Wind-Electric System Maintenance: Page 4 of 4

Intermediate

Inside this Article

“If it’s human-made and has moving parts, it needs maintenance.”
“If it’s human-made and has moving parts, it needs maintenance.”
Note the water damage found in this junction box.
Inspecting junction and pull boxes, including all connections, is part of the routine maintenance needed on wind-electric systems. Note the water damage found in this junction box.
Inspect the tower base and all guy anchors
Inspect the tower base and all guy anchors—make sure there are no issues before climbing to inspect the tower and turbine.
The turnbuckle safety loops should never be allowed to rub the guy cables.
The turnbuckle safety loops should never be allowed to rub against the guy cables. This photo shows an example of a rub point on the top of the lower turnbuckle. Friction and vibration will eventually damage this guy cable.
A broken furling cable on a Bergey Excel
A broken furling cable on a Bergey Excel means that there is no means of shutting it down. Regular inspections of braking and furling systems are crucial to safety.
Blade wear may call for repair
Blade wear may call for repair, or they may be warnings of imminent blade failure, which can be catastrophic for machine and tower.
Blade cracks and wear may call for repair
Blade cracks may call for repair, or they may be warnings of imminent blade failure, which can be catastrophic for machine and tower.
Telltale signs of damaged bearings
Telltale signs of damaged bearings—oil and rust streaks on the blades—call for immediate action.
Slip rings can be misaligned and not conduct the turbine output
Slip rings can be misaligned and not conduct the turbine output to the down-tower wiring.
Slip ring or brush failure and shorting can make sparks and fire
Slip ring or brush failure and shorting can make sparks and fire, putting your wind generator out of commission.
Grease from a bearing failure caused this slip ring assembly failure.
Grease from a bearing failure caused this slip ring assembly failure.
Furling bushings need to be replaced.
Furling bushings wear out after years of operation, and need to be replaced.
“If it’s human-made and has moving parts, it needs maintenance.”
Note the water damage found in this junction box.
Inspect the tower base and all guy anchors
The turnbuckle safety loops should never be allowed to rub the guy cables.
A broken furling cable on a Bergey Excel
Blade wear may call for repair
Blade cracks and wear may call for repair
Telltale signs of damaged bearings
Slip rings can be misaligned and not conduct the turbine output
Slip ring or brush failure and shorting can make sparks and fire
Grease from a bearing failure caused this slip ring assembly failure.
Furling bushings need to be replaced.

Maintain It—or Bury It

Don’t believe anyone who says wind-electric systems can be maintenance free! The only time that holds true is if you leave all the components in their original boxes, and store them in a cool, dry place. Once you install and operate the system, it will need maintenance. In most cases, it will need periodic repair. And if you go light on maintenance, it’ll need even more repair more often.

The results of poor maintenance are held up for public observation on tower tops across the country. Some stay aloft as tributes to the difficulty of keeping wind-electric systems going. With others, neglect and abuse becomes catastrophic, as turbines and towers fail and give their owners gray hair.

The advice of two long-time wind-energy users? Take maintenance very seriously, and do it on a regular basis. Heed the message your wind-electric system is trying to send you—“Take care of me and I’ll try to take care of you.”

Access

Roy Butler lives off-grid on a windy hilltop in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. Because he’s frequently away, installing wind turbines and teaching installation workshops, his own turbine suffers from “mechanic’s car syndrome.”

Ian Woofenden lives a “do as I say, not as I do” existence as a wind-electric system owner, author, tower jockey, and consultant in Washington’s San Juan Islands—and can tell you from experience why you should maintain your wind generators.

Recommended Reading:

“Wind Generator Tower Basics” by Ian Woofenden in HP105

“A Beginner’s Guide to Tower Climbing Safety” by Ian Woofenden in HP128

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