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Wind Turbine Output: The Effect of Load

Experiment #4 from Investigating Wind Energy

Education Level
Elementary School


A load is a device that uses electricity to do work or perform a job when connected to a circuit. A light bulb is an example of a load. If a light bulb is connected to the wind turbine, the electricity generated by the generator can do the work of lighting the light bulb.

Sometimes it is useful to control the flow of electrons in a circuit. An example of a time when it is important to control the flow of electrons is when you are using a generator like the one in your wind turbine. Generators are designed to produce the most power when a very specific amount of load is connected to the circuit.

One way to create the optimal load for the generator in your wind turbine is to connect multiple light bulbs to the circuit. While this would work, it is not very practical to always carry a bunch of light bulbs around with you!

Instead, you will use a device called a resistor to add load to the circuit. Resistors are used to control the flow of electrons in a circuit. Resistors are rated based on how much resistance they add to the circuit. Resistance is measured in units of ohms.

In this experiment, you will experiment to find the optimal resistance for the generator in your wind turbine.


  • Measure current, potential difference (voltage), and power output of a wind turbine with a Vernier Energy Sensor.
  • Explore how current, potential difference (voltage), and power output vary depending on the resistance (load) in the circuit.
  • Investigate the relationship between optimal resistance and maximum power output.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.

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This experiment is #4 of Investigating Wind Energy. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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