So you live in a wind-poor “class 1” neighborhood, but still want to get a wind turbine. If moving to a resource-rich “class 7” community isn’t in your future plans, you can still find a wind turbine that will work for you in even the lowest wind speeds.
The first thing you need to know is that wind power is proportional to the cube of wind speed, meaning that if a turbine generates 1 KW at 10 mph, that same turbine will generate 8 KW at 20 mph (double the wind speed3 = 2 x 2 x 2).
That’s the reality of wind energy. Luckily, newer wind turbines are designed to work in wind speeds as low as 0.5 mph. Yes, less than 1 mph, a wind so light you’d have a hard time getting a feather to blow through the air. Though the amount of energy your turbine will produce at these speeds is minuscule, it is free energy. Rather than have your turbine sitting idle, you might as well be putting it to use. Here are five turbines that specialize in catching low wind.
Gearless with wind-boosting controller
Gearless or direct drive wind turbines are great for areas with little to no wind under normal conditions. They are typically lighter with lower maintenance costs. You also do not need to worry about replacing a gearbox, as they don’t have one. They are particularly fantastic for crowded or structurally-dense areas, where wind speeds may be scattered or otherwise dispersed.
The Tumo-Int is one of the best residential gearless wind turbines available today. It can produce a maximum of 1500 watts of power under the proper conditions, but generally puts out 1000 watts of power regularly and safely. You can also use this turbine alongside solar panels from the same company.
The turbine generator has a built-in amp meter as well as an MPPT charge controller, so you can control the parameters of operation and generation with ease.
The Tumo-Int turbine is easy to set up and install by yourself and comes with all the kits and supplies necessary to do so. Customer reviews reflect that it was simple and hassle-free to unpack, put together, and install in their yards or on top of homes or even RVs.
The turbine itself is made of high-quality polypropylene, while the blades are made with a durable fiberglass material. It is entirely weather-sealed, to increase its active life and to ensure durability throughout.
Along with the materials and seal, this wind turbine has UV protective coating, an automatic braking system to endure sudden high winds, and a manual breaking option just in case it begins to overcharge the battery.
Compact wind acceleration technology
The Optiwind turbine was specifically engineered for use in populated areas with slow, class 2 wind speeds (approximately 12 mph). This turbine increases the amount of wind power generated by 75 percent using an innovative wind acceleration technology that funnels wind into its five blades.
This new technology offers additional benefits. The turbines don’t need to be as high as the clouds to generate electricity, the small blades are not as likely to harm birds and bats since they are only as wide as the tower, and the turbine is quiet and simple to operate.
If a flock of geese flies more efficiently than a lone goose, a sailboat with more sails moves faster than a boat with a single sail and an animal with four legs runs faster than one with two, why wouldn’t a wind turbine with multiple rotors produce more energy than one with one rotor? That is the question Selsam Innovations designers asked themselves when developing their multiple rotor system.
Though larger rotors capture more wind, they are much heavier. Selsam designers believe that since the slower rate of rotation does not make the greater wind capture worthwhile, they designed a system with multiple small, light rotors mounted on a single driveshaft. The shaft is pointed downwards and the rotors are sufficiently spaced apart so that each rotor receives fresh wind. In testing done at Tehachapi, CA and monitored by Windtesting.com, their model generated the same amount of power at half the wind speed as a typical horizontal turbine. At the same wind speed, six times as much.
It utilizes 21 blades to harness even the lowest wind input and generate power by turning a common generator. This method optimizes the generated output while minimizing the necessary input and wind speed necessary to activate the turbine.
Specifically intended for marine and rooftop installations, the D400’s computer-designed rotor blades that are specifically optimized for low-speed operation run a 400 Watt direct drive generator. It is another example of an impressive, efficient gearless or direct drive wind turbine.
In testing done by yachtsmen off the UK’s south coast, an area with an average wind speed of 9 knots, the D400 outperformed the other eight turbines tested. Its output was more than double the next best turbine, despite being smaller. The manufacturer also claims that this model is extremely silent and vibration-free, making it a safe bet for the rooftop.
Specifically optimized and designed to work near busy, heavily-inhabited locations, the D400 generates virtually no noise or vibration. It achieves this balance of power and silence by making the turbine run relatively slowly compared to the given electrical output. The D400 runs at approximately one quarter of the speed of competitive units with the same capabilities.
The blades of this turbine were designed for optimum efficiency using advanced computer programming, and were built with precision, injection-molded nylon reinforced with glass. This design, combined with the overall rugged and effective engineering of the turbine itself, makes the D400 one of the most reliable and benign wind turbines available today.
Micro-wind turbines are much smaller in scale than even the small, personal wind turbines you might typically come across that are mounted on large buildings or homes. They come in either a vertical axis and horizontal axis types.
The Happybuy wind turbine is currently the highest-rated, most popular micro-wind turbines on the market. Able to reliably supply homes, posts, weather stations, and communication bases with power, the number of uses you can get out of this little turbine are endless.
It is a vertical axis turbine, which means it can harvest turbulent airflow caused by buildings and other structures. It boasts a special magnetic circuit, designed specifically to significantly reduce the starting torque of this turbine. This means that it starts up without a hassle, with a cut-in speed of 2 miles per hour.
Higher, more violent and sudden winds are no problem due to the turbine’s integrated, automatic braking system. There’s also a microprocessor control in the turbine, which helps to effectively regulate the current output as well as the voltage the turbine generates.
Every bit of this micro-wind turbine is constructed of high-quality, weather-resistant materials that contribute to the turbine’s overall longevity and durability. It’s also incredibly simple to install, with easy-to-follow instructions, according to customer reviews.
Even in the gentlest breeze, you can power your home, shop, or use it as a portable power source. Even with a micro-wind turbine, you can charge batteries and provide enough clean, renewable energy to alleviate some overall effects your overall carbon footprint.
Things to Consider
Make sure that you pay attention to your local zoning laws, and if the laws are not clear on the use of a personal wind turbine, be sure to ask before installing one. You don’t want to go through the work and investment of buying and installing a wind turbine just to be in violation of your homeowner’s association or local ordinances.
Any kind of wind turbine will generate free electricity for your use, as well as reduce your home’s general emission of CO2. You may even qualify to earn some extra income from the government through using wind turbines, especially if you export any additionally-generated energy to the national grid.
Have an energy audit done on your home or for the property that you wish to use your wind turbine on. The audit will help to determine how much energy you need to produce to continue your daily life or business unimpeded, and can also tell you where you may be wasting energy on a regular basis. Cutting back on waste will help to optimize the use that you get out of your turbine.
Your next obstacle will be deciding where and how to install your wind turbine. You should avoid mounting the turbine on your roof if it’s particularly cumbersome, as the vibrations from the turbine may cause unwanted noise and may result in structural damage to your home and the turbine itself. Position the turbine in a place where it will receive the maximum wind flow available in your immediate area.
Even in a low-wind, “class 1” area, the benefits of installing and using a wind turbine are well worth your time and effort. They will save you money over time, cutting the costs of your power bill at the very least and, at best, giving you money back while allowing you to live green.
All of the options on this list are built for low-wind areas, so you can take your pick of what you think would suit you and your needs better for effective wind energy.
More and more options are becoming available every day, which makes your job as a consumer harder, but the benefit is that if you do your job right you will find a system that works just right for you. So if you live in Calmsville, USA where the air is always still, don’t give up on your dream of owning a wind turbine. Just take the time to shop around and you’ll find a model that will blow you away.
featured image: Avelino Calvar Martinez