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Old 07-01-2009, 12:06 AM   #21
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You think this is maddening now--just wait until the federal gummint bails out CA with our money.
And they should
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Old 07-01-2009, 12:44 AM   #22
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Politics aside, I wonder how this thing works...

Compared this to the conventional air generator that requires 7mph wind to startup due to friction of the gear and the generator, this new design probably can generate power with winds of only a few mph. It also has a lot more blades than the traditional 2 or 3-blade design of small wind generators of this size. This obviously enhances its ability to produce power at low speeds. But where is the windspeed-to-power chart or curve?
Ah... I failed to read all the info in the link that I myself provided on an earlier post #12. Here's some info from a pdf file found on their site.

Wind (mph) Power (Watts)
2 6
5 25
10 105
15 245
20 447
25 709
30 1031
35 1415
42 2053
45 2364

So, this design does work well at low speeds. However, it still has to obey the law of physics. Note that when the wind drops by 1/2 from 10 mph to 5mph, the power drops by 1/4 from 105W to 25W.

In comparison, the Whisper 100, a conventional design with a 3-blade rotor of 7-ft diameter, produces 400W at 20mph, 200W at 15mph, and less than 50W at 10mph.

In short, this new design does work better at low speeds. Wind at 5mph has only 1/16 the power of wind at 20mph, and this new turbine comes close to that ratio (25W vs 447W). However, even a laptop takes more than 25W to run.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:12 AM   #23
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If I can replicate the response to the sustainable energy thread to the rest of the my friends, I'll be a happy camper.

The problem with the personal windmill is that it diverts attention for doing more useful things. At first glance you should get one of these devices after you done all of the following.
Turned off lights and computers when not running.
Installed a solar water heater.
Changed over to CFLs
Added insulation everywhere.
Replaced old appliances with more efficient ones.
Turned down your thermostat during winter and up during summer.

Plus other stuff that I don't know about or am forgetting

I am not sure how this device would compare to adding a solar PV panels on the roof, I guess it would depend on location.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:37 AM   #24
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That could be a real eyesore in a suburban neighborhood but in rural areas where neighbors aren't an issue it could be really useful.
They have windmills for sale at our local Big Box auto store (Canadian Tire) Props are about 4ft in diameter,they cost close to $500 and can generate enough energy to keep your fridge and a few appliances running,however the city has outlawed them,ya just cant put one up around these parts (Montreal)
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:48 AM   #25
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If I can replicate the response to the sustainable energy thread to the rest of the my friends, I'll be a happy camper.

The problem with the personal windmill is that it diverts attention for doing more useful things. At first glance you should get one of these devices after you done all of the following.

Turned off lights and computers when not running. DONE
Installed a solar water heater. Will be DONE when I return to the US.
Changed over to CFLs. 90% DONE, others raarely used
Added insulation everywhere. DONE, plus a large porch shades the house.
Replaced old appliances with more efficient ones. DONE
Turned down your thermostat during winter and up during summer. DONE, and heat with wood in the winter...in the summer a whole house fan brings in the cool air at night and early morning, windows closed when equilibrium is reached in the coolest part of the day, the porch and insulation keep it under 80F on all but the hottest (95F+ degree) days.

Plus other stuff that I don't know about or am forgetting

I am not sure how this device would compare to adding a solar PV panels on the roof, I guess it would depend on location.
I have PV, but not on the roof. It is on an array separate from the house. For me, natural energy sources are a hobby that pay for themselves...over (a long) time. I do it almost as much because I like to as for money saving reasons. I'm guessing that PV will be more practical for most people than this, but as I implied earlier, the combination may be the best alternative. It really depends on location.

R
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:37 AM   #26
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The economics are highly questionable, it will take a long time but it will pay off. Sort of like buying a Prius, it takes forever to breakeven on total ownership costs, but it could if the car lasts long enough (10-15 years). I feel an obligation to conserve, so I am buying a Prius for that reason, not because the economics work.

Interestingly, if a few of us have personal wind turbines it could save those owners some money. But if all of us have personal wind turbines it will actually cost us more due to the intermittant nature of wind power unless we're all willing to do without power (seems highly unlikely) when wind power isn't generating. That's the big fallacy with wind and solar, they can never be more than a % of our total power generation (most of what I have seen suggests about 10% max) - we must have substantial non-intermittant sources. clifp's thread on Sustainable Energy explains yet again why this is inescapable.
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:52 AM   #27
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ERD50

I like it because:

....

-acquiring something like this would probably promote research into future developments which would be even better, reducing the need for subsidies...again in the future.

Also note that with the installation of this device or one like it, you are reducing your electric bill by the marginal rate, {our} highest marginal rate, is more like 26 cents.
First, I'd like to clarify that my initial response was not because any one person was so positive about this thing, it was because of the number of positive responses. That leads to the problems I outlined (govt responds with subsidies, regardless of the underlying validity), and my response. So, on to your specifics...

R&D and future improvements: Since you study these things, maybe you can tell me about this. How much improvement can we reasonably expect? It seems to me that generators and propellers are very mature technology, with plenty of motivation for higher efficiencies from existing uses. I wouldn't think that this application would spur much R&D over and above that. Also, how close to theoretical efficiencies are these now? I find that people often overlook that - R&D can make improvements, but they can't break the laws of physics. If these things are close to theoretical, then improvements will be small. I know generators are close to theoretical limits, with all the research into propellers of various sorts, I think we must be close to theoretical, or at least practical limits already.

There is another dark side to govt subsidies - since they are specific to specific technologies, they can also demotivate research into future developments of technologies that are not "blessed" by Congress. That is reducing competition, which reduces advancements. I can site a specific case where an new, promising technology had great difficulty getting funding because they fell between the cracks of how the laws were written, making it difficult for them to compete with subsidized technologies. And this new tech had other side benefits that were measurable and an environmental plus, but Congress didn't account for these side benefits in their bill. We all lose when that happens.


Quote:
So, I would ask, if you are so against this device as step (though small) in the right direction, what alternatives do you offer? (I did not go back to the thread you referenced, I will when I get a chance...).

R
Well, it is a complex subject, and from what I've seen so far, that link has some good references - so I will defer to those documents. But two observations:

1) I don't need to have an alternative to recognize that something isn't a good idea. If it is questionable that this personal windmill can even produce more energy than it consumed in its production, it just does not sound like a meaningful solution. It might even be a small step in the wrong direction. I don't think our govt should be supporting that with subsidies (or using MY money to support someone's 'hobby', which this is to some people).

2) If you want a practical alternative, my first stab at it would be conservation. It would take an incredible amount of energy to produce enough renewable sources to replace 10% of our energy consumption, and there are environmental impacts to just about everything. But I think we could cut energy consumption by 10% far easier. A lot of it with absolutely zero expenditure (adjusting thermostats, telecommuting, eating less meat). Any power plant (renewable or otherwise) that is *not* built is an environmental win.

-ERD50
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:52 PM   #28
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Let's compare:
Option A: Buy this windmill and put it on my roof. That costs $4500 (minus any money the government tkes from others and gives to me for doing this).

Option B: Like option A, but I know that I could get about twice the productivity out of any windmill if I put it atop a 60 foot mast. And, my house isn't in a particularly breezy place, but if I put the same windmill in a place where the wind is more powerful, I'd get about 4 times the energy out of it. And, I know that the wind energy captured by my windmill is an direct relation to the size of the windmill's face area, and this goes up as a function of the square of the blade length, so an increase in the size of the windmill is going to lead to more captured energy for each dollar of material cost (or energy used to make the device). Then there's overhead and operating costs: when my little windmill breaks I have to spend money for a special house call from the service guy, who has to order the parts and then install them. Wouldn't it be more efficient to have lots of windmills located together so one repair guy could service them all, and so they could share common equipment (inverters, etc)? So--it sounds like the most efficient thing to do is to have a bigger windmill on a taller mast in a place where the wind is more constant and put a lot of these together so they can benefit from economies of scale--a windfarm. Yes, there are power transmission losses, but these are trivial compared to the advantages. Putting my $4500 toward a share in a windfarm helps the environment far more than sticking this giant spinning trash can lid on my roof. Can I get a 30% tax credit for this?
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Old 07-01-2009, 03:57 PM   #29
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Putting my $4500 toward a share in a windfarm helps the environment far more than sticking this giant spinning trash can lid on my roof. Can I get a 30% tax credit for this?
I'd like to invest in a California wind farm where I put up zero dollars and receive even half of the revenues from the electricity I produce. The return on investment would be infinitesimal. We should all do this!
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Old 07-01-2009, 03:59 PM   #30
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I'd like to have a pony.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:00 PM   #31
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I'd like to have a pony.
Why settle for a pony when you can have a unicorn? I mean as long as the government is giving it away for free...
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:03 PM   #32
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Why settle for a pony when you can have a unicorn? I mean as long as the government is giving it away for free...
Sounds good to me...they are horny little devils.....
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:10 PM   #33
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Sounds good to me...they are horny little devils.....
Sorry, the little devils don't qualify for this government incentive program. Only unicorns. The little devils lobby just didn't get the job done this legislative session.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:11 PM   #34
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Sounds good to me...they are horny little devils.....
LMAO and narrowly avoided the dreaded diet coke bath of the keyboard. I swear it just isn't safe to drink and read on this forum.

Shouldn't this response go in the what woman want thread?
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:21 PM   #35
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Putting my $4500 toward a share in a windfarm helps the environment far more than sticking this giant spinning trash can lid on my roof. Can I get a 30% tax credit for this?
Excellent point samclem, one I've pondered on, but never (IIRC) posted.

I'd agree that a wind farm (or solar panel farm for that matter) would have economies of scale and be far better net for the environment than small individual installs. A true environmentalist would be looking at the "return on energy" payback - how soon do you get the energy out of it that you put in (including the 'energy' of on-going maintenance). Obviously, big windmills catching the big winds on a mast will turn that over more quickly.

I also think you can use cost and economic payback as a reasonable proxy for the energy used to make something. For every material and component that is sold, the company has to get at least as much for it as they paid in energy to make that stuff. The price of a copper wire reflects how much energy it took to mine it, refine it, turn it into a wire, ship it to the customer, etc. Of course there are other costs in there, but I bet that energy is a big component of everything we buy, and probably more accurate on average than some complex "cradle-to-grave" study.

And, if we are going to use any tax dollars to support it, it would be much more fair to apply them to a utilities farm, where all the users would share in the tax subsidy, rather than giving it to an individual. That individual with a personal windmill benefits from the taxes that others pay. How is that fair?

I've read that on average, the grid wastes ~ 8% in transmission losses. Not really so bad considering.

BTW, I looked at their web site in more detail - wow, they are masters at phrasing something to sound more important than it is. Well, maybe not masters, they really should use the same numbers in their video as they do on the web page the video is on. I guess they can't decide if they should say this thing produces 2000 kWh/yr or 1580kWH/yr. Heck, what's 26.6% in the name of "environmentalism"?

I like the way they get to a "combined 30% savings!" - they include a 30-pack of CFLs (for an 1822KWh savings per year!). That's as much or more (depending which of their numbers you use) savings on your bill than what the windmill provides! Hmmmm, lets see, CFLs use about 1/4 the metered electricity (yes, clumsy wording, but important - I hope to post on that soon) as a bad old filament bulb. So to save 1822KWh, you would need to be using ~ 2400 KWh now. So, to "save" that much electricity you would need to have been running 30 separate 60W light bulbs for over 3.5 hours average each and every day. Whoah! Maybe they could just turn off some lights! What's the payback on that?

That's just the tip of the iceberg of funny-worded stuff on that page.

-ERD50
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:27 PM   #36
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I like the way they get to a "combined 30% savings!" - they include a 30-pack of CFLs (for an 1822KWh savings per year!). That's as much or more (depending which of their numbers you use) savings on your bill than what the windmill provides! Hmmmm, lets see, CFLs use about 1/4 the metered electricity (yes, clumsy wording, but important - I hope to post on that soon) as a bad old filament bulb. So to save 1822KWh, you would need to be using ~ 2400 KWh now. So, to "save" that much electricity you would need to have been running 30 separate 60W light bulbs for over 3.5 hours average each and every day. Whoah! Maybe they could just turn off some lights! What's the payback on that?
That is laugh-out-loud funny.

I should go buy about 200 CFL bulbs. According to their math I'd then save more power than we typically use and I guess we'll get a check from the electric company. Oh, wait, the fine print says I have to screw them in and turn them on in order to save the energy. Okay, no problem. I'll shine them on a solar panel and come out even farther ahead. Free energy--whee!
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:03 PM   #37
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Oh man, I'm gonna have to stop reading their stuff, it get's curiouser and curiouser - from their pdfs:
Quote:
* What wind do I have?

80% of our actual wind resources in North America are well below 10mph,
90% of the time. Almost all traditional wind turbines require 8mph winds to cut in and start turning.
They keep making a big deal about it turning at low speeds. The above quote is interesting - I guess the data they used for their 2000kw/yr number excludes 80% of the country, because those numbers indicate wind speeds below 10mph at ~ 43%. To hit 90%, you need to include winds up to 21MPH in their table.

So, how important is that energy generated at low speeds? Hmmm, according to their table, less than 11% of the total annual energy is generated from winds 10 mph or lower (but it seems to take up 89% of their copy ). And over half of that "less than 10MPH" energy is generated between 7.77mph - 10mph. Gee, maybe that is why the "big boys" kick in at 8 MPH, huh?

Quote:
*What is the warranty?
The HWT has a limited 5 year manufactures warranty and is designed for a 20 year life.
Sorry, I'm looking at a > 20 year payback (@ $0.10/kWH) before counting cost of the money and maintenance. Five year warranty and 20 year design life does not excite me.

Quote:
*What happens in ice and snow?
The HWT is designed to handle the elements. Freezing rain will certainly slow the unit down and could keep the unit out of service until it thaws.
Great, now I have to go get on my roof to thaw the thing, or wait until Spring? And that will only get worse as these things counter Global Warming .

Quote:
*Why does the system require a 12V battery?
The HWT requires a minimum of 1 standard auto battery which sits between the Smart box and the panel. The battery, referred to as the “bucket” is a system resource that allows the HWT to always capture the energy being generated by the turbine. The Smart Box inverter converts 12 volt to 110 and uses the battery as a storage and buffer device to regulate the energy being generated to your panel (especially in low winds speeds where the bucket is always being trickle charged).
Great, I gotta replace an auto battery every few years, and why does it need to trickle charge in low winds? I thought low winds were this things raison d'ętre?

And my tax dollars will go to support people buying these things, and years later they will be wondering when they are going to see *their* payback - and I will get zero (negative) payback. Yep, it gets me mad. And shouldn't it?


-ERD50

PS - anyone figure out how they come up with this? I see no back up data...

Quote:
The HWT offers the lowest cost per kWh installed output in the industry.
I mean, wouldn't the wind farms be all over this? Easier than trucking those big things with the WIDE LOAD signs I see. And they could hire maint guys that are afraid of heights
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:35 PM   #38
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I'm ashamed at you guys. Ashamed that no one has accused this company of tilting at windmills in a quixotic manner.
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:40 PM   #39
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PS - anyone figure out how they come up with this? I see no back up data...
I think they pulled it straight out of their butts.

In the 90's we had some con man try and sell us a device that would find hidden drugs and money. If it worked we would save a lot of money that we spend buying, training and feeding all of the dogs we used. The salesman was some dude with a doctorate in physics who explained that the device was able to detect ions trailing off toward the sun by aligning static electricity fields. There were a lot of looks exchanged around the table after that explanation. None of us were physicists, but all of us knew a scam when we heard it. I called some scientists at NSTC to run it by them, and they laughed so hard I think they peed on themselves. The FBI busted these dudes, but not before they had already sold some of these things to police departments all across the country. Box of Dreams: How a too-good-to-be-true tool fooled drug warriors. - Reason Magazine

The roof top wind turbine guys aren't pulling quite as big a scam as the Quadro Tracker dudes, but they are playing games with the data and telling potential customers what they want to hear. It's a boondogle, a humbug, a means to separate fools from their money. It will produce electricity, but very few of their customers are going to be in a position to come close to getting their money's worth. Like Low Tech said, small windmills are fundamentally flawed.
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:49 PM   #40
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Not designed for "personal" use, but I like this design...

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