VAWT – Pros and Cons

VAWT – Pros and Cons

The advent of vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) has meant that a number of new locations that have previously been deemed unsuitable for wind turbine installation (including many homes) can be opened up to the market, however as these come with many pros over conventional horizontal axis wind turbines they have their own drawbacks as well:

Pros

  • VAWT construction allows for the wind turbine to draw upon lower wind speeds, enabling energy conversion in areas with less-than-desirable constant wind conditions
  • Vertical axis kits are easy to purchase, ship and assemble on-site and can easily be installed even relatively close to the ground if no suitable high ground is available
  • For those interested in creating their own home wind turbine from scratch many VAWT designs can be assembled easier than horizontal designs as they do not need to have a central pivot point to rotate into the wind
  • Due to potentially smaller overall sizes VAWT structures can easily be installed and used in many residential areas where other forms of alternative energy generation other than strictly solar power may not be allowed.
  • The vertical design and balancing of a VAWT means that noise is constantly kept at a minimum, generally between 2 to 3 decibels, making it a quiet energy conversion system that can be used year round with little disturbance.

Cons

  • VAWT construction can not generate as much power in any given wind situation compared to conventional horizontal designs (typically only converting approximately 30% of the wind’s energy into usable power).
  • Limitations on power production make VAWT units undesirable for many people as they cannot generally produce enough power for conventional home use unless a larger unit is used.
  • Because of the additional materials needed in blade and structural support many VAWT packages offered commercially may cost the same or more than conventional horizontal packages, meaning overall consumers will be getting less for their money in terms of power conversion.
  • In a commercial sense most VAWT designs offer too little benefit verses development costs, therefore even though they can operate at lower wind speeds the overall benefit gained is marginal and therefore they do not pose a viable solution to many developer needs for wind farms.
  • Because of the vertical design the turbine cannot rotate out of dangerous wind conditions, meaning that should an area with a VAWT be prone to sudden wind gusts it may actually pose a safety hazard.

Overall vertical axis wind turbines are a good solution for many home owners looking at implementing some sort of alternative power generation device on their property but feel that their location is not suitable for expensive solar panels or does not have a constant enough wind speed to sustain a horizontal wind turbine design. In a commercial sense, however, other conventional designs are better suited for mass power production and will offer a better overall benefit to consumers as they will be able to convert more energy for use – particularly in offshore platforms where strong wind speeds are fairly constant year round.

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