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Windtronics Low Speed Wind Turbines

Credits: ©2011 Windtronics

Most conventional wind turbines require wind speeds of at least seven miles per hour to begin generating electricity. But there’s one little machine that can start turning in wind speeds of 0.5 mph and can generate power with as little as two-mile-per-hour wind. It operates up to 45 mph and furls at higher speeds, to prevent damage. The Honeywell Windtronics turbine looks similar to a thick bicycle wheel with 20 blades to catch low wind speeds. It uses a gearless configuration that features an innovative Blade Tip Power System that utilizes a system of magnets and stators surrounding its outer ring. This enables it to capture power at the blade tips where speed is greatest, practically eliminating mechanical resistance and drag. The unique design of the multi-stage blades allows the system to react quickly to changes in wind speed, ensuring that the maximum wind energy is captured, without the typical noise and vibration associated with traditional wind turbines. Weighing less than 185 (84 kgs) pounds and measuring six feet (1.8 m) in diameter, the Windtronics turbine produces up to 1500kWh annually, depending on height and location. Because of its ability to spin a low wind speeds, it is almost always turning and can supplement 15 to 20 percent of an average household’s electrical demands. It is also a good candidate for producing power in areas where it is not feasible to install tall towers, such as in urban environments. Other advantages include small size, light weight and negligible noise.


Windtronics Turbine Comparison Illustration

The Honeywell Windtronics Blade Tip Power System turbine is compared with a traditional turbine in this illustration that shows how the Windtronics turbine eliminates the gear box. ©2011 Windtronics

The following article about Windtronics appeared in Smart Planet.
With Gearless Honeywell Turbine, WindTronics Ushers in Urban Wind Power
By Andrew Nusca | May 4, 2010, Smart Planet

Muskegon, Mich.-based WindTronics is preparing to roll out its clever Honeywell Wind Turbine, which can begin generating power in wind speeds as low as two miles per hour.

The turbine is fascinating because it’s really a generator. Instead of waiting for wind to push strong enough to get the blades of a traditional turbine going from the middle, the gearless Honeywell turbine creates power at its blade tips.

Here’s how it works: A system of magnets and stators around its outer ring captures power at the tips of the blades, where the speed is the greatest. The turbine is freewheeling and can turn to follow the wind. As it spins, power is transferred to a “Smart Box,” which uses two deep cycle batteries to store and buffer the energy, as well as regulate it as it enters the electrical panel.

Thanks to its design, there’s a considerable lack of mechanical resistance compared to a traditional turbine. Better still, it’s much quieter thanks to very little vibration.

But perhaps best of all, that design allows the turbine to generate energy with winds as low as two miles per hour (or approx. 3 kilometers per hour). That’s much lower than a traditional turbine, which requires a minimum speed of 7.5 mph, or approx. 12 kph.

WindTronics says the turbine is able to produce 2,752 kWh per year in Class 4 winds at 33 ft., or about the height of a four-story office building.

According to the company, that kind of energy is worth roughly 20 percent of an average household’s annual electricity needs.

(According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Class 4 winds are found in exposed coastal areas in the Northeast from Maine to New Jersey and in the Northwest southward to northern California, as well as the area around the Great Lakes.)

The turbine itself measures 6 feet in diameter and weighs 170 lbs. It’s made to be installed on a pole on your roof, or on a commercial building (including in arrays), and pretty much anywhere you get regular gusts of wind — including urban areas.

A few more specs about the turbine:

• Made of polycarbonate, aluminum and steel

• Wildlife distinguishable (birds can see and avoid it)

• Power directly to electrical panel or Grid Tie to utility

• Installation: rooftop (requires 2 ft. clearance), side mount, platform mount, pole mount

• Fewer moving parts than traditional turbines means less maintenance

• Lowest kWh installed turbine on the market in size and class

• Federal and state tax rebates will cover 30 to 80 percent of consumer’s cost

• Five-year warranty; designed to last 20 years

I was able to get an up-close look at the turbine on Friday at the Trump SoHo hotel in New York City, and I can attest that it looks much like a high-tech bicycle wheel, spokes and all. (OK, maybe not the neodymium magnets.)

The question, of course, is whether a turbine of this size can generate enough money to justify its cost. Renewable energy expert Paul Gipe has written extensively about the hype surrounding urban wind turbines, and his take is that if you want real wind power in the city, you need to go “big” — as in pony up for a tall, co-owned “big wind” turbine.

Ace Hardware will be the first retailer to sell the Honeywell turbine, which will retail for $6,495 and be available in August. (The price includes the turbine’s “Smart Box” energy management system that connects and regulates electricity.)

It will also be available through Honeywell, utilities, distributors, contractors and other retailers.


Windtronics Wind Turbine