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  • : The blog of Frank Beswick. It deals with my interests in religious, philosophical spiritual matters and horticulture/self-reliance
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August 8 2011 2 08 /08 /August /2011 13:44

Windmill power is a renewable form of energy capable of being harnessed in a domestic residence or on a larger scale. Hills and coastlines are considered to be ideal places for wind generation, as they have regular wind. There have been complaints about noise, scenery and threats to birds, but it is a clean mode of generation. This article will provide you with facts on the windmill power.

Facts of windpower

Harnessing the wind

Britain is a windy country, so some people harness wind for electrical power. This can be done on a domestic basis with a single wind generator, but the owners need to have some electrical gear to enable them to convert the current to their use. Some firms use windmills to power their operations. Farmers sometimes benefit from having large wind farms on their land, as this means that they can receive a payment that can supplement their farm income.

Ideal locations

The weakness of windpower is that it is inoperative when there is no wind, and generators must be switched off in case of severe winds to prevent blades flying off, so places with regular wind are ideal. These are hill tops, coasts, islands and out at sea. The windmills, which convert wind power to electricity, are connected by cable to the national grid, or, if domestic, to the owner's house electrical system.

Advantages and complaints

Clean and ecologically sustainable

Windpower is clean and ecologically sustainable. A generator can run for many years with minimum service and does not use fossil fuels that pollute the air. In a country such as Britain, an island with strong wind resources, wind power can be profitable to owners and make a valuable contribution to the national grid.

Noise pollution

However, there have been complaints. Some people argue that wind farms make more noise than they

are said to and that the noise is of a low frequency type uncomfortable for humans - a permanent hum coming from near your home might not be comfortable. The threat of a generator blade shearing off and hitting someone is real, but considering that windmills are regularly serviced, is not high.


The main areas of concern are their impact on the landscape and the view. For some tourist businesses, a windfarm in their view might not be an advantage. There are complaints that windfarms out to sea spoil the coastal view, but not everyone agrees, as they seem quite small in the distance. There is also the problem of wild birds flying into the blades and being destroyed. This might be quite serious if the windfarm is on a migration route. However, planning inquiries must be held before wind farms are established.

wind farm 3
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July 21 2011 5 21 /07 /July /2011 07:12

Solar power can be added to an existing house, which may involve retrofitting, or built into its design. Some solar power is acquired by directly heating water through tubes on the roof, and other ways of passively collecting heat. However solar energy is captured by solar panels, which produce electricity.



Houses can have solar heating added, sometimes by altering their design [retrofitting] and at other times, they can be designed with it in mind. Solar heating for your home may be active or passive.

Active heating

Active heating involves machinery with working parts, but passive is cheaper and involves designing the house to collect heat. Both active and passive involve electricity saving.

Passive heating

This can mean having tubes containing water running across the south-facing side of your roof to collect the heat of the sun and transfer it to your hot water system. These roof panels will consist of tubes, lying above a black panel and covered with glass to trap heat. The water flows to the hot water system. Convection keeps the water moving.

Northern climates

In northern climates, an auxiliary heater might be used to bring the water to the right temperature. If a pump is used, the system is classed as active solar heating.

Direct energy

A Trombe wall might be built into your design. This is a south-facing wall consisting of a layer of black material covered by glazing material which traps heat behind it. The heat trapped behind the wall can be released into the house by opening ventilators.

Solar heating can be as simple as a conservatory, which, if south facing, should be like a greenhouse and trap heat. This can then be passed into the house by opening its doors.

Sun tubes

Sun tubes (see the picture below) are an ingenious way of saving electricity by transferring sunlight from lighter to darker parts of houses, such as cellars.


Solar panels

Solar panels can be used to generate electricity. They are often sited on the roof, but this need not be the case, as they can be connected to the metre by cables. They must be south facing to catch the sun, if you are in the northern hemisphere.

Connecting them up requires electrical skills. While passive heating can be made with D.i.Y skills, solar panels require a kit, which must be purchased.

However, there are some schemes that allow householders to not only generate their own solar electricity, but also to sell surplus power back to the grid through the electric metre.

A final word

In general, though, in the United Kingdom, houses cannot be powered on solar energy alone and need a supplementary supply.

Solar panelsTube
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June 25 2011 7 25 /06 /June /2011 13:51

Building a windmill involves buying a windmill kit. The windmill will have sails, a shaft on which to affix the sails, a pole to mount them and several electrical devices, and must be carefully situated. These need to be properly affixed and wired so that current is created. The pole must be firmly planted in the ground.

The structure

How to build a windmill

The sails are affixed firmly to the shaft, which is itself attached to the top of the pole. Some windmills have a single pole while others come on a small tower. Ensure that the fastenings are firm and tight, so that the sails will not spin off. A dynamo should be firmly affixed to the shaft so that when it rotates and produces electricity. There should also be a tail-fin which makes the windmill rotate into the wind.

Siting the windmill

For maximum effect, the windmill must be located in a place where there is an average wind-speed of 9mph at least and where there are no long windless periods. It must be located with due regard to the safety of inhabitants of the dwelling/site, who might be injured if it collapsed or a blade came off.

Using the electricity

Essential among the parts of a windmill are the batteries. Ideally, there will be 12 batteries linked together so that the maximum power output will be stored. Between the batteries and the windmill will be a transformer. This is necessary because a dynamo produces A.C. [alternating current] which runs back and forth whereas a battery stores D.C. [direct current ] which only runs in one direction. The transformer converts AC to DC.

A cut-off device

You will need sufficient batteries to power your appliances while other ones are being charged. A regulator will be included to control the flow of current. There will be a cut-off device which can switch off the current if the windmill runs too fast, e.g. in a storm, as the current produced at such a high rotation might burn out the batteries. To run standard domestic devices off the batteries, you will need an invertor to take the current back to AC. This may come with the kit.


Safety is important. The windmill must be firmly fixed into the ground and all parts properly affixed, as you do not want it to fall or spin off in high winds. This can cause fatalities or structural damage. The pole must be well-concreted into the ground to the manufacturer's prescribed/specified depth with properly made concrete. All electrical parts must be kept safely under cover in a dry place so that water cannot affect them.

Galvanized Windmill
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