Jellyfish Wind Appliance - Wind Power made easy

Jellyfish Turbine

Jellyfish Turbine

The Jellyfish wind turbine has the potential to bring clean energy to the masses!

Between mentioning the perfect flush device and their Green Tech section, Popular Science had a ton of great "green" devices in May's issue.  The Green Tech section contained an article called "Presidential Power" and had suggestions on what Obama can do to "green" the white house.   One of the devices mentioned was the Jellyfish Wind Appliance.

What makes this mini vertical-axis wind turbine so great is that it can plug directly into your power outlet to send it's power back onto the grid.  No added cost for inverters and electricians!  From their website:

And because the Jellyfish combines the same principles and proven technology used throughout the wind power industry – only on a smaller scale, it can be plugged directly into the existing power grid without special wiring or expensive inverters - you literally just plug it into the wall, anywhere there's power. With only one moving part and no brushes to wear out, its virtually maintenance free, relying on the same proven design found in everyday household appliances and industrial motors.

The problem with existing small wind power turbines is that they are large (taller than your house), fairly expensive (around $10,000), and require inverters and electricians.  Also, you would normally need to install an anemometer to measure wind speed to ensure you have enough wind to generate power before you do take the larger step of buying a wind turbine.

The developers of Jellyfish Wind Appliance are targeting a price of $400 for the device, which is not much more than one of the anemometers! The website states the wind turbine would generate approximately 40 kWh per month.  If you pay 10 cents/month for electricity you would generate $4 per month or almost $50 a year of clean power!  Couple that with the fact that it would probably be eligible for the federal tax deduction of 30% and that brings the payback under 7 years!  I say the "coolness" factor alone makes it worth it, but I've been called an "energy nerd" so don't put too much stock into what I say....

The Jellyfish is planning on hitting the market in 2010, so let's hope it can deliver!

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It's called a grid tie inverter, put DC in get AC out. Works like an alternator if no power is produced by grid no power is fed into grid. Thus no chance of shocking line workers.
There have been other DG systems that claimed to let you be able just plug them in and feed power back into your house wiring. None has ever made it to market to my knowledge. Most eventually switch to using a standard inverter package that is already approved, which typically increases thier cost by $500 per kw. You can't legally feed power back into an outlet in North America. Probably the biggest problem is that this could cause an overload in the branch circut and start a fire. Imagine that you have a 20A breaker connected to two 20A recepticles. You plug the windmill into one and a load into the other. Now whenever the windmill is suppling power into the line, the load can draw that much more than 20A without throwing the breaker, overloading the wiring and recepticle. Beside this actual problem, there are scores of regulatory issues. In order to connect anything to the grid that could supply power and get UL approval, you need to comply with the IEEE 1547 Standard. This is a VERY rigorous standard and it unlikely you could build a device for $400 that could ever meet it, even forgetting about the costly and time consuming process to just get the testing and aproval. I think the best solution to this problem is to put the energy supply in between the load and the grid. This gets around all the regulatory issues and makes the product fall under the same regulation as, say, a consumer UPS unit. You can read more about this idea here... Thanks, josh
Josh, Excellent points and exactly the reason I'm not too optimistic about ever seeing the Jellyfish "as advertised". Surely they've addressed these comments somewhere? I like the idea of a UPS unit or even the unit I've seen from GridPoint.
Chickenfarmer, Have you read my post in the "wind production" category on why it is so important to use an anemometer to measure wind speed? I would look at that first and figure out how much wind you have. Once you know that, you can determine the best turbine to get. You might need one that is much bigger than the Jellyfish. Where is your farm located?
This sounds interesting, but I'm curious about how they will keep the jellyfish from putting. My understanding was that one of the reasons Solar installations are complex is that one needs to ensure that power will only go into the grid when it should be. Imagine a electrician working on power lines; he turns off the power coming from the power company to make it safe for him to work, but then he gets zapped by all of the end point systems (Solar, Wind, etc) putting energy into the grid from our homes. I'm assuming this jellyfish has a method to prevent this? If it does, then the idea of just plugging a system into the wall outlet may be exactly what the doctor ordered!
This thing sounds really interesting. I am expanding and growing on my farm, and one rule governs all new projects. They must be sustainable including eco sustainable. I would rather spend the money to build an off grid electrical system then pay for hooking up to the grid. It is expensive to run power lines underground, so off grid solutions look very pretty. How does this Jellyfish Wind thingy hook up to charge a bank of batteries? The sun shines plenty in the summer, but not always enough in the winter, but at those times, usually, there is wind, so it seems like a duel power generation system of solar and wind would be much more reliable than one alone. They should make it so this thing can recharge a bank of batteries.
Are you correctly discounting the cash flows to determine the 7 year payback period? I doubt it. It is probably more like 10-12 years. And like I always say if the payback is greater than a decade, I'm not interested.
The average home uses about 930 killowatts of power a month so you'd need over 20 to power your home. you probably have 40 killowatts of power running all the time even when almost everything is turned off. So nothing goes back into the grid.
Garth, when I had my TED plugged in and only my laptop running, I was only using 200 Watts, so .2 kWhs of power running all the time in my house, not 40 kilowatts. That's a HUGE difference. Also, remember that energy is expressed in kWh, not kW. If you are running an efficient household and only the Jellyfish is plugged in and operating, you should be sending more back to the grid than you are consuming.
Powell, that's a great question and I am not 100% sure of the answer. I know the AC power the Jellyfish would put back on the grid would have to be "synchronized" with the grid, meaning the phase would have to be in line and it would have to put power on at 60 Hz, 120 V. I'm assuming that the electronics will be built into the unit to achieve all of this. Can you imagine how awesome Solar power will be when someone builds a plug-in DC -->AC inverter? Chris


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