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#55139 08/17/05 03:53 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 176
I'm very frustrated right now. I'm looking into ways to wire up a wind generator. A relative bought me a Hornet wind genny for my birthday, and I'm reading the instructions. It says to use 1.5" SCH 80 WATER pipe, and run the wires inside that pipe.. and use welding cable. I don't know if the welding cable is per NEC, but I seriously doubt running wire thru water pipe is legal. Also, it says that you can use NEMA 6-15 outlets as 12VDC outlets, as long as you dont have any plug-in 220V appliances in the building. Again, this is a violation. It looks like someone bought me a useless $500 birthday present. Not to mention batteries... controls.... most control's I've seen are either field-engineered or not UL approved. As much as I would love to have alternative energy in my house, I want to follow code. I've alreay taked to the building inspector about the tower, he said it's a go. I aven't talked to the electrical inspector yet. I don;t think I will, as it is useless. The wind genny doesnt even have a UL sticker.
.....enough ranting, My question is:

If I set up this system without connecting it to the grid, do I still have to follow the NEC? I'm 99.99999% sure that the answer is yes, but I need an expert opinion. My gut feeling also says I should stop now before wasting my money/time.

(p.s. I know some of you dont like the alt. energy idea in a home-by-home basis. I apologize for any ignorance, stubborness, or dumb questions that stem from this [Linked Image] )

(p.p.s. Could I call myself my own power company and not fall under the NEC? lol don't answer that, it was a joke!)

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,390
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
There are lots of legal ways to hook up a genny- whether wind or any other type. There is also a lot of information out there- but, as you discovered, not all of it is as informed as it could be.

The "alternative power" crowd unfortunately has two sub-groups to be wary of. The first are the handimen, who can't be bothered to learn or ask questions- but freely re-invent the wheel daily. The other group has a political axe to grind, and blithly assert that the PoCo is inherently evil, deserves to be messed with, and that codes are a bunch of irrelevant silliness.
It can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff sometimes.

Anyway, as to your questions:

- The ANSI spec for conduit differs from the spec for water pipe in that conduit is required to be have a "smooth finish" inside. The water pipe spec is silent on the mater. Nor does the ANSI spec define "smooth". For the most part, EMT ought to be adequate, assuming you can support it regularily.

- Unless marked otherwise, welding cable is rated only for 100 volts. Look for the marking. Then, look for connectors that are intended for FINELY stranded cable; these will often have ferrules twice as long as the "standard" ones, or two set screws, rather than one.

- We've recently discussed the issue of receptacles. There really is not an "approved" patern for EVERY use. Before NEMA patterns- which wasn't all that long ago- there were several patterns used that were targeted at multiple voltage/amp classes. These patterns are still available.
The plan is to have different systems to be non-interchangeable.Most any pattern can be used. And MARK everything. The NEC often refers to 'qualified personnel,' and this is why!

- As far as UL listing goes, well, there's a lot of areas where UL is not very strong. Power generation, power company equipment are such an area. Control panels are also an area where regulation is weak.

The heart of the system is the transfer switch. A simple one will simply isolate one system from the other as the switch is made; fancier ones will ensure that the genny is running "in time" to the grid.
In most cases, the simplest way is to have the genny only charge the batteries, then have the batteries feed the transfer switch. This helps isolate things.
There are PoCo and overcurrent issues, though. This is one area where it pays to have an electrician experienced in such stuff at your side.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,828
Likes: 22
If this is really a 12vdc system and you are not connecting to the utility I doubt the electrical inspector will really care one way or the other.

I have thought of a bootleg 12v system myself, just as an experimening platform. There are lots of items from the auto and RV market that will work.

Just be careful once you get into the house, 12v will still start a fire. Other than that it is fairly safe. Once you start inverting it to 120 you will be entering the danger zone.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 109
I wired up a cabin in the mountains that was not on the grid. We had a generator with 12v as well as 120/240v. I used a bank of batteries to run a 12v panel with several circuits fused like a car. I used automotive/RV lights and used cigarette lighter sockets for the 12v RV appliances. We had to watch the load to keep the batteries from getting too low but the system ran the stereo and TV and a light or 2 for a couple of days before needing to charge. You can make it simple or complicated as you like with auto parts. I say make a plan and go for it. Rod

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
e57 Offline
Personal opinion is that the industry is still in its infantcy. However I have other personal opinions on how, it should be done, although it's NOT my specialty.

Skip batteries all together... Maint', and Haz Mat nightmare.

And be it solar, or wind avoid the temptation to use 12, 24v or the many other various voltages, as a source to power anything except a grid-tie inverter. They make some decent ones now, for solar at least. Not sure about wind, as it is even more intermitant than solar. I'm sure they have more reactive power controls for the purpose.

If it slows your meter down a little bit on occasion - Great! Using it as an intermitant sole power source for anything seems just silly IMO.

"Hey Honey, I heard on the battery operated radio, that a huge storm is coming. We might be able to put the candles away for a few hours tonight." [Linked Image]

Anyway, I would see 685, and 690 of the NEC, as some of each of these codes could be read into some of this, as "Wind" is not directly addressed. And common sense and careful thought for the rest.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
The "alternative power" crowd unfortunately has two sub-groups to be wary of. The first are the handimen, who can't be bothered to learn or ask questions- but freely re-invent the wheel daily. The other group has a political axe to grind, and blithly assert that the PoCo is inherently evil, deserves to be messed with, and that codes are a bunch of irrelevant silliness.
It's both of them crowds that worry us Linemen, gloved or not.
It only get's us into an argument with Mr Idiot. [Linked Image]

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 176
Thanks everyone.

I would like to add that most eco freaks are hypocrytes (sp?). They wanna protest nuclear power plants because nuclear is "uncool" or protest air polluting companies because they don't want to breathe the pollution (so said company usually decides to build in a lower class community).

I believe that as long as humans are anything more than cavemen, there will be pollution. we can, and should, try to minimize it, but it will never go away.

I have mixed feelings on nuclear, and i know that renewable energy isn't the cure all. But, it's fun playin around with it... hey, at least I'm not building a nuclear reactor in my basement.

"Me? Work in a nuclear power plant? Ha ha... KABOOM!!!" - Homer Simpson

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 7
New Member
Some of the things said in your instruction manual definately sound a bit fishy. However, I have installed a wind generator at my house, and believe that it is in no violation to code. The genny sits on a 24ft 1 7/8" pole(from a fencing supply yard) and because it is only 12VDC I used direct burial rated 8AWG wire to the house. If it were 120VAC, however, I would not recommend the use of direct burial cable, and put it on conduit. Once the wire reaches the house, I have it enter a 3/4" EMT conduit and run along the side of the house where it enters the equip. room. Once in there, it hits a thermal circuit breaker for safety, then goes into a set of 4 batteries. Since wind is much more unpredictable than solar, batteries I found were the best choice. Once I determined my wind factor, and how much of a load I could put on the batteries without draining them, and to which the wind genny could efficiently recharge them, I began using them consistently. Out of the batteries, I installed a cigerette lighter outlet so that I could plug in various 12v small appliances. Then I installed a 700 watt inverter so that I could power 120V household appliances off of it. Hope this provides some insight to you making effective use of your wind genny.

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 176
I contacted the manufacturer, and they gave me this:
1) The tower is to be made out of water pipe, as electrical conduit is softer.

2) Welding cable is to be used, as the gererator has no slip rings (for yawing in the wind). They say that welding cable will twist until it can't twist anymore, then it will unwind itself, eliminating the need for slip rings.

I guess the type of pipe is not really a big deal (except for NEC). I'm probably just going to use the system for a few lights... make them 12V CPFL. I guess it's no big deal, I was just mad that they can sell these things without being UL listed. I don't wanna fail an inspection years down the road b/c of an oversized garden pinwheel..... :-D

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,828
Likes: 22
It sounds like an interesting toy. I will take it off your hands if you give up on it.

The slip ring thing bothers me. Is there a kit?
The pipe isn't an issue. Build the tower out of the pipe they recomend and run a separate raceway system. You could make a good "rain or shine" system for the house.

Sysrq sounds like he has a nice one.

I am thinking more about living when the power is out than actually saving money. I want to be able to make 12vdc as many ways as possible.
During the Charlie storm I had the battery out of my boat and charged it with the car.
It gave us some lights, TV and tunes.
I mounted a "one terminal" alternator on a board with a lawn mower engine since then but other that seeing if it worked, I haven't used it.

[This message has been edited by gfretwell (edited 08-21-2005).]

Greg Fretwell
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