Sunday, October 15, 2006

Windmill Zoning in Residential Areas - I plan to try!

My father recently ran across a new windmill designed for residential wind-power applications that sure sounds like it has potential. It is called the Skystream 3.7, and is one of the first I have seen that employs low-wind-speed generation capabilities, and a reasonable size and form-factor, uses modern blades, and is also of a reasonable cost -- a typical install is supposed to run around $9,000 USD currently.

I really like how the unit is sold as a complete "system" that includes all the hookup to your residential power supply from the electric company, and has all that crossover electronics and such included. This makes for pretty much a one-stop-shopping experience from the looks of things. The windmill is rated at 1.8KW, and is designed to offset 40-60% of the average home's power utilization requirements. Not bad. Heck, give me two of them and it'd be even better.

I hope Skystream doesn't mind my copying a bit of their promotional information, since the following is a direct copy/paste from their page showing the basic specs.
  • Product Brochure: Skystream 3.7 brochure (PDF)
  • Rated Capacity: 1.8 KW
  • Rotor: 12 feet / 3.72 meters; 50–325 RPM
  • Alternator: Gearless, permanent magnet brushless
  • Voltage Output: 240 VAC (Optional 208 VAC)
  • Estimated Energy Production: 400 KWh per month at
  • 12 MPH (5.4 m/s)
  • Weight: 154 pounds
  • Tower: Towers from 35-110 feet are available; height is
  • dependent by site
  • Technical Specifications: Skystream 3.7 Spec Sheet (PDF)
  • Warranty: Five year limited
  • Availability: October 2006
Now, my main concern is how to get this thing through my local zoning regulations, since I live in a residential "R1-A" region, and after giving the local codified ordinances handbook a perusing, I have found no regulations that address windmills in particular. There are provisions in the local zoning code for things like TV antennas, satellite dishes, building height, and so forth, but no mention of windmills. So, chances are, I am going to have to set precedence by trying to gain a variance for my windmill. If I can really get a unit like this installed and operation for $9,000 or so, and if I can get it through zoning, I plan to install one. I think it'd set a great example of what this country needs to do in order to free itself from the strangle-hold the oil cartel (OPEC) has on us now. Wish me luck!

9 comments:

Mark said...

I think a residential wind turbine is an wonderful idea. There are a few around here, but not many. I'm certainly no expert on zoning laws in Ohio but these people might have some leads. Wind towers are gaining greater acceptance in many states and localities. The tilt-ups are my personal favorite but they require enough space to tilt them down for routine maintenance. You might get some help from Skystream or maybe even your local electric company. Many states have cogeneration rules and tax breaks too. If I stumble upon any useful information I will pass it along. Best of luck!

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks for your input Mort.
I hope it doesn't take an all out battle to get approval for a windmill here since I really want to try to help "set the tone" for things to come. I wouldn't mind seeing them all up and down the street - certainly beats smog from non-clean power sources.

DED said...

Good luck, Mike. I read your post over at Mort's blog. Although I live in CT, I'm curious to know how things turn out.

Mike Eberhart said...

ded,
I'll be sure to post updates when I make any progress on this task. I still have not even heard back from the company that has the windmills (I signed up for mailing list on their website). I'll bet they are getting a lot of attention lately.

I still need some more detailed input from my lawyer friend that said he'd try to come up with some zoning approach / strategy I can pursue.

I want my windmill, and I don't want to wait, but I have a feeling this will take a bit of time. Since cold weather is setting in here in Ohio, it'll probably take til at least next Spring/Summer to get the thing installed even if zoned.

Carl B said...

Hi Mike,

My name is Carl Baldino and I live in New Jersey. I am one of the Beta testers on the Skystream 3.7 project and I had no problems as far as zoning with my installation. We live in a residential setting on just over 1/2 acre. We applied to our local township (being 35' tall the tower comes under most height restrictions) and got approval with no problems. So far the turbine performes well in low wind and we expect it to get a real workout this winter.

Mike Eberhart said...

carl,

THANK YOU for sharing that information. You mention residential AND township. Around here, townships usually have much less restrictive zoning than the incorporated cities. We are in the latter. I am on well over an acre, which I hope will help.

When you say it performs well in low speed, do you have a feel for what the minimum wind-speed is for the skystream 3.7 to produce any noticable power?

Glad all went smooth! You are giving me encouragement to proceed.

Carl B said...

Mike,

It needs about 11 to 12mph to get started after that it will run in 8-9 mph. It only produces about 50 to 60 watts at those wind speeds, but, it does ramp up nicely when the winds hit 13 to 14mph. It spins pretty slow even in high winds it is limited to 325 rpm and will reach that speed at about 19mph. It will easily do 2kw at 320rpm and I have seen it hit 2.8kw at 325 rpm just before the speed limiter starts to slow it down.

Mike Eberhart said...

Carl, your feedback has been quite useful! I'm still considering a windmill, if for nothing else than to make a statement. I see there is not a SkyStream dealer here in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and I plan to contact them soon (a place called RePower). They also do solar and such. Certainly seems like there are some nice options coming online.

Joshua Janes said...

Hey Mike, this is Josh from Ohio,

I am going through the process of putting in a Skystream on a 45' monopole at my home. I currently am waiting for the foundation to be poured next week and then you have to wait 28 days for the concrete to cure before putting up the tower. If your interested in reading about my dealings with my local zoning commission, swing by my site at http://www.joshuajanes.com

I got my height variance passed, but I had to jump through some hoops and found out some very disturbing issues with big business and local regulations.

Also the supposed government wind turbine grants in Ohio for local residents are a joke. Anyways that's in my blog as well.

Well, I'll be checking back to see how it goes for you. If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up.

Josh