We Can’t Direct the Wind, But We Can Use It: Personal Turbines

To be honest, I am not that well read on the modern-day energy crisis. But to be frank, I’m also not oblivious to high energy prices, lots of hubbub surrounding the issue, and the concern that non-renewable energy sources are just that – non-renewable. Not to mention that a lot of energy sources aren’t “clean,” or anywhere close.

To put things into perspective, let’s look at some of the facts. Today’s Honoree, a blog dedicated to “recognizing the work of others,” reports that this summer was one of the hottest on record (which if you stepped outside in July, you can bear witness to). In fact, according to the state of the climate report released by NOAA, July 2015 was the warmest month on record for the earth since 1880. And scientists weren’t the only ones who noticed. In fact, if the general population is anything like me, they probably had their AC pumping to make their house feel like an arctic blast when they walked through the door and went on to cower under a heap of blankets because it just feels cozier and comfier when the surrounding air is frigid. Come on, you can’t deny that! It’s practically scientific. Seriously though, Today’s Honoree puts the facts on the table:

“According to a 2015 report on highest and least expensive states, about 7.3 percent of the average consumer’s total annual income goes to energy costs. In fact, energy bills can be so high that in some states, such as Connecticut, the average energy bill is $407 a month.”

While clean energy options exist (such as wind turbines), they seem fairly inaccessible to homebuyers. I mean, if there was a clean energy option that wasn’t cumbersome to implement AND lowered monthly bills, wouldn’t you think we’d be seeing it on HGTV fairly regularly? I’d think so.

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Not to worry, like with most great causes, somebody is on it! In this case, there are two “somebodies,” Einar Agustsson and his brother, Agust Agustsson, originally from Iceland. The Agustsson brothers come from a family of electricians. More specifically, their family business is in making and fixing complex motors (like the ones at Iceland’s renewable energy plants). Family business is great, but the brothers wanted to do something more. Einar talks to FastCo, saying:

“Since we’ve been young, we’ve been working for the family. We wanted to use that with our business education to build something new.”

“Something new” is truly a casual and humble way to refer to what they did, which was develop a portable wind turbine from scratch. The design, called the “Trinity,” comes in four different sizes. Einar talks about the brothers motivation and vision:

“Smaller wind solutions haven’t really been competitive to solar solutions. That’s because it’s more complex to set up and also it’s very expensive. We wanted to change that and I think we’ve done that by making a lightweight product that is very easy to set up and has everything inside of it – the battery, the charge controller, and the inverter.”

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The four different sizes lend the solution to a number of different use cases. The 2500 watt version, or the largest size, has the potential to power a small house. The 1000 watt size is a good fit for RVs and boat owners. The smallest size version (at 50 watts) is a good fit for USB devices and laptops. Cost per turbine ranges from $399-$5999. Shipping of all four sizes will start in April if all continues to go according to plan.

The brothers seem to be answering a need, as their project was initially started (and well received) on Kickstarter. Within two days of the project’s listing, the brothers were fully funded and ready to go.

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These inventive minds have seemingly left nothing unimagined – they have also developed an app that goes with their turbines. The app helps users to turn their systems on and off and see how much energy the turbines are producing each day. So, what makes these turbines so easy? Again, according to Today’s Honoree:

“Besides portability, other features of the Trinity wind turbines are their ease of use and low cost. Inverter, batteries and controllers are built in to the unit, while the wind turbine is essentially plug-and-play. This allows the Trinity to plug into a wall socket and convert the power it generates and stores to provide power to all other outlets – no electrician required. The unit also switches automatically between charging devices from the battery or directly from the turbine, depending on how much electricity is being generated.”

“Cool” would be the understatement of the century. While wind turbines have a long way to go before they are a common household source of energy, inventions like the Trinity make it seem more plausible in the not-so-distant future. I can see it now on Love It or List It. “We are listing this house unless we have room for a two wind turbines in the backyard!”

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