The French designer, mostly known for his minimalist furniture, proclaimed design ‘dead‘ a few months ago, but it appears the man is not done yet. Starck outsourced the technical part of wind turbine to Pramac, a company which manufactures mostly generators. The resulting product is called the ‘Democratic Ecology’, a name that sounds heavy but that’s because Starck has ‘seen the light’ and is dedicated to saving the planet. The turbine itself is feather light and looks mostly smooth. It’s made from a transparent polycarbonate and looks astoundingly cool. Starck has also designed a less eye catching version.
What you need to watch out for is that some turbines generate quite a bit of noise and they might also need permission from your local authorities. If you want an absolutely cheap wind turbine, it might be worth holding out for the September release of the Starck design, because it’s about the cheapest model around. I don’t know how design usually works, but I would guess that you pay mostly for the work Pramac put in and that the stunning looks Philippe Starck created should be considered a gift from nature because the wind turbine costs only $633 or EUR400.
I found another personal wind turbine that’s even cheaper and which comes with some more information on the technical front. Apart from making your own wind turbine (not too difficult), you won’t find one that’s a lot cheaper than the Air-X mini wind turbine. Its inventors say the thing powers any size battery bank from 25 to 25,000 amp hours or higher. It will work at wind speeds starting at 7 miles per hour (3.13 m/s). I would guess that the Democratic Ecology would power about the same kind of voltage. A person commenting on a Treehugger article featuring the Air-x believes that the cost of the pole on which the Air-X is placed is probably higher than the rotor blades. I am not sure if I agree because your average flag pole is easily five meters high and you’d have a day job to spot one that’s given the ghost. The Air-X, has been sophisticated repeatedly and apparently is almost noise free. It’s priced at $590.
A popular wind turbine in the UK, the Micro Wind Turbine– has been in use for donkeys’ years in sailing boats. This turbine is highly visible in built-up urban areas throughout the UK. It is specifically designed to supplement national grid electricity but it generates only a couple of hundred watts of power every few hours so it’s only reliable for energy savings light bulbs on a windy day.
It’s very likely that the Democratic Ecology wind turbine will have similar technical specs to the Air-X but I can’t tell you for sure. Inquiries to Pramac’s Italian offices went unanswered.