Wednesday, June 29, 2011

༺ Lightening Damages Turbine ༻

Here on the farm we generate electricity for ourselves using solar panels and wind power. Recently our wind generator suffered a near hit from lightening, which required lowering the turbine and troubleshooting the issue.
wind turbine alternative energy
Here's our wonderful turbine, made by the Bergey company.

The storm was a fast one, but did apparently produce a lightening strike close enough to the Bergey to impact the electronics inside. Luckily, the components protected themselves just as they were designed to do. Up the 104 foot tower, the turbine suddenly started turning very very slowly. This was the sign that something was not working properly.

bergey wind power turbine
In order to diagnose the problem, we had to use the 30 foot gin pole to assist with the lowering of the turbine to the ground. This is always a little scary to do, but the few times we've done it there have been no problems. The process involves anchoring one of the four sets of wires to the bobcat instead of the ground anchor, then allowing the turbine to lower away from the bobcat side. The bobcat slowly moves forward until the pole comes to rest on awaiting supports which hold it just off the ground, allowing the turbine to be worked on.

Once the turbine is available to examine, we discovered there were some broken parts inside. The Bergey company was very helpful in explaining what the parts were, and very quickly shipped us some replacements (2 gas tube arresters, at $3.50 each). These little parts attach between the frame and the recifier, which converts the wild 3 phase to DC power (so I was told). I guess these parts were affected by the storm and died doing their job protecting the other components of the system. While the turbine was down, we also took the opportunity to clean it up and give the blades a new coat of black paint.

What I missed most while the turbine was down was the ability to look up and instantly see which way the wind was coming from. This knowledge helps me with deciding which windows to open in the evening to cool the house down. It gets to be very habit forming !

To raise the turbine back up after the repairs, we pull with the bobcat on the south side, leveraging the gin pole to the ground while lifting the full tower up to position. 3 of the 4 sets of wires (north, east and west) rise up slowly to support the whole thing. My main job was to watch the wires for any problems, and keep alert for any snakes in the area. Luckily we didn't encounter any of those. After securing the south wires back to the ground, it was quite a relief to see the Bergey spinning again.

1 comment:

Doris Sturm said...

Glad you got it fixed - we have a lot of electrical damage due to the many electrical storms in this area!

Enjoy your week and have a great 4th of July weekend :-)