Friday, December 2, 2011

What Is A Vertical Axis Wind Turbine?

Thinking of adding a wind power system to your home to lower your energy costs? Worried about putting up a large tower with guy wires spreading across your property to stabilize it, or are you on a smaller site where that type of tower isn't feasible? Let's look at a couple of options available that will let you take advantage of the wind no matter where you are living.

Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) are windmills that have helical shaped blades mounted vertically to the generator. They are specifically designed to address the unique problems associated with producing electricity in urban or suburban areas where often a horizontal wind becomes vertical when it encounters the face of a building. The helical shaped blades of the VAWT utilize vertical or horizontal wind bursts coming from any direction (omni-directional). This makes it more useful in these areas than the more prevalent roof mounted Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine (HAWT) available in most home wind power systems.

The HAWT systems work well in more open settings, a rural area without trees or surrounding buildings that break up the flow of wind coming to the blades. There are a number of smaller designs built specifically for home use, a lot of these are DIY kits that allow you to set up the system yourself, saving on the cost of professional installation.

Studies have shown vertical systems generate energy at a lower wind threshold than a comparable horizontal turbine. They also will produce power past the point that the increasing wind causes the blades of a horizontal turbine to feather to prevent damage from over powering the system. The larger, helical designed, slower rotating blades are also more visible to birds than the thinner propeller style of wind vanes used in a horizontal axis system. The Savonos style of vertical axis wind turbines can offer magnetic levitation instead of traditional ball bearings in the generator to blade interface, drastically reducing friction. With less friction, less energy is needed to turn the blades allowing the system to operate with lower winds.

Vertical versus horizontal. Which system to use? Each has their own pluses and minuses, and no one type will be perfect in all wind conditions for all sites.

Learn about the alternatives before purchasing. Start with the Internet to learn about the options, including information on siting, required permits and net metering available to add your system to the power grid. Knowledge is power. Your research will help you on your journey towards energy self-suffiency and improving your environment.


Pat Herron is an environmental activist promoting sustainable, user friendly solutions leading to energy independence. Learn how you can benefit by installing a wind power system for your home.

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1 comment:

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