Before you get a new wind turbine installed it is sensible to make sure you have the right warranty, insurance and an effective maintenance regime in place. They may seem like automatic add-ons to your installation, but checking that they are available and provide everything you need can save a lot of heart ache in the future, wherever you live in the United States.
Wind Turbine Warranties
A warranty is normally designed to protect a product from the failure of its component parts over a specific period. A typical warranty will depend on the type of wind turbine you have installed and can be anything from 2 to 10 years. It may also depend on where the wind turbine is being installed. If you are investing a significant amount of money in wind energy then you would expect the installer to offer a long term warranty but it pays to discover what that covers before signing the contract. Better design and more reliable technology means that many manufacturers and installers are also able to offer extended warranties in many US states.
- It’s a good idea to be aware under what circumstance the warranty may become void (for instance if you don’t carry out regular maintenance or try to repair a fault yourself).
- Many manufacturers will offer a standard warranty for a set time, for example 5 years, with a cost incurred to extend it.
- You need to make sure that you register for the warranty once the installation has been complete. Failing to do so may well mean that, if something goes wrong, you are not covered.
It is important to note that you might very well have different warranties for certain aspects of your wind turbine array including the generator, any power storage batteries, or the inverter (the device that converts DC current into AC).
There are a number of questions that you will need to get answered about any warranty on your wind turbine and this is best done before the installer starts work:
- What happens if the manufacturer goes out of business?
- Who is responsible for each component? Is it just one company or are there several different ones?
- Does the warranty cover the removal, replacement and shipping of the faulty part?
- Are there any additional costs involved such as a renewal fee?
Wind Turbine Insurance
The rise of the renewable energy market in the US has meant that new insurance cover has had to be developed to ensure that all those involved, including operators and domestic homes are covered. The range of cover goes beyond the normal accidental damage and can include employer and public liability, breakdown and loss of revenue.
A number of specialist insurers have emerged in many countries including the USA, especially for covering the larger installations of wind turbine that carry more specific risks. For domestic wind turbines or roof mounted ones, you should first check how you are covered on your buildings insurance and whether your provider offers a more comprehensive cover.
It is important to note that certain things like the warranty and maintenance regime can all cause a hike in the insurance premium for a wind turbine. Insurers will normally insist that you have regular preventative maintenance and extend the warranty if it is nearing expiration.
Wind Turbine Maintenance
As with any piece of machinery, the key to longevity is proper maintenance. The amount your wind turbine will need over each year will depend on the type, scale and location of the installation. A roof mounted vertical axis system will probably need less maintenance than a large free standing tower. The good news is that wind turbines are a relatively simple mechanism and a large part of any maintenance programme is about ensuring that areas like the axis and gear box are properly lubricated.
With better technology, the maintenance costs for wind turbines has come down but you should be expecting to pay a certain amount of your profits each year to ensure that everything moves smoothly and continues to do so for the next 20 to 25 years. It might be a good idea to discuss with your installer, prior to signing the contract, any worse case scenarios – for instance how much it would cost to replace an inverter or any other component.
When you are considering the costs and savings for your wind turbine you need to be aware of the price you are going to have to pay for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Your installer may well run a maintenance scheme that will be arranged prior to fitting the wind turbine – you also need to be aware of what is covered by the turbine warranty and what isn’t.
Ideally, any medium to large size wind turbine should be having a service/maintenance performed on it twice a year. It’s often a good idea to time this for when the wind turbine is going to be producing more power, for example, in the autumn just before the winter begins. This is an ideal time, especially if you have a hybrid system that also incorporates something like solar, and can coincide with the end of the sunny months that produce more electricity for your panels.
Making sure that all of your maintenance, warranty and insurance cover are the best they can be should be explored prior to the installation so that you know exactly what you are getting and how much extra it is going to cost you.