Don’t under estimate the importance of the tower. Many people will over look the trouble of building a tower. Building the tower can be the biggest part of this project and potentially the most dangerous. There are many different kinds of towers and structures you can build to support your wind turbine. If you don’t feel comfortable building or erecting your own tower then I recommend purchasing one. You can find them in nice affordable kits that will make putting them up much easier, or you can have a contractor do it.
Before going ahead and choosing a tower design let’s talk about location. It’s a good idea to study the potential site(s) to find the best one for that area. You want to find a good open area that is free from obstacles that would block the wind. The higher up you go, the faster the wind blows which increases the power to your wind turbine greatly.
You might also want to purchase anemometer and average the wind speed at different heights. All of this data is a great resource when sizing your rotor and generator.
You will also need good ground to build a solid foundation for the tower. Local laws are also important to consider, contact your city or country office for the code that may relate to a wind turbine.
The Basic Types of Towers: Free Standing, Lattice, and Guyed
Free Standing Tower
A free standing tower has a single mast and requires no additional support. Most commercial wind turbines use free standing towers. Will have a large steel mast and require a deep foundation. These will normally required to be erected by a crane. If you are interested in having a free standing tower, and are not a professional, I recommend purchasing one.
Lattice tower were common back in the old farm days, they are kind of towers you see most wind powered well pumps on. They have a larger foot print for their size requiring a larger foundation. They are supported by three of four legs with interlock braces up and down the tower. This type of tower is a good option if you are looking for a small and cheap wind turbine tower.
A guyed tower has a center pole with guyed wires supporting and holding it in place. You will typically find guyed towers for radio and television antennas. These towers are typically the easiest and cheapest to build. However, they are ugly and intrusive and require more space than a free standing tower.
Tilt-up Guyed Tower
Tilt-up tower are nice for erecting and maintain and are the most popular for home wind turbine builders. They have a pivot at the bottom allowing them to bend up and down from the ground. A tilt-up guyed tower is a popular choice for home builders. I do want to issue some caution while raising and lowering a tower, a large amount (greater than the weight) will be place on the mast. Plan ahead, do it slowly, and make sure everyone is in a safe location while raising and lowering.
Some tilt up towers have what is known as gin pole, which is perpendicular of the main mast. This arm is used to help lift the tower off the ground. Usually it is a steel pipe of the same diameter as the tubular tower pipe. The longer the gin pole, the easier it is to lift the tower. A gin pole makes it much easier to raise the tower but not completely necessary.