Wind Generator Problems, Yet Again

By , October 2, 2016

We’ve long known the day would come: last week, the wind generator controller’s circuit board failed.

I’m still cackling with glee over our new solar array, which has made our wind generator all but redundant to our off-the-grid electrical system (see Power Shift: An Early Unveiling). “Flipping the switch” on the array relegated the wind generator to a back up system, completely reversing the previous roles. After years of difficulty keeping the generator on line, this appealed to me greatly!

When we redesigned the system, we assumed that we would eventually need to replace the wind generator. The company, Southwest Windpower (SWWP), basically cut and ran to India years ago (see My Wind Generator’s Company Goes Missing). A lot of people use their generators in our neighborhood. I know of at least one neighbor who had to ship their machine to India for repairs. I don’t want to do that. Just shipping them to Arizona for repairs in the old days drained funds unreasonably.

So, we decided to go ahead and run our generator as long as we could, then figure out what to do. Now, we’re figuring!

The generator continues to charge without the circuit board, we’ve just lost a safety function that turns the generator off after achieving full charge. Also, the green light that indicates incoming charge remains on constantly.

Oddly, this last symptom proves to be the most annoying. I was aware of the somewhat Pavlovian response we’ve developed to this indicator. We find our eyes continually drawn to it, which means I’m constantly, irritatingly reminded that a problem exists in the system. Michelle, mercifully, finally taped a piece of cardboard over it to block it out. It was beginning to drive me crazy!

So, what to do now? I could contact the company in Colorado that acts as a liaison with SWWP in India. I already checked to see if a neighbor who has asome spare parts had an extra board, but no luck there.

Alternatively, I could switch to the old controller, the one that came with the property originally. It would do everything the current controller did, except damp the prop at full charge. Since the current controller no longer does that, it’s a wash.

The older unit tends to lose diodes to burn out. I don’t know if that’ll be a concern for us now that the wind generator is the back up; if we only run it a few days a month, we may never have that problem in future. Besides, I think I have a couple sets of replacement diodes.

For now, we’ll likely leave things as they are. We’ll need to be vigilant, braking the generator before high winds, and limiting usage in general, but it should eke out a few more months, perhaps years, of use before we need to worry about a full replacement.

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