Choosing a Home-Sized Wind Generator

Mick Sagrillo ©2002 Mick Sagrillo

ou’re about to make the big

decision: should a wind generator

be in your future? You’ve analyzed

your resources, both environmental and

monetary, and weighed the pros and

cons of having a wind generator. The

only question left is: which system

should you choose?

I can’t answer that question for you. However, I can give

you the tools to help you make that big decision. Those

tools are the detailed information and specifications for

a variety of wind-electric systems, along with some

personal observations based on 22 years of working

with home-sized wind-electric systems. An appendix

with additional discussion and technical commentary

can be downloaded from Home Power’s Web site.

Apples and Oranges (A&O) was originally published in

1993 and updated in 1995 and 1998. Meanwhile, a lot

has happened in the small wind turbine industry. One

company went out of business, two more entered the

field, and one manufacturer bought out a competitor. A

number of wind generator models went out of

production, and some new models were introduced.

While it’s been a tumultuous four years since A&O was

last published, perhaps the shakeout in the marketplace

has at last ended, and things have settled down for the

Background

This article will review most of the wind generators that

are sold and supported in the United States. One                                                                    

European manufacturer and one African manufacturer

are represented by U.S. distributors. A number of new

turbines are on the drawing boards, but they are not

included here. In addition, at least six non-U.S.

manufacturers are considering exporting their wares to

the U.S., but have not yet done so.

Several wind turbines currently available on the Internet

are not covered by this article. The reason for their

exclusion is the outlandish claims made like, “Get a

kilowatt for only $250.” When compared to other

commercially available wind generators, this sounds too

good to be true. As the old adage leads us to conclude,

it probably is.

As another example, I ordered and paid for a new

turbine back on November 1, 2001 from a manufacturer

trying to enter the business. As of June 2002, that

turbine has not been delivered, and the manufacturer is

impossible to get ahold of by phone or e-mail. While

their turbine is a promising design, some companies

just aren’t ready for prime time yet. So, if it’s not covered

in this article, you’ll have to draw your own conclusions.

This article diverges from past articles in covering only

“home-sized” wind generators. In the past, A&O has

included a large number of microturbines, those wind

generators whose primary niche is sailboats, RVs,

remote telecommunication sites, and other specialty

markets.

U.S., small wind turbine consumer.