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.”
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.
“Wind Generator Tower Basics” by Ian Woofenden in HP105
“A Beginner’s Guide to Tower Climbing Safety” by Ian Woofenden in HP128