Kevin talked about one of the biggest concerns for those interested in turbines: “What if I don’t have a lot of wind?” Most wind turbines of this capacity require 7 to 8 mph winds to overcome the resistance of the gears. A conventional turbine uses the wind to move blades that turn gears to power a generator, whereas the Honeywell Turbine eliminates the separate generator and the gearing.
Instead of spinning gears, the Honeywell Turbine uses a patent pending magnetic technology to generate energy. Each blade has a magnet at the tip, so as they spin, they pass by coiled copper. Essentially, the entire turbine becomes the generator, and it only needs winds of 2 mph to get it spinning. Kevin even had it running with just the air blown from a tiny desktop fan. The wheel is also mounted so it turns freely with a use of side fins. This means that it can rotate easily so it will always be in the direction of the wind path. This video gives a quick look at how it works.
It is also worth mentioning that the turbine is quiet — it only emits 35db, which is about the same level of ambient noise found in a library. When I was standing next to it talking to Kevin, you could not hear it at all amongst the noise of the trade show goers.
The next biggest question is cost. The unit will retail for $6,495, but there are currently many federal and state rebate programs that will give you back 30% or more of the cost for the unit and installation. In class 4 winds zones, like the area here in Chicago, the turbine will produce over 2700 kWh annually. This would equal out to about 20% of the energy used in the average single family home. You can find out what the wind speeds are like in your area using the EPA’s wind maps.
The national average price for residential energy is around $0.11 per kWh, but it can be up to $0.27 in some places. Some electric companies do offer wind energy programs that typically charge 2 or 3 cents more per kWh. The math comes out to savings that starts at around $350. If you live in an area where prices for kWh are much higher, like New York or Hawaii, then that savings could be over $700 annually. Considering additional operating costs, it is expected that it might take about 10 years for the unit to pay for itself. That may seem like a long time, but it highly competitive compared with other wind and solar energy generators. The calculator at WindEstimator.com can help you understand the costs for your specific geographic area.
If you live in an area with extreme weather, you may be concerned about the turbine standing up to strong winds. The turbine has been tested to operate in wind gusts up to 90mph, and it is made primarily from UV-resistant nylon and anodized aluminum in order to withstand the elements. Kevin told me about how they have tested the turbines in wind tunnels and also outside in a Wisconsin winter, which can drop many feet of snow. He also explained how there is a sensing control, called the Smart Box, inside the turbine that turns on a braking system when the blades are going too fast. The 6ft diameter unit can be mounted to a pole, or directly to the roof by a professional installer. The total weight is only 170lbs, so it should not pose structural concerns.
I asked Kevin about birds, as there are reports that some wind turbines can cause unnatural avian deaths, since the blades spin so fast that they appear transparent. The Honeywell Turbine has considered this by using dark colors and enclosing the blades in a framed system so that it will be more easily seen and avoided.
Servicing and maintenance represent another area of concern, so I asked Kevin for more details. Since the turbine has been designed to withstand high wind and extreme weather, it is rugged and needs very little maintenance. The only part that is likely to need replacing is a bearing, which could be changed every few years. That sure beats my outdated fuel burner, which requires service at least annually.
For full disclosure, I had actually seen this product on display at my local Best Buy Store’s Green Zone here in Chicago last month. I was in awe of the clean lined frame and finned design, but until talking with Kevin from Windtronics, I did not fully understand the innovation, and I had also assumed that it would be way out of my budget. I was impressed at the initiatives from Best Buy to offer green consumer tech, and it felt for a minute like I was a kid in a candy store among all the cool eco products.
The Chicago area stores are currently flagships for the sale of upcycled consumer goods, solar panels, and electric bicycles, but we will probably see this trend expands to other stores in the nation. If you are in Chicago, you can go see The Honeywell Wind Turbine in action, and it will be available for sale in August 2010. It will also be available through Ace Hardware stores and other dealers.
Yep no longer available the company I was working for bought one to install, clever idea but it was very awkward to move around so needed a crane to install and every time bearings needed replacing, came with spare bearings and would need to be installed in 6 months, we were waiting on anemometer when we found out company was closed. Charging 48 volt batteries was about 125 watts only. For cost and maintenance not worth it.
Thinking much larger diameter, and a means of switching in more magnets/coils when wind is strong, fewer when wind is weak? using modern electronic controls? To maximize efficiency?
Were can I buy it?
oh never mind its not available anymore if you do find them they are leftovers in storage somewhere oh and i made a typo its 11,000 dollars cost installed or it was anyway consumer report link http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/october/home-garden/alternative-energy-update/overview/index.htm
i am interested in wind turbine technology. I can also become a big market force of your product. This is my contact number: 952-2397058. I will be waiting for your call.Thank you.
it says that the average annual energy savings of 20%. They will be based on a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 person household?
I for one hope this kind of development continues. There is a higher ratio of renters to homeowners and many apartment dwellers (especially renters)would like to go "green",reduce their cost of living and the strain on the national energy grid but most landlords and building owners just aren't interested in providing green alternatives. I think this type of design would work well on balconys or side installations against exterior walls.
I think I'll err and lean to Honeywell's predictions of output. I'm not doubting all the backyard scientists who've posted already, but do think that Honeywell has some very capable folks on their payroll. I also think they would not rush a product to market. My town surely won't have a 'community wind grid' in the next 20 years, but here on LI in NY, with the highest electric rates in the country, it's a good opportunity to see what can be done to get free of the grid and LIPA corruption. With state funding, this appears to be a much better solution than solar. Funding for solar currently is regressive and not going to help build that industry. With enough of these wind generators, I might even switch to supplementary electric heat.
Nice try, but seriously out of step from a number of technical perspectives. 1. The load imposed on the roof IS NOT isolated to the dead weight of the unit. The lever forces are far greater than the dead load. 2. The working turbine is not a dead load, but rather a much more significant live load, due to the axial component, as well as the aforementioned lever forces. 3. None of the above forces includes the exacerbating forces that the inherent vibration the unit will impose. These vibrations will be transmitted throughout the structure of the house, creating low amplitude noise far greater (and more annoying/intrusive) than the 35db cited. 4. Now that we have breached the vibration issue, any competent wind energy practitioner will know that a horizontal turbine mounted so close to the roof or ground will be subject to far greater turbulence than one 50m+ above the ground. This will greatly accelerate wear on all components of the turbine, not just the bearings. 5. Finally, ignoring for the sake of argument the turbulence, the available windspeed at that height is many orders of magnitude weaker than the 50m mentioned in the previous item. Vic Aguilar aka UpBeatnik
The whole problem with this idea of harvesting low speed winds is that there is just not a lot of power in them. The power in the wind goes up by the cube of the windspeed. This means: 4 cubed is 64 5 cubed is 125 6 cubed is 216 7 cubed is 343 8 cubed is 512 9 cubed is 729 You can see by this sequence that even at relatively low wind speeds doubling the windspeed increases the power by 8 times! So to equal one hour of 8mph wind a 4mph wind would have to blow for 8 hours. This is why you often see windfarms with the turbines not turning, because they are optimized to harvest the energy rich higher wind speeds rather than wasting time on low energy low winds.
Columbine, Why do you think SD wind farms are hideous compared to the Honeywell? I live in SD and have a wind farm a few miles from my house and find it to be very pleasant to look at. In response to, "Green doesn’t have to be hideously ugly." ... Green doesn't have to be inefficient and expensive. Also, do you live off grid? I suspect you don't because if you did I can guarantee you would be using big "ugly" equipment with actual power production capability instead of small "pretty" units.
Columbine is correct on one point- I meant to write "capacity" and instead wrote "efficiency", but was not able to correct in time (and the current comment tool does not facilitate editing). But small wind intrinsically remains an INEFFICIENT use of resources vs the power generated.
Gregb needs to be educated. The efficiency is not related to the cube of the velocity, power is. Blowing smoke he is, and look how many folks agree with him. And what about all the wind power "gotta make it as hideous as possible" elitists out there that can't see the potential of a veritable sea of buildings that CONCENTRATE the ocean of wind into places that a turbine CAN collect that energy. But NO, not in my back yard they all say! Put up a hideous wind farm in South Dakota easy enough though. It's the same with the solar Photovoltaic people who have shunned building integration of solar panels opting for the theoretical higher efficiency of uglier panels. What about the panels that never get put up at all because they are so ugly. We are never going to get green with all the closed minds that grip these incipient technologies and poopoo any related attempts to increase the efficiency of converting the general public's minds to green. Green doesn't have to be hideously ugly. Also, the grid is not our friend just because it can eliminate the use of batteries. The grid is the NIMBY's highway and the big energy boss tool. We need to develop small local sources/networks to distribute power, the grid is just as dead as dinosaurs, but the people haven't heard the fall. Don't forget, on a good day, in your own back yard, nearly 1000 watts/sq.m of sunlight falls (not to mention all the force in the air movement) on all your houses, cars, dirt, etc..,and forgoing that for distant wind farms pumping into the inefficient grid is the ungreenest joke going. John M.
brianl- Thank you for putting up the wind estimator, as this tool exactly illustrates the problem adopting small wind due to the velocity cubed power curve. Using your estimator in my area, a 6 mph average wind breaks even in 15 years, an 8 mph average wind breaks even in 7 years, and a 10 mph average wind breaks even in 3 years. So you REALLY have to know your average wind on your site in the exact mounting location to have any idea if this makes sense. No one should buy small wind without a year-long wind measurement, on site, in the exact turbine location. Also, based on my own wind measurements your predicted average is 2x too optimistic for my roof, due to a nearby hill (of which the model would not be aware). Finally, the tool correctly assumes about $8,000 in state and federal credits. As an individual, free money is always nice to receive, but as a society someone is still ponying up the extra $8k. If you subtract the subsidy from the return on investment scenario, it extends the break even out by an additional 10 years.
Brian from WindTronics. I\'d like to offer our new www.windestimator.com to help approximate wind, rates and rebates based on US Zip codes. Wind Is, and fluctuates widely. We\'ve done our best to account for this while developing ground breaking technology with global implications. BTW Steady State 10mph would triple the W output as mentioned.. ....note we just put up a Facebook page Honeywell Wind Turbine by Windtronics with more images etc..
Community power makes great sense- in the same way water filtration and sanitary sewers are vastly more efficient processes at the town or regional level (even though septic tanks and water wells all have their place). Community solar is similarly more effective than individual cells on standalone homes. Most houses lack roofs facing due south, or are partly shaded by trees, or cannot easily remove snow or dirt blocking the cell, or lose power with inefficient small converters. Again, community solar cell arrays covering a hot parking lot, or shading a playground, or mounted along a highway, are the way to go. Cuts down on long distance power transmission losses, as well. Unfortunately, zoning laws and rebate programs discourage community power, but encourage silly, but well-meaning individual installations. Perhaps Treehugger and its allies could catalyze a community-based power revolution??
Agree with gregb, and heinm's calculations are welcome evidence (so often missing from such arguments). Has Honeywell looked at the whole-life cost from a carbon point of view, and then compared that to alternatives? The reduced impact of manufacture, installation, maintenance, and decommissioning of fewer community-based schemes rather than hundreds or thousands of individual ones is significant. Not to mention the reality that any technology implemented today will be improved in 5-10 years' time and community installations can be upgraded more easily and cost-effectively than individual ones (where the owner is still waiting for financial pay-back that disincentivises further investment).
You can't extract more energy from the wind than what's available. This turbine has a 6-ft (1.83m) rotor diameter meaning that its swept area is 2.63m^2. The kinetic energy available in the wind is equal to P=1/2*p*A*u^3 where P is power in watts, p is density (1.2 kg/m^3) and u is the wind speed. So at 2-mph (0.89m/s) the wind only has P=0.5*1.2*2.63*0.89^3 = 1.1 Watts available for extraction. Since you can't extract all the energy from the wind, Betz Limit ~ 59%. This turbine CAN NOT produce more than 0.65 watts from a 2-mph wind speed; and we haven't even included the loss from generator efficiency! Sorry folks, that's physics. A 2-mph cut-in wind speed is just a marketing trick. Remember a typical CFL is 13 watts.
Excellent article and I'm glad to see an "affordable" home wind turbine now available. As the technology advances, I will definately be keeping an eye on it in hopes that it becomes more efficient. While it's nice to be green, there's another question that goes along with it...Is it cost effective to be green or merely a luxury? In my case, it's not cost effective, thus why I've not installed a geothermal system in my home and why I will only be watching for further advancements in the wind as power area as well. According to all calculators, after the Federal/State rebates, 17 years will have passed before I realize a break-even point on this wind turbine (better than the 28 years for the geothermal system I priced last year!) Thank you for the article/info, I'll be watching!
I'm sorry, but this is really misleading. all turbines use this "magnetic technology". the Honeywell folks just used a different orientation. It's good that big companies are paying attention to the demand for small scale wind power, but after doing a lot of research, I agree with gregb about community power, if only for the reason that it can be linked to the grid and do away with nasty batteries.
Hmmm... i find this really intriguing. So... A turbine saves the average home about 20% on their annual electric bill.... So if one installed 5 on the rood of their home, could one have power almost free? (Save the initial investment and the maintenance). This would be incredible especially for someone building a home and looking to go green with the design.
Hi Gregb. You should check out the earthtronics.com website for more information and a video of their turbine running. I believe what makes it different from other turbines is the magnetic technology, which allows it to work efficiently in low wind speeds. The community turbine is a great idea too. We would love to hear feedback from anyone in a community that has a shared power turbine!
Small wind is a very wasteful use of resources- wind speeds on top of homes are pretty low and quite turbulent. Since the efficiency of a windturbine increases like the wind velocity to the third power, a site with a constant 3 mile/hour wind generates LESS power IN A YEAR than a site with no wind, except for one 30 mile an hour day! Three miles/hour contains 1000x less power than a 30 mile/hour wind. So it makes a huge difference if you average 8 or 12 mph on you roof... I estimate this wind turbine would be lucky to generate 50 watts in a ten mile/hour sustained wind. Add in the effect of trees, vibration, etc and this product is just greendreaming. What does make sense is community based power- where a town puts up a large, 0.5 MW windmill at the dump or near the interstate, and then shares the power savings with all residents.
Great post Lea! I appreciate you giving insight to this new technology! I've been struggling with figuring out whether wind or solar would be a better choice for my house.