With substantial focus on residential solar technology advances, the use of wind turbines for residential purposes has been somewhat overlooked. The technology in this area continues to improve rapidly and is becoming a legitimate alternative for those considering solar systems or in locations where solar is less optimal and wind more prevalent. It will also appeal to home owners looking for redundancy in their electricity generation who want to install both types of systems to subsidize a greater amount of electricity needs from both methods of energy production.
The new Honeywell Wind Turbine from EarthTronics is an example of the newer turbines fitting this mold. At 6ft across and only 165lbs, this roof-mounted system removes some of the original obstacles of having a turbine placed on a large mast on your property. Operating on lower resistance internals, this turbine will start generating power at a lowly 2mph, a quarter of the speed most traditional models need to start supplying energy. Delivering an annual 2,000 kwh, most Americans will find that it only subsidizes up to about 20% of their annual energy use, and with a price that is expected to retail at $4,500 it will take some time to break even on the initial investment. Some help can be found, however, with state and federal incentives (click here to find out about your area) that may be available to help reduce this further. In addition, the fact that these units will be available on main street, starting at Ace Hardware stores, leads us to believe that as popularity increases we will likely see a progression similar to flat panel TV prices. In short, costs could come down considerably, and quickly.
An alternative to the Honeywell is the Energy Ball from Swedish based Home Energy. A unique spherical design utilizes the venturi effect to produce increased kinetic energy. As far as appearances go, this system also provides a much more attractive home design, looking more like a weather vane than an renewable energy device. While the current V100 model delivers enough energy to offset only small amounts of residential use, the newer V200 is estimated to get close to reducing 30-50% of home energy electricity consumption. The silent design, light-weight structure and aesthetic appearance make this a design we are sure to see more of in the future.
Another unusual and promising design comes from Helix Wind. Helix produces a number of turbines for multiple use purposes including commercial, residential, government, agricultural and industrial. The Savonius Vawt turbines provide near silent operation and energy production starting at 1,962 kwh per year based on wind speeds of 7m/s. The unusual shape of the turbine makes it more neighbor and zoning friendly than some of the other models on the market, and the rotor is bird and bat safe. The rotor turns at a slower speed than other models while being able to generate electricity under any wind conditions. Base prices start at approximately $6,500.
For more information on some of the most important new designs in wind turbine technology be sure to visit this article by John Konrad on the 11 most interesting wind turbine designs.
Click on this wind source map to view the wind ‘quality’ in your area.