West Wind
                                                         "Helping People Harness the Wind"

How does Skystream work?

Skystream is a wind generator installed on top of a tower that converts the kinetic energy in the wind into electricity to be used in a home's electrical system.

In a typical residential application, a home is served simultaneously by the Skystream and a local utility. If the wind speeds are below "cut-in speed" (8 mph) there will be no output from the generator and all of the needed power is purchased from the utility. As wind speeds increase, the Skystream's output increases and the amount of power purchased from the utility is proportionately decreased. When the Skystream produces more power than the house needs, the meter spins backwards creating a "credit" that can be used later. All of this is done automatically without any interaction by the homeowner. Batteries are not required with Skystream.

Will Skystream save me money?

Depending on the wind speed average and the amount of energy consumed every month, Skystream typically lowers a household electricity bill by 30% to 80%. It is not uncommon for Skystream owners with total-electric homes to have monthly utility bills of only $8 to $15 for nine months of the year (2005 data). The amount of money a Skystream saves you in the long run will depend upon its installed cost, the amount of electricity you use, the average wind speed at your site, and other factors. Check your local wind map here.

Will it help the environment if I install a Skystream at my home?

Because Skystream is a renewable energy source, produces no pollution, and uses wind power, you will be offsetting pollution that would have been generated by your utility company. Over its life, the Skystream can offset more than 6000 pounds of global warming pollutants (carbon dioxide and other gases that are associated with global warming) every year.

Does Skystream create and sound or interfere with TV reception?

Skystream is extremely quiet and makes a small amount of operating sound similar to the level of a small office. It generally cannot be heard over typical background noise such as the sound of the wind. Skystream does not interfere with TV reception.

Is Skystream dangerous to birds?

While no formal studies have been done, anecdotal evidence indicates that birds occasionally collide with small wind generators as they do with any other type of structure. However, such events are very rare.

More reading: Download the "Small Wind & Birds" fact sheet.


Should my neighbors be concerned about safety if I get a Skystream?

No. Skystream's design was done in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratories. As part of this project, extensive computer modeling and field testing was done to ensure a safe design. All of Skystream's testing was done to internationally accepted standards for small wind safety and reliability. Your neighbors who may have some concerns about safety may appreciate the following information:

Tower stability: Thousands of small wind generators are installed in the U.S. every year and their safety track record is excellent. Trees are much more likely to fall than a properly installed Skystream, but no setbacks or minimum property sizes are required for trees.

Safety of utility repair personnel during a power outage: In accordance to IEEE and UL, Skystream will automatically shut down in the event of a power outage, and will not energize a dead power line. This is necessary to protect the utility line repair person.

Ice shed from rotor blades: Ice buildup makes Skystream blades less aerodynamic, so that they turn more slowly. Typically, ice will drop to the base of the generator tower and is not dangerous.

Children and towers: In terms of educating children about not climbing structures, a small wind generator should be treated no differently than other climbable structures such as water towers or amateur radio antennas.

More reading: Download the "Small Wind & Your Neighborhood" fact sheet.

Will a Skystream damage neighboring property values?

No. With thousands of small wind generators installed today in the U.S., there has never been any evidence to support this claim. Actually, there are several survey sources that indicate otherwise.

More reading: http://www.awea.org/smallwind/toolbox/TOOLS/fs_values.asp

Will my utility allow me to hook up a Skystream?

Yes. Federal regulations (specifically, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA) require utilities to connect with and purchase power from small wind energy systems. Your dealer should be able to help arrange the required utility company approvals.

Will my local government allow me to install a Skystream?

A Skystream is a structure that normally requires a building permit. Zoning regulations often limit the height, placement, and other characteristics of "appurtenant" structures, so a conditional (special) use permit or variance may be necessary.

Will I have to change any of the wiring in my house?

No. A Skystream can easily be installed at any existing home without the need to change any wiring or appliances. In most cases, the utility will install a second utility meter to measure how much surplus electricity it is receiving from the generator owner.

What about towers?

Towers as short as 35 feet are available with Skystream. However in some circumstances, a taller tower may be necessary to raise the generator above turbulence created by obstacles on the ground and/or trees. Wind speed increases with height above ground, and increasing speed increases the amount of energy your generator will produce. Relatively small investments in increased tower height can yield high rates of return in energy production. A rule of thumb for proper and efficient operation of a Skystream suggests that the generator should be 20 feet (6 meters) above the top of anything within 300 feet (about 100 meters).

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