Windspire Questions

PeterrPeterr Registered Users Posts: 18
I've have searched but not found any real comment on this particular wind generator. I'm very new in all this solar and wind alternative but continue to investigate. Is there anyone on the forum who has had experience good and bad with this product, or it's different concept.

Here is their web site..
http://www.mariahpower.com/windspire-overview.aspx

From its web site:
It is 30 feet tall and four feet wide, designed to come in under the typical 35 ft height restrictions of local municipalities. Base pole extension kits of 5, 10, and 20 feet are also available to raise it higher.

Being under 35', does give a potential of working within the limitations of the city I live in. I've placed a call to the planning and zoning department but have not heard a reply as of yet. Of course, being low to the ground, this would decrease its wind catching potential, any thoughts on this.
Advantages seen at a glance by a novice:

Does not require a crane to be installed.

It contains its own inverter, at this grid tied, but soon (a few weeks) according to the receptionist, they will also have an off grid model.

It appears once set up, if it was not placed on an extension pole, that if it need any maintenance, the inverter and 'power' plant is just 7' above ground.

Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    The short answer is if you are under ~60 feet above the surrounding terrain you are going to cut your wind harvest to the point of possibly (probably) not viable.

    Do yourself a favour and read though a bunch of threads in this forum about small scale wind. The hard reality is that very few people have been very happy with the net/net result. Most people over estimate the amount of wind that they actually get on an daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis. Then they compound the problem by buying hardware that consistently overestimates the output of their hardware leaving the customer with almost nothing to show for their time and investment.

    Regardless of any claim, there is very little energy in wind below ~15mph. What is the equation? The power grows with the square of the wind speed if memory serves. The sweet spot is ~15-20 mph. Under that and you get little to no power,, above that and wind machines tend to break!

    Spend time,, avoid the "ready, fire, aim" syndrome and if you realize that you DO have enough wind to merit the investment, then do the research to see if it will work. I surmise that if you are in a urban/suburban environment that has a 35' height restriction the chances are pretty poor that you will have a viable option.

    Good luck,, welcome to the forum and keep in touch,

    Tony
  • Truth SquadTruth Squad Solar Expert Posts: 126 ✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Anything under 35', really, anything under 45', is a waste of money. Especially in an urban environment. Where you are, go solar PV.
  • PeterrPeterr Registered Users Posts: 18
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Ok.. good points.. now do me a favor.. tell me if you know anything about THIS PARTICULAR wind machine?

    It does not LOOK like a normal wind machine... but then this may only be another typical, know nothing newbie's dreary inquiry about something that is very familiar to you. :p:blush:

    I don't think you could put this thing 30-60' in the air.
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    The windspire does work but.............. there have been a ton of problems with metal fatigue and bad welds. they sent one to NREL to test and it broke so many times they didn't finish the test.

    The big problem is they wont be high enough. a turbine needs to be in the clean air above everything.
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 980 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    The big problem is they wont be high enough. a turbine needs to be in the clean air above everything.

    And this is absolutely true, ~UNLESS~ you are in just that ~PERFECT~ spot where it is real windy... Like the place in Hawaii I saw one of these actually working quite well.... However, Like 1/2 crazy says, they have been plagued by bad welds etc...
    Supposedly this particular machine has be "beefed up" mechanically, but I have no idea if it is enough to make it reliable or not. Both VAWT and HAWT type of wind machines can be unreliable. Just look at the thread about the Skystream... It's a Horizontal machine and it hasn't been all that great. It's not the only HAWT that has been unlreliable either, nor is the Windspire been the only unreliable VAWT.

    I would say, in the city, your best bet is going to be solar. It's just not as exiting as wind. I have a small wind turbine at my house, in town, and the neighbors love it ! I certainly don't rely on it for my electricity though.. I suppose that if the power were to go out, which would most likely be because of a wind storm, it could probably help carry me though.
    boB
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,082 admin
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Specifically, here is a report on the Windspire from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    Basically a string of multiple mechanical and electrical failures.

    Another thread here has testing results from Holland that was done on a bunch of other small-wind turbines (not Windspire)... Not very pretty results.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Truth SquadTruth Squad Solar Expert Posts: 126 ✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Here's why I'm skeptical:

    First, it's a 1.2kw and they claim it puts out 2000kwh in a 12 MPH average windspeed? Based on what? Do they have a year of beta testing of several turbines (not just one or two) that they've averaged out to prove that? Their own spec sheet has a footnote on Average Energy Production that says:
    "Notes: AEP is based on assumptions, including a Rayleigh wind speed distribution and sea level air density."

    We all know what happens when we "assume". You'll assume 2000kwh in 12MPH and when you don't get that and call them, they'll point out they assumed you had a better wind resource, you should have sited it better, yada-yada.


    Second, the WindSync wireless monitoring system. These wireless remotes are problematic for wind turbines.

    Third, their integrated inverter. Inverters should be left to manufacturers who specialize in inverters. When the turbine manufacturer makes the inverter, you run into big problems. There is also this statement from their website about their inverter:
    "The inverter includes a built-in wireless ZigBee modem that can directly transmit power generation information to your computer."

    Guess who they're copying with that Zigbee? Skystream. They're also copying Skystream with that wireless modem transferring info to your computer. If they have a better product, why are they copying an existing one?

    I applaud Mariah for building it here in America. But they need to do their own homework and not copy it. They also need to start being realistic on output and not publish "assumptions" as fact. I would not buy this turbine based on what I read on their website and what I know.
  • Truth SquadTruth Squad Solar Expert Posts: 126 ✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Bingo. I posted while BB was posting the NREL report. As I thought, the inverter is a problem. As I said, turbine manufacturers building their own inverters is a gigantic mistake.

    I also noticed Mariah claims to have remedied the broken welds by hiring certified welders. Why wasn't that done first?
  • PeterrPeterr Registered Users Posts: 18
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Bear with me, I'm getting educated. I may never go this route, but want to get a handle on all aspects of alternate energy. I see your point about the 'clear air' being better up higher. Yet this VAWT, like most of them, are generally mounted close to the ground, which tends to make, as your stating, them inefficient, so why go there.
    Well, one reason is that is a complete system with inverter. Needing only assembly and a 2x6 concrete foundation to attach it to. Its only a 4' foot wide footprint in the horizontal distance. , making a very small footprint that works well in an urban setting where space is limited, lots, roofs, and open available area may not be aligned for a southern exposure. .
    What gives hope, and of course this is their spin, .. they state:
    ... The generator technology is unique in several ways: First, it minimizes magnetic-induced losses by using a special rotor and stator construction, resulting in very high efficiencies (up to 98%)
    .
    With your experience, does this sound like BS?
    Second, it is cog-free, for seamless rotation. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it operates most efficiently in low wind speeds. This is the opposite of most wind generators, and it allows the Windspire to capture more energy in the lower, more prevalent range of wind speeds.

    Is this true?
    I would think every manufacture of a wind turbine would need, want this to true of there's also..
    In another location, being more specific it is stated:
    How much wind do you need?
    In general, you want average wind speeds of around 12 mph (miles per hour),
    Hmm.. it does seem like a new product and hasn't had any real longevity in the field. I called the Northern Arizona dealer and he stated that they have no installations in Arizona as yet. Hopefully one coming soon for Winslow. Yet, they seem to be aware of the negative points you mentioned about welding ect... and have made corrections. Of course this is from their web-site, and you can take it or leave it.
    We consistently updated field units with our new technology as solutions became available, and all upgrades are available to customers at no cost through Mariah Power dealers.

    The following is a detailed list of the major upgrades made to the current product:

    To improve longevity and address modal disturbances of the Windspire, Mariah Power eliminated fretting and corrosion issues through new design upgrades:

    * - Engineered stiffer and straighter shafts, and adding thickness to the base plate.
    * - Developed a new clamp method to eliminate fretting.
    * - Upgraded exterior finish to increase protection.
    * - Added plating with the highest salt spray rating to exposed steel components.

    To improve reliability, power output, and safety, Mariah Power revised the current design of the inverter:

    * - Revised transformer to lower the operating temperature
    * - Added thermal sensing to maximize wattage output
    * - Improved firmware controls to better manage the power output versus the wind speed.

    To eliminate quality failures and slippage of the airfoils, Mariah Power made upgrades to the rotor section of the Windspire:

    * - Developed new air foils to address welding issues.
    * - Improved and upgraded class of rings and fastening systems.
    * - Redesigned airfoil clamping system.

    Partnering with MasTech Manufacturing, Mariah Power made improvements to the quality of manufacturing to consistently deliver product to specifications in the volume manufacturing setting:

    * - Use castings for wrought multi-piece components.
    * - Hired AWS certified welders.
    * - Hired an ASQ certified quality engineer to manage the quality process at MasTech Manufacturing.
    * - Use plug and ring gauges for functional inspection.

    Hmmm, it would be marvelous if someone on the forum had actual experience with one of these.

    **** Wow.. I see BB & Truth Squad has been here while I've typed this...
    very interesting... I'll still post it... but you have brought up points that I will check and look into. I was reading the Skystream tread last week and will go back and update myself.
    Thank You...
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    You're in Sedona AZ and you are going to forsake Pv for wind? I could understand that ig you were on the B.C. coast,,,

    (Especially with all the evidence of the reliability of small scale wind!)

    Tony

    PS
    " Second, it is cog-free, for seamless rotation. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it operates most efficiently in low wind speeds. This is the opposite of most wind generators, and it allows the Windspire to capture more energy in the lower, more prevalent range of wind speeds."

    The reality of Physics is that there just isn't very much energy available at low wind speeds. Even if you could capture 100% of it, there isn't much to be had, and no amount of messing with the laws of physics is gonna change that.

    From http://zebu.uoregon.edu/disted/ph162/l11.html
    "20 mph wind =10 m/s .0006 * 103 = .0006 * 1000 = .6 KILO watts per square meter
    which is 600 watts per square meter
    this is identical to average solar power per square meter at our latitude."

    Net/net,, at 10 mph average the potential power available is about 1/8 that or 0.075kilowatts per square meter. Assuming you could harvest say 75% of that which would be astounding, you might have a STAGGERING 37 watts of out put at ten miles an hour. I don't know about you, but 10 miles an hour may seem like not much wind, but I challenge anyone to want to sit around with the wind blowing constantly at 10 mph. After a while it gets irksome. The reality is, most people think that most places are WAY windier, on average than they really are.
  • PeterrPeterr Registered Users Posts: 18
    Re: Windspire Questions
    You're in Sedona AZ and you are going to forsake Pv for wind? I could understand that ig you were on the B.C. coast,,,

    Not going to forsake anything... getting informed, but ahhh yesss, soooo true what you say.. But have other friends and we are looking into systems... sharing information, that's how I learned about Windspire in the first place.
    The fact not everyone is on their own island.. ;) , BUT MY WIFE THINKS SO SOMETIMES. :roll: Friends in the foggy, boggy due... and the smog and coastal clouds do not have my sun advantage.

    Your fine math gives great clarity. Looking up FirstLook it states average is about 9 mph, way to low to even consider. Yet, where at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon. Nighttime cool air flow down to lower levels, daytime, air rises, to cooler Flagstaff. There always seems to be a breeze, except when the weather is changing, as it is of late... with the Monsoons.

    All this thought is educating me, and I thank you and all in informing me.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    At best,, trust my math to illustrate an example. As (too) many of you know, my math skills are suspect at best!

    Tony:blush:
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,082 admin
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Read through the other threads/reports that have been posted so far--They are pretty damming... And remember that few wind maps are available for 30-60 foot installations--so most of the wind maps you see do not really apply for "home" installations.

    The simple facts are that it is expensive to build a mechanical turbine that can sit for years in exposed weather conditions... Also, towers are expensive and those that are high enough to even begin to get clean / prevailing winds (60'+) are expensive to install and service--Only a few towers allow you to service the wind turbine without hiring a crane (once a year +/-???).

    If you want, go to the the Bergey Windpower site... They have a very nice spread sheet in their "Technical Stuff" where you can play with all sorts of assumptions (altitude, temperature, turbulence, etc.) and see how that plays against your local conditions.

    Unless you live out in the plains (see this ideal wind site Bob McGovern ~post #19 with Bergey turbine)--anyone that does not tell you to put the turbine 60+ feet above the ground/obstructions--is not doing you any favors.

    And lastly, mechanical devices eventually fail... 500+ lbs of metal and blades falling from a 60'+ tower near your, or other's, homes can be bad news.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Truth SquadTruth Squad Solar Expert Posts: 126 ✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    The huge red flag I noticed is all these problems---welds, inverter---cropped up at NREL. That tells me Mariah did not do much testing of this unit at all. Those problems would have become immediately visible had they done an actual year of testing with multiple units. And manufacturers are going to send their very best hand-picked unit to NREL. So if the NREL unit had all these flaws, I don't have a lot of hope for the ones coming off their production line.

    Yeah, NOW they say they're bringing in certified welders and all. But why not do that in the first place? And would they have if it was customer units and not the NREL unit that the welds failed on? These are the kinds of things that set off my alarm. If you were only going to put in quality when caught, then how much of the engineering is suspect, too? Because there was no one there to say, "Hey, wait a sec, that's impossible..." when the engineering was being done.

    I also see a big problem with a nearly 30 foot rotating part with no end bearing. A single bearing or set of bearings on one end and the other end is flying high with no support. I've seen the results of this same type of thing with other equipment and failure is not an "if" but "when". If the bearing cracks up on that Windspire, the entire rotating blade assembly is coming down. Without a solid year of testing, how can anyone be sure that scenario can't happen?

    This is where I have a problem with small wind. The new tax credits for small wind have really brought out all the "get rich quick" companies to the surface. They don't want to put in the time, sweat equity, hard work, and testing that is necessary to build a great turbine. They want to rush it to the market to beat the "other guy". I'm not saying Mariah is a fly-by-night operation, but I do see some very troubling red flags.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,082 admin
    Re: Windspire Questions

    When a commercial product keeps failing apart/failing in multiple ways in less than one year on one test site--there are some basic engineering design and manufacturing deficiencies--And using a certified welder and such is not going to fix the basic problems.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PeterrPeterr Registered Users Posts: 18
    Re: Windspire Questions

    BB and all of you make a very strong point about the strength of solar vrs wind. Solar is passive, as has been said on this and other threads, there is something romantic about seeing that turbine turn. Seeing something being done, but I'm seeing its not practical on a small scale, for either solar or wind. That conserve must come first. Then other considerations of harvesting may follow.

    I've been a contractor most of my life, and I can see the similarities of tools and catalogs that are just produced for owner builders, weekend warriors, and elite romantic woodcrafters. I smile at the gene. Now I understand it also resides in 'Green', DIY alternate energy. It caught me again today. Something to play with, something to do. Something that is, but is not real. Its not disappointment as one thread alluded to, nor a disillusion, just reality making clear the gene.

    It can be done, but it has to have a deep understanding of its foundation. There has to be a clear need. Romanticism is wonderful, how else did I meet my wife, ;) how else did I get captivated by first sun, and then wind. But the relationship changes. I understood the point now, there is no 'free lunch.' You can't have a ground hugging, vertical wind system, with a small footprint,
    (30 foot rotating part with no end bearing)(Truth Squad)
    relying on its base only, with no guy wires. Everything wears. It's eventually going to come down, and in a rural area, not good. So it's small footprint becomes a menace. You can get results for a short minimal time, but it takes a plan and resources to reach the goal. It's expensive either way you go. Solar or wind. For me in the southwest, hands down I have the sun, why go anywhere else, unless my needs where so great, I had to have generated power at night. Which I do not.

    So will keep gathering info. What's interesting, is today was the day I was getting started on doing some of the conservation of energy, that I have been made aware of by this forum and the purchase of a Kill o Watt. Of converting my existing electric dehydrator into a solar one. Soon we will have to many tomatoes, and we love to dry them, and the challege is there to use the warmth of the sun.

    Thanks for the time, insight and education.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,082 admin
    Re: Windspire Questions

    By the way, there is a good DIY wind power site called:

    www.otherpower.com

    And they do have a forum too...

    We here are not much of a wind DIY forum--so you will get more information and help over there -- at least regarding DIY wind.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,040 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions
    Peterr wrote: »
    There always seems to be a breeze,

    If the WIND is not trying to take your hat away, you don't have enough. A breeze is NOT wind.

    > 10 MPH = 0.075kilowatts per square meter of sail (75W)

    It will be an interesting experiment at least.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
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  • Truth SquadTruth Squad Solar Expert Posts: 126 ✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Peter, I notice you're a contractor. Basically, what the Windspire is doing with it's bearings is the equivalent of putting some huge router bit meant only for the Porter Cable Model 7518 3-1/2HP router and putting it on the Porter Cable Model 100 7/8HP router. Oh, it can be done. I've seen it done. And the poor 100 lasts about a couple hours. Then you take it apart and the bearings are blown apart, but before that, they wallered out the bearing wells. And when the bearings blew up, it took out the armature and stator.

    One big lesson wind manufacturers need to learn is the bigger the blades, the bigger the bearings. Because there is no end cap bearing to take up the slack. Never try to save money on bearings. When a bearing goes, especially on a wind turbine, it often leads to catastrophic failure.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,082 admin
    Re: Windspire Questions

    Here is another site--Very well known Wind Guy (Paul Gipe)--and very pro-Wind (unlike me--who tends to just be windy :roll: ):

    Small and Household-size Wind Turbines

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Windspire Questions

    I live in the Foothills of Colorado. We have a lot of wind. We are rated to 135 mph. Because of that the county requires wind turbines to be rated to a minimum of 135mph. Windspire has an "Extreme" model rated to 165 mph. I purchased 2 of them and the county has approved their installation.
    This was in October of last year. Windspire did not deliver my 2 turbines for more than 6 months. The testing by NREL caused them to have to redisign the inverters which just fell apart - they are built in to the Windspire - not external like PV and are part of the moving parts problem that they have. Now they being made by Mastech Energy in MI. I paid for them nearly a year ago. I have the frames now (finally), but no inverters so they are lying on the ground waiting after nearly a year to be installed. I have no idea when the inverters are going to be delivered - if ever. They just give me the run around. I think that they are in serious trouble (and so am I). They talk the talk, they take the money, but they do not walk the walk. There is a lot of advertizing hype on their website - I am not sure if I believe any of it anymore.
    They say that they delivered to Adobe and Genoa County. Perhaps they are just the frames like mine but have no internal generators or inverters.
    http://windspireenergy.com/news-center/blog/
    They have recently "refinanced" and changed their name (when companies change their names, it is a red flag.
    They sold me an "Ice and Snow" package - special paint surface so that Ice cannot stick to the surface - it is peeling off as it lies there, and has not even had a chance to work yet.
    I think that I have been burned.

    I will keep you informed if I hear more from them.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Windspire Questions

    allanwol,
    i can appreciate that you want to be in any and all threads concerning that turbine, but we do frown on post duplicating. maybe delete one and reword it or say just a few words and link to the other thread. better yet is make a comment concerning the op's point of view rather than just your own.
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