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Publication Title | Apples & Oranges

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Mick Sagrillo ©1998 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: 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, specifications, and power curves for a variety of wind systems.

Background

This article is an update of articles originally published

18 Home Power #65 • June / July 1998

in 1993 and 1995, and reflects a number of new wind generators that have come on the market. This article will review all of the commercially available wind systems that are sold in the United States by bona fide manufacturers. An explanation is in order.

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the federal and state governments offered tax rebates and incentives to folks who bought renewable energy systems, including wind generators. The objective of the program was to help a fledgling RE industry get off the ground, while weaning the United States from foreign energy supplies by growing more of our own. While the intentions of the tax incentive program were good, the results for the wind industry were nearly devastating. (Similar results occurred with the other renewables, but this article will be restricted to wind electric systems.)

Scores of companies opened shop and began building wind electric equipment. Virtually all of these companies failed. Customers, however, were left with wind generators that didn’t work, plus a bad taste in their mouths for RE.

The Vantage Point

Lake Michigan Wind & Sun, which I owned from 1981 through 1997, was (and still is) in the business of rebuilding and making parts for dozens of different models of wind generators that were manufactured by now defunct companies. This involved doing a lot of reverse engineering. That is, identifying system design flaws so we could correct them. By making the necessary upgrades, customers could turn a poorly designed wind generator into a usable piece of equipment.

Because of these services, I developed a unique perspective about where the wind energy marketplace was, and is now. I was in business primarily because all but a handful of wind generator manufacturers failed to build reliable equipment. As we found out about fifteen years ago, anyone can make a wind generator, but making one that will work for years is another matter entirely!

So when I say “bona fide manufacturers,” I am not trying to slight anyone. I do, however, want to inform readers who the successful manufacturers are. As a former dealer for all of the U.S. manufacturers represented in this article, I have extensive experience with nearly every wind generator reviewed. While I sold all of the new wind systems available today, I do not have any allegiance to any one manufacturer. I have tried to fairly represent their products in relation to all others reviewed. They are the survivors, because they have learned how to manufacture reliable products that have withstood the test of time.

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