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Honeywell wind turbine is a breeze to run – and a light one at that

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June 17, 2009

The Honeywell Windgate wind turbine from EarthTronics measures less than 6 feet (1.8m) acr...

The Honeywell Windgate wind turbine from EarthTronics measures less than 6 feet (1.8m) across and weighs less than 95lbs (43kg)

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Has affordable, practical home wind power generation become a reality? The Honeywell Windgate wind turbine from EarthTronics looks like it could be a contender. Developers EarthTronics and Honeywell Corp hope the Windgate wind turbine will help meet the energy needs of homeowners and businesses, even if they are not located in prime “windy” areas. EarthTronics says the 6-foot wide, 95-pound Windgate can start to spin in breezes as low as 2mph and can create more power with less wind than other types of wind turbines.

One of the biggest obstacles to the widespread use of wind power generation is that many areas just aren’t that windy. In the US, for example, wind suitable for power generation is concentrated on the coasts and in parts of the Midwest. In fact, some estimates indicate that 90 percent of US wind resources average 9mph (14.5kph) or less. Most traditional wind turbine designs don’t start spinning until 7 or 8mph (12kph), and so finding a place to install the turbine becomes a major issue.

Wind turbine companies are addressing this challenge in a variety of innovative ways. We have previously covered the AeroVironment system that takes advantage of a building’s aerodynamics to maximize windflow, and the Windspire vertical-axis design that uses a small installed footprint. But most manufacturers focus instead on building large-scale systems that are installed away from where the generated power is needed. See our reports on the ocean-based HyWind and the high-altitude Magenn systems.

EarthTronics and Honeywell attempt to address this challenge by making the Windgate suitable for installation where the power is being consumed, even in areas with light winds. The Windgate measures just 6 feet (1.8m) across and weighs less than 95lbs (43kg). The turbine can be installed on a house or business rooftop, wall or on a self-standing pole. The Windgate’s design eliminates the geared hub design found in other turbines, and EarthTronics says this allows the unit to run more quietly and with less vibration.

EarthTronics designed the Windgate to start spinning in light winds as low as 2mph (3.2kph). To accomplish this, the turbine generates energy using its gearless “free wheeling” Blade Tip Power System, which reduces mechanical resistance and drag. Rim-mounted permanent magnets generate power at the tips of the fan blades - the fastest moving area - instead of at the fan hub as in traditional turbine designs. The efficiency of this design, the company says, allows the Windgate to operate in a greater range of wind speeds (2 to 45mph, 3.2 to 72.4kph) than traditional wind turbines. Traditional turbines typically begin turning at 7.5mph (12.1kph) and shut down around 29mph (46.7kph) to protect their gearing systems.

The Honeywell Windgate wind turbine comes with a computerized control box, power inverter, and an interconnect switch to wire the system into a household panel. A professional electrician is required for installation and the homeowner must also supply one or more automotive-type batteries to complete the system. Once installed, the Windgate can create up to 2000 kilowatt hours (kW) of power per year, which is about 15 percent of an average household’s energy needs.

The EarthTronics Honeywell Windgate will be available this northern fall. Initially it will be sold in ACE Hardware stores in the US for USD$4,500. EarthTronics says that the turbine’s installed cost is about one third of the cost of traditional turbines, with a lower installed cost per kW than other turbines on the market.

In the US, homeowners are eligible for federal and state rebates that cover anywhere from 30 percent to 100 percent of the overall cost of the turbine, making the Windgate an even more affordable option for personal wind power generation.

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18 Comments

It is amazing that people are finally getting it that wind power generators do not use propellers. They have to use resistors. Dead flat, highly polished stainless steel is best.

They are finally beginning to replicate the studies by Bill Allison, the retired engineer from Ford, in the mid 80s are correct. You can hit the 60% theoretical maximum efficiency but you do have to mitigate the cone of resistance that builds up in front of the fan. Bill found that the best way to do that was to remove two blades directly opposite from each other. The cone instantly disappeared. He found 10 blades to pull the most power. No need to pay extra for the shroud.

The problem back then was having a variable speed generator. Yes his fans would take off spinning like crazy in small breezes. And he used to get a kick laughing at the propellers desinged by NASA.

He calculated that a 18ft dia fan would provide all the power that a house would ever need and probably some left over to power the auto as well.

Reinventing seems to be going on.

Island Architect
18th June, 2009 @ 11:19 am PDT

This is a terrible design and way too costly for what you geIf handy you can make a much better one for much less that makes much more power. google Axial-flux wind generator or join a wind gen yahoogroup

Never believe any wind gen company that says they can make power under 7mph as there is no power under that. Wind power goes up the cube of the wind speed after that.

jerryd
19th June, 2009 @ 02:12 pm PDT

Reinventing or copying, at least people will look at this stuff now and maybe even buy it.

Roderick Bertrand
19th June, 2009 @ 03:26 pm PDT

There was much more to Bill Allison's design than just "remove two blades directly opposite from each other." The blades also were staggered front-to-back. And his work dates back to the 1970s, not 1980s.

This Windgate design owes more to Tom Chalk's "bicycle wheel" turbine from the early 1970s. Like the Windgate, the Chalk started spinning at very low wind speeds. But the Windgate likely shares the main problem of the Chalk, namely that there's no protection from high wind speeds, which will overload the structure.

Gadgeteer
19th June, 2009 @ 10:37 pm PDT

if this will only provide about 15% of the annual homes usage, I would think it would take many years for it to pay for itself. Since the average person only lives in a house for 7-9 years before moving, I doubt it would ever pay for itself for the majority of people.

pbvt
20th June, 2009 @ 04:16 am PDT

My house only uses about 45-50 kwh per month ( this is a rough guess from the last time I saw my electric bill ) so this would reduce my electric bill to nothing and even provide me a credit towards my gas usage.. whoohoo!!!

Koala
21st August, 2009 @ 11:08 am PDT

Industry expert Paul Gipe has already reviewed this product and, as you can imagine, says its full of BS:

"There is no substantiation to back up the promoter's claims and the claims themselves are exaggerated."

Also of note:

"There are no units in use. One turbine has been "tested" in a wind tunnel. Thus, all claims about the product are projecture.

Those who have followed the debate about performance measurements of small turbines realize that testing in a wind tunnel is not testing at all. Wind tunnel "tests" are useful only for design not for estimating the performance of the wind turbine in the field.

Though no turbines have been tested in the field, Earthronics has hired a public relations company."

Something tells me the positive comments on the internet about this product are nothing more than a hired PR firm doing its job..the product and company are clearly shady.

jac05
23rd November, 2009 @ 08:07 am PST

Guys --

this is headed in the right direction, but -- don't stop there!

Start with this:

http://www.gizmag.com/flodesign-high-efficiency-wind-turbine-based-on-jet-engine-technology/10556/

Combine the magic of their jet corkscrew drafting air-flow,

with your rim-mounted permanent magnets at the tips of the fan blades,

as shown here with the "Honeywell wind turbine".

http://www.gizmag.com/earthtronics-honeywell-windgate-wind-turbine/11990/

Which I expected to increase efficiency tremendously...

Now - that's a real powerhouse!

Instead of two semi-successful products fighting for tiny, fragile market-share...

combine forces -- grow your market potential -- and each take half of the big pie!

c'mon guys -- you can do it!

wblais1
13th February, 2010 @ 12:09 pm PST

The multi-blade turbine with more blades than space between them has been tried many times before. The problem with that type is the drag is too high.

Build your own windmill. See otherpower.com

The design starts with the lower end of a Mac Pherson automotive suspension strut and spindle for the bearing hub, flipped upside down, the strut tube acts as the pivot bearing on top of the pole. The site also shows a passive self furling design that controls the turbine speed while still making power.

Very innovative and inexpensive. The super strong permanent magnets are the most expensive part of the turbine.

If you want to put a lot less work into the blades, make just one blade then build a scaled up Copycarver to exactly duplicate it for the other two.

Facebook User
7th May, 2010 @ 05:45 pm PDT

some of the cost might be recaptured more quickly here in the deep south US by positioning this horizontally over an AC condenser unit. Those things are blowing pretty much around the clock from April - October down here.

just.thomas
30th June, 2010 @ 07:42 am PDT

@ Facebook user. I hope you're joking. There's no free energy there; the AC fan will have to work harder to propel the turbine. Similar idea with the highway wind turbine.

Alex McManis
5th November, 2010 @ 04:05 pm PDT

It is digusting to see how they say they are affordable. At these prices it takes 15 plus years to pay back your investment if ever. AND the thing probably only costs $400 to build but they want 4500 to 6500 for them. Windspires prob cost $500 to build but they want 10,000 for them. No wonder people laugh at the us wind generator companies. the price of the units are typically 5 to 10 times what it costs to build them. They dont go green they seek to get green.

David Horner
19th December, 2010 @ 10:53 am PST

Yes, they are all "cool"

But if even "one" of the "claims" from even "one" of these companies *were* true, they wouldn't keep needing government grants: The "great" answer would sell itself. They would be billionaires for selling it and not "still" in "testing."

Fred Meyers
30th January, 2011 @ 05:01 pm PST

i live in australia victoria the windgate turbine would be an intergration with my solar system i already get a 1500 dollar credit a year this would give me a generous check at the end of the year which is tax free i have 3 girls using heaps of electricity throughout the day and mainly at night i am quiet excited wind generation combined with solar generation during the sunny days and wind generation during adverse windy counditions with no clouds and at night which well we all know theres no sunlight maybe ill fit two wind turbines and specfic generation network for my eday electric car wow now this is a winning formala

George Kat
5th June, 2011 @ 06:16 pm PDT

Dave Horner: While you lament that it costs them "only $400" to build, (could you provide us with how you came up with that cost figure, please? While the labor and materials "may" be $400, there are a lot of other costs with producing these things. Or anything else. R&D costs, taxes, insurance, state incorporation fees, administrative costs, buy land for a manufacturing facility, building a plant, training workers, etc. Biggest expense is complying with government regulations. And the dirtiest word in the world today: profit.

Why don't take $500 from your bank account and build one? And then sell it to the rest of us for $550?

DaveM
12th July, 2011 @ 03:56 pm PDT

I would urge potential buyers to read an article at Low Tech magazine http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/small-windmills/

which tested several small turbines and found them all to wear out before they paid for themselves. I suspect this Honeywell unit would be the same.

Mark in SB
27th July, 2011 @ 02:57 pm PDT

Excellent Wind Turbine. Great Advgance in Wind Turbine Design andthey will be popular.

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
24th August, 2011 @ 09:49 am PDT

There has been many changes to this product (Honeywell wind turbine) such as: The overall size and weight; the name of the unit WT6500; who the sellers or distributors are; when it was released; and even some of the pages on their website, but I did find a newer article on a web page at http://www.squidoo.com/green-energy-alternative-power

Barbaruzzi
14th February, 2012 @ 10:36 pm PST
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