The Raum 1.5 kW Wind Turbine in an Off-Grid Application 0

Raum 1.5 kW Turbine

Raum 1.5 kW Turbine

My husband and I live in an experimental off-grid solar and wind powered home just south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  I am a renewable energy engineer and I design renewable power systems and passive solar homes.  Our own home is a “living lab” to try out ideas and to experience the solar lifestyle first hand.

Off-Grid Challenges

In designing our experimental off-grid home, one of the challenges of living off-grid is that you can only store the power that you produce for a few days – otherwise the size of the battery bank that’s needed becomes impractical.  That means that it is very helpful if you have both a solar and a wind resource to draw on.  If the sun isn’t shining, hopefully the wind will be blowing so that you have at least one source of power.

Our home is on hilly land and our wind resource, although not optimal, is sufficient to make a wind turbine worthwhile to overcome some of the off-grid design challenges.   Our first wind turbine was from the southern United States and did not fare very well in our harsh climate, with its freezing rain, blizzards and 40 degrees below zero temperature extremes.

A Raum 1.5 kW wind turbine supplements our solar array

A Raum 1.5 kW wind turbine supplements our solar array

After a few years of repeated repair and maintenance problems with the turbine, I got a call from fellow University of Saskatchewan engineering physics graduate Darryl Jessie.  He was working on a wind turbine design that would be robust enough for Saskatchewan’s harsh climate and would also optimize the energy from the lower wind speeds that we have here.  We met and discussed some of the problems that we had been having  so that these could be avoided in the new design.

A Raum Energy Wind Turbine for our Site

Darryl’s new company,  Raum Energy, first produced wind turbines for the growing grid-tie market. Raum later developed a battery charger so that their new 1.5 kW turbine could also be used in off-grid applications such as ours.  We replaced our existing turbine with the Raum 1.5 kW turbine in the spring of 2010, installing it on our existing 50 foot high tower.  We were eager to see how their turbine and battery charger would perform.

Data Logging Display for Raum Turbine

Data Logging Display for Raum Turbine

The Raum turbine was designed to eliminate extensive maintenance and repair.    The battery charger has detailed data logging that tracks the hourly, daily, monthly, yearly and even the lifetime production of the turbine.  The data is displayed as a histogram graph that’s intuitive and easy to read.  The menu system is also easy to navigate.  In the latest version of the battery charger the data can be downloaded to a computer via internet interface.

Raum's menu is easy to navigate

Raum's menu is easy to navigate

Raum Energy also has a 3.5 kW turbine which is very popular for grid-tied applications but would produce too much power on very windy days for the size of battery bank that we have.  The excess power, once the batteries are charged, would be lost so it is not cost effective to install the larger turbine in our situation.

Performance of the 1.5 kW Raum Turbine

Data can also be displayed by month or year

Data can also be displayed by month or year

The wind turbine has performed well for us and is an effective part of our hybrid solar and wind power system.   It has been producing an average of about 80 kWh per month since we installed it.   This is a good average for our wind conditions which average about 9 – 10 mph with considerable turbulence from the hilly, bush-covered terrain.   We are confident recommending this product to our customers due to its robust, maintenance free design.

One of the things that we like about Raum Energy is that they took the initiative to design and supply a complete system – the turbine, the inverter or battery charger and a choice of towers for mounting the turbine.  This is convenient both for the customer and the local dealer and installer.   We are also happy to be able to promote a locally designed and manufactured product.  Raum Energy understands Canadian climate conditions and also employs graduates from our University of Saskatchewan engineering program.

One of Raum’s latest products is a solar battery charger, modelled on its wind battery charger with similar data logging displays.  We are looking forward to testing this new product with our solar array.

 

 

 

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