Designing, and Building My Own Wind Turbine
Field Notes from Irricana, Alberta, Canada
by Steven Fahey



24 September
2008
"Lights ON"
24 October
2009
"Repaired"
14 November
2009
"Battery Test"
15 January
2010
"Capacitors"
15 February
2010
"Solar Panels"
5 June
2010
"Water Pump"
31 December
2011
"Maintenance"
HOME
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DIARY ENTRY FOR 14 NOVEMBER, 2009
Lights ON

I can't claim to be living "remotely", although anybody who drives from Calgary to my acreage in the country thinks I do. This step makes my barn "off grid" power.

Having located the new barn on the best spot, it was obvious that giving it electrical power from the utility would mean a Lonnnng trench and run of wire. The utility pole is 300 feet away, and the wire would have to go around the house if it connected to the utility service directly. The alternative, tying it into the house, would require an electrical modification in the house - where there are no available circuits in the panel.

Well I never intended for my hobby to provide this kind of solution, but frankly it has just paid for itself. Every penny. Around Calgary, these days, contractor's rates for digging a 300 ft trench and putting in a 50 Amp service to that barn would run me about 8-10,000 dollars. I haven't yet spent 6, between the tower, inverter, wiring, and controls.

I buried the wire from my battery shed to the barn on labour day weekend (I think americans call it something else and in the UK they don't even get a bank holiday early in september). It took me a fair bit of time to sort out the wiring business with the inverter because the cables and amperages are so large. It's a Xantrex 4024, requiring OO cables and an appropriately sized fuse.

With the wire laid in, and the inverter finally mounted in the shed, I just needed to go to the electrical wholesaler's store and pick up standard boxes, breakers and wire. Ahh familiar territory. And here's the result:

As you can see it made a pretty picture. That's the new barn to the left, with the light on inside. You can even see the glow in the upper roof windows. The glare on the right of the picture is a light inside a horse shelter that I put in last year as a "dump load", and it still serves its purpose. There's also a flood light in the barnyard so my wife can do her chores during the dark winter months. At latitude 51, winter days are only 8 hours long in December and January.

Very satisfying to see one's hobby put to good use. Anybody who is just starting to tinker, thinking they can't build anything useful, just think of me, starting out with piddly VAWTs just 3 years ago. Don't abandon a project just because it may not be useful in itself. What you learn from that project propels you forward in the next and the next. Before you know it the installation manuals start making sense and other people say the things you make look neat, and if you stick to it long enough, you might even impress your spouse! :-)