Installation, Maintenance and System Life

Many dealers will sell and install a complete package, including wind turbine, tower and electrical work. Wind turbines should be installed by qualified, experienced people. Local codes should be checked to determine if contractors must be licensed. The local building inspector may be required to inspect the completed work. For utility interconnected systems, a utility-designated inspector probably will make an inspection.

By their very nature, wind turbines are subject to extreme physical forces. The tips of a wind turbine rotor can reach speeds of up to 300 mph. Hail, dirt and insects contacting the blades at these speeds can cause wear to the blade edges. Bearings that support the rotor or other moving parts are also subject to wear. The lifetime of these bearings depends on the wind conditions and level of maintenance care.

The manufacturer usually specifies what is required for the maintenance of a wind turbine. The entire wind system, including the tower, storage devices and wiring should be inspected at least once a year. Routine maintenance might include changing the transmission oil, greasing the bearings and visually inspecting the condition of the blades, tower and electrical connections. Instead of doing the maintenance work yourself (which may require climbing the tower), you can arrange a maintenance contract with the dealer.

According to manufacturers, the expected lifetime of wind turbines is 20 to 30 years. Although few manufacturers have been around that long, this prediction is not unrealistic. Some electricity-generating wind turbines built more than 50 years ago are still working today. Just like automobiles and washing machines, wind turbines have to be properly and routinely maintained to maximize their life. Do not be surprised if minor repair work is needed soon after initial operation. A reputable company will make such repairs quickly and at no charge.