Category Wind turbine maintenance

Routine Wind Turbine Maintenance

Wind turbines, like any machines, benefit from regular maintenance. Homemade wind turbines need to be maintained at regular intervals to ensure uninterrupted, optimized, clean energy, and a sound investment.
Tips on maintaining your homemade wind turbines:

Check the gearbox regularly

The gearbox is the heart of the wind turbine system. It keeps the turbine running smoothly to generate efficient and clean electricity. If a gearbox becomes problematic, the whole wind energy system will not operate correctly. Like other gearbox, it contains gears that need to be freshly-oiled and lubricated regularly to keep the gears from grinding and wearing, check the gearbox for dirt, debris, and other elements that may prevent it from working efficiently. Schedule a regular oil and oil filter change.

Wind turbines are one of the systems that require demanding gearbox applications due to extremely difficult loads to predict. Replacement components can also be expensive, which is why regular upkeep is recommended.

Keep the blades clean and damage free

Like a normal fan, the blades of homemade wind turbines need to be cleaned regularly. Dirt can cause damage to the blades and prevent it from running at its maximum potential. Wind turbine blades also need to be balanced or risk gearbox and shaft problems, causing more damage and stopping the system’s operations altogether.

Auto-sensors actually help

Most people look at auto-sensors as an additional cost and are not essential in wind energy systems. The truth is that auto-sensors optimize the turbine’s operation. These sensors automatically detect the direction of the wind and then shift the turbine to the best direction to be able to generate more energy. Solar energy panels also use auto-sensors that adjust the panels to the direction of the sun, thus harvesting more sunlight.

Check bolt and screw torques

Turbine bolts need to be re-torqued regularly to ensure safe and efficient operation. Bolts and screws loosen because of the blade spinning vibration. Regularly check the bolts and tighten or change if needed. Loose bolts and screws do not only decrease the efficiency of wind turbines, they also pose great danger to nearby areas.

Regularly check brake pads

Wind turbine blades are installed with brake pads that help control the speed of the blades. Some people think brake pads lessen the energy generated by wind turbines. However, safety comes first. It is essential to keep the brake pads in top condition to be able to control and stop the rotors or propellers that are moving too quickly. Although most wind turbine brake pads automatically detects wind speed and stops the rotors accordingly, it’s always best to check it regularly.

Maintenance cost of wind turbines is generally low, especially newly installed and newer generations of turbines. However, it is expected that as the turbines age, maintenance will also increase sporadically, as well as unscheduled repairs. Depending on the quality and weather conditions, wind turbines have a life expectancy of 20 years but with regular upkeep, you can be sure of a small probability of failure after two decades have elapsed.

Troubleshooting Tips for Small Wind Turbines

Wind turbines generate clean electricity and provide a cost-effective way to go off the grid. However, building homemade wind turbines through the help of manuals is different from troubleshooting certain natural problems generated by wind turbines like heat and noise issues. Here are some ways to reduce the noise produced by the turbines, as well as other concerns that you may find helpful in the future.

Noisy gearboxes

Modern wind turbine gearboxes are designed for quieter operation. However, if you still find it noisy, you must first identify if it’s mechanical or aerodynamic noise.

Here are some steps that you can follow to avoid and reduce mechanical gearbox noise:

•    Before purchasing industrial gearboxes, make sure that the gearbox has steel wheels with slightly soft and flexible core. The surface must be hard and durable for longevity.

•    Make sure that the metal wheel’s surface has high carbon content. This can be done by heating the gear wheels and letting them cool slowly while the surface and core are packed with a powder with high carbon content. This carbon should migrate to the metal’s surface while leaving the interior soft and flexible.

Aerodynamic noise of homemade wind turbines

Aerodynamic noise can be an effect of surface vibrations made by rotor blades. To transfer energy from the rotor blades, the blades must break the wind, which in turn causes a white noise. Most rotor blades are very smooth for aerodynamic purposes and must emit minimal noise.

Noise increases with the speed of the blade. Reducing aerodynamic noise can mean sacrificing rotational speeds and energy generation. Aerodynamic noise is a minimal problem compared to mechanical noise that can lead to mechanical failure as well.

Temperature problems

Wind turbines have minimum temperature operating limits. It must be protected from icy weather as the auto sensors can be damaged and work inaccurately. Low temperature can also cause mechanical damage.

•    Lubricate gears and bearings regularly especially during cold weathers

•    Check for bacterial growth, oil and water emulsions, and other solid contaminant that can induce mechanical failure

•    Electricity loss

To make the power generated by the wind turbines usable, it must first be inverted to match the frequency and voltage of the grid. However, inverting electricity amounts to 10% of electricity loss. If the line is farther from your home, there is also electricity that will be loss in transmissions. The farther the system is, the higher the transmission loss. This is due to the wire resistance. The longer the wire and the higher the resistance, the higher the electricity loss would be.

While transmission loss also applies to electricity from the grid, the rate of electricity loss in wind turbines is quite high considering the energy generation and storage of the wind turbines.
Aside from electricity loss, there can also be a case of excess of electricity. Here is what you can do the excess energy generated by your homemade wind turbines:

•    Sell excess electricity to electric companies

•    Store excess energy in batteries for future use

•    Connect it to your hot water storage tank or hot press tank. This is especially useful in cold weather

•    Install an internal heating system to protect the sensitive power electronics in the gearboxes and CPU