Gallery: SWIFT: Ultra Quiet Rooftop Wind Turbine

Upclose of Swift rooftop mounted wind turbine
Upclose of Swift rooftop mounted wind turbine

Love the idea of wind power, but can’t imagine that a wind turbine on your property could ever be quiet or unobtrusive? Personal wind turbines are the next big thing in wind power technology, and the Swift Wind Turbine is sure to make a splash with its quiet and unobtrusive design. Coming to rooftops in July 2008, this unique design uses an outer ring to diffuse air flow from five blades, minimizing noise to a minute 35 decibels – less noise than generated by whisper conversation. With the capability to generate up to 2,000 kWh annually, Swift is making small scale wind power more aesthetically and acoustically appealing.

The specs on the Swift are impressive: blade/ring diameter is 7 feet; rated power output is 1.5kW @ 14 m/s (31.3 mph); annual average power supplied is up to 2000 kWh. But it’s the noise levels that have captured our attention. The developers claim the Swift is the first turbine of its kind to be quiet at any wind speed, meaning less than 35 decibels (dB). For comparison, a pin dropping from 1 cm is 15 dB if you’re 1 meter away, whispering is 40 dB, a normal conversation is 60 dB, and a 100 watt car stereo is 110 dB. As the website explains, traditional turbines generate noise as the air flows along the length of the blade. On the Swift, the outer ring acts as a diffuser as the air flows along the blades and out to the ring, nearly eliminating noise.

Not only is Swift a quiet turbine, but its design is easy on the eyes and will blend in well on almost any rooftop. The turbine needs just a few feet of mount, at least 2 feet from the top of the roof, and preferably at the highest point. A patented roof mounting system is also designed to minimize noise and vibrations while in operation.

Additionally, the developers and manufacturers say that the Swift Wind Turbine is environmentally sustainable. The turbine, over the course of its life, will produce far more energy than is embodied in the manufacturing or “harm neutral.” In good wind areas, with good incentives and tax credits, this turbine would be a great way to go, especially if you don’t have an acre of land to install a 40 foot wind tower.

The new Swift Wind Turbine is meant for rooftop residential or commercial applications and will be available in July of 2008. Renewable Devices in Scotland developed the turbine and Cascade Engineering, in Grand Rapids, MI will manufacture the new wind turbine in the United States. Swift will sell for $10,000 – $12,000.

+ Swift Wind Turbine

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  1. peddler7122 May 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    When i hear these “estimates” based on 30 to 40 mph wind speeds it seems obvious that this technology is nowhere near ready.
    As was said earlier you need a high tower to get fairly consistent wind direction and the worst place in the world is near the top of a wall.
    Even a windmill that produced adequate power has to have a backup for low wind conditions or a hydro storage as is used in Holland to store during times of excess.

  2. Lobo one October 14, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Great idea’s

  3. wanker0554 March 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

    The original designers of swift-ball may have something going on here. But, Like “mrcrispix’s” observation, It would take a inordinate amount of time to realize any financial benefit from such a rooftop system, save the carbon impact. Most areas do not have the average 30mph windspeeds. I’d like to see a relatively easy setup for ‘novices’ like myself who may be on the move location to location….

  4. Magnarp October 5, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Looking for a nice look ?
    Look at this Energy Ball quiet and beutiful.

  5. Magnarp October 5, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Wind power can look nice also and be quiet.

  6. AquaNook June 27, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I am very interested in roof top wind energy generators. I live in an area the the average speed of our wind is around 12-13 mph. I have looked at some larger wind generators, ie sky stream, but am unable to put one in because of city ordinaces. Questions: Are roof top generators as good as they sound? 2) Are their grants or subsidies for us wanting to go greeen. I live in Idaho. thanks for any help.

  7. smallaxe May 31, 2008 at 5:34 am

    To all those that feel that wind-turbines “look” obtrusive:
    (Including all the Blue-Bloods out the Cape, or Nantucket, or Martha’s Vineyard)

    It’s this or the smoke stacks from Coal-fire or the possibility of Nuclear power.
    I mean does it really look that bad? I think it’s a small price to pay to ensure a future for our species.

    I actually find the site of wind turbines to be soothing, it gives me hope that the intelligent people of this world have not given up on the stubborn ignorant masses.

  8. AJ May 9, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    The Swift guys have a video up on their webpage, so we can judge for ourselves whether the turbine is quiet or not :)

  9. AJ May 9, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Chas: “…I wonder what the output level is for the average wind speeds of 10-15 mph…..or if that’s even enough to get it spinning”

    Actually the cut-in wind speed for small scale turbines such as this one can be 6 mph or lesser, so yes, they can start to generate a healthy amount of power at lower speeds.

    As far as mounting turbines at the edge of the building goes, actually they can be beneficial because it actually enhances speeds- BUT the turbines need to be tailored specifically for operating in those conditions. (Google for “Turby” or “Architectural Wind” turbines)

    That said, the Swift has been around for a while, and they have come under severe criticism for apparently inflating their anticipated yields. See:

  10. Chas May 9, 2008 at 10:29 am

    the average home does not have 30mph winds so I wonder what the output level is for the average wind speeds of 10-15 mph…..or if that’s even enough to get it spinning.

    one of the biggest problems with “low altitude” turbines is the constantly changing wind directions. this is the main reason why turbines are mounted up high where wind direction isn’t effected by ground obsticles. that’s why the VAWT designs (vertical axis) are better at low levels, but of course they lack the effeciency of the prop-designs. the third phot shows a bunch of fans mounted to a flat building. the turbulance created by the flat wall makes those turbines pretty much worthless.

    doesn’t seem like the direction fins are big enough for this unit to be able to effectively react to changing conditions.

    as far as attractiveness, my house still has a big tv antenna which we’ve enver used. If I wasn’t scared of heights I would have taken that thing down ages ago. It would be great to replace that with a turbine. doesn’t seem like it would be any more unsightly than that. the pictures above are of commercial companies that are using the turbines as a signage element to sell how enivirnmental they are.

  11. DeadPanDan May 8, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Black blades? Unobtrusive? White blades would make them almost disappear. But black?

  12. mrcrispix May 8, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I love the idea but at an average rate of $0.08/kWh and only 2,000 kWh generated per year with 31mph winds the average person would only save $160 a year or less. With a cost of $10-$12K for the unit it would take 62 to 75 years to make it pay for itself. I doubt the life expectancy of the unit is that long.

  13. May 8, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I’m not exactly sure if calling these turbines unobtrusive is a right choice of words. Everyone defines beauty differently but they look pretty obtrusive to me not to mention ugly.

    Let’s face it unlike solar tech which can be easily integrated further into various building materials, wind turbines suffer esthetically due to its inherent design. We simply have to get use to them being present like overhead power lines since they are a natural next step for the well being of our planet.

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