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on February 27, 2010
If you're looking for a resource that covers most everything about residential size wind generators, this book is as good as anything you'll find. It has chapters on how to figure how much wind you have at your site, wind generator types, towers and how to erect them, legal issues, costs and how long it will take for your generator to pay for itself. The use of wind for off-grid and grid tied applications are compared. Maintenance and safety are covered in great detail. In fact, after you read the safety chapter you may decide that wind is not for you. If that's the case, you're in luck, there's a whole chapter on alternatives to wind: photovoltaics, hydro and solar thermal. A chapter on home energy conservation is also included. The amount of information can be overwhelming, but the author does a good job of tying it all together.
The author, Ian Woofendan, has been writing articles on wind and renewable energy for Home Power magazine for many years, and has wind and solar power at his own home. He has a lot of practical, hands-on knowledge that is evident in WPFD.
I've lived with small scale wind over ten years, and I know of only two other books this comprehensive that are oriented towards home-sized systems:
1) Power From the Wind (incidentally co-authored by the author of Wind Power For Dummies), Dan Chiras. This book is excellent, and in many ways equal in scope to WPFD. It runs about 250 pages.
2) Wind Power (Paul Gipe). Very good, but really technical, and includes a lot of information about very large commercial sized generators. 500 pages long!
If I had to get a single book on small scale wind power, Wind Power For Dummies would be my first choice, followed by #1 and then #2.
It also happens to be the cheapest of the three.
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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 October 12, 2014
This book is just so informative, and it "pulls no punches". It is very well written, obviously by someone who has a huge amount of practical experience. It is a great assessment guide to advise you as to whether wind power is for you, and whether it is even worth considering wind power. I also liked that it had some sections on alternative sources of power, other than wind power- solar and hydro for example, and examples of good and bad windpower installations, Also covered are ways to assess your current power consumption and options to increase efficiency and reduce your power bill.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who is looking seriously at wind generation, alternative forms of generation, or just wanting to increase their energy efficiency
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on July 9, 2014
I was dumb about wind power before I read this..and I am even dumber now. If you have even imagined investing in or erecting a wind power station on your property, in your neighborhood, to power yoru home, schools, township buildings or whatever...this is a good first must read. the whole "Dummies" series of books are very helpful. This one provides the technical, economic and environmental information that helps inform.
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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 June 22, 2013
Have wanted to learn about renewable energy and all the components and the correct way to install. So much information out there and no real instructions to go with it. The manufacturers just assume you already know how to install these items and calculate what you need. This book tells it all and is a must for someone wanting to do an install. You can do it completely yourself using this book no matter if you are handy with tools or 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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