« Hydrogen Snake Oil - Part 1. The myth of a hydrogen economy | Main | Making oil out of a Sow's rear - converting pig manure to oil. »

February 7, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

wind generator

A vertical turbine picks up wind from all directions. Magnetic suspension minimises frictional drag. Large mass maximises the flywheel effect.


I like the way you write, and you have answered some of my (limited experience) technical questions. I have learned not to get too excited about the next new sexy project. I couldn't find any technical testing of this wind = power machine. I couldn't understand the braking element at higher wind speeds, now I know that they don't build them tough enough to take it. Any inverter problem is easily fixed by installing the correct eqipment. I would rather mix and match my green components. Wind, good wind, to generator, to controller, to batteries to inverter, and maybe to the grid. I like the quietness , the opportunity for power when the sun isn't shining. Sounds great if you live on an island or mountain top. But 32 years payback??? I guess it's still about philosophy and freedom trumping economics if you really want one of these things.

Michael Herr

I've been waiting 4 months for WIndspire to "fix" my inverter. Their warranty work leaves something to be desired.

Electrical Components

I don't think Wind power is mature enough as a sustainable renewable type energy to be used at home yet... I personally think that Solar panel is much more practical. I don't have a full on Solar Panel system yet, but uses it to heat my pool's water. =)

Allan Wolpowitz

Windspire did not deliver my 2 turbines for more than 6 months. The testing by NREL caused them to have to redisign the invertes. Now they being made by Mastech Energy in MI. I paid for them nearly a year ago. I have the frames now (finally), but no inverters so they are lying on the ground waiting after a year to be installed. I have no idea when the inverters are going to be delivered. They just give me the run around. Ithink that they are in serious trouble (and so am I). They talk the talk, they take the money, but they do not walk the walk. There is a lot of advertizing hype on their website - I am not sure if I believe any of it anymore.

Tom Dodge

I too have had my frustrations with a unit purchased from Mariah Power in July 2009. At a speed of 65 or so RPM the unit apparently enters a period of harmonic vibration causing the top of the turbine to oscillate, describing a radius of a foot or more -- essentially "wobbling". It is so bad I feared the welds at the bottom where the base is welded to the "hinge plate" would break.

Windspire has promised to replace the unit, having extensively reworked the design somewhat. To prevent the unit tearing itself from its base in moderate winds I have removed the airfoils and am still awaiting (after more than a year) the promised replacement.

I understand the company is being reorganized with the acquisition of a new CEO in mind, but is presently being run by a man named James Horn -- head of a management committee. I think the idea is great but the unit still has a way to go, or those of us seeking problem resolution have a time to wait.

I am informed the local distributor in Maine having shipped all his units back for rework last summer is just now getting new inventory. Perhaps I too will eventually get a replacement.

Mike Muchard

My Windspire was installed in November 2010. In March 2011 the unit "died".

The behavior is as follows: The windspire rotates at the slow breaking rate, after about 5 minutes the break releases for several seconds and the windspire begins to rev up slightly then the break engages again. This precess repeats continuously during both high wind periods and low wind periods. Also, there is no wifi connection available from the unit - the modem can not connect to the windspire.

I have tried cycling the circuit breaker with no effect.

I have checked the power feed to/from the windspire and it is OK (measured at the outside disconnect switch).

Has anyone else had this problem?


has anyone checked out the WEPower Falcon? If so, any comments?


Thanks for the article, and the comments. I have been interested in this technolog as i have a house off the grid, but the high cost, design issues, and warranty problems described here have curbed my enthusiasm greatly. ...r

Home wind turbine kits

excellent post!

I agree that in their rush to market, many products have gone to market prematurely.

I disagree though that small wind isn't the ticket long-term. I think we have to make it work - there's just too much roof real estate available not to use it to harvest the wind there.

Denise Justus

We had a Windspire installed in September 2009. The inverter has been replaced 3 times and we're scheduled for a 4th. The unit has from the beginning slammed on the brakes in high wind and low wind. Contact with the Windspire was lost early this year. We were told in April that the unit needs an overhaul. It is now late August and the silence from Windspire is deafening. In the meantime, we have a 30 foot lawn ornament that the birds are roosting on.


Location is critical for maximizing the electricity wind turbines can produce. The amount of kinetic energy available in the wind is a cubic function of wind speed—that is, for every doubling of wind speed, there is a corresponding eight-fold increase in available energy. This exponential relationship between wind speed and wind energy makes location extremely important. A site with high average wind speeds can provide considerably more wind energy than a site with only slightly lower wind speeds.


I can never understand the logic for VAWTs. Yes a HAWT will stugrgle in this location but that does not make a VAWT a good choice. The wind is lacking, and the result will be disappointment whatever choice of blade configuration. Wind is free in a sense but those who know the wind are aware that you need a tall tower to reach it and that it comes at a price in terms of investment, so the energy you get is never actually free. In this case I would confidently predict that the energy would turn out very expensive indeed.


Bachelor of Science in Mechanical EngineeringMasters or Dr is even betterI am a reclntey graduated engineer and am doing wind turbine research with cfd (computational fluid dynamics) software.The degree wont guarantee anything (the world doesn't work like that). But it will give you an excellent understanding for all aspects of wind power. A BS in mechanical engineering is a well respected degree nationwide(renewable energy is currently not).I went to Boise State University, but any Abet accredited university will teach you well.Best of luck to you!


There is no motor in those things to make them spin when the wind isn't that makes no sense and deefats the purpose. Each wind site has a certain wind rating and average power is estimated to determine the energy and financial benefits of putting them up in that location. There are windy seasons and low wind seasons, but the average wind and estimated benefits give each project a justification. When the wind doesn't blow, they don't spin. Would you rather have coal stacks?


First of all i was talking about pniayg back the energy to manufacture and operate a wind farm (this video suggests that wind power relies on fossil fuels). You got it all wrong dude. It has nothing to do with them being competitive with coal and gas plants under current market conditions because at the moment they are not. In the long term though fuel prices can only go up (by their very nature) and wind power can only become cheaper from economies of scale (check Enercon E-126).


This is a ludicrous amerugnt. Let's not take into account that a turbine's average life span is at least 25 years . Sure the initial construction and installation requires *some* fossil fuels, but are you really trying to argue that negates 25 years of clean energy production? Oh no! They use fossil fuels to design, produce and transport hybrid and electric vehicles. They probably should be scrapped too since there is no net savings in fossil fuel consumption.I call shenanigans.


I don't know any wind power proponents who claim wind is the only socure of power we need. However, I have looked at the numbers pretty carefully and I'm impressed by the potential of wind. I'd give you references but YouTube doesn't accept links in these replies. I don't have a huge problem with more nukes, it's just that a nuke plant takes ten years to build, compared to a few months for a wind farm. Wind farms can expand incrementally and that's important.


This is ludicrous. Those are short term costs, we don't imrpot the same equiptment everyday. Once the turbines are here, they're here to stay obviously we're not moving them back and forth. If they want to make that arguement, the rebuttal's child's play, fossil fuels=fossil fuels (same transport methods..).The wind turbines aren't run on fossil fuels this clip is an insult to our intelligence. How stupid do they think we are? Wind turbines are an investment.


It depends on your detinifion of large. The largest of the wind turbines have a capacity of around 5 MW in ideal conditions. The average home consumes about 1000 watts of power (averaged over a 24 hour period), so one of these monsters could, in theory, power 5000 homes.As David has correctly pointed out, the problem is that wind does not always blow at the optimal speed, and residential power consumption is not linear. Peak demand (between 7 am and 9 am, and again at 5 pm to 9 pm) rarely coincides with maximum generating capacity. The next problem is that surplus capacity is almost impossible to store.David even at 1 MW, that's enough to power 1000 homes not 100.

Mikki Kattilakoski

Wind turbine now a days is really a great source of electricity and most of the study they are having difficulties by a lot of consequences in Finland country it is also source of electricity and now a days its been successfully manage.

Mike Hussy

I don't think Wind power is mature enough as a sustainable renewable type energy to be used at home yet... I personally think that Solar panel is much more practical. I don't have a full on Solar Panel system yet, but uses it to heat my pool's water. =)

emergency warning lights

Bruce BecVar

Change Wind Corporation has a new game changing helical wind turbine. Their CWC 35kW VAWT is under 42 ft tall and generates more than 400% more power than the competition. Starts making electricity in just a 6 mph breeze, has friction mitigation, and torque multiplication that drives a proprietary patented low-speed high-energy density generator and can capture inertial inputs that generally go unnoticed by other machines. They have a turbine operating in Pennsylvania that has produced over 101,000 kWh's each year (average 8 mph wind) for the last five years. See prudenciapower.com.

The comments to this entry are closed.