Bad Experiences With A Cheap Wind Turbine

If you’ve got a property with some outdoor space and plenty of wind, you might consider throwing up a windmill to generate some electricity. Indeed, [The Broject List] did just that. Only, his experience was a negative one, having purchased a cheap windmill online. He’s warning off others from suffering the same way by explaining what was so bad about the product he bought.

The windmill in question was described as a “VEVOR Windturbine”, which set him back around 100 euros, and claimed to be capable of producing 600 watts at 12 volts. He starts by showing how similar turbines pop up for sale all over the Internet, with wildly inflated specs that have no relation to reality. Some sellers even charge over 500 euros for the same basic device.

He then demonstrates the turbine operating at wind speeds of approximately 50 km/h. The output is dismal, a finding also shared by a number of other YouTube channels out there. Examining the construction of the wind turbine’s actual generator, he determines that it’s nowhere near capable of generating 600 watts. He notes the poorly-manufactured rotor and aluminium coils as particular disappointments. He concludes it could maybe generate 5 watts at most.

Sadly, it’s easy to fall into this trap when buying online. That’s where it pays to do your research before laying down your hard-earned cash.

44 thoughts on “Bad Experiences With A Cheap Wind Turbine

  1. Just buy the cheapest product from china. What can possibly go wrong?

    I’am powering my house with a 2000000mAh powerbank for 5$ and storing all my data on a 16TB SSD for 25$.

    1. Usually a good recipe. For an amusing video, anyway! I always enjoy a cheap crap part teardown when I’m not on the hook for the cheap part.

      On another note I wonder if there’s some OTS part that’d make this less crap.

  2. Windturbine on a small scale have always been poor:
    – noise due to vibration
    – danger and associated clearance
    – overload dumping resistor load
    – preventive break down before exceptional weather event.
    – low efficiency, as close to the ground with big wind gradient and gust factor
    – aging leads to dangerous device to have around

    On the other hand, PV is solid state, does not pose a danger if crimped properly, no dumping load, very scalable, from pocket calculator to large installation, and the sun shine almost everywhere, but sure, doesnt work at night :)
    No wonder why you see plenty of small PV home installation while home winturbine are a curiosity.

    1. I think you are being a little harsh on the wind power, as you can get useful energy even under the less ideal settings most of the small scale options will have. The important thing is being a mechanical device it needs to be properly designed and built for the conditions and maintained (which if the build was good is probably cheap and easy). So while unlike solar you can’t slap it almost anywhere including really terrible north facing walls and have it work safely if rather ineffectively…

      As really the important thing for small scale wind is a reasonable location to put it it is less universally applicable, but done right its a great option. If you have a good location it might even be such a good option you won’t feel the need to hedge your bets and have solar, grid connection, or burning stuff backups at all as wind is generally less seasonal and will generally produce a fairly predictable amount of work – unlike solar where you need the clear weather to coincided with daylight hours so with some small misfortune you can be well under the average expected output for weeks, as the wind turbine just needs one thing – a windspeed in operational range.

      I do however largely agree.

      1. I used to have a solar array with a wind turbine. You get the best of both worlds then, however it really does matter where you put a wind turbine. It needs to be clear of turbulent airflow aka above by a couple feet from the top of roofs/hedges/trees.

    2. Solar power does work at night if you have a long cable from Australia to Europe. Perhaps in the future there will be many long power cables crossing many time zones, carrying vast amounts of power, and maintaining solar power for 24 hours a day everywhere.

      1. Well, there’s plans to run a 5000km cable from a solar farm (with battery) from Australai to
        Singapore, so yeah, why not?

        The North Sea winds farms are linked to Europe so your idea basically aready exists. Add a link across the Bering Strait & Europe can power the USA as well. (Aside from Texas, national power grids are socialist commie stuff or something.)

        1. “national power grids are socialist commie stuff or something.)”

          It’s comforting to know that if/when the USA gets a national grid,
          it will be monitored, maintained, and maximized from a single location under the full competence of the US government.

    3. I have heard power plants operators HATE wind farms because they are less predictable than solar, and very transient. One second, there is several megawatt worth of excess power in the grid, which forces turbines to run slower, lest they increase the grid frequency. The next second, the wind gust stops and now there is a shortage of several megawatt which the turbines have to ramp up to fulfil.

      At least that’s how it was explained to me, but I bet its quite a lot more complicated than that.

      1. It sounds like what they actually hate is that they are doing a job when they should be supervising a computer doing the job (or better yet, a computer running an energy storage facility that’s actually capable of reacting to changes as they come and that doesn’t involve burning stuff and all of the that comes with.

        1. It is an actual problem, not just technicians being lazy. Ramping rates of conventional generators can’t keep up with the transient power surges and slumps, and battery backed energy storage isn’t economical below dollars per kWh. They’re in big trouble trying to maintain grid stability even with computers running the show, because predictions aren’t 100% accurate.

          Not to mention that even the largest “megabatteries” only have some hundreds of megawatts of capacity, while the collective output of wind farms in a built up area can dump gigawatts on you.

          The bureaucrats dump money on wind power owned by their business buddies, and wind power dumps itself on the grid, and the power utilities get penalized for not being able to accommodate it. What would you do?

    1. Some of their stuff is well enough regarded, not fancy but does the job reliably – e.g. their pressure pots for resin are pretty standard, the European equivalent to HF.

      It maybe their electronic stuff is more shabby?

  3. That’s pretty shocking over-rating. If he’d got maybe 50% of the claimed performance that’d probably be par, but that’s less than 1% of the claimed performance… 😥

  4. I bought a few VAWT’s a few years ago. I bought a 12v 400W one (3 blades) which turned out to be quite awful considering it needed more wind to start it and exceptionally high wind to generate an amp or so. Then I switched to a 6 blade turbine (300watts) which actually did get close to 300W, but it kept spinning out of the wind. I later learned that turbines need to have an odd number of blades otherwise the wind causes too much turbulent wind on the opposite facing blades.

    Finally I settled for a 5 blade turbine with a static tail (so it doesn’t move unlike other chinese ones) and that I have seen generate 320watts for a few seconds. That is the best turbine I’ve had and actually generates decent power. Unfortunately where I have it mounted is not great, but it worked on trickle charging a battery bank.

    I’ve always been sceptical of these HAWT’s (like in the post), and I’ve seen quite a few videos where they don’t generate the power. I’m interested in someone actually rewiring it or replacing it with a decent Permanent Magnet Alternator (PWA).

  5. One thing that buyers don’t realize is that advertised specs and true technical specs can vary greatly. One red flag I have found in ads is when there is a mix of metric and imperial measurements. The advert copy is written to sell the product and usually over promises (accuracy/ability/etc.). Also we are in a time of rebranding (the company only makes the stick on logo), cheap knockoffs and seconds. You don’t know what you are getting unless you do a lot of research to make sure you are buying from the OEM and can get true tech specs.

  6. One thing that wasn’t mentioned was the drag problem on this cheap model that the downstream blades have when they rotate back into the wind. Not very aerodynamic looking. A Savonious bucket would be better or a combo darieus, troposkein would be better as VAWT than this cheap plastic looking rip-off.

  7. I mean, the math is out there: p = 1/2 x ρ x A x v³

    ρ is Density of air, about 1,293 kg/m³
    Diameter of this thingy is 0,6 m or 0,9 m (video is unclear, so let assume it is elliptic), A = 0.43 m²
    Lets take fresh wind, like 10m/s.

    So we have 274 W(wind). Minus mechanics loss, minus generator loss, minus MPPT loss, etc etc.

    Am I right?

    1. The theoretical efficiency limit for pulling power out of the wind is 59.3%. A good design might turn 45% of the wind power into mechanical power. This is not a good design.

    2. Usually the nameplate power of a wind turbine is defined by the maximum power, just before it starts to furl out of the wind, or where the turbine efficiency starts to drop. That’s somewhere between 12 – 22 m/s. For vertical axis turbines, it’s usually at the low end of the scale, because they get “saturated” at higher wind speeds and the air starts to pass around the turbine rather than through it.

      The actual power you get out of the turbine is much lower than the nameplate capacity. That’s the availability or capacity factor, which follows the turbine characteristics at the average wind speed for your location.

      The manufacturer can sell you a high powered turbine by optimizing it for very high wind speeds, which consequently means that you’ll probably have abysmal capacity factor in actual use, because it will barely turn with the average wind speeds at your site.

  8. if anyone though they could get 600w for 100euro you know they were on some type of medication…..

    When you see a ridiculous claim you need to assume the whole thing is a scam – be wind power, sd cards, power banks, batteries etc. You just CAN’T assume you will get a percentage (say half) of wha1 they are advertising..

    Even legitimate products can be quite misleading – ie a 250W solar panel won’t ever get 250w on someones roof in the bright sun. I tell most of my friends to halve whatever the solar panel label says as a rough indication..

    1. Strongly disagree. My panels commonly exceed rating by 5% during mid day. If you have reputable solar panels those ratings are achievable. If you can’t get to that power levels during midday you have an installation or system mistake.

      1. There’s a difference between hitting/just exceeding the rating briefly under perfect conditions and getting anywhere near the rating for the other 98% of the time… a good rule of thumb for solar panels in northern Europe is an average of ~10-15% of rated capacity if you average it out over a year (so including night time etc.).

    2. I don’t think that is really fair, if you don’t know a good amount on what something like this should cost it would be easy to be fooled. And most people won’t – its not a normal purchase that everyone you know is buying, with lots of advertising and big brands you can ‘trust’ etc. And most people don’t go researching motor/generators etc for their project, or know what the cost of that carbon fibre would be to them etc.

      So the only thing they have to go on for in something like this is the listed specs, the pictures and a comparison to others, and as lots of places produce or at least put their name on the same really cheap and hopelessly exaggerated specs junk…

      Also the specs on the solar panels are usually quite conservative, so you probably will get peak output on spec (or even a smidge over – maybe even 5%ish over) when conditions and placement are just right. So obviously not all the time by any stretch, but a fair representation of the peak. Which the rest of the electronics must be be able to take, as it is very possible to get there, so its important they give you a good measure. Now if you want to talk average or average across the whole sunny day (with or without sun tracking mounts), or you go and put you panels up with terrible angle to the sun, or just never clean the dirt off you won’t get close ever, but that isn’t a surprise. You really can’t call the advertisement misleading when they have given you a reasonably accurate measure of its potential and its your install that leads to not getting close.

  9. Aluminum windings are not intrinsically evil. Yes, they need to be sized 1.6x thicker than copper, but their bad reputation comes primarily from the challenge of making reliable electrical connections through the aluminum oxide layer. A high quality, piercing crimp connector must be used. Maybe this is why the video’s author was getting “zero amps” under load?

    I live in windy Boston, but turbulence from nearby houses would make my backyard a poor candidate for a wind farm. Saul Griffith’s rule of thumb is to fly a kite 10x farther away from the tallest nearby building. My corollary is: where you can’t fly a kite don’t install a wind turbine.

    I was always amazed by the massive size of commercial wind turbines. Then I read that the blade tips are where most of the energy comes from. For a fun combo of kites and power generation, look up Makani Technologies on Wikipedia.

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