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How Fast Does a Wind Turbine Spin? - Nature's Generator

How Fast Does a Wind Turbine Spin?

Corollary question, how fast can wind turbines help us save the planet?

Corollary question, how fast can wind turbines help us save the planet?

Before answering these two important questions, let’s look at mankind’s history of harnessing the free power of the wind for mechanical power and then move on to clearly define some terms we will need to process the answers.

Mankind has long harnessed wind energy for mechanical power. Wind energy was used to propel boats since early Egyptians times. For centuries we have used windmills of every sort to grind grain, pump water, saw wood, or even cut stone. Our wind turbines today may be sleeker, but it is still the same principle -- converting kinetic energy into mechanical energy we can use. Modernly this equation has become converting wind energy into clean renewable electricity.

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What is a modern wind turbine?

Let’s start big.  We’ve all seen pictures of a massive wind farm with the tall, white, industrial-sheik tubular towers mounted with sleek three-blade wind turbines all lined up row-on-row.

In this blog, we will look at these giants and see how they work and how fast they spin, and then we will move on to explore home-use wind turbines and generator systems and how they work –- which, spoiler alert, the home-use wind powered generators basically use the same principles as these giant industrial wind turbines with some slight differences. We will then explore how fast wind power’s clean renewable energy can help us save the planet.

What is renewable energy?

For clarity we should define our terms. Wind is a renewable energy source because it’s inexhaustible, the wind blows across the land or sea every day and has for millions of years. This means, wind power is infinite -- it will not run out.  The wind is also clean renewable energy because the process to harness its power does not emit pollutants the way fossil fuels release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned.

To those who think stagnant wind days (sometimes called doldrums by sailors) will hurt wind power technology, there are three things you should know. First, because the energy created is stored in generator systems, the power will continue even if there are stagnant wind days.  Second, a doldrums day is statistically rare. And third, as we will later discuss, the cut-in wind speed to begin rotating these giant wind blades is only in the 6 to 10 mph range -- which is a low wind-speed bar to reach.

In the United States wind turbines are becoming increasingly common. According to the Department of Energy, since 2000 our total U.S. wind power capacity has increased more than 24-fold. “Currently, there’s enough wind power in the U.S. to generate enough electricity to power more than 15 million homes, helping pave the way to a clean energy future.”

How does a wind turbine work?

Although there are different types of modern wind turbines, most U.S. wind farm turbines are designed with 3 blades mounted horizontally to a tall vertical tubular steel tower.  The blades are not unlike the propeller blades on a plane and operate in much the same way -- except instead of energy being used to rotate the prop to propel the plane through the air, the wind turbine is mounted on a stationary tower and wind power rotates the blades to generate electricity.

So, how fast does a wind turbine spin?

Wind turbines usually have an elongated aerodynamic nosecone-like housing called a nacelle which covers the turbine’s important components. These components include the rotor hub (to which the turbine’s wind blades are attached), the rotor, the gear box, and the shaft. The mechanics are as follows: the wind moves the blades that turns the rotor through a gear box exponentially increases the rotation per minute of the shaft which is then connected to a generator that can store the electrical power created

(Think of a ten-speed bike’s gears on steroids when contemplating how a wind turbine uses a series of gears to increase the rotor rotation of about 13 to 20 revolutions per minute up to what would be the equivalent 1500 to 1800 revolutions per minute (rpm) for the shaft. This shaft speed of 1500 to 1800 rpm is the speed required to generate alternate current electricity.)

These wind turbines also have a controller that prevents damage by keeping the turbine blades where they attach to the rotor hub from exceeding 55 mph, however while the blades may only be spinning at 55 mph toward the center of rotation where they attach to the rotor hub, these blades at their tips (depending on the lengths of the blades) can be moving much faster -- like 180 mph! 

(Here imagine if you and a friend were running on a circular track where you’re in the innermost lane of the track and he’s in the far outside lane -- then he would have to run much faster to keep pace with you because his lane covers more distance than your lane which is smaller because its closer to the center of the track.) 

These turbines additionally need a braking system that can be deployed to stop the rotor in the event of an emergency.  In the horizontal-axis turbines (called upwind turbines because they’re located upwind from the tower to which they are attached) there is also a yaw drive to keep the nacelle facing or pointed into the wind to optimize the wind turbine’s performance. 

How does wind power rotate the wind turbine blades?

The minimum wind speed (cut-in speed) needed to move these large industrial wind blades is between 6 and 10 mph. As the wind blows across the blades, the air pressure on one side of the blade decreases. This low-pressure air pulls the blade toward it, creating lift. The wind’s force against the front side of the blade, conversely, is called drag.  It is the combination of the difference in air pressure across the two sides of the blades—the lift and drag -- that make the wind turbine’s blades spin.

The massive wind farms’ wind turbines were designed to provide a constant supply of renewable energy to the National Grid.  A large industrial wind turbine can range from 100 kilowatts to several megawatts.  A wind farm can have hundreds of the turbines that each can provide power for tens of thousands of homes.

U.S. Department of Energy is on the right track:

To those that think wind turbines cannot work to power our country, consider this recent statement by the U.S. Department of Energy:

“Offshore wind turbines are used in many countries to harness the energy of strong, consistent winds found from coastlines. The technical resource potential of the winds above U.S. coastal waters is enough to provide more than 4,000 gigawatts of electricity, or approximately four times the generating capacity of the current U.S. electric power system. Although not all these resources will be developed, this represents a major opportunity to provide power to highly populated coastal cities.

Wind turbines offer a unique opportunity to harness energy in areas where our country's populations need it most. This includes offshore wind's potential to provide power to population centers near coastlines, and land-based wind's ability to deliver electricity to rural communities with few other local sources of low carbon power.

The Energy Department continues working to deploy wind power in new areas on land and at sea and ensuring the stable, secure integration of this power into our nation's electrical grid.”

Just to give credit where credit is due, Denmark has announced it is investing in building an artificial offshore island that will be home to more than 600 wind turbines that will provide enough electricity to power their entire country. We need commitments from every country in the world to pursue clean renewable electrical energy with this kind of aplomb.

What does an environmentalist see when looking at a wind turbine farm?

When an environmentalist sees these large, often regimented, rows of wind turbines what we see are soldiers in the fight to transition to clean renewable energy. As these elegant wind blades spin in what sometimes appears (deceptively) to be slow motion, we should all recognize that the stakes are high in the war these soldiers are continuously rotating to fight.  Their current battle is not for world domination -- it’s to save the world. 

Studies have shown that we have just one decade to stop the climate-change global-warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases or the environment will reach the tipping point where it will be more difficult to reverse the environmental damage man has caused over the last 150 years by burning fossil fuels that release the toxic and damaging greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

So, the next time you see a photo of one of these massive wind turbine farms, know that these turbines are working around the clock -- fighting to save our planet by generating clean electricity from the wind.

For balance, we should mention a singular downside of these large wind turbines. Unfortunately, like an airplane’s props, the wind blades cannot be seen when in faster motion. This means that birds cannot see them. This also means it is important to try to carefully locate these turbines where they will do the least damage to bird wildlife. Perhaps, with everyone thinking about the problem, it will allow us to find a solution to this real-world drawback of wind turbine use. Other than this threat to bird wildlife, these wind turbines are a stellar way to generate electricity from clean renewable wind energy.

How can individual homeowners help fight climate change by harnessing the renewable energy of the wind?

Wind turbines are now available for home-use as an alternative source of electricity, and you can see a lot of variety in the market today that offer a massive amount of watt power. But are they real?

Small wind turbines (up to 100 Kilowatts) can be used by homeowners to power their homes where a connection to a utility grid is not available, or where the homeowner wants to avoid using the expensive peak-use grid power. In this situation the turbine is usually located close to where the generated electricity will be used. These smaller wind turbines are usually connected to a generator -- like the Nature’s Generator -- so the power can be stored to be used now and/or later.

For a durable home-use wind turbine to harness free renewable wind power to create electricity, we recommend the Wind Turbine system by Nature’s Generator. Our blades are made from a durable cast aluminum alloy so they can withstand the wear and tear of normal weather conditions.

We know that there are many things you need to consider when buying a wind turbine, so let's learn more about home-use wind turbines and how they can play a big part in your everyday life.

What is a home-use wind turbine and how does it work?

The principle of how a home-use wind turbine works is much the same as how the big utility-based wind turbines work. A simple way to think about this is it’s like a fan -- but instead of using electricity to generate wind, a wind turbine uses wind to generate electricity.

So, simply stated, a home-use wind turbine converts wind energy to electricity by absorbing air movement. A huge benefit of using a home-use wind turbine is there is almost always continuous air movement present in our environment. Lack of wind is not normally a problem. This is a big plus for incorporating wind turbines into your renewable energy system.

Why would I need a home-based wind turbine?

Having a wind turbine gives you a 24/7 way to recharge your standard Nature's Generator or Nature’s Generator Elite. Selecting a wind turbine will benefit you because people need electric power at all times of the day and night. With Nature’s Generator you can choose to have just a wind turbine system to collect wind power, or you can have both a wind turbine and a solar panel collection system.

A wind turbine (or two) can create a stand-alone system, or a turbine could augment a Nature’s Generator solar-powered system. We say augment because the sun sets every night, leaving an off the grid solar generator system to use stored power during the dark night hours. If you have a wind turbine system, it will be continuously recharging your generator.

So, a wind turbine increases the capacity of your Nature's Generator system since the Nature's Generator can be used while charging (not all generators have this kind of feature). It is important to note that the energy generated by the wind turbine is continuously stored -- even if the battery is being used. This feature increases your system’s overall capacity.

Does a Wind Turbine really work with my solar generator? 

Yes, our wind turbines will work with your solar powered Nature’s Generator. In fact, our generators were specifically designed to be able to use both sun and wind sources at the same time. However, you don’t have to use both sources -- you can choose to just harness the free energy from the wind or just harness the free energy from the sun.

Not only is our Wind Turbine designed and made for use with the Nature's Generator, but all our wind turbine’s materials are quality-made to endure the natural elements so that you can confidently enjoy free wind-generated electric power with minimum maintenance. 

What’s included with Nature’s Generator Wind Turbine?

The Wind Turbine is offered as a complete set including a 100ft long wind turbine cable, connectors, controller box, hardware, and tool bag. The only item not included is the tower. Unlike other cheap wind turbines on the market, where connectors and cables are sold separately and break easily, Nature's Generator products are durable. Nature’s Generator also offers a combined Solar and Wind Power Generator kit for a complete, convenient power solution.

What’s included with Nature’s Generator Powerhouse Wind Turbine?

The Nature’s Generator Powerhouse Wind Turbine is like Nature’s Generator Wind Turbine, but it is designed to work with Nature’s Generator Powerhouse.  The Powerhouse Wind Turbine is offered as a complete set including a 100ft long wind turbine cable, connectors, controller box, hardware, and tool bag. The only item not included is the tower.

How do I set up Nature’s Generator Wind Turbine?

Anyone can set up the Nature's Generator Wind Turbine. It comes with everything needed to successfully connect it to the Nature's Generator. The only thing you need to source separately is the tower which you will need to raise the Wind Turbine.

Our wind turbine is designed to mount on a nominal 1.5-inch schedule 40 steel tubing or piping which is available at your local hardware store. The outside diameter of the tubing or piping should be around 1.875 in. to 1.900 in. Under no circumstances should a plastic pipe be used to construct the tower. The tower must be capable of withstanding 160 pounds of load in the horizontal direction at the wind turbine -- to withstand this load the described schedule 40 steel pipe or tubing is required.

Here are some guidelines for setting up the Nature's Generator Wind Turbine

  1. Choose an ideal mounting location for your Nature's Generator

Wind Turbine. Ideally try to get above the height of surrounding buildings so they do not block the wind.

  1. Install your Nature's Generator Wind Turbine according to your

User’s Manual. 

  1. Connect your Nature's Generator Wind Turbine to your Nature's

Generator, again following the instructions in the User’s Manual.

Are all wind turbines created equal?

Unfortunately, no. There are a few cheaply made wind turbines on the market that are constructed from cheap materials that break easily— beware of these products.

Our wind turbine is designed to work at lower wind speeds.

Among the factors you need to consider about wind turbines are the wind speeds required to generate electricity. It is a fact that the cheap wind turbines also require a higher wind speed to generate electricity.

Unlike other wind turbines, the Wind Turbine from Nature's Generator is made with a high-quality cast aluminum alloy body that provides it protection from the natural elements. Its sturdy design allows for versatile use on land, water, or wherever you decide to install the wind turbine -- with the added plus that it can generate 150 Watts of power from only a 27-mph wind or 350 Watts for Powerhouse Wind Turbine.

Can I expand Nature’s Generator Wind Turbine?

With Nature's Generator, yes you can. All our systems are expandable. You can add up to 2 wind turbines to your Nature's Generator. The dual wind turbine controller box allows you to daisy-chain two Nature's Generator Wind Turbines to your generator to increase your recharge capacity per hour.

You might ask, why not get a higher-watt wind turbine instead of having 2 Nature's Generator wind turbines? That's a good question. The answer is that higher-watt wind turbines require a higher wind speed to generate their minimum output. The beauty of having 2 Nature's Generator wind turbines is you get maximum power output with only an average wind speed.  


Overall, the Nature's Generator Wind Turbine is the ideal design for a wind turbine for home use. It is constructed from high-quality materials that can withstand the natural elements. It operates optimally with only an average wind speed.  And finally, it has the capability to expand if you need or want to harness more free wind power.

So, our title corollary question was:  How fast can wind turbines help us save the planet? That answer remains in limbo, the answer depends on what we each do in the next decade.  If every country around the world does their part to transition as fast as possible to renewable energy sources the answer may be “Very fast.”  If every individual person around the world also does their part to transition their homes to alternative clean, renewable energy sources, then the answer could very well be “Even Faster.”

Honestly, we need the even faster answer.

We invite you to look at our affordable Nature’s Generator products.

Keeping our products as affordable as possible is even in our company’s mission statement. It’s right there in our mission statement because our Nature’s Generator founders understood the importance of ensuring that renewable solutions were affordable to everyone.

They understood this was key because to get everyone to use these systems, everyone must be able to afford these systems or otherwise they will not be universally utilized -- meaning that the success of a quick transition to this free renewable wind and solar powered energy sources may be in peril.

The fact is that to allow these renewable energy solutions to help save our planet, everyone must be able to afford and employ this technology. If this goal can be realized, then we may well be able to answer the corollary question of how fast can these wind turbines help us save the planet? With the strong, straightforward answer of “As fast as humanly possible.”

Not to put too fine of a point on it but buy our affordable renewable energy generator with wind turbine system to do your part and help save the world.

Thank you!