Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Aug 07

Mariah Power – Low Cost Wind Energy

Posted in Energy Industry | Ethanol Fuel | Wind Power | Wind Turbines

Windspire Wind energy is ‘sustainable energy’, just like solar energy and water power. We already know the benefits of wind energy and why we should opt for it. But currently manufacturers are concentrating on the drawbacks of the wind energy and trying to eliminate or minimize those shortcomings. For example turbines are noisy and this sound nuisance can be a problem for the residents of the areas. Wind turbines are unsafe for birds too. Birds can be injured or die if they are caught up in the wings of the turbines. Turbines might annoy you due to horizon pollution i.e. they might meddle with your aesthetic sense.

Based in Reno, Nevada, Mariah Power has come up with a Windspire. It is a low-cost, easy-to-install wind power appliance. It is thirty feet tall and two feet wide therefore it can be installed at the place where you work or live. It is suitable for rural, suburban, and some urban residential environments alike, and at 30 feet, it is below usual residential and urban zoning limitations.

Windspire is different from others by its sleek propeller-free design, quieter than other windmills and it is safe for birds and humans. Instead of working as an eyesore, Windspires can be installed in such a way in front of small businesses, commercial complexes and holiday resorts that they can aesthetically appeal to the onlookers without generating noise. The edges of the rotor don’t spin at a fanatic pace. They just spin two to three times the speed of the wind which makes it low sound producing device.

Mariah Power’s patented technology consists of a rotor, generator, and inverter. The 1.2 kW (1.2 kilowatt, or 1200 watts) Windspire will generate approximately 2000 kilowatt hours per year in 12 mile per hour average winds. The Windspire also has an internal wireless modem that can be connected to your computer so that you can check the power production information any time you want.

The initial Windspire model, costs around $4,995. Add around $1,000 for a concrete base for the installation cost. Windspire generates about 30 percent of the energy used by a typical household. They are thinking of launching a new model with larger radius for the blades to be in production next year. Priced at $7,000, it is expected to produce 100 percent of a typical household’s needs.

  • Jason

    While this does sound like an excellent piece of equipment, I don’t see how it’s any cheaper than anything else out there. It keeps coming down to the fact that return on investment with most/all turbines is 15-20 years on average. Somebody has got to start building things cheaper.

  • mw

    They don’t say what the life span of the equipment is, so it’s impossible to estimate return on investment, but I agree the equipment is probably only going to
    last 10 years, and if so you would want to recover your costs within 7 years max to make it worth it. Bottom line – cost must come down. $3k price tag would probably make it worthwhile. 🙂

  • erikv

    Fixed electricity cost is about $0.11 per kWh where I live. At 2000 kWh/year, it’s going to take ~22 years for ROI (shorter if electricity gets more expensive — which it will). Still hard to justify a 20+ year ROI to the wife on a product that only has a 10 year warranty. I’ll save more by replacing my SEER 10 A/C compressor with a SEER 21 unit…

  • hugo

    While aesthetics and space requirements are a variable in the wind energy equation, at the end of the day a few kilowatts of power at such expense does not make it useful.

    Also the long term cost needs to be factored in:
    – Resistance to hurricane and gale force storms?
    – Mean time between replacement of parts?
    – Service costs?

  • Pete

    I’ve had the chance to see a prototype up close and the engineering is just amazing; it’s completely silent and turns at very low winds speeds! They’re also rated for 100mph and will shut down automatically. Lots of updates on their manufacturing news so check their site for details:

  • chris gilbert

    I think we do not get to hear enough good things about the product. Are there free brochure or is all the inform on the web? Are prices going to come down due to more demand? How is the production in Ohio going? Thanks for your time

  • Katrina

    I think that wind power is not a good resource for alternative energy, because the windmills cost a lot of money, and they are not going to help us like they should.

  • Jim

    I agree with Katrina, although for different reasons:
    #1 Reliability – (wind will not always be present)
    #2 Infrastructure – (where to place the wiring)
    #3 Biggest issue ever – How the Grid can compensate for the amount of energy produced by the wind turbines placing power on the grid when the wind blows, then stops. I see this causing a huge imbalance placed on the grid and the power plants ability to adjust quick enough to make up for this imbalance.

    It could lead to black outs like we’ve never seen before.

  • Anonymous

    Katrina – you need to get your facts straight. Wind power is reliable, unlike fossil fuels, which are increasing our reliance on foreign countries. Yes, they may cost money, but not as much as we are spending on our current fuels, and isn’t it more valuable to have a clean environment?

  • Lia Versaevel

    I can hardly wait to install one of these in my Reno back yard! As more of these come into production, the initial costs will come down. I hope I can sell my excess power produced back to the local energy company. Great to see local people doing terrific things.

  • Alex

    Jim, please see below:

    #1 Reliability – (wind will not always be present) Energy from the wind can be stored when there is no wind. Some wind is always present at night when you do not use it. Most of the production at night is stored for later use during peak demand during the day. Any excess generation due to high winds is not going directly into the grid, it will go into storage.

    #2 Infrastructure – (where to place the wiring) Wiring is the easy part that can be integrated into the overall holding frame.

    #3 Biggest issue ever – How the Grid can compensate for the amount of energy produced by the wind turbines placing power on the grid when the wind blows, then stops. I see this causing a huge imbalance placed on the grid and the power plants ability to adjust quick enough to make up for this imbalance. -See #1.

  • Amanda

    I think this is awesome. I personally do not mind waiting 20 years for my ROI. It’s $7,000 people, not 30 or $40,000 like others. It is practical and it’s safe for birds because they can see it better. What’s not to love? The argument that sometimes there isn’t any wind is a weak one. It is so rare for there not be even a 3 or 4 mile an hour wind. It is usually much higher. The average where I live is about 10-15 mph, which isn’t unusual. People need to embrace alternative energy and stop being so darn pessimistic. I’m buying one, and I’ll be a lot happier for it.

  • russ

    Looks neat but look carefully at the power curve and the average annual wind speed in your location.

    Unlike commercial wind turbines many of the residential types are rated at 25 mph (or there about) which is a storm condition.

    The ‘cut in’ wind speed of 4 m/s (9 mph) is really of no meaning as the power produced is very small.

    A typical wind velocity of 11 mph will produce (as per Mariah claims) about 1500 kWh. For commercial turbines they multiply the 1500 by a capacity factor of approximately 33% meaning 500 kWh annual production. The capacity factor covers variability of the wind plus maintenance.

    This unit is under testing by NREL (I believe it is NREL) to verify the capacity at this time.

    Considering the swept area of the Mariah Windspire the factory rated output seems very much on the high side until supervised testing shows one way or the other.

    A document Apples & Oranges by Home Power is an excellent reference. Another is Wind Power Buyers Guide. Both are available at

    On the Mariah site they have a ROI calculator to help you. Only thing it leaves out is the cost (value) of money.

  • Harpal Singh Grewal

    Sustainability should be in the minds of people. Try making the same wind mill in India, you shall know the difference. The costs will come drastically low. Same thing can be made for $3000 only. The biomass generator which is being made by Heavenly Farms is breaking even in two years or less.

  • Raymond L.

    Living out here in the Mojave desert in California I can guarantee you one thing, the wind will never stop. I’ve been installing these Wind Spirals for Ray Walp now for 4 weeks and it is rare not to see them spinning. There are more days the breaks kick on because of high winds then days where they just sit there with birds on them.

    If you have any questions feel free to call Mariah Power 1-757-857-4888

    If your in southern California feel free to call the shop, I am sure someone can answer any questions you might have regarding the spirals.

  • John

    How many regions in the US actually get a 12 mph average wind speeds? I live in Reno, NV and the average annual wind speed is 7 mph. How much power would this thing produce at 7 mph average? For those of you who don’t know Reno is a very windy region, so living in a region with 12 mph averages would seem to be quite rare. I’m thinking out on the plains of the midwest or out on the open ocean. Plus wind at 30 feet and below around residential areas is very inconsistent. The cost benefit on these gizmos just doesn’t pan out and time will ultimately tell how these things were not the wisest of alternative energy investments. Even the standard 60 foot tower turbines in this wattage range need at least a 13 mph average wind resource to compete with solar PV. That’s assuming the solar system is located in an unshaded area and not in Seattle or the North East. Average household consumes about 6000 kwhs per year. In Reno, you would need about 4-5 of these things to offset the power for the average home. About 21k after the 30% tax credit. In Reno, a 3.4kw PV system would produce the same amount of energy and cost about 18k after the tax credit. The wind costs more and requires a significant amount of maintenance. The PV system requires almost no maintenance and most modules are warrantied for 25 years. PV technology has been tried and tested for over 45 years now. Most inverters will need to have the fans replaced about every 7 years. Under 50 bucks. Capacitors inside the inverter will most likely need a swapping every 15 years. 4-500 bucks. Modules need a good hosing down and a squigee when they begin to collect dust. Residential grid-tied wind is simply a romantic idea in my book. Expensive kinetic yard art.

  • Alwi

    Why it is called a “new technology”? It’s just a Darius rotor invented about 80 years ago?

  • UncleTOTO

    Haha, usually the wind turbines produce 70-80% of the max amount even by half speed, so it is no problem. of course I’m sure everyone can get a map where the winds are shown, average, windy days. If you don’t have enough wind, do not install. There are however cheaper appliances.

  • slaps

    UncleTOTO, I never heard turbines produced 70% power at half speed. I thought they produced 25% power at half speed. Could you cite a reference? I would like to look into this.

  • Bryan

    I think these should be in every major gym. Instead of running on a treadmill you get to push a turbine in circles.

    Jokes aside I think I’m going to dig in a bit more for practicality. 7000 really isn’t that much. Whats the cheapest new car you can get these days, 14,000? Plus I’m from Hawaii (outer island), plenty of wind and really high electric bills. If it managed 100% of household power this would pull a full return in less than 10 years.

  • robert

    I think an independent study or three is needed. Not the UL type, but some good university research with NO BIAS. A windy area is needed to generate a realistic amount of consumer energy. We are all looking for ways to generate, how about learning how to cut back. Why aren’t the manufacturers of appliances and such doing real work on their products. Not the ‘Green’ or Energy Star rating, but real energy physics on the components in everything that uses electricity?

  • Haz Conciencia

    Small wind is a tough field. Congratulations to windspire for working to provide better solutions. A couple of comments based on the posts:

    1. ROI does need to improve in the small wind sector… but this is tough without large volume sales. The issue is adoption, not technology.

    2. Half the wind in this industry will never in this lifetime or the next produce 70 to 80% of the energy… UncleToTo… please stop posting in these threads!

    3. John… stop worrying about wind, you are in Reno, think solar. Reno has no wind… it´s not a bad thing, just the average wind speed in the US is way above your average speed.

    4. Alex, please stop posting until you learn more about the industry… I´m just saying.

    5. Small wind is a tough game… especially in urban environments. But if you have about a 12 mile per hour or more average, this type of turbine can produce some decent ROI even in some turbulent situations.

    OK… so solar sucks in Seattle, wind is a poor investment in low wind areas. Renewable energy is about leveraging mother nature based on your available resources. Because a technology doesn’t work in your area does not make it a non viable technology.

    First look for ways to become more efficient, second look for ways that nature can produce viable energy alternatives in your area.

    Renewable energy needs less criticism and more education. With the right process and the right technologies for your particular situation, you can make a big difference in the environment as well as your pocket book!

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