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Windspire: low cost, small footprint wind power alternative

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January 29, 2009

The Windspire

The Windspire

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January 29, 2009 While wind turbines are a clean, green way to generate power, they can be a bit of an eyesore and require quite a bit of room meaning, more often than not, they need to be located in sparsely populated areas far from where the generated power is actually needed. We’ve looked at AeroVironment’s innovative urban solution as well as StatoilHydro’s HyWind. Now a look at another innovative product - Windspire. The Windspire, from Reno, Nevada based Mariah Power, combats the large footprint problem by employing a propeller-free design that makes it ideal for rural, suburban, and even some urban residential environments.

There are two main classes of wind turbines. Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines, (HAWTs), with which most would be familiar, have blades that rotate around a horizontal axis, similar to a propeller on an airplane, while Vertical Axis Wind turbines, (VAWTs), the category the Windspire falls into, have rotors that rotate around a vertical axis. These rotors can be curved or straight and the Windspire falls into the subcategory of VAWTs called Giromills, which uses straight-sided blades. Mariah Power says it has used extensive engineering to find the optimal airfoil configuration, one which circumvents self-starting problems that are associated with Giromill turbines so that, unlike most Giromill turbines, the Windspire does not need to be started with a motor or drag device in order to start capturing energy.

Not only do Vertical Axis Wind Turbines offer the advantages of a smaller footprint than their Horizontal Axis brethren, they don’t need to orient themselves with the changing wind directions but can readily capture wind energy from any direction. Mariah Power says the Windspire is also extremely quiet, is rated for winds up to 100 mph and comes with a high efficiency generator, integrated inverter, hinged monopole, wireless performance monitor and a 5-year warranty.

The 1.2 kW Windspire will produce approximately 2000 kilowatt hours per year in 12 mile per hour average winds while the included internal wireless modem can continuously transmit power production information directly to your computer so you can check your power production at any time.

The 1.2 kW Windspire is available now for around USD$5,000 installed, while a low wind version, an off-grid or battery-charging version and a 3 kW version are all in development.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
8 Comments

So at current electricity prices it pays itself off in about 20 years (assuming zero maintenance costs for the same period). No thanks!

Adrian
3rd March, 2009 @ 08:41 am PST

It strikes me that wind power is probably a lost cause in any small, local installation and is only really viable in carefully located off-shore wind farms. Solar/Photo Voltaic is currently the way to go for householders as far as I can see, but I suspect new and developing technologies will soon see this off as well.

In this day and age, it must be very difficult for commercial outfits to know which way to jump. Where to put their money?

Mike Hallett
4th March, 2011 @ 05:11 am PST

Assuming current electricity prices will stay the same is a pretty big assumption.

Ryan Barr
21st March, 2011 @ 03:57 am PDT

Take a look at http://www.quietrevolution.com/ They were developed just up the road from me and look pretty amazing. Not cheap (yet) but supposedly quiet and efficient and available in a range of sizes for different situations.

GregC
13th May, 2011 @ 02:49 pm PDT

@Adrian: Your calculation of 20 years does not take into account the ever rising price of electricity. The electricity I pay for went up from 13c per KW/h to 20c per Kw/h in the last 5 years. At the current rate I pay, it will pay for itself in 12.5 years. With price rises, it will probably take less than 8 years to pay off...

Edgar Walkowsky
16th May, 2011 @ 01:29 am PDT

Renewable energetics mostly means "independent energy self-providing". Its opponents never say how much they would ready to pay when the main power network blackout happen. Unfortunately they happen exactly when the energy supply is most needed - during extreme hot or cold weather. Securing lives of themselves and their families could be the best investment that they ever could made.

fr0gzzi
18th May, 2011 @ 04:30 am PDT

Windspire turbine has a great design and I think it will be very popular in next few years.

Wind Option
3rd March, 2012 @ 02:16 am PST

One thing every one is missing is when you have power outages this unit keeps working saving you the cost of a gas generator and the inconveinece of power loss.

Sally Cambiotti
10th November, 2012 @ 11:07 am PST
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