Wind turbines are becoming a more common sight as residential, utility and commercial adopters are taking advantage of its many benefits. Because wind energy systems operate in extreme outdoor environments, all the components you choose for these systems must be able to work reliably in harsh conditions.
In wind turbines, encoders monitor rotor and generator shaft speed and position. They must also operate in harsh temperatures and at remote or offshore sites where downtime is unacceptable. Since your installation’s life span can depend on the reliability of your encoder, it’s important to keep the following environmental considerations in mind:
Shock and vibration. The wide temperature fluctuations and vibrations in wind turbines and other renewable energy applications can put stress on shaft loads. Encoders must have bearings that are extra strong, extra large or mechanically interlocked to resist shock and vibration. An encoder with robust bearings will offer high reliability and long service life.
Dust and liquid protection. When operating outdoors, contamination from dust, dirt, moisture and corrosive salt sprays is a real concern. An encoder’s design should include a strong housing with a high IP rating, as established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for ingress protection from solids and liquids. A two-digit rating that begins with a 6 means the device is “dust tight” (IP6X), while the second digit refers to its resistance to moisture. Encoders that are among the highest IP ratings will have no harmful effects from powerful water jets (IP66), complete protection up to 1 m under defined conditions of pressure and time (IP67) and protection from steam-jet cleaning (IP69k).
Temperature. Wind and other renewable energy systems can be installed in diverse sites from the Arctic, to the desert and equatorial regions. Look for encoders that can operate across a wide temperature range of -40°C to 85°C or higher.
Vibration, shock, solid and liquid contamination and extreme temperature exposure can cause costly downtimes and premature component failure in your wind energy system. The encoders you choose must be rugged and reliable to address these extreme conditions to keep your installation running smoothly and efficiently for a long time, thereby maximizing its return on investment.
To learn more about encoders in wind turbines, download our Solutions for Wind Turbines guide.