Marine Wind Turbine Generators

six blade wind turbineWind turbines harness the energy of the wind. Blades are connected to the shaft that is connected either directly or over transmission box to the electric generator.

Wind turbine generators start to produce electric energy even during low wind speeds, but no wind, no electricity.

In order to work, blades spin and in strong winds, they can spin really fast - wind turbines must be carefully positioned on the boat in order to avoid possible damages or injuries.

Most marine wind turbine generators are made for both land and marine operation. Features of good wind generators include:

- integrated automatic breaking system, usually electromagnetic, to protect the unit from sudden and high wind speed. Manual breaking system can come handy, too.

- They often come in 12V and 24V versions, equipped with charging controllers which monitor parameters like voltage, rotation speed (RPM), charging current, line voltage and similar parameters.

- good controller is usually built as Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) controller, which is electronic DC to DC converter that optimizes the voltage between the wind generator (or solar panels, or power generator, or ...), and the battery/boat electric system and protect the battery from over charging. It is often the best solution to get a good charging controller which accepts all planed power sources.

- Blades are usually made from high quality polypropylene and glass fibers. More expensive models use lighter, but stronger carbon fibers.

- Entire unit should be resistant to salt water corrosion, UV radiation, sudden voltage surges and wind gusts.

vertical shaft turbineOther things to consider when buying a wind turbine:

- maximum output power, which is given in watts (W). Common power of marine turbines designed for smaller boats is between 300 and 800W.

- rotor diameter - larger rotors with more blades produce more electricity, but they are also heavier and require more space.

- rotor shaft (axis) orientation - common wind turbines have horizontal shafts with vertical tails to help them turn toward the wind. This rotation must be taken into account when positioning the unit on the boat. Also, there are wind turbines which have vertical shafts (axis of rotation) and they operate in their 'work space' regardless of wind direction.

Other technical specifications include: unit mass, minimum wind speed, optimum wind speed, cut-off wind speed, survival wind speed, noise level, vibrations etc.

Long story short - if you like to go for longer fishing/leisure/business/etc. trips with your boat/yacht/ship and your electric/electronic systems require plenty of 'juice', consider wind turbine/solar panel combo with a good dual purpose battery bank.