them vertical-axis thingies

Popular Science readers: Please note that I have nothing to do with these companies, and so I can’t send you information about them. Please visit their websites instead.

Windside: (Finland) and Windaus Energy: (Canada; site doesn’t render properly in Mozilla): both with near-identical twisted-savonius designs. Oh yeah, and a nice line in carping at the rest of the wind energy industry: There are no flying ice blocks, leaking oil or cutting blades. (Windaus); Most turbines don`t simply work. There is one turbine, which works. (Windside).

It should be pointed out that Savonius designs, being drag devices, are much less efficient than standard three-bladed horizontal-axis machines, which use lift. If you need a design without guywires, take a look at the Proven Energy machine. It’s very solid, and Scottish, too.

One has to wonder about lone voices in the wilderness. Once they start to drown each other out, it gets hard to tell which are the real deal, and which are not.

Addendum, 16 June 2004 — the note I’m sending out to request-for-information comments:

I’m afraid to say that there have been many wind turbine designs which deliver far less energy than their manufacturer would claim. If the websites are unable to answer your queries, I would be very cautious about investing in the design.

While it’s true that vertical axis wind turbines can capture energy from the wind in any direction, this is less of an issue in reality than you might think. In wind speeds that are useful for power generation, the wind tends to come from a fairly well-defined direction. Thus horizontal axis designs will capture as much energy as a vertical axis design, and do not have the same fatigue problems.

The Windaus and Windside designs look like drag machines. These are much less efficient than lift machines — which include most horizontal-axis designs. While drag machines may have lower noise from the blade tips (since they travel more slowly than lift machines), mechanical noise is usually the largest part of wind turbine noise.

It’s not that vertical axis designs are the great undiscovered secret of wind energy; they’ve been extensively tried before, and found to be less workable than horizontal axis designs. Canada invested millions into Darrieus turbine research in the 1980s, and the first company I worked for in the UK used to make vertical axis designs.

If you are genuinely interested in small wind turbines, I’d strongly recommend that you read around before choosing a design to use. Two resources I can recommend are:

• Home Power magazine: <> — they’ve been using off-grid power for years. If they say a design works, it very likely does.

• any book by Paul Gipe, but especially his newest 2004 publication, Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, & Business: <>. Paul’s seen pretty much everything in the industry since the early 1970s.

Daily Kos Readers:  ask my employers in the wind energy industry since the early 1990s if I know my stuff … 😉


  1. I got an issue of Popular Mechanics today and went searching for the wind turbine. found this page and the link to the Canada site. I DO want to put a wind generator on the ranch but wanted something small without guy wires running everwhere. We have plenty of wind so I am looking forward to hearing if they have a 1KW unit as well. will Post more as I know

  2. Please send Brochures, Costs, etc… we are
    interested with this product here in Washington State;

    P.O. Box 1834
    Aberdeen, Wa 98520

    Ph # 360.533.8627

  3. I also saw the Windaus article in Popular Mechanics and wish to learn more about it.

  4. Hi,
    I would be also interested in the smaller size windmill (1-5 KW). Horizontally mounted design which could utilize wind from changing directions and a quiet opretion are definitely inviting.
    Any more information??

  5. I have been working on a totally different combination design, but stopped because I needed a decent verticle wind generator for the best results.

    I would appreciate any informaation that you might be able to send me, either by internet, or by mail.

    Thank you…Fred Norman..fearlessfred@ or 103 Prairie Ln.,Whitney,TX 76692-5680

  6. I would appreciate any informaation that you might be able to send me, by email. thanks

  7. i too saw the ps blurb but have been unable to find a web site for windaus. can anyone advise? any idea of cost? thanks

  8. I have been looking for technical reports on the torque tube failures in the Robert McAlpine/Northern Engineering Industry’s VAWT’s erected at Carmarthen Bay in 1986. This subject was mentioned in the May/June 2003 issue of REFOCUS, pg. 32. Can you give me any references to these failures?

  9. I am looking for a very small wind turbine to power up a radio transmitter. No more than 40watts is needed. Can you help?

  10. windside claims their turbines have survived, and produced electricity in, winds up to 130mph. This may be important in some locations

  11. I saw the Windaus article in Popular Mechanics and wish to learn more. Please send me Brochures, Pricing, etc… any information that is available.

    ParkView Developers
    Atten: S. Sukala
    100 Braeburn Road
    Lower Burrell, PA 15068

  12. I live in Panama,S.A. and would like info on the vertical windmills and there pricing. We live on and island and power is always a problem.This is a large untapped market that grows monthly. I look forward to revewing your info.

  13. Have sent 3 emails and 1 snail mail to Windaus with no response to any of them.
    Think they are fraudulent!

  14. Jan. 27, 2005

    Windaus address according to is
    the following:

    Windaus Energy Inc
    27 Copernicus Boulevard,
    Brantford, ON N3P 1N4

    It’s in an industrial mall off of Memorial
    if anyone is in the Brantford Ontario area.

    Next time I’m in that area, I’ll have to
    take a looksey and see if I can find the

  15. I drew something a lot like the picture of the vertical axis mill they have, but my concept’s a little different than the helix, I don’t know much about CAD/CAM, who would be a good point of contact to talk about my idea with?

  16. Do you have any diagrams or pictures of your unit available? I am interested in using it as a propulsion source for a “sail” boat.

  17. The innovative (and controversial) UK wave hub being built on the Firth has been giving the go ahead – Energy that gets produced underwater and that can’t be seen to the naked must be hailed as a great achievement.As long is it does not have a negative impact in the local marine life the more of green and clean energy we can put into the Scottish Power grid is fantastic, Well done.

  18. We have a lot boat owners that inquire about the best set up for their crafts
    Which is more efficient when under sail and the most reliable?

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