How to Turn Kinetic Energy Into Electricity

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Kinetic energy consists of the motion of the wind. Installing a wind turbine can convert kinetic energy into electricity. Many homeowners select small wind-electric power systems to supplement their existing grid-tied connection. Others live entirely off the grid and install a wind power system due to either the absence of a nearby electric utility transmission line or to free themselves from reliance on the local power company to provide electricity.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric bills dating back 12 months
  • Wind turbine kit

Preparation

  • Find out the wind speed in your area. This information determines if you have the required wind speed to make the project feasible. According to the Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), a wind turbine requires an average wind speed of 10 miles per hour for systems tied to the grids. Stand-alone systems require a minimum wind speed of 9 miles per hour. The National Renewable Energy Lab (www.nrel.gov) has a wind resource map for determining the wind speeds in your region of the country.

  • Go to your local city hall to learn the building codes concerning the installation of a wind turbine. For example, some municipalities have rules of the height of a structure, and residential wind turbine towers stack as high as 100 feet in the air. Confirm whether or not it is feasible and legal to install a wind turbine.

  • Find out what your state laws are regarding connecting your renewable energy system to the grid. Some states laws obligate utility company to purchase excess electricity generated by your system. Learn state and federal laws regarding incentives for constructing a renewable energy power system. You may receive a rebate or tax credit for a "qualified" system.

Wind Power Systems

  • Determine how much power, or kilowatt-hours (kWh), you need the system to generate each month. Gather your utility statements for the last 12 months. Add together the kWh used each month.

  • Divide the figure by 12. You now have the average kilowatts your household uses per month. Divide this figure by 30 to get your average daily kWh.This figure gives you a starting point for viewing wind turbines. The system must provide this level of power generation, or some portion of it to meet your objectives for the system.

  • Discuss your project with a technician before purchasing a wind power energy kit. Make sure the kit contains the basic components, including tower base, generator, rotor blades and AC/DC inverter. The size of the capacity of the generator and the size of the rotors determine the power production of the system. For example, doubling the blade size and increasing the generator power can increase the system's power production by four times.

  • Purchase a wind turbine tower that is at least 30 feet higher than anything with 500 feet of the system. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, and secure the tower base plate to the ground. Assemble the body sections of the tower, which usually consist of three sections. Connect the three tower guyed wires, which stabilizes the tower.

  • Follow the directions for attaching the generator to the wind tower support. Bolt the rotors to the generator or secure according to the directions. Connect your system to the main electrical box. The exact procedures depend on if the system has batteries and is a standalone or grid-tied model. Attach electric ground wires to the tower prevent damage to electrical components if lighting strikes.

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References

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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