Heating water using a wind turbine is one of the most efficient uses of that renewable resource. When a wind turbine is used to charge a battery bank a lot of power is wasted in heat in the coils of the turbine alternator etc. particularly during gusty conditions. When the turbine is instead used to heat water with a suitably rated immersion heater element, virtually every watt that is generated heats water, even when the turbine is only turning slowly. For every degree the water is heated in this way, electricity or gas (and therefore money) which would otherwise have been used to raise the water temperature is saved.
Pictured above is a schematic of a basic system designed to use alternative energy – primarily wind power – to heat water for domestic use. A low voltage DC immersion heater element is retro-fitted to a standard hot water cylinder. This heating element goes in to a depth of around 12 inches so it is at the center of the bottom of the tank ready to heat the water most efficiently.
A heat exchanger coil can be added to the water tank through which hot fluid from a Solar Water Heater will flow to heat the water further during sunny days. In this way, water can be heated day and night during windy conditions and all day when it is sunny. If used on a sunny coastal (i.e. windy) location this complete system could easily supply all the hot water needs of a home for most of the year.
Basic 12V Heater Kit
Above is a photograph of a basic DIY wind turbine water heater kit fitted to a UK standard immersion heater. Included in the kit are the following parts which have been labelled on the photograph: 1) 22mm to 3/4 bsp fitting, 2) 22mm to 22mm coupling, 3) 22mm T-piece for housing the heater, 4) 12V 200 Watt immersion heater element (12-14″ long). The part labelled 5 above is not included in the kit. Many of these kits were sold on eBay UK during the period 2006-2008 but unfortunately they are no longer available.
It is not too difficult however to source all of the necessary copper pipe fittings from any plumbers merchants or even DIY stores, which just leaves the immersion heater element to find. Fortunately as more people have become interested in renewable energy, it has become much easier to find 12VDC and other low voltage immersion elements. Click here for our article on the latest Low Voltage Immersion Heater Elements – available in an array of power outputs and voltages (12, 24, 36, and 48 VDC).
Click here to read our recently updated and extended article on Wind Turbine Water Heating for more information on exploiting the power of the wind to heat water.