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Three Keys to a Successful Home Wind Turbine Installation

Posted by Chip Means on April 24, 2015
Three Keys to a Successful Home Wind Turbine Installation

You’ve sold your customer a great energy solution in the form of a small wind turbine, which will give them years of clean power from a vast and plentiful renewable resource. Now you just need to install it.

A successful home wind turbine installation goes beyond groundwork and wiring. Follow these three quick tips to ensure your wind installation is a breeze.

1. Seek assistance in raising the tower.

Most home wind turbines are installed on tilt-up tower solutions that use a gin pole and a winch. Simple, right? Well, if you’ve never hoisted a tilt-up tower, you should know it’s a slow-and-steady process that relies on careful counter-tension and proper anchoring. Three people can get a tower up without a lot of trouble, but you’ll save time (and face) by enlisting help from someone who’s done it before.

If you can’t find a friend or fellow installer who has been involved in a tower raising, the answer may lie with the manufacturer of the turbine or tower you’re using. The manufacturer will have documentation and installation guides that will serve as an excellent resource. Study these before arriving at a customer’s site, and call the manufacturer with any questions you have. Make sure you’re comfortable and confident in the process. Nothing takes the thrill out of a homeowner’s installation day like watching a group of guys scratch their heads in the middle of a field for a few hours… or worse, seeing their brand-new turbine do a 100-foot nosedive.

In addition to the many guidelines you should follow in installing a tower, please always keep two basic precautions in the front of your mind:

Never allow anyone to stand in the fall zone of a tower while it’s being raised or lowered, and always triple-check that your guy wires are properly attached before moving the tower.

2. Keep it simple: Work with pre-engineered products.

Anyone who has installed residential wind or PV can attest that these installations can often become muddled by the number of hardware components that need to be wired and configured on-site. Look for products that are manufactured with installers in mind. Recommend that your customers choose pre-engineered solutions that have thorough manuals and accessible customer support. These should be at the top of your list—they’ll save you critical time and money, especially on a complex site installation.

Some home wind turbines and inverters now use high voltage (380 VDC), allowing you to use economical 12-gauge wire and long wire runs with low loss, making setup more flexible and efficient.

3. Avoid “surprises” by clearing administrative steps before installation day.

Installation day can become “installation week” or “installation month” if you arrive to a site and learn that the homeowner doesn’t have proper permitting or interconnection agreements. You never want to hear, “I didn’t realize this town has a tower height restriction” after you’ve purchased and delivered a turbine tower, or “oh, I thought you were calling the utility” for the grid interconnection step. A successful project has a general contractor who works actively with customers, system manufacturers, utility providers, and town officials at every phase. Do yourself a favor and solve these problems early and often – from the comfort of your office, not the homeowner’s driveway.

Installing a small wind turbine system is in many ways easier than ever, but it’s still important you arrive ready to give your customer a good experience. Know the product and know the hurdles in advance, and seek help when you need it. Document your steps with photos and notes to help yourself succeed with future installations. This will also protect product warrantees and maximize support from manufacturers.

Remember: A home wind turbine often can be seen from great distances – make sure your customer can give all their neighbors a good story about your hard work!

 

Chip Means is the director of sales development for Pika Energy.

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