How Much Do Slip Rings Used in Wind Turbines Typically Cost?

How Much Do Slip Rings Used in Wind Turbines Typically Cost?

slip rings forj for wind turbines costA wind turbine converts kinetic energy into electrical energy by using the wind to turn a set of rotor blades around a central axis. This design requires a slip ring, which transmits an electrical current from a stationary to a rotating structure. The slip rings used in wind turbines are typically customized for each turbine, so a slip ring’s cost varies greatly according to a variety of factors.

A slip ring ensures the wire from the stationary part of an electrical device remains in contact with the wire from the rotating part. In addition to wind turbines, machines that use slip rings include amusement park rides, closed circuit cameras, CT scanners, generators, helicopters and radio telescopes. Slip rings have a range of functions such as transmitting data, controlling circuitry and transferring power. They may also be known by more specific names such as collectors, swivels, electrical rotary joints, rotary electrical connectors or rotary electrical interfaces, depending on their function.

In the case of wind turbines, slip rings transmit power and signals from the stationary nacelle to the equipment in the rotating hub. This type of slip ring generally consists of a metal ring and a wire brush made of an electrically conductive metal such as copper, gold or silver. The brush remains in contact with the outer surface of the ring as it rotates, allowing an electrical current to be continuously transmitted through the brush to the ring. The slip rings used in wind turbines are typically assembled in stacks along the turbine’s rotating axis so they can carry additional electrical signals.

What Impacts the Cost of Slip Rings Used in Wind Turbines?

The high degree of customization for most slip rings means that large orders will typically reduce the unit cost significantly. The large amount of labor required to make custom assemblies causes price breaks to depend more on the run quantity than the expected annual usage of the slip ring. Customization also requires the customer to supply detailed information about a slip ring’s design requirements before a vendor can provide an accurate price quote.

Electrical Factors

Slip Rings for Wind TurbinesPower requirements typically have the greatest effect on the cost of slip rings used in wind turbines. A basic slip ring for a 600-watt turbine typically costs at least $500, while the slip rings for a 20 kilo-watt turbine costs up to $95,000. Greater power requirements increase the circuitry’s size, which also increases the size of the bore, brush assemblies, and electrical insulation. The complexity of the circuitry in a wind turbine also has a significant effect on a slip ring’s cost, since more circuitry requires the slip ring to have a larger bore.

The cost of electrical circuitry is directly dependent on the electrically conductive materials used to make the brush contacts and rings. The most inexpensive materials are standard copper graphite brushes and brass rings, while the most expensive include silver graphite brushes and plated silver rings. Slip rings can also be made from many other combinations of materials.

Wiring Harness

The wiring harness is often a slip ring’s most customized component, as the brush and center leads may require separate harnesses. This design requirement often occurs because each wire in the circuitry may have a distinct current and voltage rating. Furthermore, some wires may require jackets for additional insulation or connectors that allow the wires to be easily connected and disconnected to the harness. The lengths of the wiring harnesses are also typically customized for each turbine such that greater length generally increasing the harness’s cost.

Additional options that increase the cost of the slip ring’s wiring harness including tape wrap to keep the wire secured into position and heat shrink tubing to increase insulation and abrasion resistance. Some wiring harnesses also require flexible conduits, which may be made of both metallic and non-metallic materials.

Bore Size

A larger bore typically increases a slip ring’s cost, especially with a large increase in size. However, a smaller bore can also increase cost if it requires the miniaturization of components. In some cases, the bore may need to be larger than that indicated by just its circuitry. For example, some turbines may require a slip ring to fit over a larger shaft or accommodate additional lines for air or water. Conversely, space restrictions may require the bore size to be smaller than what would normally be recommended.

Enclosure

A slip ring’s cost is also affected by its enclosure type, which is primarily determined by the required mounting position. An upright mounting may need only a simple enclosure to provide the slip ring with adequate protection from rain and other weathering effects. However, a slip ring that must be mounted below a hydraulic swivel may require a sealed enclosure to protect it from water passing through the center of the swivel.

Learn More About the Cost of Slip Rings for the Wind Industry

BGB Technology has manufactured a wide variety of slip rings that are currently being used in wind turbines all over the world. Contact us to learn more.

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BGB Technology Inc – Wind Brochure

 

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