About Lightweights and Hot Air…

22 Jun

I knew Ace Hardware was cool but maaaaaan…

I mean… first they grabbed John Madden as a spokesperson. That’s cool. Anybody who can mix it up with behemoth linebackers, eat an entire turkey drumstick in one bite, bitchslap Brett Favre,  and do a television commercial … all at the same time…  is “A-Okay” in my book!

But now, they’ve moved up in the world! It used to be that you went to Ace to get nuts and bolts, a can of spray paint, or even a string of miniature LED Christmas bulbs.

Now I’m Jewish, so I used them to “illuminate” my backyard oasis. Hey, I recognize a bargain when I see one! It’ s genetic! …As if!

(Oh stop it! It’s not either. That’s just a stereotype, perpetrated by jealous people who “didn’t save any nuts for the winter…”)

Time’s have changed though! Now, you can soothe your “power bill blues” by asking the “helpful hardware man/girl… lackey/wench…  um… whatever.

(Man, this being P.C. all the time is for the birds…!) :)

Slow Speed Wind Turbines

Everybody is talking about “carbon footprints.”  Now, this may come as a shock to you, but I couldn’t give a damn about my carbon footprint.

Know why?

Because I already KNOW that I’m being careful, trying to squeeze every single dime outta my wallet, to support my family, and provide for their comfort and well-being. It’s not about become an “Al Goon… um…er… Gore Disciple.”  Nuh-uh!

I don’t have a mansion, a fleet of SUV’s, or a MegaYacht, or a big ozone killing Gulfstream. Hell, we don’t even had a car anymore. Medical bills ate it. And, they didn’t leave a single nut or a bolt lying on the ground, either. :(

It’s not about following those nuts in “Hollyweird,” like sheep led to slaughter, or getting on an “I’m the President, and I’m here to save you… from yourselves!” bandwagon either.

It’s about using the earth to sustain the earth and all the creatures on it. And that includes me and mine. It’s just common sense.

I know that most of us are concerned about “carbon.” But, most of the green energy products are simply to expense or even unreachable for all those urban dwellers that help make this a great country to go broke in. Either that cool new “green tech” is too expensive, or the local Homeowner’s Association has but the boots to it, or… the local Planning and Zoning Nazis don’t “understand it yet (probably because the manuals and tech sheets aren’t written in crayon).

But as “Green is keen” starts changing the way marketers look at the world (hey, just what we needed… right?)! Another thing that might possibly SAVE us, to exploit!) products are starting to resemble the average Joe’s perspective, and even needs.

Recently, a company out of Muskegon, Michigan called EarthTronics unveiled it’s newest product. Big deal, right? Well… maybe. They’ve developed a wind turbine that can actually be used by individual homes.

Wasn’t “Earthtronic” a disco/electric funk band in the eighties? Hmmm… I think I remember them opening for Devo.

Yeah, I went to see Devo. Hey the girl was cute, and she had all the right assets… No! Not that! Sheesh you guys are perv’s… She got to drive her Daddy’s GT350 Mustang…

1966-Shelby-GT350

We hot-rodded that poor beast all over Southern California. Until… we got a ticket for driving 125 miles per hour in a 55 mile an hour zone. Oy Vey, did WE get an earful… And I got the boot, for being a “bad influence! Me, of all people! It’s not like I deflowered her or anything… Okay… I admit it… I did TRY… in an awkward, geeky “I’m not fairing too good in this nerdy, ‘puberty conflict’ kinda way…” Sheesh, is there no justice? :)

Speaking of miles per hour…

What  did you think I was gonna talk about? Deflowering virgins? Hey, that flower had been plucked YEARS before I met her… I bet her Dad blamed THAT on me, too! I wish…  :)

Okay, where was I? I just got blinded by “High School Hormones…”

Oh yeah… MPH! Now… EarthTronics –  Windtronics Division claims that it’s new turbine can operate at speeds as low as 2 miles an hour. This means that homeowners will be able to buy a wind turbine at a hardware store that kicks the small wind industry’s worst enemy… “slow wind…” right in the teeth, um.. er.. blades.

Now we all know that creative technology needs a really snappy name, so the genius’s at the plant came up with this beauty…

They call it “the Honeywell Wind Turbine.”

Isn’t that just sheer genius? Doesn’t that paint a picture of mad dashes to your wallet, as you race for the Hummer in your driveway, to go get YOURS? Man, I could have thought of a better name for it in my sleep!

It will be distributed through Ace Hardware stores in the U.S. And… It will be sold for $4,500 smackerroo’s, so start breaking your kid’s piggy banks!

Tell ‘em that Santa told you to do it! Tell ‘em you’re donating the money to the “Save the Eggs” Easter Bunny fund! Hey, tell them that the money is for the “You kids destroyed Mommie’s figure and now she want new boobs, or she’s leaving” fund…

Um… er… scratch that last one. I tried it on MY kids, and all they did was trash the house. Never mind! Ever tried to scrub crayon off your best suit? Simple Green don’t cut it…

WindTronics developed the turbine and licensed the technology to buildings systems giant Honeywell.

Okay, so it’s a pig. What did you expect? A “Barbie Doll Nuclear Reactor that looks like Ken’s Corvette?” Nope. Barbie got that in the divorce, when she caught Ken fooling around with Skipper…

Ah, stop it! Shheeeesh… Tough room!

It wold appear that the real challenge is going to be designing an attractive case for the beast (because to most Homeowner’s Associations, it’s not “how it works,” it’s “how it looks”). And while they are doing that, the damn thing has to be “affordable.”

Look, new tech is great, but if I have to lease my kid’s out to a movie production company to film the sequel to “slumdog millionaires,” I don’t want it. The world isn’t ready for “Slumdawgies… Bubba’s eat Bacon!”

I’m concerned about the weight of the beast, and what you’re gonna have to go through, to get it up there in the wind, so it will actually work in “light wind.”

Why are the Windtronics guys trying to combine these properties?

Because most of the target consumers are living in urban and suburban settings where trees, buildings, and litigation from nosy neighbors with nothing better to do than stick their big fat noses into YOUR business (those miserable, life-sucking bastards!) could easily block “wind.”

Where did THAT come from? Man, I gotta start taking my meds regularly, again… :)

So, if those manufacturers can solve THOSE problems (and maybe tackle world peace, hunger, and homelessness too) the market could quite lucrative for the guys who shove these beasts into shipping crates… And, if they haul them around in shipping containers… well… you all know how I feel about shipping containers! Yippee!

Here’s what they say about the way the thing works:

The low-speed milestone is achieved by removing the gearbox from the center. The wind power turns the magnets located around the frame to generate power. This design is termed as “direct-drive” generator.  EarthTronics has got rid of the heavy and costly gearbox in the middle. The design reduces the number of components and allows the turbine to start generating power with low wind.

Blah, blah, blah… HOW MUCH POWER WILL IT MAKE?

This turbine resembles a fan and will produce 2,000 kilowatt-hours in a year for a home.

“We say if a turbine only works between 8 and 25 miles per hour, you have a very limited range of operation,” said Brian Levine, the vice president of business development at WindTronics, a division of EarthTronics. “Our device is rated to address a wider range at the low and high end.”

Why? “Because a sucker is born every minute, that’s why!”

Wait, that’s not it… It’s because if it works, they’ll sell them to “Ma and Pa Bubba” like hotcakes.

Back to the marketing blurb:

The wind turbine weighs 95-pound and it’s 6 feet in diameter. It can easily be installed on rooftops or attached to chimneys, or even put on a pole, up there next to the one that has your Mother-In_Law’s head on it.

Okay, only at MY house. It’s not like she was the most likable person on earth… Bill collectors actually came to her funeral… and nobody else. We know it’s true because they signed the guest book, with lot’s of  “Call us or elses…” Now, we know that, because we retrieved the book from the funeral home, after we got back from taking our “Ding dong the witch is dead” holiday!

The company hopes to sell the turbines through Ace Hardware stores.

They are not ruling out selling the turbine through contractors,  who will also be needed for the installation and support anyway. It’s not like contractors make enough money NOW… Oy!

(Seriously, this is the scenario that makes the MOST sense to me. I can’t see grandpa up on the roof, yelling at Nana to throw him a wrench, while wrestling with a bladed pod that looks like a mutant Ron Popiel Project…

“Introducing… It shreds, it chops, it makes your fingers disappear… It’s the Ronco ZapYoMama!”

Honeywell’s  target consumers will be both homeowners and small business, probably…

Will it be successful? Probably. I’m still wondering about things like “government regulation,” ease of install by DIY’ers, and finding $4500 in this economy to actually buy the damned thing in the first place. At almost 5 grand, it’ll take a few years to reach the “buy-back payout” for the box.

However, people are becoming aware of alternative forms of energy. Turn on your TV set, for crying out loud! Cable beats us to death with “the green stick” daily! It’s become the 21st century “shileighly.”  So, the market is there.  And, power costs are on the rise.

But remember that this is just a part of a power system for your home… What do you do when the wind stops blowing? Better score a few Photovoltaic panels, too! Hmmm?

Is there a big enough market to make the numbers work? We’ll see…  It’s gonna take more than a few green-minded buyers, to make this little project see black ink.

When you’re thinking about using wind from the sky, and not your husband’s big mouth…

(according to my wife, that harpy from the depths of Hades…)

… the most common observation is that people often chose locations that had insufficient wind or had obstructions that blocked the wind. In most cases, turbine makers rated products assuming a very good wind resource–anywhere from 12 to 25 miles per hour.

But what if you’re not in a wind zone, or your husband isn’t a blowhard? (See honey, I heard you… put the knife down… that’s it… now back away slowly…)  :)

WindTronics generates turbines that can produce electricity at 2 miles per hour! Whaaaaaa?

Not many people buy “roof-mounted wind turbines.” In fact, it’s less than 0.002 percent of the small wind market in the United States.  And a lot of those people have been disappointed by “light winds” and “way short power production.”

But Windtronics isn’t discouraged. They see the other side of the coin – a vast market that still remains untapped.

“It’ll start to operate much earlier and get to prime production at the level when other technologies are just starting,” Levine said.

And Uncle Sam is getting in the way… um…er… trying to help too! The federal stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year (which I’ve talked about frequently here on RR), has lifted a $4,000 cap for consumers and businesses investing in and owning small wind turbines.

Now they can get an uncapped 30 percent investment tax credit, allowing people to recoup 30 percent of the installation costs.

(Okay, so the country actually has to have enough money to pay the “rebates.” If what’s happening in California right now is any indication, I’m kinda worried. Arnold has issued IOU’s to thousands of people expecting big tax credits for green stuff. It seems “the cupboards are bare…” And my local Walmart won’t take IOU’s. Nuh-uh!)

So, we’ll see. If they’re looking for test sites, I’m available. We don’t get much steady wind here, but it would give me an excuse to go up on the roof and talk to something that would actually “listen…” :)

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

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