I currently use a Southwest windpower air breeze HAWT. It runs great, is practically silent (this is important as my trimaran
is very light weight and has no 'mass' to absorb vibration - you do hear the blades whistle sometimes. I am happy with it but it has taught me a lot about what to expect - the first thing is that in most cases your turbine doesn't spin. The wind is just in most cases too low a speed (this particular one needs 6 knot
winds to get it going). My boat 'Ceil' is anchored out quite literally in the ocean off of Long Beach CA. I'm off of Catalina
Isl (NOT in the harbor) and even out there in the great big Pacific you don't for the most part get an average above 6 knots. Most harbors I would bet are similar or you wouldn't want to be there due to swell.
If you read the literature on AirBreeze they fudge the output (as do all solar
, gas generator manufacturers) by clouding the verbage- the output is stated for 13.4 mph which is 6.0 Meters/second. If you are sailing you see this more often than while at anchor
. It's a necessary evil I guess as they gotta pick a wind speed - but you need to set clear expectations with yourself before you buy. If we only had the AirBreeze we would need to run the diesel
often as there are many days where the wind doesn't get up to 'start' speed. We use 120w solar
along with the AirBreeze to fill in the gaps. Both go into two gel cells to run the house.
I mentor some kids
in science and they are currently building a VWAT which we will mount on Ceil for testing. The VWAT they are building incorporates magnetic bearings to reduce frictional losses and (hopefully) allow the turbine to spin at little lower speed. If we can come close to the AirBreeze we will be ecstatic. If not it was fun...
As part of our test, the boat is left with systems on - (except radar), so the freezer
, lights, radio
are all live 24/7/365. With the AirBreeze and 120w solar we've only gone dark three times in three years. We use the excess energy (after battery
bank is topped) to divert to a 5 gal hot water
heater. The important thing here is that we have gone dark - meaning there were more than 5 days in a row with insufficient wind or solar to both maintain power and recharge the battery
bank. (important to know if you are considering this type of thing - )
When the VWAT is online (fall 2012 hopefully) it will be monitored by a small cpu hooked to a cell phone
that will allow us to log and display it's (and the airbreeze AND two 120w solar panels) outputs live on the web. I'll post a page for that when we (ok - it's kids
so IF) get it online.