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Wind Turbine Outtakes

September 30th, 2010

The things we do to prove how rugged a turbine is….

bent turbine mountWe expected teething troubles and got more than we expected, but occasionally, you have to have a bit of a laugh and admit that you made some mistakes.

Timber…. We got a new hydraulic power pack for raising and lowering the turbine, but it didn’t have a flow-control valve, so once the turbine started to come down, it just crashed to earth. On that occasion, the only damage done was to the pitch pins that control the pitch of the blades, and the turbine is running still.

Handbrake turns – Another fault quite early on happened with the resistive loads that we use to put the brakes on the turbine. This is a two-stage process – we first apply a resistive load of about 6kw to slow the turbine down, and five seconds later, we short out the windings to bring it to a halt. The test machines were a bit Heath Robinson and the resistive load was wired wrong, meaning that when the brakes were applied, the turbine was brought to a shuddering halt from full speed. We only noticed this when we heard it one day, but at that stage, it had used its brakes during feirce winds earlier in the week. We fixed the brake issue and though we would have expected the turbine to pull its magnets out of place with the force, the turbine has been running fine ever since. Only last week when we took the turbine down for other modifications did we notice that an 8mm steel plate which is over 25cm wide had bent with the force. Again, the remarkable thing was that nothing had happened to the turbine assembly, which is still running happily.

Open Circuit Running – We had intended testing the turbine in open circuit – in other words, what would happen if all the wires were disconnected and the turbine was allowed to spin freely. This is the ultimate test of how robust the blade and hub system is – if the system should fail in this situation, it could be catastrophic. Many cheap turbines have shed their blades when running off-load with potentially dangerous consequences.

However, we had been experimenting with a dump load which didn’t work, and as a result the turbine spent one night in force 9 winds in open circuit. We never noticed it from our house, but neighbours who went out that night thought a helicopter was going to land in the next field. Again, in the morning there was no sign of any damage, and we have used the turbine happily ever since.

Conclusion – We had intended at some stage to carry out destructive testing of the turbine and blade system. This would have involved staying up nervously watching a turbine half-expecting it to blow to smithereens. Well, most of our testing has been done while we were peacefully asleep, and the system came through with flying colours!

4 Responses to “Wind Turbine Outtakes”

  1. Chris Beier says:

    If the turbine rotational torque is temporarily increased/halted owing to ice/snow buildup have impellers been tested for structural integrity to resist structural shear at no rotation.


  2. Nard Slabbers says:

    sounds promising. Good that your working on a small Irish windturbine!
    Good Luck and keep me informed, Nard, Mountshannon, Co. Clare

  3. Quentin says:

    Hi Chris, We are having to look into these aspects because of enquiries from Antartica and Greenland (for off-grid monitoring stations). However, our main concern there is bearing lubricant and suitable polymers. The lateral force on the blades at 3kw is 3,000N and the hub, blade root etc. are able to take forces well above these limits.

  4. Melly says:

    BION I’m ipresmsed! Cool post!

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Turbotricity Ltd.

Moylagh, Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Ireland


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Delighted with my Turbotricity turbine. It works away effortlessly and quietly giving me plenty of clean free power Brendan Murphy