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  • Last modified 22 days ago (Oct. 31, 2019)

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Man uses mini turbines as energy alternative

Staff writer

Anyone driving US-77 between Marion and Florence will see them perched like a flock of birds.

Except that they aren’t birds, they’re 29 small wind turbines built by Rodger Nurnberg to power his barn and greenhouses.

“I didn’t used to have power out here, so they had to power my barn and greenhouses,” he said. “I wanted lights out here.”

Travelers regularly stop to ask about his turbines every week, Nurnberg said.

Magnets and stainless steel ball bearings inside failed air conditioner motors that Nurnberg buys

generate the electricity. He is able to get the equipment because he runs a heating and cooling business.

Many people don’t realize how simple wind turbines are to install, he said.

Nurnberg learned to set his turbines in a circular formation, maximizing effectiveness.

“All stadiums in the world are modeled after Stonehenge,” he said. “There’s a reason you want things in a circular pattern.”

Placing them in a circle reflects wind between turbines. This is similar to how stadiums reflect and amplify sound waves.

There is a level of trial and error included, particularly when it comes to the turbine blades, Nurnberg said.

“There were blades for $160 dollars apiece,” he said. “Then I found out a good old, $30 air conditioning blade is what we need because it has an automatic breaking limit. Who would know; who would know this?”

The problem with Nurnberg’s expensive blades was that they warped at 80 miles per hour, while the cheaper ones held up better under high winds.

Amateurs who are installing wind turbines at home need to be wary. Using multiple power sources that aren’t synchronized can cause explosions, which is why Nurnberg doesn’t mix his wind energy with electricity from the power company.

The frequency of failed motors has decreased over the years, but there are still many available, Nurnberg said.

“I hope we continue going to this all the time because there are going to be more and more failures,” he said. “They’re getting better, but there will still be failures.”

Once all turbines are running, the group will generate more than enough electricity for Nurnberg’s house, as well as the barn and greenhouses.

The custom-made turbines use much of the same technology as the 300-foot ones despite the size difference, Nurnberg said.

Both systems use permanent magnet alternators to generate an alternating current of electricity, but Nurnberg’s is a wild alternating current.

“It’s ‘wild’ because I have no way to control it,” he said. “The big companies can control it, but it’s the same concept.”

Since Nurnberg runs wild AC, it also means that his turbines generate electricity regardless of wind speed, unlike the large ones that shut off when wind speeds are too fast or slow.

“It doesn’t matter whether the wind is 5 miles per hour or 50,” he said. “The only difference is that my wild AC is going to change.”

Nurnberg hopes to have all 29 of his turbines operational when he eventually retires.

The next project he’s trying, though, is “snow shovel windmill,” with four shovels attached in a horizontal manner and the shovel blades pointing vertically.

A horizontal wind turbine runs well because wind direction is no longer a worry, Nurnberg said.

“There’s an advantage to it,” he said. “You don’t have any tail and don’t have to worry about directional wind.”

Last modified Oct. 31, 2019

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