Screwy-looking wind turbine makes little noise and a big claim


May 27, 2014

The Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine is said to be considerably more efficient than most conventional turbines

The Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine is said to be considerably more efficient than most conventional turbines

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Although it's getting increasingly common to see solar panels on the roofs of homes, household wind turbines are still a fairly rare sight. If Rotterdam-based tech firm The Archimedes has its way, however, that will soon change. Today the company officially introduced its Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine, which is said to have an energy yield that is "80 percent of the maximum that is theoretically feasible." That's quite the assertion, given that most conventional wind turbines average around 25 to 50 percent.

The 75-kg (165-lb) 1.5-meter (5-ft)-wide Liam obviously doesn't look much like a typical turbine. It draws on the form of the nautilus shell, and the screw pump invented by ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse.

That form factor reportedly results in minimal mechanical resistance, allowing it to spin very freely and to operate quietly – blade noise is one of the common complaints regarding rooftop wind turbines. Additionally, the design is claimed to keep it always pointing into the wind for maximum yield.

Along with its claim of being able to achieve 80 percent of Betz' limit, The Archimedes adds that "The Liam F1 generates an average of 1,500 kilowatt-hours of energy [per year] at a wind-speed of 5 m/s [16.4 ft/s], which resembles half of the power consumption of a common household." Needless to say, it will be interesting to see what independent testing reveals. The company states that it has tested the Liam "over 50 times" to confirm the figures, and has already sold 7,000 of the turbines in 14 countries.

That said, the Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine should be officially available as of July 1st. Although no price was given in today's announcement, a previous posting on the company website puts it at €3,999 (about US$5,450).

The turbine can be seen in use in the video below.

Source: The Archimedes

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

That there are ANY people who believe that these pseudo turbines will do ANYTHING to produce meaningful energy is great testimony to P.T. Barnum's axiom. They will not and cannot achieve efficiency levels claimed (80% is beyond absurd, even for the most efficient WT's on the planet), they are very expensive on a per rated Watt basis and the videos clearly illustrate thier basic instability. As someone else said, Rubbish! Also, since when is Korea (or is it China?) part of the Netherlands? Small scale wind turbines CAN be worthwhile components in off-grid applications that enjoy a useful wind regime, but are not currently competitive with urban PV because of total installed costs and site limitations. This is a fact well understood by those of us that have been in the alternative energy field for any length of time.

Matt Tritt

This looks like rubbish, way to complex to be efficient, might have it's place in certain areas, but in no way a game changer.

Jay Finke

let's assume the statement "half the average household" is correct. My wife and I spend $60/month on our electric bill (all electric house - no gas, fireplace etc.) We live in San Diego. If we cut the bill in half we will save $30/month. It will take 15 years to recover the cost. Assumptions electric costs remain the same and consumption does not change.

I champion alternative energy but the expense needs to be inline with the benefit. Subsidizing this from my pocket is not going to happen here.

Mark A

Dodgy wind? Why "innovative" turbines are often anything but

How many times is somebody going to claim to have reinvented the wind turbine before they stop getting press?

Keith Lamb

What a load of rubbish. 1,500 kilowatt-hours of energy [per year] is half the average household...

This "might" hold true if you are including Africa and other undeveloped countries.

With a 3 bedroom house, all LED or CFL lighting, and very thoughtful heater and AC timing, we use between 800 KWH and 1300 KWH per month. The average in the US is right around 11,000 KWH per year, and this includes high density but highly efficient apartments and condos who wouldn't have the ability to install one of these if they wanted to.

Not saying this isn't an encouraging design especially for very rural properties, but the quoted statistics aren't even remotely indicative of normal modern households.


"Household wind turbines are still a fairly rare sight" They always will be. Wind energy 101: The further from the ground, the more wind. There is not enough of this resource near your house to make it viable.


@Jestep: not complete rubbish. You're talking about a US household. An NL household uses considerably less electric energy. 3,000 kWh is a normal energy consumption for an energy-conscious Dutch household. Few of us have aircons, and most of us heat their homes with natural gas.

Joris van den Heuvel

Just for reference, 5m/s is slightly above the average annual wind speed for Chicago. So 1500 kWh is about the best you can expect. Most likely you'd get a fair amount less. Unless this was for a cabin somewhere, it doesn't make a lot of sense. You'd need about 10 to comfortably run a home, which would put you back $50K+


The Dutch historically know a thing or two about windmills :-)

According to their marketing collateral this thing has been independently tested:

This is obviously not a design for large installation, but if cheap and silent enough this thing could make sense in cities.


@Jestep: I wouldn't be so quick to slam the figures. I know my household only uses 3.5kWh per day. This is through smart use of power, we turn lights off in rooms we're not in, we don't use the heater unless we have to (just put more clothes on if you're cold), and we don't use aircon. This is in Melbourne Australia, so granted, we don't get as cold winters as in some parts of the US, but it's still an achievable figure IMO.

Ryan Akers

@Keith I missed that article the first time around but it was pretty good. One of the points he hits on are efficiency claims. He says "The gold standard is Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), in which all of the costs associated with raw material, manufacturing, transportation, construction, operations and maintenance are factored into a cost per kWh based on expected output over the life of the device."

In relation to that, you have to get fairly high off the ground to harvest faster wind speeds. You can't put something like this on fence posts. This leads me to question the sense of building ~$10,00 poles to get these ~100 feet off the ground just to install a turbine that is only 5' in diameter. It seems like if you are already going to invest in a structure that tall you might as well go with a larger turbine.

I would say there could be some need for a more compact design for some applications like the tops of buildings in cloudy areas but with so many people making bogus efficiency claims it's impossible to sort through them all without proper independent testing.

"The company states that it has tested the Liam "over 50 times"" as opposed to seeking out independent studies verifying their claims is a huge red flag. Certainly if their claims were actually true they would see value in independent testing instead of expecting people to take them on their word.

It's like all the nut jobs saying they created perpetual motion machines. If they aren't willing to fund an independent study confirming the claims they are making I can only assume even they don't believe them.


Got to tell you...Spend the money on energy conservation and you will save even more money than this thing will ever produce. Hate to be a "Downer" but this is a "no brainer"...Stay away from it.

Erwin Lapschies

Looking at my electric bill, I paid $110 for 773 KWH this past month. If this thing can generate 1500 KWH in a year, at the rate I'm paying, I'd save about $225 dollars/year. So it would take me about 25 years to recoup my investment. I don't see how buying one of these would make any financial sense.

Brad McNutt

@ Ryan Akers - Thats two of us. 1.5kw per Quarter usage - Just me living alone.

I'd happy to buy a wind turbine but they don't look like they're cheap.

Chris Marshalk

Regardless of your power usage, the figures are pie in the sky, dreaming. Do you realise that the device would have to be subject to 20 kph winds [yes, that is what 5m/s translates to] for 24 hours every day to achieve their claimed output. I live in Sydney, Australia which averages less than 2 kph average wind speed over a year so reduce the claimed 50% household output of power by 90% and try to justify $5000 outlay. 5% of current prices would be, for me, $80 so I would make a net gain after 60 years. Pie in the sky!!

Rob K

The screen-shot in the middle says it all: 0amps, 0volts. The pictures showing two going fast (due not doubt to no load), and one hardly turning at all (they tried to draw power from it) nicely illustrate the scam.

Videos with sexy music and pictures, and no actual data - LOL. Once again - you know why that is...


Just for comparison purposes. How much electricity would I generate if I replaced the burner in the natural gas water heater with a small water cooled ICE driving a generator? Please don't forget to heat the water with the exhaust gas as well.


Agree with skeptics, PLUS they didn't take into account that if this thing is spinning 24/7/365, it's not going to LAST the 15 years to pay for itself. Meaning it will need an expensive overhaul every few years.

1500 kWh/yr is approx $300/yr at 20 cents / kWh, so 16+ yrs to break even, not counting INTEREST on loan.

Norm Frey

I think this would be another useful item for those who live in small houses and want to be 'off grid'. It also looks like it might be a more 'bird friendly' than the traditional windmill. I think it would be great in addition to solar power.


I live in a farm cottage in rural Scotland and last year my electricity consumption was 1407 kWh for the whole year; water and space heating is oil and used about 1200 litres, it was a very cold year and heating was required well into June and again from the end of August. Insulation is the key to energy saving.

Stuart Wilshaw

My problem with these turbines (or any turbine) is the expense. I am sorry, but wind turbines have been used for hundreds of years, and while yes, this is a leap forward, $5500 is a bit much. Then do the math. If electricity sells for 12 cents a kilowatt hour for 1500 kilowatts, then this baby "saves" you $180 a year. It would take you OVER 30 years to break even. Current solar panels get you to break even in under 5 years now.

John Greener

How does this reduce bird kill?

Joey Racano

The only possible advantage this design might have is in reduced noise compared to a conventional 3-bladed HAWT. Achieving 80% of the Betz limit (59.3% x 0.8 = 47.4%) is pretty routine with today's wind turbines. However, this high-blockage design likely suffers from high drag, therefore its tower or roof mount would need to be stronger, especially since the blades can the feathered.

I agree with others that actual test data would be useful. It's absence indicates reason for caution.


According to my electric bill for the first 5 months of this year my daily average of 6.8Kwh equates to roughly 2500Kwh per year. I live alone in a two bedroom apartment I own near Los Angeles and heat with a heat pump as my gas heater failed years ago. All lights are LED or CFL and this computer is "Energy Star" rated. I even use electricity for clothes drying, but do so using a closed loop dehumidifier and dryer of my own construction. It is on the air fluff setting without the resistance heat on but multiple passes through the dehumidifier raises the temperature to about 38deg C. The clothes appreciate the gentle treatment with none of the stiffness high heat imparts. My older building has minimal insulation, but if upgraded to modern Dutch standards would need much less electricity than I currently use. Were I to use this windmill or its PV equivalent and dry my clothes outside I believe I would easily make do within its limitations.

Paul Gracey

I design, build WG's for a living and not a chance this scam will work as they say or anything remotely close.

Sadly so many scams, dumb designs that cost more than doing it right!! It's really hard to beat 3 thin eff blades in the normal style.

This unit won't make 25% of a good one of the same diameter.

The fact is wind is near frictionless so it a highly solid object like this one, it just goes around it like Betz says. Saying otherwise ignores basic physics of aerodynamics.


I have researched the energy problem. Stuart is correct. Insulation plus a thermal flywheel (heat sink). Sounds simple but look around. How many brick building do you see with the insulation on the inside? That's the wrong side. How many people insulate but without thermal mass, and vice versa? Also, passive solar orientation, reflective surfaces, and new glazing that changes reflectivity with voltage are onetime expenses that last as long as the structure.

RMI is an energy think tank that can advise.

Don Duncan

solar remains the first choice but i like the idea of a combination solar and wind,this way if you don't have sun most likely you'll have wind, provided wind turbines would come with safety screens,they kill too many birds and a birdless world is not something to look forward to.

Salvatore Cento

Ten years ago, I was a big "wind energy" advocate, and attempted to get grant funding for some of my ideas. Even then, you saw that the internet was overwhelmed with dozens, hundreds, of configurations. I finally dumped ever considering wind energy, in spite of viewing the wind farms at Tehachapi, Palm Springs, Altamont Pass. Compared to ocean wave energy, it is an eyesore, very intermittent, and inexorably tied to in situ construction costs. As many have said, no matter how ingenious or unusual the design, if it is too expensive, it won't sell. And, one can bring up innumerable examples from the USPTO to show you designs like this that were patented ten, twenty years ago, yet are nowhere to be found today. If they are so wonderful, you wonder why the developers don't just build a bunch and sell electricity??

Scott in California

Torque ?

This design will suffer the ignomimity of the same fate as most American wind power Water pumps in 70 MPH winds they are just large sails and either part ways with the tower or they ignite. The design will have to turn the spiral blade cone facing the wind or be lowered to stop the blade area turning.

Somehow I do not believe this design is as smart as a million pound wind turbine, the actuators required are not present even though the photograph shows an extremely reinforced convex frame, it is not able to change the position of the sail area to make it safe in high winds.

The listed speed for maximum power output is 78 Mph, however that is on top of a 50 foot concrete and steel tower away from buildings. We get regular 100 Mph winds in Winter.


Is there something wrong with hitting 100% of the Betz Limit?

I don't get it. There is a huge lemming instinct going on limiting development. While this is unusual it still can't compare.

Bill Allison did that 30+ years ago with his 10 blade fans that were super quiet. AltEnergy.mag covers it.

Island Architect

many good points all around - sceptics abound - as well they should. i live in a huge city with a 3rd fl rooftop that i gave up using because of the near constant wind gusts coming off all the 2-storey buildings to the north blowing our parasol/table set off the roof.

if there is good vibration and noise control and they come with a maintenence contract - i'd be in for a couple.


I don't care what it looks like. If it moves it breaks. Static PV panels are the way to go. Coal/natural gas/oil for now, fusion for later. We're all set people. The only "crisis" is a crisis of truth.


ROFLMAO new invention

Be honest people you stole it from SCHAUBERGER a brilliant scientist that is allready dead who invented this technology about 80 years ago !!!!!!!!!!

I can proof this is his invention ! and you know it ! Great to bring this on market but give SCHAUBERGER his PROPER rightly DESERVED credit !

Maarten van den Berg

Kind of silly stuff. A turbine like this intercepts a very small cross-section of available energy. No matter how efficient it is, the energy intercepted remains the limiting factor. At least it's not a vertical design, which is inherently more limited, unbalanced, and tough on bearings. In theory you could reverse the turbine direction in high wind to reduce torque somewhat equivalent to feathering, but in practice high wind is turbulent. A nice little turbine design that might fid a place on on top of a building, but not likely to solve the world's energy needs.

Bill Babcock

LOL what a dumb idea.

There are a lot of proven, cheap and dependable wind turbines out there. I see no reason to waste money on this. It is only slightly better than PV panels.

Wind is a great way to generate electricity, but this thing is a joke. You could get 10x the power per dollar from a traditional wind turbine.

We pay about 10 cents per kilo watt hour, Even if we had 20kph I would only save $150/year. Since we don't get anywhere near that, I would guess this would save $20 / year


Man, there sure are a lot of people saying "lol you can tell this won't work, just look at it," which anyone familiar with the scientific method should know is an absolutely WORTHLESS way to evaluate something. There has also already been a link to an independent review posted in the comments that backs up the 80% efficiency claim. I do agree that the price is still far too high, but the nautilus shell is one of the most proven designs to come out of the biomimicry field, ever. I have no problems believing that this thing works as advertised, assuming there's enough wind where you live to make it worthwhile (which is a completely different consideration.) it's always good to be skeptical, but you have to be open to being convinced by objective data at some point.

Jeremy McLeod

The problem I have always had with wind turbines (and I do like the idea of them since I live in a very windy area) is their price. This device costs $5450. The let us suppose with tax, shipping and installation that the total is $6000 (I like nice round numbers). Then let us suppose that the electricity rate is $0.10 a kilowatt hour (its probably a bit more, but like I said, nice round numbers). That means I would save a whopping $150 a year and it would take FORTY years to recoup the investment. Considering how many wind turbines are simple designs attached to a generators, I can't understand the high prices for them. At these price points solar panels are a much better investment.

John Greener
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