I thought this was a neat idea and if the manufacturer’s claims are true, it could be the first step towards individual energy independance for a lot of people. Honeywell, the same people who made my safe, teamed up with Earthtronics to produce a home wind turbine that lacks many of the drawbacks of larger wind turbines. Namely, all it takes is a gentle breeze to turn the blades, providing up to 2,000 kWh of energy annually.
It is a compact and neat idea. My only question is, does it actually work?
The Honeywell home wind turbine does away with the traditional gearing found in larger turbines, allowing it to spin easier. According to the Earthtronics website, a typical wind turbine requires 7.5 mph of windspeed to turn the blades because of the grinding resistance of the gears. One of the biggest drawbacks is that the wind don’t always blow that fast. Sometimes it doesn’t blow at all
The Honeywell system needs just a whisper of wind at 2mph to turn however, because it does away with the gearing entirely. The system generates power at the tips of the blades rather than the gears, and is good for winds up to 45 mph. Earthtonics claims standard wind turbines shut down at 29 mph to protect the gearing. The Honeywell system is also compact (just 6 ft across) and weighing in at just 90lbs, can be installed on virtually any roof.
They video and website claim different energy levels, so I will present you with both of them. The website says the wind turbine can produce around 2000 kWh of energy a year, while the video claims 1580 kWh annually. Considering the average house sucks down around 11,000 kWh a year, the turbine system provides a good chunk of energy annually. It will even be sold at local Ace Hardware stores, so you don’t need to go to some off-beat hippie hut to by one and lose face with your friends.
According to the data I found, an average home spends around $1,034 a year on energy in the home, so if this system was taking a 15% bite out of energy consumption the annual savings would be somewhere in the $100-150 a year range. There are plenty of tips and tricks out in the interweb that allow you to save energy and lower your annual consumption (Energy Star products, eco-friendly light bulbs, proper climate control management) so this system could account for more, or less, of your energy consumption.
I haven’t seen one of these in action and I only just heard about it today. But, if it does work, it is a step in the right direction. But it isn’t cheap, coming in at $4,500 for the turbine, inverter, and connectors to hook up to your house. Drop the price $1,500 though, and I think a lot more people might be interested. To be fair, there is a list of gov’ment incentives on a state-by-state basis as well, so the actual cost could be much lower, depending on whether it is a residential or commercial use. I think there is a property tax exemption for homes and businesses using renewable energy in Connecticut, but my legalese is rusty…
So, would you pay $4,500 for a home wind turbine system for a 15% decrease in your energy bills? If not, how low would the price have to be?