Thursday, May 19, 2011

Knowledge IS Power: A Review Of The Wind and Solar Workshop In Arizon

Vestas wind turbine, Dithmarschen.Image via WikipediaBy Deidre Lin

Recently I attended the Wind and Solar Power Workshop in Arizona put on by Mike's Windmill shop where I learned many things. 5 stars is outstanding, 4 is good, 3 is so-so, 2 is poor and 1 star = never again! Read on to find out how the workshop did in terms of Information, Support and Performance.

Knowledge really IS power and how it affects us on a daily basis is readily apparent during this hands-on workshop.

3 Days Full of Information - No Fluff!

The workshop is set up to allow techies and non-techies alike to have hands-on experience building not one but 3 windmills from scratch. By the way, when I say 'by scratch' this does not mean a kit. These windmills are fabricated and built by hand - with the exception of a few small parts.

Built - Tested - Installed

During the course of the workshop taught by Mike and Joy, we built 3 different wind generators, tested them and then installed them on various heights of poles and watched the wind take over. It was quite a sight to see and knowing that you had a part in the process was a very special feeling.

Non-Techies Can Build Windmills Too!

I have always considered myself having a pretty good grasp of mechanical workings - for the most part anyway. Even so, there are always areas I have to read over and over or have a lot of hands-on practice to grasp. During the workshop every step of the planning, fabrication, building and installing the wind generator was explained. Mike is exceeding patient in his teaching methods and by the end of the workshop everyone had a general grasp of the entire process.

Project Support

Of course, with projects this involved there are bound to be questions that come up later on as you plan and build your own system. Never fear, Mike's Windmill Shop offers different levels of support & trouble shooting during phases of the whole project!

No Tools - No Problem!

Building wind generators does involve a pretty good assortment of tools - both power and traditional. While there are ways to fabricate and build the generator by hand it is assuredly very time consuming and more frustrating than if power tools are readily available. However, there are situations when people just do not have the space, time or tools but still would like to have a wind generator system. Mike's Windmill Shop has the solution to that dilemma too!

Fully Fabricated - Ready To Assemble

If you answered 'yes' to any of the above scenarios then there is a solution available in the form of fully fabricated and ready to assemble wind generators in several sizes for different applications. The wind generators come with full detailed instructions. Joy is very experienced in helping people figure out which application is best for their situation and can assist in choosing which model is most appropriate.

Ready - Set - Go?

Assuming that you have an existing house and property, it is advisable to start small. Do you have a detached 'play room', garden shed or detached garage/workshop that uses power and that you use frequently? What about a well house? If so, these are good 'starter' scenarios. Plan and build a system to run this small detached building.

Always check with local building codes in case there are some guidelines that will need to be met, including an electrician to complete the wiring part. Once the decision has been made on what building is chosen to 'learn' on then check to see if there is a workshop coming up at Mike's Windmill Shop to attend. If it's not feasible to attend a workshop there is still plenty of information on their website to read and educate oneself before proceeding.

If you are planning on building a house and are interested in adding renewable energy options into the mix, or are preparing to go completely 'off-grid'; then attending a workshop is a must in my opinion. The workshop will assist in not only the planning phase but the maintenance and troubleshooting phases down the line.

Parts Are Parts...

Maintenance is a part of daily household routines - we all are familiar with those scenarios. With a renewable energy system add in inverter and battery trouble shooting along with daily minor maintenance. During the workshop Mike and Joy give excellent trouble shooting advice, 'what-if' scenarios and tips to keep maintenance to a minimum and the system humming along. Also discussed are ways to keep power consumption down by adding some items and changing out others.

Information gets 5 stars for content, usable information and value for the money.
Support gets 5 stars for before, during and after the workshop as well as planning and implementation support and customer service.
Performance gets 5 stars for out-performing all workshops that I have attended in the last several years.

The only issue that some may feel is a drawback is the workshop location in Arizona. However, even that scored a pretty high number of stars with me. The workshop could be incorporated into a vacation that is already planned or in the works.

For more information about Renewable Energy, Earthships or reducing power consumption.

Enjoyed this resource? Deidre Lin invites you to read more about Healthy Lifestyles for mind, body and spirit in the middle of chaos at

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