[UPDATED ON 5/18/2012]
I have been speaking with the President of WindTronics over the past few days and they are working on a solution. He admit it has taken a while and he was apologetic for it, which I appreciate. We have a roadmap now that he is working on and I am looking forward to their solution. We talked about the reality of wind speeds in my area and in my specific location and I understand that we may or may not be able to generate enough energy here relative to what I was hoping/ expecting. I also realize that this is new technology and a new use, so lets see what we can do. Fingers crossed and I am hopeful.
This is a story of how both Honeywell (NYSE) HON and Power-One (NASDAQ) PWER and their WindTronics wind turbine and Aurora inverters have utterly FAILED me. I tell the story below, but top level is that I have two WindTronics turbines on my roof, they produce virtually no energy and neither company seems to care. The customer service of both organizations has been nonexistent. And at this point, I would recommend AVOIDING getting a WindTronics system. So here are the details if you are interested:
One of our quests is to get to (at least) zero net energy at our home, meaning that our home produces as much energy as it consumes. I go (or will go) into the depths of how we tried to make our home as energy efficient as possible in another blog post. We have gotten our consumption down to about 6,500 kwh’s a year (I’ve read, but don’t know for sure, that the average 1,600 to 2,000 sqft home in the US uses about 14,000 kwh’s).
We were all set to get a 6 KW solar system, but heard about Windtronics wind turbine made by Honeywell, with the Power-Ones Aurora inverter. We looked at the endorsements online, thought Honeywell is a reputable brand, and decided it was good to diversify our energy production. So we reworked our plans for the roof, working within the limits of the Chicago building codes, determining we could get 2 WindTronics wind turbines. In class 4 wind, their original claim is that they would provide as much as 2,700 kwh’s a year per turbine, so in optimal wind, the two would produce up to 5,400 kwh’s per year. We don’t have optimal wind on our roof, but we put a anemometer or wind meter to test the wind on our roof. Based on the wind data, we were told by the installer that we “had enough.” (NOTE: now the WindTronics website claims 1,500 kwh’s per year per turbine)
WindTronics also claims that it starts producing energy in 2 mph wind, which is a big advantage over other turbines that generally start at 6 or 7 mphs. (NOTE: it looks like it has changed since I first made the decision to buy them, they now “start at 0.5 mph” which is even better).
So we signed an agreement with a local installer for $21,861.00 to install the two wind turbines. Our plan was to take advantage of both federal rebates and state rebates which would give us 60% back in tax incentives. So the net cost to us was $8,744.40, which would have taken a long time to get a return on investment on that expense, but we feel it is the right thing to do. (Note: The State of Illinois has since backed out of covering WindTronics wind turbines as a state rebate, so now the full cost to us will be $15,302.70, which will be an even longer payback. Don’t even ask what I feel about the state backing out when they gave us an indication it would be covered and it factored into our buying decision).
After much delay, we finally got our WindTronics turned on on Dec 15th, 2011. They seemed to be humming in the wind and all of the neighbors were asking us about them, we did interviews with a few media outlets in town and we were very excited. But after about a week, the monitoring system called a Desktop only showed about .5 kwh’s produced. So I thought there was a problem with how the monitors were hooked up. I was told by the installer, don’t worry, it is producing energy. But I couldn’t see registering anywhere. So after several trips back and forth from the installer they determined that between the two turbines, we had only product about 1 kwh in the first two weeks they had been running.
So, they decided to install a wind meter on the roof next to the turbines to see what kind of wind we were getting up there. They installed it on Jan 3rd and let it run to Jan 22. About 20 days of data, in which every minute it record the Current, Min, Max and Average wind speed for just about 30,000 consecutive minutes. This table is a summary of the data (i’d be happy to send it to you if you like) and shows that over 77% of the time the wind speed of the average of a min was > 2 mph. These aren’t ideal wind speeds, but seem like they should work within the specs of this product and maybe not meet the new 1500 kwh guidelines, but might be respectable.
As of the writing of this post, over 2 months since install, we have produce just under 4 kwh’s of electricty from 2 WindTronics systems. Here is a quote from the site: “The WindTronics Wind Turbine is the highest output, lowest cost per kWh installed turbine ever made (in class and size). So powerful, so simple.”
Our installer can’t get responses to their questions to either of the manufacturers. I would have imagined they would have done what ever is necessary to make sure their products were successful. My installer is showing up here again next week to try some more tests and make a few adjustments. But I am just shocked that neihter Honeywell or Power-One have sent someone or done more to help.
Both Honeywell and Power-One have shown so little care about me as a customers. I realize they are both big publicly traded companies, but after reading all of the great stuff on their websites, I made the decision to buy their products. They have deceived me.