Windmill energy has long been used in running millstones that grind grains as well as irrigation. Through the years, there have been many changes in windmill technology more so when mechanical engineering offered more means of harnessing the wind’s power in generating usable electricity. Windmills that are used to generate electricity have now become popular because it provided a means to a cleaner environment.
Back in the day, windmills were set up in the same place where electricity was of essence. It was because there were no means of transmitting the generated power, however, with electricity now being transmitted over long distances, it became possible to send it from the wind farms to locations where they are required.
There are no changes in the way that windmills look. They still come with huge blades (also called sails) that are all connected to a long vertical shaft. The wind then turns these blades. At the moment, wind turbines are being used to harness wind energy. These then spin the generators that produce electricity.
In the 1970s, the US government cooperated with NASA as well as the private engineering sector in building windmills whose sole purpose was to provide electricity. The project gave birth to the installation of huge commercial turbines. This promoted windmill use in the generation of electricity. It was a large scale project that powered many homes and businesses. Other countries that have been known to generate electricity through wind energy are Germany and Denmark.
How Windmills Work
Windmill energy is generated through a basic mechanism. The large blades, that are connected to the shaft, turn. These are connected to the generator. Just think of the concept of mechanical energy being converted to electrical energy. Strong winds move the huge blades and their speed is determined by the varying air pressures that hit their surface.
As the blades turn around, they are able to produce mechanical energy which is then converted to electrical energy. Every turbine can be fitted with brakes which can be used to stop the blades from turning too quickly.
Windmills often create noise which is why they are installed up high, apart from the need to gather winds with a speed of no less than 12 miles per hour. A ten-storey windmill with three blades that measure 50 feet can easily produce 50-300 kilowatts of electricity. The largest turbines can generate up to 6 megawatts of electrical power.
Windmill Applications in Homes
Windmills offer a renewable, efficient and affordable energy source. Small turbines that can produce about 10 kilowatts of power is sufficient for one home’s electrical needs. Windmills can be used to generate electricity when the winds turn the turbines but when the winds stop, then the electric connection turns back to the usual source.
Domestic windmills come in two types – the vertical axis wind turbine and the horizontal axis wind turbine. Between the two, the horizontal type is more popular. The wind turbines used domestically can be installed on poles or mounted on buildings. Pole mounted types can stand without any kind of support and are often exposed. Building mounted turbines are located on rooftops which are the best location for wind gathering.
Wind turbines, when effectively used, can help reduce electricity bills. You can even store electricity so that you can still enjoy wind-produced power during non-windy days. The turbines are easy to install and are easy on the pocket (they are not as pricey as solar panels). Perhaps the greatest advantage in using windmill energy to power your home or business is that you help in reducing man’s carbon footprint. Truly, this is a wise choice in electricity generation.