New Residential Wind Power Design Could Change the Home Energy Game

This post brought to you by Sauer Energy. All opinions are 100% mine.

Sauer WindChargerIf you’ve been hiding under a rock for, oh, the last 30 years, you might have missed the fact that it’s now more important than ever before to develop new clean energy sources. Rising energy prices have really put a hammerlock on families, and high winter heating costs and summer cooling costs can be a bear to deal with for both renters and homeowners.

I think that most of us concerned with keeping energy costs down at home have focused on conservation – using less energy and purchasing appliances and gadgets with a lower energy demand – but there are some other ways to lighten our energy load. If you have been paying attention to energy issues, you know that we do have some alternatives which can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, namely solar and wind power.

Both of those energy sources have their issues – solar panels are expensive to buy and install, and wind power tends to be relegated to the commercial wind farms, not our rooftops and backyards. But a new vertical access wind turbine developed by Sauer Energy may be just the ticket for homeowners to start generating their own electricity onsite, without a huge investment.

Meet Joe… from Dieter Sauer on Vimeo.

 

The Sauer WindCharger is a vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT), which is radically different in both design and efficiency from the normal ‘windmill’ design that we’re accustomed to seeing on wind farms. For one thing, it’s designed to generate power at lower wind speeds than the usual horizontal-axis wind turbine (HAWT) designs, and can use wind coming from any direction and any speed. The WindCharger is also quieter due to its lower starting speeds, and can accept much higher wind speeds (which are not usable by VAWTs).

According to Sauer, the WindCharger is also super easy to install (described as plug-n-play), and can be mounted on a rooftop – you don’t need to erect a tower in your backyard to harvest wind power with this unit. And because the WindCharger is less susceptible to the effects of turbulent air (from surrounding buildings, trees, etc.), it’s perfectly suited to residential neighborhoods.

The average WindCharger installation would be a grid-tie situation, where excess electricity flows into the electric grid, not into a battery bank – in essence, the grid is the battery bank. This allows homeowners to ‘sell’ electricity to the grid, and ‘buy’ back what they need, when they need it. For those in remote areas, a battery bank would be necessary to store any excess energy generated. The WindCharger is tentatively priced at about $7000, and will be available sometime after the fall of 2011.

Because in southern New Mexico, where I live, there is an ample supply of wind throughout the year, wind power seems like a natural fit for us, and because these VAWT units are able to be mounted on top of buildings, without the need for a tower, they have an added benefit of being much easier to to mount and to access for maintenance. Of course, the fact that the WindCharger comes with a ten year warranty (which is twice the wind industry standard!) is another huge factor in its favor, because you don’t want to end up with an expensive but worthless wind turbine ‘sculpture’ after a few years…

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Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

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