MAIL: Tough Turbine in Venerable System

Cook's RE system photo.
Art Cook's wind genny, PV array, and wind pumper.
Art Cook's wind genny on the cover of old HP mag.
Art Cook's wind genny was on the cover of Home Power #29.
Cook's RE system photo.
Art Cook's wind genny on the cover of old HP mag.

A couple of months ago, I read an article describing Arthur and Maxine Cook’s off-grid 70-acre farm in Somerset County, Pennsylvania (“120 VDC Wind and PV Hybrid” in HP29). Their hybrid power system consisted of a Northern Power Systems HR3 wind turbine, 3,000 watts of Kyocera PV modules, 20 Surrette 6-volt, 200-amp-hour batteries, and the associated charge controllers, inverters, disconnect switches, etc.

Here is some background, directly from their 1992 article:

“Our first wind generator was a 115 VDC rebuilt Jacobs [Wind Electric]. It was destroyed in a terrible blizzard in January 1980. The wind that day gusted to 82 mph and the temperature was -27°F. The Jacobs’ governor failed due to the cold; the springs lost their tensile strength, the rotor over-spun, and the machine flew apart.

We replaced the “Jake” with our present HR3, an 825-pound, direct-drive, 120 VDC alternator with a 5-meter (16.4-foot) diameter, three-bladed rotor. We mounted her atop a 60-foot Rohn self-supporting tower. This magnificent machine will produce 3,500 watts at 25 mph, and requires only one hour of maintenance per year. It hasn’t missed a beat in 11 years.”

With another person, I recently bought the assets of the HR3 wind turbine manufacturer to start Black Island Wind Turbines (BIWT), so I decided to call the Cooks. Their article was 22 years old, and I wondered what I’d discover.

Arthur shared with me that his climbing days are over. The turbine needs a new set of bearings after 33 years, and so it has been idle for awhile. He indicates that he would like to see it find a good home. If by chance you’re looking for a used HR3, contact me.

Bill Stein • Black Island Wind Turbines

Art Cook adds: We’ve made a lot of changes since we were featured in Home Power. The HR3 ran from 1982 until its retirement in 2008, when we went to co-generation. We live in an extremely harsh environment—ice, snow, wind, electrical storms, etc. The HR3 handled everything that was thrown at it. I think that its survivability should put it at the top of anyone’s wind turbine list. We’re not averse to finding our HR3 a new home, but it’s always welcome to live out the days here as a classic lawn ornament, too. It’s still quite useful as a weathervane.

Even though some of our PV modules are more than 25 years old, the 4,500 W system is still producing more than 4,000 W AC, and we often get a total of 30+ kWh per day.

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