At the beginning of the year, Honeywell introduced a product that will hopefully serve as a big step toward bringing sustainable and renewable energy to homes all across the world. The newly released Honeywell Wind Turbine, as picture below, is intended for home and business use (not all of us have hilltops, windy fields, or ocean bays in which to construct massive wind turbines, so a sturdy roof will have to suffice). The wind energy system, designed by Windtronics and licensed for production by the home appliances manufacturer Honeywell, can be found in Ace Hardware Stores all around the United States. This is truly one of the first wind turbine to be introduced to the public that produces a significant amount of electricity each year.
As explained by the brochure being distributed by Honeywell, “The Honeywell Wind Turbine is a gearless wind turbine that measures just 6 feet in diameter, weighs 170 lbs (77 kgs) and is able to produce 2752 kWh/yr in Class 4 winds representing over 20% percent of an average household’s annual electricity needs.”
The creation of the gearless turbine is the most innovative characteristic of this new wind energy system. A traditional wind turbine (the giant ones you see on the sides of hills) relies on an often complicated series of gears to created the high RPMs needed for the generator to create energy. Despite all the advances that wind turbine technology has achieved, such a mechanical design is fundamentally inefficient due to the high energy loss due to friction and mechanical resistance. For large wind turbines, this inefficiency can be overlooked due to the enormous magnitude of wind energy being caught by the blades. (In other words, as long as the tower is still standing, the blades still attached, and the generator still functioning, the system can be expected to generate a lot of electrocity.) For small scale systems, this simply isn’t the case.
Wind speeds near the earth’s surface are always slower and so wind turbines designed to generate electricity for homes need to respond to these slower speeds. The gearless design of Windtronic’s turbine gives it an efficient and lightweight build. This translates into more energy being generated and at lower speeds. Honeywell Wind Turbine generates electricity at a minimum wind of 2mph, a major achievement compared to the 7.5mph required by traditional wind turbines. This seemingly simple change will mean an entirely new level of energy generation and energy efficiency.
A new Windtronics system from Ace Hardware currently costs $4500, making it a serious investment for most American consumers. Doing the math, to pay $4500 for a system that produces 1580kWh each year means that you will see a return on your investment after 12 years of steady power generation. Put a different way, the wind turbine is free to keep if you are willing to maintain it’s condition for 13 years. And again, a 13 year investment term is another major achievement by this wind turbine considering the 25 year industry standard (ie traditional wind turbines and solar panels). Maybe a system just like this one will start to pop up on homes in your area.
Honeywell’s Wind Turbine certain has a lot of things going for it. The turbine is compact, practically silent, and energy efficient even under considerably calm wind speeds. Even a summer breeze will keep these blades spinning. Owners can expect to recoup the money in their investment in half the time of other alternative energy systems, particularity solar energy (which as you know, only generates energy during the relatively small portion of the day during which it experiences direct sunlight). Best of all, this system isn’t something you can hope to see in 5, 10, 15 years in the future, it is on shelves now and you know exactly what it is going to cost you. In the world of alternative energy, it absolutely doesn’t get any clearer than that.
Oh, and by the way, Windtronics has been relentlessly improving upon their design and so varies different models can now be found based on the original gearless design.