a difference to have the thermostat set low during the day, and turn on before we get home.

We've got smart strips in a few places in the house- the most efficient one is the one of the TV. Turn the TV off, and it turns off all the accessories (DVD, VHS, video games, whatever) - but leaves the chargers and the cable box on. Really cool - and makes me happy knowing that all that stuff is off.

Last but absolutely NOT least - my favorite JDS purchase for the house: the little electric meter reader. This little gadget is about $100 - and one small piece is attached to your outside electric meter. The larger display is somewhere in your house - ours is in the kitchen. It's free standing, so you can put it wherever you want. This little gadget tell me how much energy is being pulled into the house at any given minute. You can change the read out to show kilowatt hours, or how much money is being spent at that moment. It has become a game I play - to see how low I can get the house while still enjoying life. Currently I can get down to 0.2-0.3 KW/hr while doing computer work, or watching TV, but still going about my life. It is surprsing to see it suddenly spike to 8 or 10 KW/hr - until you realize that you hear the furnace running, the refrigerator cycling, or some other high energy user.
If you have kids that are inconsistent about turning off lights or using too much water - try this gadget! Knowing how much you energy you are using is the first step in changing behaviors to get more efficient.

Thanks to my host for letting me have this space. Let us know what you think as you try some of your energy ideas.