After perusing my 1971 copy of The Whole Earth Catalog I became intrigued with an ad promoting home windmills made by an Australian company called Quirk’s Victory Light Company. They were purchased many years ago by the Real Gas and Electric Company which is a full service wholesale distributor of sustainable energy products.
I became excited about the possibility of installing a home windmill to generate my home’s power needs. Real Gas links to a company called Bergey, which sells actual windmill kits. Bergey brings up an important point, though. I perceive windmills as novelties, which could reduce my coal-fired energy consumption but are a far cry from being powerful enough to supply my house. For many communities around the world where there is no grid the windmill can be a important survival instrument, if not a way to connect to modern life in some way by powering a radio, TV, or generator.
Bergey offers some writing on using windmills to pump water. After searching Google for this I found OtherPower. They link to many exciting uses of wind power around the world.
They offer a homeowner kit for $1200 that will produce (hold your breath) 800 watts! That is six and one half amps, or what my toaster uses! So a windmill is not really practical for my use. OtherPower offers a substantial blog on environmental energy use systems under the site fieldlines.com.
Discount solar offers a “neighbor friendly” windmill for $700 that produces 400 watts. Other than that, though, it looks like the home windmill has stalled out since the Quirk’s 1971 promotion. I think the block is that it is just too expensive to set up for the costs. (Windmills produce DC current so a converter is needed plus a bank of batteries to store the excess power adds up in costs real quick.) After reading “Power from the Wind” by Dan Chiras I see that to operate at peak function windmills need to be about 110 feet of the ground.
There are a lot of exciting innovations though and I plan to explore this further. I will update as I discover.