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On the low end, some students in my college took two 27gallon steel barrels and cut them in half vertically. Then then slide
them and welded them to a pole.
(there was a little more overlap, but that's the notion.
Offset by 90 degrees.
The pole rotated in pretty light breeze (basically are large axle
with axle bearings to let it spin).
At the bottom was a car alternator. That was it. Cost around $10 from a junk yard. It was likely the least efficient part of
this. Eventually a brake was added (windy, but need power to be OFF) - a disk with a pair of disk brake from a motorcycle and a bar that locked the shaft once it stopped.
The whole lower part was enclosed in wood. From outside you
saw a tower with 4 painted half barrels. 2 on top ofset from the two on the bottom.
The thing made a fair amount of power for its cost of < $100.
It was non-ugly. Once good bearings where used it was mostly
quiet. It powered fans in a green house and motors to open/close vents and a small control computer.
ok, jump past the early 80s and we have prop setups that are
close to frictionless. We have tower assemblies that go up quickly.
In residential Berkeley, there's a windmill that just peeks above the rooves. hardly an eyesore.
I see them all over the Central Valley and Napa running water pumps and the like. hardly industrial monsters (tho the huge ones on Altamont hills are graceful and silent - but HUGE).
In an age of rotting grid and blackouts, making power is responsible. I've got zero desire to "go off the grid" but if everyone generated 25% of the power they used, that would mean fewer power plants, less need for long distance hauls of power. 3-4 solar panels per roof would reduce our dependance on MidEast Oil. More people would be alive for it.
It need not be ugly. It need not be noisy. I know that Solar panels add to property value (you will pay lower power bills while these things work for at LEAST 30 years).
Research magazines (check libraries for Home Power and ask the librarian - that's what they do). Hit the net. Info is out there. Depending on where you live, you might get large tax breaks. Calif pays for 50% of the PV Solar stuff you put up. And then tax breaks help after that.
That is the most positive response I've received.
I live in So-Cal, so energy prices are skyrocketing, not to mention depleting our natural resources.
I do know that in California, by law, the electric company has to buy back any excess energy created by consumers.
I'll definitely keep pursuing this idea.
I investigated all of this stuff and ended up paying him. Windmills and the batteries and switches seemed like a pain to maintain. However, I think in 5 years you'll be able to buy a fuel cell that will power your house with just LP or nat. gas. alot more efficiently than a generator.