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Showing 1-10 of 22 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on April 19, 2010
April 16, 2010

Wind Power for Dummies by Ian Woofenden is the mass-market, mainstream book on small wind turbines that the industry has long sought as a measure of respectability. Small wind has arrived when the wildly popular Dummies' series takes up the topic. Dummies books, and this one will be no exception, are the kind that one finds shelves of when entering Barnes & Nobles, America's big box book store. Small wind has indeed arrived.

Woofenden, a long-time editor at Home Power Magazine, fortunately doesn't fall for the temptation posed by his entry into big-league publishing and sugar coat the technology. This is a real book by a real author who lives, breathes, and writes about the subject. He doesn't pull any punches.

As an outspoken proponent of safety around wind turbines-of any size-I found Woofenden's Dummy book particularly valuable because of its emphasis on safety. This is a topic that other writers often shy away from. Woofenden tackles the delicate subject head on and with good humor to boot.

Woofenden, a professional arborist, offers sage advice when he recommends that all towers have a full-time, fall-arrest system in place. He says he simply won't climb a tower without one present. That's about as clear a statement as a writer can make. But his statement is more significant than that. Woofenden is stepping out from the norm of his small wind brethren by calling for fall-arrest systems in an industry that has widely ignored these devices in the USA for nearly 30 years.

Disclosure: Woofenden applauds my work in the acknowledgements section of the book--for which I am grateful. A pat on the back is always welcome.

As in other Dummies books and certainly as found in the pages of Home Power Magazine, Woofenden uses homespun aphorism to drive home his point. One such example is his advice about "thinking before you act".

"Wearing a hard had doesn't mean a lot if you don't have much to protect in the first place. Your number one piece of safety gear is on your shoulders. You need brains, determination, knowledge, and experience to be safe."

More sound advice in his recommendation to use "baby talk" when working on a tower. "Before I do something, I say what I'm going to do: 'I'm going to move my lanyard up above these rungs next; I'll need you to lift your right foot'," he explains in another passage.

"Ten Wind-Energy Mistakes," like safety, is another valuable Woofenden contribution to the literature on small wind. Harking back to his mentor Mick Sagrillo, one of Woofenden's top ten mistakes is "Using too Short a Tower".

Woofenden will not endear himself to "inventors," crackpots, and hustlers when he warns readers against using "creative" wind turbine designs. These are the wacky ideas that appear regularly on the Internet and no doubt drive serious editors, such as Woofenden, batty answering each new wave of queries from the true believers.

Wind Power was constrained by the format of the successful Dummies' series. The books, which became famous for deciphering the usage of computer software, use few graphics. Wind energy is a very visible technology and there are a myriad designs and as many different applications that call out for photos or illustrations. The illustrations used are simple, clear, and straightforward-the hallmark of Home Power Magazine. The graphic illustrating the "basic parts of a turbine" is particularly good.

And it's hard to beat the humorous comics that were part of the Dummies' books recipe for success. If anything, the book could have used more of them.

A minor quibble is Wind Power For Dummies' reliance on the English system of measurements-a system that the English themselves don't use. It's understandable in the context. The Dummies books are targeted toward the mass market in the US and that leaves out the Canadians and anyone else who uses the metric system.

With the Dummies' marketing prowess at his back, Woofenden stands a good chance of taking his message of caution and thoroughness in developing a safe, productive, and profitable small wind turbine installation to a bigger market than other small wind books have done before.

For only $22, the book is not only a steal but a welcome addition to the wind power library.

Wind Power for Dummies by Ian Woofenden, John Wiley & Sons, 2009, paper, 384 pages, US $21.99, ISBN: 978-0-470-49637-4.

-End-
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on April 22, 2011
If you don't know much about small wind power and are thinking about buying/building a system for home use this book is a good place to start. It doesn't get so technical that you can't read it (ok, some of the electricity stuff does get a little boring), but it's mostly easy to read and comprehend. I was hoping for more information about specific turbines and manufacturers, but there is not a lot of that in this book. However, if you're looking for the basic principles and whether or not wind will work for you this book does a good job with that. It's definitely a quick read and helpful for the wind newbie.
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on July 7, 2011
I've never read any of the "Dummy" books before. However, I do have an interest in renewable energy, so I thought this book might be a good primer. I wasn't disappointed.

Woofenden writes with humor and verve. He is honest regarding the merits and troubles of having a small wind turbine. His book isn't designed to tell you how to install such a system; the book does what it is supposed to do: introduce small wind, in a readable fashion, to those who are investigating the merits of such a system for their home use.

I can recommend this book to anyone who wants a good, basic introduction to wind energy. I also liked the author's section on other renewable energy alternatives. And his focus on conservation as the best way to profoundly, positively impact the planet.
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on February 16, 2015
Using Ian's "Dummies" to flesh out both volumes on wind energy by Dan Charas. As an absolute novice to wind energy today, reading the "Dummies" volume first allowed me to take in the more technical writing of Mr. Charas much more easily. Ian also provides considered comments that take some of the gloss and sell from the industry literature available today. Good balance and excellent addition to the volumes by Dan Charas...looks right on the bookshelf as well, up their with my other "Dummies" volumes.
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on April 28, 2014
Well done. After reading this I dismissed the idea of using wind for power in a mountain, off-grid cabin. If I had done so it would have been a waste of time and money. Woofenden shows when to use wind and when not.
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on May 6, 2013
Covers all aspects and gives a fair amount of DIY info and resources. Could give more info on the smaller systems out there, and they DO exist. Try Southwest Wind in Arizona if you need a smaller system. However, all hook-up, grid tie, and safety info included here applies.
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on July 27, 2014
The book covers a wide variety of information needed to make an informed decision regarding adding wind-driven energy for a home or farm. Not all questions are answered, but directions are given to a wider range of source material along the correct lines. This will help those who are interested in doing their due diligence and I would recommend it.
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on September 4, 2013
The author is very thorough in explaining the physics background of harnessing wind power and provides realistic, useful information to help a person how to decide if wind power is the right choice for them. He provides important data to help prevent making the wrong equipment choices and what it will really take to produce useful amounts of energy from the wind.
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on March 29, 2013
Now that I understand the subject much better, it's amazing that everyone doesn't implement at least one of the options mentioned in the book and have one either in their yard or on the roof and take control of utility bill costs now.
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on October 2, 2011
I am interested in installing some alternate electricity in my place. Since I heard much about wind, I took this book to find out more.

It is a book clearly designed for a person like me interested in knowing what it is about, what you are up for and how it would work. It is not a technical reference, but it will give you a good start.

It answered all my questions which was wind power was not for me. It also gave me a feel of what it is like to have it. There are also some useful tips in the book on how to reduce your electricity bill.

It was clear, with plenty of useful details.
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