Doctor, Doctor! All this “Wind Power” is making me sick!

19 Nov

Those of you that have been faithfully following along (and shame on you if you haven’t!) know that my family is building a home in Southern Mississippi, out of junk, rubbish, flotsam, jetsam, and even some old garbage. Yes, we are!

At least, that’s what the neighbors are saying…

The reality is that my family is one of those that got caught between the “fine lines of insurance litigation,” and we have to find our own way through the “we don’t have a house anymore” maze, seemingly without any real assistance, after Hurricane Katrina ate our old house!

So, we’re building an “alternative” home. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s an “extra” one, or that there will be punk rock music screaming out of it at all hours while Ronin and scantily clad girls gyrate on the front lawn…

captaindaddy-dancinggirls

Well, you got me! Okay, maybe some times, if I have anything to say about it!… Now I’m not advocating “contributing to the delinquency of a Minor” or anything…” We’ll check ID’s carefully! LOL!

We’re building a home out of shipping containers and recycled steel that we reclaimed from old aircraft hangars.

Part of our “quest” is to find bold new ways to power this solid steel beast, so that we can kick the utilities guys off the property, never to be seen again. Why? Because we don’t like getting “held for ransom” every month by rapidly rising power costs, that’s why.

Because of this, we’re looking at ways to generate electricity in a manner that will allow us to live normal (well… maybe not “normal”) lives, without worrying about whether we remembered to pay the power bill.

For instance, we’re going to install photovoltaic panels, and then use an inverter and a battery bank to move the power around. Hey! The technology is “off-the-shelf” now, and it’s easy to understand, and deploy, even by a nitwit like moi!

howsolarworks

And, we’re even thinking about building a small-scale wind turbine to generate power on windy days (mostly, my wife claims, when I’m out in the yard yelling at the damned neighbors to get their pooping dogs off my lawn… LOL!) to help charge the batteries up. But I’ll admit it’s a little bit harder to figure out how it works! So, I had to sharpen my crayons, after I wrestled them away from Joshua!

howto-wind_powerNow, my wife also claims that I’m just an unsociable bastard, and I just want a wind turbine to power up my “Death Ray,” but I’m telling you it’s not true. I don’t even have a “death ray.” Yet.

In fact, I’m not even sure what a death ray would look like.

death_ray_1

Oh yeah… It’d look just like that… But it’s not like I’m actually planning, or anything! I’m way past that stage… LOL!

But, there is trouble among us, folks.

There are opponents to wind power out there who claim that wind turbines will drive you crazy! I’m not kidding!

At least, that’s what some people are claiming! Believe it or not, there are some opponents to “wind power” who are actually making the claim that the low-resonance hum (“infrasound”) produced by wind turbines is capable of making you physically ill.

WTF?

Now, I have heard everything! What a bunch of rubes!

This goes way beyond “I don’t want to look at your stupid wind turbine in my neighborhood!” It’s pandering to the implied threat that wind turbines can harm you. I guess they figured that just not wanting “your damned wind turbine eyesore” to affect their property values, they’re trying to validate the opposition to it, for “the good of public health!”

Now, none of the “offered findings” were supported by evidence, nor explanation given to substantiate any of their wild claims. I’d speculate they extrapolated a scenario where a person purchased and installed a personal windmill in a location around their house, and then the poor bastard started getting headaches. Probably from the nagging of his busybody neighbors…. I suspect…

Using that same logic, I could declare that Wind Power Generation doesn’t even work because I installed my wind turbine in a place where there was very little wind – and failed to generate any power. After all, that’s a “version of the truth” too, isn’t it?

So, let’s take them off at the knees, shall we? Hmmm?

Okay, first off… “Infrasound” is sound with a frequency too low to be heard by the human ear – in general it is bass waves with a frequency below 20 Hz to 22 kHz. I’m not even sure that dogs can hear it!

If you’re a vet (and I’m not talking “War Vet” here) drop me a note and clue me in as to whether or not a dog’s hearing range includes that frequency wavelength, okay?

Folks, “infrasound” is literally all around us, already. We live in an environment of naturally occurring infrasound — everything from waves, wind, earthquakes, surf, waterfalls, hurricanes, thunderstorms creates “infrasound,” and this includes ANYTHING that produces a naturally occurring slow oscillation of the air. So naturally, we get exposed to infrasound all the time.

But I have yet to see anybody falling down “crazy” because of it. I figure anyone who found themselves in this predicament was  pretty much “crazy” to begin with!

And let’s not forget that there is a whole lot of human generated infrasound – from slow speed fans to engines, cars, buses, trains, airplanes, explosions, machinery, and my personal favorite, Harleys!

custom_harley

What? It’s “GREEN.” It IS too! And blue. I love blue…

Now, these “whining people of questionable intelligence” claim that wind power generated “infrasound” is actually a health problem for people living near modern wind turbines. They also claim that it will “unseat a normal person, and make them crazy, with enough exposure to it.”

All I can say is that I’d love to see the evidence! From what I can tell (and I have searched like “a deranged diner looking for more Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie!) this is not supported by any facts I can find.

If, for no other reason than these stupid statements (offered up into the public record by people lacking any kind of credentials) discouraging people to purchase and install windmills, I’d say small personal windmills are simply a serious threat to the energy companies monopolistic hold on your reproductive anatomy… um… er… wallet.

From the studies I’ve seen (and I’ve about Google’d myself to death over this one) , there is general agreement among (learned and degree’d) Acousticians that infrasound from wind turbines isn’t even a problem.

(There is a turbine noise issue to which we do need to pay attention, but inaudible noise making your body parts vibrate is NOT it. Turbines vibrate, and that vibration transmits through anything attached to it, like the tower, for instance. Thus, turbines make “noise.” That’s why we put them way up in the air, away from our ears. Plus, it puts the windmill in the most efficient “airflow” zone. Duh!)

windturbine-drawing

Yet these miscreants continue to exploit the blurry connection between wind turbine infrasound and the risk to our seemingly fragile human health. Their argument is based on the concept that these alleged high levels of low frequency (sounds like an oxymoron, huh?) noise excite the body to vibrate (most notably in the chest) and that profoundly deaf humans perceive noise through vibrations in their bodies.

One study I read put it this way: “But the thinking is circular to claim that wind turbines generate inaudible infrasound that can be felt but not heard and that this infrasound vibrates the chest with dire health risks.”

To begin with (unless you’re a dog, possibly), the noise frequency levels that produce these body vibrations are well above the hearing threshold. You would hear the explosion on TV, the car crash across the street, or the bar noise and band speakers cranked to maximum loudness (as well as feel them) unless you were already deaf. So the idea that unperceived wind turbine infrasound is pounding your body and making you sick – is just another one of those “we don’t want wind turbines” myths.

It’s just more “boo-hoo, you’re trying to deflate my stock value” or “not in my backyard, because I’m an ignorant, nosy bastard!”  psycho-babble.

On the other hand, like I said, there is a “problem noise” that come from wind turbines. It’s the fluctuating swishing sound of the blades passing the tower. Compounding that is the “gear noise” created by the shaft drives that actually transmit the movement of the blades into power, as it passes along the turbine motor.

wind-turbine-dwg

And, this noise DOES irritate some people who are highly sensitive to fluctuating sound. Audio Engineers call this sound  LWP – “Long Wave Propagation,” and it’s a tone that is a resonance frequency undetectable by the human ear. The sound is only apparent when the harmonics of the 14 rpm rotation of the turbines comes into contact with buildings farther then 1/4 mile from each turbine. And within a mile, LWP dissipates to nothing. Zero.

So, there is a noise that is heard at a distance from each Wind Turbine that is inaudible standing beside the large machines. I, Ronin (seer of all, and all powerful swami of swampgas)  predict that as Wind Generation gains popularity, it means that some engineer is going to make a bundle of cash devising and deploying some kind of Noise Canceling technology, to mitigate the sub-audio hum.

I can see it now… Noise Canceling headphones big enough to fit “Lilliput invaders,” clamped firmly to the wind turbine bodies! LOL! Paying attention, BOSE?

But, unless you live next door to a wind generation farm, I seriously doubt you’ll be able to hear it, coming from a single wind turbine mounted up in the air, charging your battery packs.

micro-wind-turbine-residential

I’ve been around a LOT of wind turbines, and part of the maintenance includes making sure that they are adjusted and aligned to work the most efficiently, and that includes making doubly sure that the revolving blade mechanism is well lubricated. The blades will “cut” through the air (but again, they’re way up there and you’re standing on the ground, unless decapitation is your idea of a fun way to spend your weekend).

If you really want to entertain this discussion competently, the actual problem is that wind energy nay-sayers use acoustic terms like “infrasound” without knowing what they actually mean. It’s a condition that is typical of whiny bastards. They’ll tell any idiot that would listen to them that “infrasound is a health problem for all people living anywhere near an operating wind turbine.” And those “poor people” are going to be portrayed as “helpless victims, unable to actually hear the infrasound,” but you can rest assured that “they can all feel it and that puts their families collective health at risk.”

“These insensitive “Wind Turbine Bastards” must be stopped at all costs, before they kill us all!

Oh… Come on, now. Get a grip. Start with one on REALITY…

The way I see it, what needs to be clearly defined is the difference between Personal, and Commercial Wind Power Generation.  Personal wind generation turbines make a very slight impact on the surroundings. One of the reasons for that, is the nature of their installation…

The people installing these “personal” wind generators usually have a decent amount of property, and thus, impact, both visual and audible, is kept to a bare minimum.

While it’s possible that in some bizarre set of circumstances the turbine swish noise might be problematic for some people, I’d wait until those “victims” actually appear to pay attention to this “twisting of the facts to serve stockholders.”

If people in an area where wind turbines are being used start claiming that the blade swish sound is affecting them negatively – be skeptical. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that it’s gonna turn out to be people looking for “free money” by litigating against a big corporation, in the hopes that they’ll cave and settle out of court.

I can only presume noise varies with the wind turbine type and location. I lived next to a CA windfarm…

wind_turbines_farm

And I mean directly next to, as I lived in a tent during “combat training” exercises (on and off again for years) and I experienced less “wind turbine” noise than produced by the grazing cows, horses, goats, and sheep. In fact, the wind whistling through the canyons made more noise than the turbines overhead. I hope no-one’s saying ‘all wind farms are noisy’, because my personal experience proves otherwise.

Intermittent sound fluctuation really only affects some very, very  sensitive people – certainly not “everyone.” How many of these “sensitive people” are there lurking about, waiting to scuttle your plans to harness the wind to get power? Studies put the number at 1 in 500,000. So, while it is a real problem – it’s just not a really pervasive one.

wind-noise-tableSo, Campers… What have we learned?

Wind Power is GOOD.

Whiny, lie spouting, “the sky is falling” Bastards are NOT good.

Why? Because Ronin says so, that’s why.

Now, I know that after reading all this, you think old Ronin is a genius, but I tell you it ain’t true. I don’t even live in a lamp… LOL!

Stay Tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

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8 Responses to “Doctor, Doctor! All this “Wind Power” is making me sick!”

  1. John Hennessy November 20, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi Ronin-Sama:

    love the blog. Apart from my interest in recycled shipping containers I admire the way you look, examine, poke at ideas and opinions. Reminds me of the old Whole Earth…

    There are indeed some infrasound efects from turbines – but I suspect thet it is from beating, the interplay of anumber of pressure waves coming from multiple turbines. In any case – a heck of a lot less mess than comes from a coal fired power station (I know!) and of course I was at the periphery of the biggest reactor incident before Chernobyl. (No – not three mile island! A full-on moderator fire at Windscale in the 50′s)

    Keep it up. Please.

    john

  2. tommo November 20, 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    According to http://www.poweredgenerators.com/wind/dark-side.html it is called Wind Turbine Syndrome where the small vibrations affect the inner ear

  3. renaissanceronin November 20, 2008 at 7:16 pm #

    First off, Welcome to RenaissanceRonin, tommo!!

    I truly appreciate your comments and observations.

    Whether or not we agree or disagree, the discussion allows readers to learn more about these very controversial topics, and that lead to learning.

    Ronin says: “Learnin is goooood!”

    I read the piece you refer to, and I have to say that it sounds like a “negative – hack piece” to me.

    It makes “points” that take the facts out of context, and makes assumptions to answer unasked questions.

    Regardless of Pickens “motivation,” his empowerment of Wind energy is bringing a “new” resource to light. I’m personally of the belief that his plan isn’t as well-thought out as he would have us believe. That being said, I don’t care how much money he personally makes on the deal. If power gets cheaper, we all win. The most important part of this is the technological breakthroughs that his motivation will fund. They, in turn, will trickle down to all of us!

    The piece then tries to imply that there is a movement to replace nuclear power with wind towers. Bull! Wind energy is just another way to get power to the people. It will never replace nuclear.

    Then, it starts the old “carbon footprint” discussion about how much CO2 gets created in the manufacturing process, as turbines get built.

    It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that once you get the turbine built and set on it’s tower, the CO2 “creation” stops. After that, power creation is CO2-less. Coal, Nuke, and even “generated” (gas or diesel) can’t say that. (And considerably more CO2 gets created building those beasts, I might add.)

    Then, it talks about Pierpont’s book, that tells the horror story of “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”

    The book talks about how the low frequency noise and vibration from the turbines affect the inner ear and can cause difficulty sleeping, mood disorders, childhood terrors, tinnitus, and many other health issues. There are many cases of people facing these problems and many researchers have found similar factors.

    She makes a valid point, but this “syndrome” isn’t just caused by wind turbines, it’s also caused by many other forms of vibrating machinery. If you take this book at it’s intent, we should outlaw heavy machinery, cars, airplanes, motorcycles (over Ronin’s dead body), loud stereos (hmmmm…) and many other household items. I don’t think that’s gonna happen any time soon. And the number of people affected is extremely small. We’re talking less than 1/2 of 1% of the American populace, here, folks.

    I’d have appreciated this piece if it had been more objective, and less biased. I’ve stated for the record that I’m not a tree-hugger. And, I’m certainly not a militant tree-hugger. I’m just a guy who wants to use common sense to create solutions that my children can live with, as they raise their children, without negatively affecting their progress in this trying set of times we currently live in.

    All that said, I certainly appreciate you bringing this to light, and letting readers know about it! All information is good information, if it leads to discussion, right?

    Feel free to jump right in, anytime!

    Thanks again!

    Ronin

  4. renaissanceronin November 20, 2008 at 7:41 pm #

    Hi there, John!

    The way I see it, you don’t build an Ice Cream Sundae out of just a scoop of vanilla Ice Cream!

    You gotta add other stuff, that compliments it!

    As you know, I’m trying to demonstrate that adopting just a few “new resources” and making them a part of your lifestyle can not only save you hard earned cash, it can actually enhance your lifestyle.

    After all, the point of working your ass off, is to make your family’s life easier, and more comfortable, right?

    My wife says it best:

    “Look, bring me GOOD Chocolate, and put it right by the edge of the bed, where I can reach it! LOL!”

    (And confidentially, GODIVA is pricey! Oy Vay, and OUCH!)

    Seriously, just as we combine components to build contemporary houses, we need to look at ways to make the house work for us.

    It sounds like somebody drug your butt around the block a few times, huh? I bet you have some terrific stories!

    I think the difference between the Whole Earth guys and I is that at least they were/are literate. Me? I resort to name-calling, and a few good cuss-words to make my points seem valid! LOL!

    I still keep picturing somebody trying to negate infrasound produced at wind farms, by using “feedback.” It could work, right?

    (And folks, that’s why Ronin isn’t an engineer. I just wreck the stuff. Don’t ask me to fix it, unless you like “work-site comedy.” LOL!)

    Thanks for stopping in, John. You are always welcome!

    Ronin

  5. luis January 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    Thanks for good information and comments.
    Good luck with your beautiful project!

  6. Tia March 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi Ronin,
    I found your blog via a google image search for a building mounted wind turbine (tenuous link heh?). Anyway could you please drop me an email as I would like to use a photo on your post for a renewables technology guide I am designing.
    Thanks.

  7. johan tekila September 10, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    Nice article you posted . Congratulation to decide going green and clean. We also preserve nature and save money by using free cost wind energy and that was by the help provided in: http://www.windpowercost.org Thanks for your post.

  8. teddy upjohn September 19, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    Yeah! “wind power is good” (sic)
    Thanks for that post and thanks also to go green and clean energy. There are essentially 4 main things you need to know about Wind Power Energy: How to setup your system properly. How to maintain your current system or the one you will build How to cure problems with your system How to keep your system working like NEW over the years ”WindPoweCost.org” covers all of this, and a lot more. And when you read it, you’ll be BLOWN AWAY with how simple it really is to build and maintain.

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