Thoughts on Doing It Yourself

By Paul Gipe


Adapted from the book Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business.

When I wrote my first book on wind energy in 1982, I believed most homeowners with a modicum of tool skills and common sense could safely install a household-size wind turbine themselves. I figured, “Heck, if I can do it, anyone can.” I’ve since learned that’s not true. I can’t say whether this conclusion is due to a decline in our collective knowledge about how to use hand tools or work around machinery, or to my becoming more cautious over the decades. I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes. I was the person on the tower in the anecdote that opens this chapter. I was in charge and I was ultimately responsible. Unfortunately, my position in the wind industry does make me aware of the mistakes others–including some professionals–have made, and the injuries that have resulted. As a consequence, I now believe that homeowners should only attempt installing wind turbines less than 3 meters (10 feet) in diameter on lightweight tilt-up guyed masts. Products that fit this description are the many micro turbines on the market, as well as Bergey’s XL1, Southwest Windpower’s H40, and Proven’s WT600. Homeowners should avoid installing larger turbines, free-standing truss towers, or heavy-duty guyed towers without hands-on training. Most lack the skills, specialized tools, and safety equipment necessary. The tools can be purchased, and the skills needed can be learned. Workshops, such as those that Mick Sagrillo teaches, or installer training programs offered by manufacturers, are worth the money and are the best way to learn how to install wind turbines safely. A book (or this web site) is no substitute for the hands-on learning that’s required.