The wind turbine industry and the wind energy in general is a booming business. More and more wind turbines are being erected every day and by 2020 we are going to double our wind power in the United States. The turbines are often at least a hundred feet high. The blades are massive spinning devices that have to be transported in pieces. Wind turbines can be large, and strong enough that people can land helicopters on them to facilitate maintenance and repairs. That is the kind of wind turbine we are used to seeing.
However, times are a changing. Solar power used to be thought of as only massive panels fitted on the top of roofs. These days it’s quite common to see portable solar sources, mini solar panels used to charge small devices, solar panels integrated into backpacks, and even solar chargers integrated into phone cases.
It’s fascinating how much solar panels have shrunk, but could wind power ever shrink? By shrink I mean something could be used for personal use. It could be used to power cell phones in its smallest configuration and bigger models being large enough to charge an electric car.
Well, it does exist. Made by a company called Janulus, the Trinity wind turbine was a crowd-funded effort to bring renewable energy in wind form to the average person. The Trinity turbine started as the Trinity 50. The Trinity 50 is the smallest model and is designed for hikers, outdoorsmen, and general use. This small turbine weighs a mere 1.5 pounds and is easily portable. The Trinity 50 folds up into a cylinder shape, and can be strapped to the side of a backpack. The unit is designed to charge cell phones and small electronics like GPS units, rechargeable flashlights, and similar small electronics. The Trinity 50 is capable of charging a smartphone 3 to 4 times off a single charge. The Trinity 50 costs $399.
If you wanted to boost your power a bit you can jump to the 8 times more powerful Trinity 400. This 400-watt beast is capable of charging an iPhone 6 sixteen times. You can also charge larger devices like laptops and tablets, and even power a small camper. This system is of course substantially larger, and is a bit more difficult to backpack in and out of the wild, so don’t plan on that. However, the Trinity keeps getting bigger and bigger. The Trinity 400 will retail for $1099.
When you get to the Trinity 1000 and 2500, you begin to see the big boys of the Janulus lineup. Both units are capable of powering a home; obviously, there is a major difference between the models, and 2500 is much more powerful and made to power larger homes. The Trinity 1000 may not be enough for some homes, but it can charge a car, and power an RV or camper with relative ease. The Trinity 1000 will retail for $2999 and the Trinity 2500 will retail for $5999.
Both the Trinity 1000 and Trinity 2500 have the ability to be grid tied and inverted to power conventional homes, just like solar panels. The differences are in the price and performance, when you start talking about home tied systems. Solar powered systems are much, much more expensive, often costing tens of thousands of dollars for the entire system and installation. So you can see the Trinity 2500 costing roughly six thousand, and the installation costs ranging around three to four thousand dollars. Clearly, this is a much simpler and cheaper method to power your home. The real problem comes in when we start talking about wind access. Depending on your location, you may not receive enough wind to power your home efficiently. You may live in a relatively still area, or you may be surrounded by buildings that prevent the wind from spinning your turbine. Sun based power rarely has access problems. Like solar power, if you grid tie one of the Trinity Turbines, you can sell your excess electricity back to the grid, so theoretically you could pay the system off through electricity sales and savings.
What’s really cool is the fact these turbines use Li-on battery packs to store the energy that is generated. This same kind of batteries are used in electric cars, so the Janulus Trinity 1000 and Trinity 2500 are capable of powering electric and hybrid vehicles. Even if you aren’t grid tying your entire system, but own a hybrid, this kind of turbine is perfect for charging it. You can also take it with you on long road trips to ensure you always have a place to charge. While it won’t charge your car as fast as a traditional charging station when you are directly feeding the system, when charging the battery, it is comparable to a charging station.
Each of these models is capable of working in winds as low as 4 miles per hours, and when you reach faster speeds, the blades will self-collapse to protect themselves, and still working. Each of the systems is capable of collapsing to a smaller, easier to transport size, and the smallest model weighs 1.4 pounds and the largest only weighs 42 pounds. The systems are all weatherproof, and capable of lasting in the strongest winds and rains. The auto stop feature will keep them from being destroyed in strong winds as well.
The Trinity turbines are an interesting development in clean, green energy. These turbines have the potential to allow the everyday Joe and Jane, to power their home simply through wind power. While home based turbines and windmills for different purposes are around for hundreds of years, this is one of the first times we’ve seen a modern turbine designed for personal use. The price is considerably lower than solar panels, and the potential is the same.