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Sailboat Wind Generators: The Ultimate Guide 2024

Sailboat wind generators are a way to capture the energy of the wind and use it to charge your batteries and power electronics aboard your vessel.

A large part of the appeal of living on a sailboat, for many people, is being more or less self-sufficient – using the wind for propulsion, and the elements to generate all the power you need.

Solar panels are a wonderful technology, literally magic, but the sun doesn’t shine every day. In fact, of the most popular cruising grounds in the world aren’t even that sunny. It rains three to four days a week in Barbados or Antigua, for example (don’t even get us started on the English Channel).

And what about night sailing – keeping critical loads like autopilots and instruments online after the sun goes down?

A marine wind generator fills in those vital gaps in the energy picture, and eliminates the need to generate or run the engines to keep your electronics online.

In this expert guide we take a deep dive into sailboat wind generators, covering everything you need to know – from how they work through to the very latest technological advances.

With thousands and thousands of miles under the keel, we have lived off-grid using technologies just like this for almost a decade now. We’ve rewired more boats than anyone should ever have to. We’re marine electronics nerds, basically, and specifically very passionate about renewables like wind and solar.

That’s why we couldn’t wait to write about this topic, and why you’ve got a good 4000 words on it! Sorry about that! But feel free to skip and just read the information you’re interested in, we don’t blame you!

So, let’s take a close look at sailboat wind generators, how they work, what makes a good one, the best sailboat wind generators that we think deserve a place on your next nautical expedition.

wind turbine for sailboats

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Table of Contents

The best sailboat wind generators – best budget choice, the best sailboat wind generators – best overall, what is a sailboat wind generator, why install a wind generator on a sailboat, wind generators vs solar power.

  • What is a dump load on a marine wind generator ?
  • Marine wind generators vs hydro generators

wind turbine for sailboats

Our top budget choice: Nature Power 500

If you are in the US, the choice for the best budget marine wind generator is easy – it’s this guy , the Nature Power 500, which West Marine have sold for donkey’s years with eternally solid reviews.

It’s a 500-watt turbine that is natively compatible with both 12V and 24VDC systems. It’s made from marine-grade aluminium that’s also coated in a thick, durable coating to help it withstand years at sea.

This wind generator is rated for winds up to 110mph – well into hurricane territory – and it comes as a complete kit including a charge controller using the latest MPPT technology. The controller even has an electronic brake, even though it’s a manual one.

Honestly, this is just a lot of value for the ~$700 they’re asking, and very easy to recommend for the best budget sailboat wind generator.

We don’t massively recommend most of the budget options on Amazon for extended cruising – they’re just not built for the task. But if it’s all your budget will stretch to, something like a Pikasola 400 would be the best bet for a sailboat wind generator under $500.

Readers in the UK or Europe could look at something like a Rutl and 914i . You’ll pay a little more, around £850, but a Rutland is a proper piece of kit – they’re been manufacturing marine wind generators since the 1970’s, long before solar panels were even seen on pleasure yachts.

The 914i will produce about 260 watts in 30 knots of breeze, or 20+ amps into a 12-volt battery. In a hurricane it’ll make over 400 watts.

This is a genuine marine wind turbine built from quality parts and specifically designed for the aggressive saltwater environment. It comes with very few compromises, from the bundled MPPT tracker to its extremely quiet operation.

The charge controller supports a small solar panel as well, which is sort of nice – but we’d highly recommend using a top-quality, stand-alone MPPT charge controller for any solar panels if you can possibly afford it.   

If you are in Europe, or can import, we think the Silentwind Pro is probably the best sailboat wind generator you can buy right now. This is with the caveat that while we’ve seen these installed on lots of different yachts, talked to multiple long-term owners, and even handled one out of the box, we’ve never actually owned one.

That’s because they start at about €2,100, which is a considerable sum for a 420w wind generator. But what you do get is an incredibly refined package – one that picks up and starts generating with as little as four knots of breeze, and remains whisper-quiet right up into the high RPMs.

The Silentwind Pro uses hand-laminated carbon blades that are rated to withstand hurricane-speed winds, but that are also highly efficient across the curve. This is definitely one of the most engineered solutions on the market today.

The polished package is rounded out by features like an automatic electronic brake that kicks in if the wind exceeds a certain speed. Cheaper options may have an electronic brake but it generally has to be tripped manually by the crew.

Models without an electronic brake of any kind are frankly dangerous, because you have to lasso them to stop them – which is how the gentleman broke his arm, and wind generator, in the earlier example.

Other than Silent Wind, there are a few slightly cheaper options that are still very good. For readers in the US, one option made locally is the Air Silent X made by Primus Wind Power. We don’t have as much experience with these, but we have met a couple of happy owners and have heard similar things to Silentwind.

Primus claim they have the bestselling wind turbines anywhere in the world; we’re not sure about that given that Marlec / Rutland have been around nearly two decades longer, but either way their site states they’ve sold more than 150,000 wind generators since ’95, into over a hundred countries.

Primus make six different models at different price points that are all potentially worthy of consideration, but the Air X Silent or Air Breeze are both solid choices.

Rutland wind generators also remain easy to recommend across the board, particularly to readers in the UK and Europe, and a premium option would be something like a Rutland 1200 .

At around £1,500, or $1900, the Rutland 1200 can produce up to 480W flat out, and will hit 300W in only 20 knots or so of breeze. It’s a proper marinized unit built to withstand the rigours of life at sea, and that should provide years of low-maintenance service.

wind turbine for sailboats

A sailboat wind generator, also known as a marine wind turbine or wind charger, is a device for capturing wind energy and turning it into electricity.

Sailboat wind generators typically have 3 or more long, aerodynamic rotor blades attached to a central hub. The blades translate wind energy into rotational force and spin the hub, sometimes at near-supersonic speeds .

The hub is attached to an electrical generator – a lot like the alternator on an engine – that generates electricity as it spins.

A wind turbine is an electrical fan operating in reverse. The fan takes electricity and uses it to spin a motor, attached to a hub and some blades, creating wind.

A wind turbine takes wind energy and uses it to spin a hub attached to generator, creating electricity.

You can actually just spin any DC motor to generate electricity , but it helps a lot if you pick one that generates the flavour of electricity you’re after.

Brushed motors are appropriate for generating DC, whereas a brushless motor is better suited to AC voltage applications.

A handful of marine wind turbines, mostly older ones, do use a brushed motor set up to produce a voltage that can directly charge a 12 volt or 24-volt battery.

Brushed motors are called that because they literally have a core of metal brushes that drags along inside outer, magnetic stator. Those brushes wear out over time and need to be replaced. They’re in something like a starter motor that works intermittently, but putting them in wind generators was always a bad idea.

They’re also noisy – which is a major consideration in a device that is going to run overnight, above your head, while you sleep, every night.

Brushless motors have so many advantages over brushed, from their efficiency to their lifespan to their reduced mechanical noise. As such, most wind generators produce AC electricity and then rectify it to DC at the regulator in order to charge the battery bank.

This means you will normally have three wires leading from the wind generator on your sailboat to the charge controller. It also means you definitely don’t want to connect those wires, carrying AC electric, to your DC battery bank, without passing them through the charge controller first.

wind turbine for sailboats

Wind generators offer a lot of advantages – notably the ability to work day and night, and in both sunny and stormy weather.

Solar panels are great, but they only work during the day – and on sunny days, at that. They’re also affected a lot by the seasons, because in winter there are both less hours of daylight, and the sun is lower in the sky, its rays have to travel further and they strike the panel at an oblique angle. And, it’s cloudy or rainy nearly every day.

Regardless of season, as we’ve explored earlier in this guide, some of the most popular sailing destinations don’t actually have reliable sunshine – but all of them have reliable wind.

Not so with sailboat wind turbines, which work just as well on sunny days as stormy. They often generate even more power in winter, on days when solar might be producing at 10% or less.

This effect makes wind generators a big enabling technology for grey-weather sailing, from extending your sailing on into the “shoulder season” and benefitting from empty bays and anchorages, to exploring unconventional cruising grounds such as the Scandinavian fjords.

Besides stormy and overcast days, wind generators will keep on producing at night. This is particularly helpful when night sailing with the radar, AIS and full nav suite running, maybe plus an autopilot, and then all your domestic loads like your fridge and freezer. Even if you’re just at anchor, it’s nice to wake up with topped-off batteries every morning.

This doesn’t apply if you have a modern boat with ample battery storage, but when we were just getting started in sailing, we would frequently have half-flat batteries by morning.

Not only does this shorten the life of the bank, it occasionally even meant we struggled to pick up the hook in the morning – which is a bit of a safety hazard. Again, this is mitigated by wind.

None of this is to say that you should ditch solar power for wind. Solar power has many wonderful properties, explored below, and the two technologies actually complement each other very well. If you have a large enough vessel, we fully recommend you try to integrate both into your power plan.

wind turbine for sailboats

Wind and solar are both very useful technologies to the cruising sailor, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Their pros and cons in fact offset each other and synergise quite nicely, compensating for each other’s weaknesses.

As such, we’d argue it’s less about deciding which is better, and more about figuring out whether you can incorporate both into your power plan somehow.

Nonetheless, let’s have a look at how solar power and wind generators compare and contrast, and some of the pros and cons of each technology.

Advantages of solar power vs wind power

Solar power’s major advantage over wind is that it’s “solid state”. This means it has no moving parts to wear out, and requires almost no maintenance.

In fact, solar panels will generally sit and faithfully do their thing decade after decade with almost zero human interaction. A common standard nowadays is for panels to retain 90% of their producing power after 20 years .  

There’s a 10kW solar array in Switzerland that’s been feeding directly into the grid since 1982; it’s over 40 years old and going strong.

Solar panels benefit from wiping down once or twice a year, but other than that, they’re a totally set-and-forget technology.

Many sailing destinations have ample sunshine, with long hours of direct sun throughout the sailing season.

Solar is also cheap and plentiful nowadays, and panels come in all shapes and sizes that can fit almost anywhere on a yacht – including a handful of solar panels you can walk on, although those are not cheap.

Overall, though, solar is much cheaper than wind watt-for-watt. You might pay $0.50 per watt for a good rigid polycrystalline solar panel and charge controller. A wind generator may well run to $2000 for 400w – that’s $5 per watt, up to ten times more expensive. And the wind generator has moving parts that can require replacement.

Another often overlooked advantage of solar panels is that their solid-state nature makes them very safe – there are no moving parts to catch a finger in, or spinning blades that could strike a member of the crew. They just sit and silently do their thing, year after year.

Disadvantages of solar power vs wind power

wind turbine for sailboats

Solar only works when the sun shines. The sun, as we’ve pointed out earlier, doesn’t always shine. You might be surprised by how cloudy places like the Caribbean can be – some islands have rain up to 50% of the time.

Some popular sailing destinations, like the English Channel, average about two hours of sunshine per day, with rain or overcast skies on 75% of days annually ( no, seriously ).

There’s always night sailing, as well. If you’re night-sailing, you may well have tools like radar and AIS running for safety, plus other loads like an autopilot and anything like fridges and freezers running below.

If you only have solar power, and no wind, you may have to run the engine to make it through the night – or invest in a large battery bank that can keep up until morning.

Marine wind generators are an excellent way to bridge the gap. It can be windy at any time of the day or night, and very often the cloudy or stormy days are the windiest. It’s only sunny during the day, and only some days, so this is a major disadvantage of solar power when compared to wind.

Another disadvantage of solar panels is that they lose power quite dramatically when shaded, and sailboats unfortunately have a lot of tall, shade-casting objects. These include the mast, the boom, the sails and anything like radar or Starlink dishes .

Somewhat paradoxically, solar panels also lose power as they get hot in the sun, meaning the normal, everyday conditions in many exotic destinations can actually reduce their efficiency by double-digit percentages. They are happiest somewhere cold with lots of sun, like on top of a mountain – not in the tropics.

Advantages of wind power over solar power

The wind doesn’t rise and set like the sun – it can blow around the clock. Okay, technically, the sun rising and setting down does change the temperature and create all the wind on earth.

But the wind often continues after the sun goes down. In fact, when you’re on a boat, on the water next to land, the wind usually just reverses at night .  

It’s often windy on the water on sunny days because all wind is caused by pressure flowing from high to low, and the main source of those differing areas of pressure is heat from the sun – particularly, say, where the adjacent land and water heat up at different rates.

That’s how wind is made on sunny days. But it’s often windy on non-sunny days, too, because it’s just about air rushing between those areas of high and low pressure, hot and cold air. As such, cold fronts can bring wind too.

This makes wind somewhat more of an always-on technology than solar – especially in the places that sailing boats are found. There is usually wind offshore, and often in the anchorages too as it rolls off the hills . In some parts of the world, such as those affected by the Greek Meltemi , it blows straight 30’s weeks on end.

Overall, sailing boats are just usually found in places with abundant wind energy, so there’s a lot of synergy between sailing boats and wind generators. And we’ve pointed out, many exotic sailing destinations in the world have more wind than sun, and that’s before we get started on sailing somewhere like Scandinavia.

A wind generator has a small footprint compared to a solar panel, although it does need a large exclusion zone around it for safety. Wind generators are sometimes mounted up the mast, but we don’t generally advise putting a large, pendulum-like weight at the end of a 50-foot-long lever arm if you can avoid it as it may negatively impact the motion of your boat.

Disadvantages of wind vs solar power

wind turbine for sailboats

Wind generators do have some drawbacks compared to solar. The obvious one is that they have moving parts, which both present a hazard to the crew and require replacement or regular maintenance.  

The worst-case scenario is a crewmember being struck by the blades. The tips of something like a Silentwind Pro can spin nearly a hundred times a second and get close to breaking the sound barrier.

Here’s an example of where someone accidentally clipped their arm on a sailboat wind generator and it both shattered their arm and sent the turbine blade flying across the cockpit. The author notes that they had also seen the wind generator explode a seagull prior to this incident.

Much of this is mitigated by putting the wind generator outboard and features like electronic brakes, so you don’t need to stop it with your right ulna as the gentleman above did. The upshot is that wind turbines are dangerous in a way that solar panels are not.

The constant motion also generates wear and tear. It used to be worse, back when we used brushed DC motors – but the bearings in brushless motors do eventually wear out too, and they benefit from regular greasing a bit like your winches. It’s just an extra thing to maintain.

It can be too windy for wind generators, too. It can’t be too sunny for solar panels (although it can be too hot). Many modern, top-end marine wind turbines have that electronic brake built in to compensate for this, but you still have to shut down and stop producing when it blows a gale.

Another disadvantage of wind is that it’s really expensive compared to solar on a watt-for-watt basis. Good polycrystalline panels paired with a brand-name MPPT controller might come to $0.50 a watt at the time of writing, while a leading wind generator works out at $5.00 per watt.

This is compounded by the fact that wind does often produce on quite a concave power curve. That is to say, you need a fair amount of wind to produce anything at all, and probably need gusts into the 30-knot range to start to see your rated wattage.

Another often-overlooked point is that if you’re sailing downwind, you are robbing the wind generator of air. If you are sailing downwind in 15kts of breeze, making 7kts, the apparent wind speed at the generator is only 8kts – which might not even be enough to start generating.

Finally, wind generators can be noisy. Again, brushless motors have helped with this significantly, but there is still the rushing of the air over the blades, and any eccentricity in the bearings or blades will send maddening, resonant tremors down the pole and directly into your sleeping quarters at all hours of the night.

The latest wind generators make use of things like acoustic decoupling, a fancy term for having a rubber dampener between the end of the pole and the deck, to mitigate this.

What is a dump load on a wind generator?

wind turbine for sailboats

A dump load , also called a dummy load or diversion load, is something used in wind power to get rid of excess power when the batteries are fully charged.

One of the small downsides of a power source that runs night and day is the potential to oversupply electricity and overcharge the battery bank.

As an electrical generator supplies more and more power, it gets stiffer and stiffer to turn. The power has to come from somewhere, and it’s felt as resistance – producing a braking effect.

If you suddenly take that braking effect away by disconnecting the battery bank, the wind turbine will start spinning at very high speed, causing anything from rapid and excessive wear on the bearings through to a catastrophic failure where the blades shear off at supersonic speeds.

In order to prevent this from happening, the charge controller has the option to switch between charging the battery and supplying power to a dump load .

The dump load can simply be a big resistor. It will heat up as the wind generator spins on, and safely apply a brake to it by literally just wasting power as heat.

You can probably guess where this is going. Another option is to use an element specifically designed to heat up, and use it to heat water. You can easily buy DC immersion water heater elements for $20-30 , connect them in the place of the dump resistor and use them to make hot water with the excess power instead.   

We’ve often daydreamed about using it to make ice or run a teeny tiny aircon unit as well.

Some of the top-end sailboat wind generators will automatically apply an electronic brake and safely stop the blades when the bank is full, and it varies from model to model whether they simply have that as an option, or it replaces the dump load entirely (including useful ones, like making hot water).  

Do not be tempted to use the dump load to charge a second battery, such as a starter battery, when the first bank is full. If you do, you will encounter problems once the second battery is full and the turbine starts to freewheel.

If you do want to charge several banks at once, or one after the other, you want a split charger connected to the main charging output instead, and a highly resistive load that can run indefinitely on the dump load output.

Marine wind generators vs hydro generators  

Hydro generators are another way of capturing the energy of the wind and turning it into electricity. But instead of capturing the flow of air, a hydro generator is dragged through the water behind a boat under sail.  

The elephant in the room here is that a hydro generator is only going to work when the boat is in motion. A wind generator, on the other hand, keeps on producing while you swing around at anchor.

The average cruiser spends around 90% of their time either at anchor, on a mooring ball, on town quays, or in marinas. This is because the everyday business of cruising is not so much about sailing as it is about fixing the boat, going ashore for provisions or parts, waiting for a weather window, or exploring the place you sailed to, socialising with the other yachties you just met, barbecuing on the deck, and so forth.

The wind generator works through all of that, night and day; the hydro generator only a fraction.

So why does anyone use hydro generators at all, then?

The answer lies in the fact that a traditional trade-wind circumnavigation, by far the most popular way to “sail around the world”, is almost all downwind .

As a result, you are often “running away” from the wind when you sail around the world, which has the effect of subtracting your speed from the true wind speed and deducting that much power from your wind generator.

Thus, if you want to sail around the world on say, a performance catamaran, it might make sense to drag a generator behind the boat instead of in the air. That way, its performance is tied to your boat’s speed through the water rather than the apparent wind.

An adjacent use-case to this is people who “sail around the world” in the sense of not stopping, or stopping very little. Someone sailing non-stop downwind around the world, particularly on any kind of record attempt, would probably get a lot more of out of a hydro generator.

Another place hydro generators are seen is in the regenerative systems of systems like Oceanvolt . In these sophisticated systems, the propellors of the boat itself work as hydro generators by spinning and capturing energy as they’re dragged through the water under sail.

This feature is even starting to show up on electric outboards, such as the ePropulsion Navy series.

In summary, wind generators are the most practical choice for the average cruiser, multi-year circumnavigator or liveaboard sailor. Unless you love sailing so much that desperately want to go and tack around for four hours to charge your batteries – in which case, more power to you.

Wind generators can form an incredibly useful part of the renewable energy mix on board a sailboat.

While wind power on a sailboat works out many times more expensive than solar power, watt-for-watt, it makes up for this by generating power day and night – and often making even more power at times when solar falters, such as during storms.

Cruising sailboats that only have solar power will be forced to generate or motor if it’s cloudy for days on end, something that happens at least once or twice a month somewhere like the Caribbean.

Solar, naturally, doesn’t produce at night either, so if you have a lot of electrical loads running overnight your battery bank can take a beating.

A common example of where you might get caught out is night sailing with the autopilot, radar, AIS and instruments all running, in addition to your regular loads like the fridge.

Wind generators might usually be sized to produce less than a solar array because of cost, space and weight considerations, but they have the potential to run all day and night and in any kind of weather, and as such they often punch above their weight in terms of the overall energy generation picture.

Electrical loads might slow down a little overnight, as the crew sleep and lower temperatures mean fridges and freezers don’t work as hard, but it’s not uncommon for the overnight draw on a sailboat to be 8-10 amps or more. It adds up, by morning. 

Wind represents an excellent bridging technology for nights and extended cloudy spells, naturally producing the most when solar fails – such as during storms. 

A sailboat wind generator is most effective when paired with solar and a good lithium battery bank , allowing you to generate in all conditions. day and night; and to store and retrieve that energy efficiently even at high currents. 

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Better Sailing

Best Marine Wind Turbine Generators For Boats

Best Marine Wind Turbine Generators For Boats

Unless you are happy burning endless amounts of fuel, a marine wind turbine is an essential item fr an offshore cruising sailboat. In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the best wind generators for your boat.

Today’s cruisers carry so much electrical equipment that wind turbines, solar PV arrays, and hydro-generators are becoming more and more common. The marine wind turbine has been around for several decades now and has gradually been refined to give a much higher degree of efficiency. Better alternators, CAD-designed blades, life-sealed bearings, and smart charge controllers make the latest devices more reliable, quieter, and safer.

Things To Consider When Shopping For a Marine Wind Generator

Horizontal axis vs. vertical axis wind turbine.

The majority of marine wind turbines are horizontal axis devices, either upwind or downwind driven. These are powerful and, as such, need speed and/or charge output limiters, or they can burn out the batteries and self-destruct in storm-force winds. Vertical axis turbines are more suited to trickle charging – usually connected to one or two batteries up to 200Ah capacity. The blade design means they are unidirectional and thus have no need for a bulky tail fin to point them into the wind. They are also considerably quieter than most horizontal turbines and much easier to mount and install.

Vertical and Horizontal Axis Boat Wind Turbine

What Blade Design Should Your Wind Generator Have?

Modern turbines usually sport a one-piece, cast aluminum body and, commonly, three aerodynamically designed plastic/composite blades. One of the first of these models, the original Air-X, worked exceptionally well, particularly in high winds. However, it was so noisy that neighboring boats frequently complained, leaving the owner the option of turning it off or moving well away from other boats. Since then, CAD-inspired blade design has significantly helped to reduce ambient noise levels, although none could be termed silent.

Once your battery bank is fully charged, additional energy from the turbine needs to be dissipated, or the turbine stopped. Low power vertical-axis models don’t usually produce enough to warrant fitting a regulator, but the more powerful models all need some form of charge limiter to prevent overcharging. The simplest form of regulation is to switch it off when no further charge is needed. If you electrically disconnect the turbine, however, it can either damage the alternator diodes or carry on spinning at an even higher speed, so most are electrically ‘braked’ by shorting out their output wires, and a high-current switch is usually provided for this action.

If you leave a turbine running unattended, you’ll need an automatic regulator, and there are two systems commonly available. The first lets the turbine continue to spin and produce power, diverting any that isn’t needed into ‘dump’ resistors to burn off the excess as heat. While effective, it is pretty rudimentary, and you have to be careful where you mount the bulky resistors, which can get quite hot. Alternatively, some use this unwanted charge to pre-heat the hot water tank via an immersed element. Other turbines incorporate ‘pitch control’, comprising feathering blades that either flatten out or turn edge into the wind to regulate turning speed at high wind speeds.

Charge Controllers

A variety of automatic charge controllers are available, some more sophisticated than others, and you don’t necessarily need to use one from the same manufacturer unless it specifically states that you must. A basic model has a voltage-sensitive on/off switch that will trigger at a pre-set threshold battery voltage. The more useful controllers have a built-in display for monitoring turbine output and battery condition. Some can also accept and distribute charge from other sources, such as solar or hydro generation.

>>Also Read: Best Portable Boat Generators

Here Are Some Of The Best Best Marine Wind Turbine Generators For Sailboats

Auecoor solar wind hybrid system – best marine wind turbine generator on amazon.

The Auecoor Solar Wind Hybrid System is the best system to hook your boat/sailboat with. It is a hybrid system that utilizes both solar and wind power generation. This system is highly efficient, it is designed to withstand heavy wind loads, and it is ready to install on a boat/sailboat. They also produce many models to serve your needs, from 500 Watts all the way up to 2000 Watts in optimal weather conditions. 

All models come with a 400-Watt wind turbine generator, and then you can add as many 120-Watt high-conversion, waterproof and flexible solar panels as you need. This unit is also pretty easy to install. The solar panels are easy to transport, and they come with pre-drilled holes for easy installation. This is my personal favorite kind of setup and the one that I believe is the best for any serious boater. It provides 2 renewable sources of power that guarantee that whether you are making a passage or liveaboard in a nice beach somewhere, you will have dependable power as if you were living connected to the grid.

Auecoor Solar Wind Hybrid Generator System - Best Marine Wind Turbine Generator on Amazon

Air Breeze 200

Although the latest generation Air Breeze, made by Primus Windpower, provides an increased charge output, it is also quieter and should apparently outlast its predecessors. Its low start-up speed (4.2kn) means that, on average, it should be able to produce more energy than some higher-rated turbines over long periods of low-to-moderate wind speeds. Though it only has a maximum output of 200W, its output has been optimized to provide a more constant charge in typical northern European and Mediterranean wind conditions. The new Air Breeze weighs less than 6kg and has an integral electronic charge controller and over-speed regulator, rendering bulky dump resistors unnecessary and making installation considerably quicker and easier.

Leading Edge LE-300 or LE-450

A UK company, Leading Edge supplies wind turbines for both marine and terrestrial installation. The LE-300 and LE-450 are available in 12V, 24V, and 48V versions and are remarkably light, making them ideal for sailing yachts. The output is DC via two wires, and a run/stop switch is supplied that breaks the turbine by shorting the output. The units can also be supplied with charge controllers, a dump load style regulator that allows you to leave the turbine on 24/7 without the batteries overcharging. The three-bladed LE-300 is very light (6kg) and one of the quietest of the three-bladed models. However, its output is poor for a horizontal-axis turbine, although it starts spinning in the gentlest breeze. The five-bladed LE-450 is more powerful (105W at 15-knots) while remaining quiet and stable. Another great feature of this wind turbine is that it is the quietest marine wind generator tested.

Rutland 1200

The latest in the Rutland wind turbine line up, the 1200, is Marlec’s answer to the third generation three-blade, permanent magnet turbine models. More powerful than the 914i, it features a ‘Tri-namic’ blade design, which is said to provide a low start-up speed, very quiet running, and more power towards the top end of the wind scale. With a claimed peak production of 483W (that’s 35.5A at 12V) in 29 knots of wind, the 1200 can also supply a very useful 40W of power in just 10 knots of wind – a more realistic average in most waters.

The 1200’s charge controller has dual outputs for two separate battery banks and can accept up to a 20A solar PV supply. It reduces the turbine speed automatically after winds reach 30 knots, regulating the charge without using dump resistors. It also has an integral start/stop switch and can support a remote display, which connects to the controller via a simple Ethernet cable.

Eco-Worthy Wind Solar Power Kit

What can I say? I just love a good wind-solar hybrid power generator. With this kind of setup, you won’t have any problem charging a 12V or 24V battery bank with this hybrid system throughout the day, in any weather condition. The Eco-Worthy Wind Solar Power Hybrid generator can guarantee enough power for you to remain comfortable on your boat and operate any appliance you need and enjoy your time on the boat. You can purchase any model that fits our needs starting from 400 Watts all the way up to 1,400 Watts. However, always buy a generator that has a higher power output than you think you will need because you almost always won’t be in optimal climate conditions.

ECO-WORTHY 500W Wind Solar Power Kit: 400W Wind Turbine Generator+ 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel for Off Grid 12 Volt Battery Charging

The blades on this German-built device are very steeply pitched towards the hub, resulting in an early start-up in lighter airs, and they also incorporate tiny fins along their length, said to quieten them at high speed. The blades have a kinetic rotor pitch control system designed to feather them in very high winds, not unlike the large terrestrial wind turbines. With a charge controller in the circuit, the turbine can therefore be left spinning in all weathers without worry. The output is two-wire 12V or 24V DC, so it could, in theory, be directly connected to a battery bank.

It can also be used with a simple short-circuit stop switch, which will slow it down enough to be tied off. The Superwind 350 can also be supplied with a 40A SCR Marine charge controller, which has two independent, diode-isolated outputs for start and service battery banks and dissipates unwanted energy via two large, wire-wound dump resistors. Nominal power is 350W at 25 knots.

Silentwind 400 Wind Generator

As fitted to all boats in the Volvo Ocean Race and featuring ‘Silent Power Blades’ – hand-laminated carbon blades, successfully tested at hurricane speeds – the latest Silentwind 400+ has improved wind tracking and earlier start-up than its predecessor, the 400. Featuring aerodynamics combined with a three-phase Neodymium-Iron-Boron permanent magnet generator, the 400+ is said to have a start-up speed of only 4.3 knots and a peak output of 420W at 30 percent less rotation speed than other 400W generators. 12V, 24V, and 48V models are available.

The Silentwind has a 3-wire AC output, which connects directly to the matching hybrid multi-stage charge controller that enables trickle charging and the connection of up to 20A of solar PV power. An adjustable boost function increases performance and optimizes the power yield, while the LCD displays all the important charge information. When the batteries are fully charged, the turbine automatically stops or switches to trickle charge mode with a significant reduction in rotation speed. It can also be stopped (braked) manually with the built-in switch on the controller.

Rutland 504 Wind Marine Generator

The Rutland 504 is a small and lightweight (just 3.5kg) mini-horizontal turbine from the UK off-grid power specialist, Marlec. The earlier model (503) has proven to be extremely popular over the years, in both the small leisure craft market and in commercial applications such as remote street lighting and signage, buoy lights, ATON power, etc., and the 504 should prove equally so. Like its predecessor, it is very compact, and its blades are ‘encapsulated’ – i.e., they have a protective ring around them to prevent limbs and clothing from getting caught up in the blades. Its output is better than that of the vertical-axis turbines but nowhere near the more powerful generators listed above. It is, however, notably quieter.

Typical output is around 15 knots of wind is 12W (1A @ 12V), doubling to 24W/2A at 20 knots. It also has a lower start-up speed than the vertical turbines and, although it takes around 10 knots of wind to provide any useful charge, its low-friction alternator compensates for the gusts by ‘smoothing out’ its output. The 504 does require a charge controller if it is to be left unattended.

 Leading Edge Vertical Wind Turbine

The LE-V50 and V150 vertical axis turbines are compact, lightweight, and virtually silent. The V50 measures 270mm dia x 456mm high and is intended for trickle-charging batteries or for running low-power devices. Available in 12V, 24V, or 48V versions, it has a nominal output of 12W but a peak of 70W. In typical waters, this results in an average charge of 0.5-1.0A @ 12Vdc in a fresh breeze. The bigger V150 model has a peak output of 200W but a more typical rating of 24W in wind speeds of 15 knots – double that of the V50. 

Leading Edge wind turbines were originally designed to generate power for industrial data monitoring equipment in very remote areas where there is no other power source; these often supplement solar PV arrays in an off-grid sailing situation.

>>Also Read: How to Charge a Sailboat Battery

Final Thoughts

There you have it; these are the best Best Marine Wind Turbine Generators for your boat or sailboat. Whether you are boating/sailing during your holidays or liveaboard full-time, a reliable power source is necessary. It will always provide you with the necessary power to operate your essential electronics, and depending on the power output you go for, it can fill up your batteries without an issue. Remember that when you are out in the water, it will be near impossible that there won’t be enough wind for a marine wind turbine to generate power, so you will rarely be without power. However, that’s why I always sail with both a wind generator and solar panels on board. 

Peter

Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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Best Wind Generators for Sailboats of 2024

Sailing gives us freedom: we don’t need a motor or fuel to travel the oceans. That freedom isn’t absolute. Most sailors still rely on electricity for lighting, refrigeration, small appliances, and to run the electronics that we rely on for navigation and safety. That means we need batteries, and if we rely on batteries, we have to charge the batteries. Since we’re already using the wind to move us from place to place, it makes sense to use that same energy source to keep our batteries charged up and ready for action. Wind generators are increasingly becoming a standard feature on cruising sailboats, and a wide range of products have emerged to meet the demand. This review of the best wind generators for sailboats will help you select the product that best meets your needs.

For more of our top sailing gear recommendations, check out the Best Solar Panels for Sailboats .

Quick Answer - The Best Wind Generators for Sailboats

  • AutoMaxx DB-400 View at Amazon
  • Primus Wind Power Air-X Marine View at Amazon
  • Nature Power 2000W View at Amazon
  • Missouri General Freedom II View at Amazon
  • Nature Power 400W View at Amazon

Comparison Table - Best Wind Generator for Sailboats

Reviews - the best sailboat wind generator, automaxx db-400.

  • Optimal Power AT : 28 MPH
  • Rated Output : 400 Watts
  • Voltage : 12V
  • Minimum Wind Speed : 6.7 MPH
  • Maximum Wind Speed : 112 MPH
  • Blade Diameter : 48”
  • Automatic Braking Controls Your Speed In High Wind
  • Built-In Charge Controller And Overcharge Protection
  • Maximum Power Point Tracking Gets The Most Power From Any Wind

BEST BUDGET WIND GENERATOR

If you want to try out wind power without spending a fortune and you’re looking for a basic, versatile device suitable for use on land or water, the Automaxx DB-400 is what you need. The durable polypropylene and fiberglass construction of this affordable wind generator resists corrosion and all parts are protected from both water and UV radiation. 

Some reviewers complain that these units fail to spin at the advertised cut-in speed and generated less power than expected, but many others reported performance consistent with expectations. It’s difficult to say whether these deficiencies are caused by installation issues, inconsistent products, or excessive expectations. It’s always good to test your unit on arrival and assure that it’s doing what it needs to do! 

As with all units listed here, you’ll need a mounting pole for this generator, but other than that it’s ready to install: the charge controller is built-in and you can wire it to your battery pack and forget about it!

Primus Wind Power Air-X Marine

  • Weight : 13 lb.
  • Voltage : Adjustable Output
  • Minimum Wind Speed : 8 MPH
  • Maximum Wind Speed : 110 MPH
  • Blade Diameter : 46"
  • Easy Installation: Wire Directly To Battery Bank
  • Auto-Brake Regulator Slows Blades When Battery Is Charged
  • Built-In Charge Controller
  • Marine-Specific Design And Materials

BEST OVERALL SMALL WIND GENERATOR

The Air-X Marine is the Rolls-Royce of small wind turbines. It’s made entirely in Colorado, and the relatively high price is reflected in the features and overall quality of the unit. It costs three times as much as an entry-level unit with the same output rating, but you get what you pay for.

The unit squeezes its mechanical and electrical components into a tiny ultralight package that is ideal for higher mounts and requires much less effort to secure than heavier bulkier units. You get a sophisticated built-in charge controller with external indicators to tell you when you are charging and when your batteries are full, and the unit is fully use-ready. Just wire it to your battery bank and you’re ready to charge.

This unit is one of the most popular sailing wind generators on the market for good reasons. It’s quiet, efficient, and gets the job done with no extra effort and very little maintenance.

Nature Power 2000W

  • Weight : 38 lb.
  • Optimal Power AT : 45 MPH
  • Rated Output : 2000 Watts
  • Voltage : 24V
  • Blade Diameter : 70”
  • External Controller With LCD Output Display
  • Industrial-Strength Aluminum Body With Marine-Grade Coating Means This Generator Will Last Your For Years To Come
  • Electromagnetic Brake System For Overcharge Control
  • Low-Noise Carbon Fiber Blades

BEST OVERALL LARGE WIND GENERATOR

This is the big boy: a full-on 2000 watt marine wind turbine, ready to install and power up some serious juice to feed those hungry batteries. The unit is designed to be effectively maintenance-free, with a coated cast aluminum body and carbon fiber blades engineered for quiet operation. There’s an external charge controller with an LCD output display to let you know what you’re generating and what your charge status is. Electromagnetic braking prevents potential damage from high winds and overcharging.

You’ll need 45 knots of wind to generate the full 2000 watts, but even at lower speeds, you’ll be putting out enough power to keep your batteries topped up. Paired with a solar array, this wind generator will give you all you need for complete energy independence!

Missouri General Freedom II

  • Weight : 59 lb.
  • Blades : 11
  • Optimal Power AT : Not Specified
  • Voltage : 12/24V
  • Minimum Wind Speed : 6 MPH
  • Maximum Wind Speed : 125 MPH
  • Blade Diameter : 62.5"
  • Rust-Proof Galvanized Components With Zinc-Plated Hub Make This Wind Generator Almost Indestructible
  • 28-Magnet Generator For Maximum Power
  • Aerodynamically Tapered Carbon Fiber Blades

BEST POWER-TO-PRICE RATIO 

If you’re looking to step up to a higher-output wind system without spending a fortune, Missouri General delivers with the Freedom II. This unit adopts a radically different design philosophy, featuring 11 carbon fiber blades to get maximum power out of wind in the lower end of the charging range. The Freedom II uses a permanent-magnet generator and several other unique design features to achieve high efficiency and durability.

This unit is quite inexpensive on a price-for-power scale, but it does not arrive installation-ready and you’ll have to add a charge controller, a dump load to protect your battery from overcharging, and cables. You’ll probably also need to have an electrician install the unit to assure that those components are correctly connected and working as they should!

Nature Power 400W

  • Optimal Power AT : 27 MPH
  • Minimum Wind Speed : 7 MPH
  • Marine Grade Coating And Sealing For Durability
  • Low-Noise Carbon Composite Blades
  • Smart Charge Controller For Maximum Output

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT BUDGET WIND GENERATOR

Nature Power turbines are designed specifically for marine use and offer a durable, corrosion-resistant cast aluminum body and whisper-quiet carbon fiber blades. There’s a specialized electromagnetic braking system designed to keep the unit within its electrical and mechanical limits without the wear and tear associated with mechanical braking and a smart controller that adjusts the voltage-to-current ratio for peak charging efficiency. The low weight of the unit makes it ideal for mast installations or other high mounts. As with any relatively low-output wind generator, you can’t expect to rely on this unit for all of your charging needs. It’s very well suited to use in conjunction with solar panels: on hot, still days the sun does the work, and when the weather turns sour or you’re out at sea, the wind will kick in with its share. This is an excellent choice for the wind component of a combined solar/wind generation system.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A WIND GENERATOR

It’s important to recognize that while wind power is useful, it isn’t magic. Most modern wind generators will begin generating power in quite light winds, but the output may be minimal and you’ll need sustained higher winds to deliver the charge you want.

If you’re moving downwind, you may get less charge than you expect: if the wind is at 20 knots and your downwind speed is 8 knots, your wind generator will be effectively receiving 12 knots, not 20! Many sailors find that a wind generator combined with a solar array is the most effective power solution, and some add a towed generator that generates power when dragged through the water as an additional option. The power mix that best suits you is something you’ll have to decide, but there’s a good chance that wind will be part of it!

Read through these things to consider to get a better sense of how to choose which wind generator is right for you so that you can get back on the water and enjoy the wind in your hair without worrying about losing electricity unexpectedly!

MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

A common complaint about wind generators is that they don’t deliver as much power as expected. This is more often a problem of simple physics than an issue with defective units or improper installation. The power delivered by wind increases with the cube of the wind speed, meaning that (keeping things very simple), a 20-knot wind delivers 8 times the power of a 10-knot wind. If you expect a unit that’s rated to deliver 400 watts of power at 28 knots of speed to deliver 200 watts at 14 knots, you will be disappointed, and it won’t be the unit’s fault!

While most units will cut in (start working) at 6 to 7 knots, don’t expect to generate measurable power until you reach 10-12 knots. Remember that if you’re on a downwind heading the apparent wind – the wind speed actually experienced by your generator – will be wind velocity minus hull speed. And remember that most anchorages were chosen because they are protected from the wind.

All in all, you are likely to find yourself generating less power than you expected. That doesn’t mean the installation is useless: it will contribute, it will charge your batteries while you sail, and if used in conjunction with solar panels, it can meet your charging needs. It’s a useful tool, not a magic bullet!

INSTALLATION

Your choice of generator will be affected by your installation options. Some sailors opt for masthead or mizzenmast installations, which can receive up to 50% more wind than lower placements but which are less accessible for maintenance and involve longer cable runs with more resistance. If you’re looking at such an installation, you’ll want a lightweight, low-maintenance unit. Most sailors prefer installation above the cockpit or transom, high enough to keep blades away from people and equipment but low enough for easy access and relatively short cable runs.

WATCH OUT FOR HIGH WINDS

Manufacturers claim very high maximum wind tolerances, but these are often based on wind-tunnel tests using controlled wind from a single direction. Turbulence can increase the burden on the device, and if you’re expecting wind in excess of 50 knots, taking down the generator is a wise precaution.

THE NOISE FACTOR

Noise and vibration were once huge problems with wind generators, with users reporting everything from a repetitive whump to a screaming howl. Modern construction and improved blade design have made turbines much quieter, but noise and vibration can still be issues. It’s great to generate power while you sleep, but not so great to have your generator keeping you awake! You may wish to check out some working installations to get a sense of how much noise is involved.

If you’re wondering whether to go with wind or solar, All At Sea and eMarine have useful articles weighing in on that eternal debate. For more information on Wind Generators, try these articles from Yacht Unlimited and Sail .

FEATURES EXPLAINED

About those numbers.

Rated Output is the maximum number of watts a unit can put out under ideal conditions. These numbers are based on wind tunnel tests and are rarely if ever achieved in the field.

Minimum (or “cut-in”) Wind Speed is the wind speed required to turn the blades. Very little power will be produced at this level.

Maximum Power is achieved at a specific target wind speed. Most units are designed to begin braking or “cutting out” power at speeds above this level.

Blade Diameter is the end-to-end distance between blade tips. You’ll need to consider this distance when mounting the unit to keep the blades well clear of any obstructions.

Voltage is the unit’s output voltage, which needs to match the voltage of your battery array.

Maximum Wind Speed is the highest wind the unit can survive. This may be substantially reduced by turbulence!

SOME COMMON FEATURES

Charge Controllers are devices that regulate the output of your generator to maximize the charging of your battery. Some units have built-in controllers with different levels of sophistication, and others do not.

Braking may be mechanical or electromagnetic and is used to assure that the unit’s rotation will not exceed its mechanical or electrical limits. Electromagnetic braking is claimed by some to produce less wear and tear.

Tracking Systems keep the blades facing the wind and keep the unit from spinning on its mount axis, which will twist the cable and damage the installation.

Blades may be fiberglass or carbon fiber, with more expensive units usually using carbon fiber. Many blades are designed to flex and shed wind if wind velocity exceeds design limits.

Corrosion Resistance is achieved by using a variety of coatings and materials. Marine environments place an aggressive burden on materials and both exterior materials and sealing are very important to keep units working.

A Dump Load is a device that diverts excess power to resistors that radiate it as heat, protecting batteries from overcharging.

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MarineKinetix MK4+ Marine Wind Generator

Marine Kinetix MK4+ Wind Generator

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Product Description

The marine industry’s highest rated wind generator.

MarineKinetix MK4+Wind Generator, including Controller - For Lead Acid, AGM, Gel and Lithium Batteries. 

The marine wind generator with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and the industry's best 3-year limited warranty.   

Double click on the large picture above to scroll through scores of pictures of fellow bluewater cruisers worldwide relying on power from their MarineKinetix wind generator.  See a recent blog from a seasoned bluewater cruiser and Salty Dawg Rally organizer who solved his large energy demands using a combination green energy, including an MK4+ wind generator  here .

The MarineKinetix Wind Turbine has become one of the most popular marine wind generators available due to its advanced technology, superior output, and  super-quiet design.  The MarineKinetix is now considered to be the benchmark among serious cruisers. With a 30% to 50% larger swept area than the most popular marine wind generators, it is simply capable of intercepting more of the available windstream, and capturing more power.  Its sophisticated charge controller displays all the data, including Amps, Watts and Volts, and assures that the power makes it safely and efficiently into your battery bank through a 2-stage smart charging process. No need to buy extra meters , rectifiers, stop switches, or load diverters.  These are integrated into our smart controller. Just add your mounting pole and the wiring to your batteries, and you are ready to start producing green energy.

We are celebrating our 12th year of serial production, and our 8th year producing our latest design, the MK4+ Marine Wind Generator. The MK4+ replaced the popular MarineKinetix MK450.   

The MK4+ includes the following upgrades:

  • The Wind Generator body is smaller and even lighter than the original design.  This is accomplished with a shorter, but more upright tail, with a greater surface area, and lower polar moment, for faster, and truer wind-tracking.  This lowers yaw error and improves performance in shifting winds.
  • Upgraded asymmetrical pole-shifted rotor with 12 (vs 10) neodymium rare-earth magnets for more power and zero cogging.  Bread-loaf magnet design for optimum air gap.
  • Upgraded 36-slot stator with premium heavy-gauge copper windings.
  • A new and improved anti-corrosion marine grade finish, which starts with a new high-pressure die-cast magnalium body, which is GEOMET  zinc-nanocoat pre-treated, then top-coated with a high-quality corrosion-resistant thermoset marine powder coating. No other marine wind generator uses this anti-corrosion process
  • New double yaw bearings.  Double bearings provide a larger "wheelbase" for the yaw joint, which reduces any free play, which can contribute to vibration and noise.
  • Improved silicone o-rings which are totally weather-proof.
  • Improved Aero'coustic 20% carbon-fiber filled injection molded blades, which are 18% more rigid than the previous design.
  • All new Hybrid Wind/Solar Charge Controller with LCD display - with integrated battery monitor, stop switch, ammeter and watt meter. (no need for expensive monitoring panels).
  • Patented 2-Stage PWM Charge Controller - Increases the efficiency of the charge cycle and tops up the batteries quicker and more fully.
  • Improved high-precision hub, with tighter blade fastening tolerances, for perfect blade alignment and whisper-quiet operation.
  • Improved molded urethane isolator pad, which fits between the pole and the collar.  Molded in "cap" allows it to stay put during assembly.

The great performance of the original MK450 remains.  The above changes are incremental improvements designed to improve start-up speed, ease assembly, resist corrosion, and improve real-world output. The MK4+ is truly a world-class micro wind generator.

Tired of talking to non-technical vendors that don't understand the nuts-and-bolts of what they are selling?  Give our technical rep, Jeff, a call directly at (864) 275-7837 to answer any questions. Read on to see what really matters when considering wind power for your boat.

Why Consider the MarineKinetix Wind System?

The MarineKinetix Wind Turbine System is simply one of the best performing small wind generator system available for marine use. That is quite a boast, considering all the small turbines out there with catchy names, and bigger advertising budgets, but read on to find out why we believe you'll soon agree.  

The MarineKinetix MK4+ is a simple to install, hands-off, super-quiet wind-energy production system made especially for the marine environment. This high-output, low start-up-speed system utilizes the best of European wind-science in its design. In addition to its leading-edge high-output dual-bearing 3-phase permanent magnet generator, it also features world-class aerodynamic efficiency with its carbon-filled aero'coustic rotor blades, which have been optimized for high torque, low rotational inertia, and exceptionally quiet output. These features, coupled with the included "hands-off" microprocessor-based charge-controller, and its exceptionally low yaw-error, make for what we think is the best marine wind generator system on the market. See why below.

The MarineKinetix MK4+ wind turbine system is a leap forward in wind turbine science. It makes the intelligent compromise between low-speed start-up and high-speed output, all at a realistic and cost-effective price.

  • A complete 400 Watt Wind System (includes generator and controller)
  • 1330mm Blade Diameter (1.3M) - Swept Area = 1.39 Meter
  • Weighs only 17 lbs., about HALF the weight of certain competitive designs, without compromising performance thanks to a magnalium body, an asymmetrical rotor, and high-energy-density Nd2Fe14B rare-earth magnets 
  • Lightweight 300g 20% Carbon Fiber Polymer Composite blades
  • Available in 12V, 24V and 48V designs
  • Compatible with VRLA, Gel, AGM, Lithium, and Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)
  • Industry Standard Mounting - Mounts to 1.5" Schedule 40 pipe (1,9"OD), or 48-50mm OD tubing
  • Double marine thermoset powder-coat finish, over a DACROMET self-healing aluminum-zinc nano coat
  • 5.8 knot start-up speed (begins producing power), 6.7 knot cut-in speed (begins charging 12V/24V batteries)
  • Aero'coustic 20% Carbon Polymer Blades
  • Super-silent - LAeq 35dB at 5M at 10 knots (about the same as a running fridge)
  • Direct drive, 3-Phase dual-bearing AC permanent magnet synchronous generator
  • Neodymium Iron Boron (Nd2Fe14B) permanent magnet synchronous design
  • 12 pole rotor, with bread-loaf magnet profile, and asymmetrical pole-shifted magnet placement, for low cogging torque
  • Automatic back-EMF braking at full charge (or 40 knots overspeed protection)
  • IU PWM Charge Control Profile with hysteresis braking
  • Microprocessor controlled auto set-point for AGM, Gel, VRLA, Flooded,  Lithium, and Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)
  • Requires no diode packs, diverters or external resistive loads
  • Over-charge, over-current, and automatic over-speed protection
  • Integrated heavy-duty yaw-axis slip-ring, allowing continued >360° limitless rotation
  • Simple installation, and user-serviceable components
  • Includes micro-processor charge controller with "at-a-glance" LCD charge, voltage, amperage and wattage status
  • Fully compatible with existing solar installations (no conflict with other existing charging sources)
  • 3-year limited warranty, and 30-day 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • Full lifetime tech support by phone or email with purchase

What is included in the Wind Generator kit?

  • MK4+ Wind Generator
  • Smart Charge Controller with integrated performance monitor and stop switch
  • Blades (x3) with SS blade mounting hardware
  • Hub, with mounting nut 
  • Snap-on molded plastic nose cone
  • SS Hardware to mount clamping collar to your pole
  • Silicone rubber isolator (goes between pole and collar)
  • Assembly allen key tools
  • Instructions

What accessories are available from Marinebeam?

  • 50A Resettable Circuit Breaker
  • Pole Mounting Hardware Kit
  • 3-Piece Pole Mast 
  • 10/3 Marine Cable
  • Spare Parts

What is the wired Remote Stop Switch Connector option?

While the controller already has an integrated stop switch --accessed with the front panel buttons-- some customers who will have limited access to the controller location may wish to mount a secondary  stop switch in a more accesible locaton. So, this option includes a two-pin connector, which attaches to a port on the bottom of the controller, and allows you to run your small-gauge wiring to your  on/off toggle switch. The switch and extra wiring are not included, but this is a very low voltage and low current control signal, so a light gauge wire (18-22 AWG) is sufficient.  For more sophisticated systems (like off-site telemetry systems) a relay can be used to remotely actuate the brake.

Details About the Unique Marine Kinetix Technology:

Our solution is a systems-approach to wind-energy production on-board. The MK4+ system couples several forward-thinking ideas into one "wind-system" which is easy to install, affordable, and maximizes energy production.  We did this by first starting with a low-friction, high-energy-density 3-phase rare-earth magnet rotor design, which came from concepts and materials used in leading-edge green-energy vehicle research. The Neodymium Iron Boron (Nd2Fe14B) permanent magnet rotor uses patented technology licensed from Sumitomo/Hitachi in Japan.  This is the same type of PM rotor design used in the AC synchronous motors in the Chevy Volt and other electric vehicles.   The rare-earth magnetic rotor is a key to its performance and low noise and vibration.  We now utilize an asymmetrical pole-shifted rotor design, which is a advanced method that replaces the heavy mass and cost of older skewed rotor designs, while providing the same advantage of reducing the cogging torque, and improving low speed performance.  We coupled this super-efficient machine with a biomimicry-inspired carbon-fiber-filled blade set, which makes for super-quiet performance while improving overall aerodynamic power.

The results are a turbine that outperforms others in start-up speed, output, and noise.  While other systems are idle, the MK4+ is generating. While other systems are disturbing the peace, the MK4+ is virtually silent. While other systems are struggling to charge, the MK4+ is topping off.

What are the important factors in wind energy production?

Physics dictates the basic performance of all wind generators.  In fact, the power available to any wind generator is a function of the square of the diameter (swept area of the blades) and the cube of the wind speed.  The ability of any specific wind generator to the capture wind efficiently depends on the length of its blades (its swept area) and its Tip Speed Ratio.   Tip Speed Ratio refers to the speed of the tips relative to the speed of the wind.  If the blades spin too fast relative to the wind, they begin to begin to look like a solid disk to the wind, and air piling up in front of the blades effectively blocks the wind behind it.  On the other hand, if the blades spin too slowly, much of the wind passes through the gaps between the blades, and the energy is lost forever.  So, swept area and blade design are the most important areas which the wind generator manufacturer can control.  While the MK4+'s blades are only 8 to 9 inches longer than the typical blade, they sweep as much as 40% more area than the competition.   With a nearly perfect tip speed ratio due to the computer-modeled and simulated blade design, and the impedance load-source matching of the controller, the MK4+ has a higher energy capture compared to most other designs. 

Because of the cube relationship of wind speed to power production, wind speed is absolutely the most important factor in wind energy .  There is no getting around the physics of that.  There is 27 times more power in a 15 knot wind than a 5 knot wind.  The key takeaway here is that regardless of the technology, you need good wind to get good performance from a wind generator .

What affects the ability to maximize output power capture shown above?

Wind generator power is dependent on wind speed, battery acceptance rate, and applied load , so a variable load and a discharged battery was used to characterize the absolute capture power for the data above.  As the wind increases, your wind generator will already be charging full-time, and the battery bank's acceptance-rate, in amps, will decrease as the battery charges and its voltage increases.  So, it is important to understand that by the time the wind is blowing 20 knots or more it is likely your batteries will not be capable of accepting the full amount of amps that any generator can provide.  This is good.  It means that your batteries are reaching a full state-of-charge, and that you have the headroom in power to cover any other loads as they arrive, without further discharging your batteries.  At the end of the day, it is best to think of a wind generator as a free-energy variable power source, whose output changes day-to-day depending on the available wind and the presence (or absence) of downstream electrical loads that it requires to generate power.

Read the following pages to learn about the MK4+, and view the video below to see how it performs against a much more expensive wind generator at very low wind speeds.

Our Integrated "Wind-System": Many popular marine wind generators are essentially sold in kit form, with the user left to decide what method of control they need to get the power into their batteries effectively.  Alternatively, some turbines have an included charging set-up, but offer what is essentially a simple automotive voltage regulator and a load diverter.  This can be a real problem for those wanting to optimize charging and protect their expensive batteries.  It is not enough to just generate efficient and effective power at the generator head. It is just as important to get that power effectively into our battery bank, and to regulate that power based on the battery's specific demands for voltage and current throughout its charging cycle.  By use of an IU charging profile, the system not only can be more efficient, but can also significantly prolong the life of the batteries by preventing overcharging.  Typical load diverter type controllers can only charge your battery to about 80% State-of-Charge (SOC).  This partial cycling is particularly bad for your batteries. Combining the Low Start-Up Speed "Tortoise Approach" with the High-Power "Hare Approach": Having seen both real-world performance in various anchorages around the world, as well as published performance testing over the years, we realized that the best approach out there on the "real water" was to apply leading-edge technology to each component of the system to find an intelligent compromise between the Tortoise Approach and the Hare Approach to wind energy production. A small wind-system that is capable of making power in low wind speeds can take advantage of a long day with low wind speeds by putting small amounts of power into the battery consistently throughout the day and night (the Tortoise Approach). On the other hand, a larger system can take advantage of big gusts or heavy wind by making tons of power very quickly (the Hare Approach).  The perfect solution for us cruisers would be a two-stage turbine that could be the Tortoise in low wind speeds, or protected anchorages, and could be the Hare in a high-velocity wind environment.   By leveraging leading-edge technologies to make incremental efficiency improvements in each of the discrete components of the wind system, we achieved a "sum of the parts" that meets our goals for an ideal marine wind system in-board.   We believe it is the best marine wind generator on the market for those sailors wanting a high-quality, hands-off, high-output, and super-quiet system.  Our real world data and feedback from our customers backs up that claim.  Read on to see how we did it. The Blade Set: We have found that the practical key to consistent production on-board is to start with a large 1.39 meter swept area, and then to apply leading-edge technology to the blade set to extract the maximum amount of energy.  Swept area is the most critical aspect of energy capture, and the bigger the swept area, the more power, period.  Blade length defines the swept area (Area= π r 2 ), and typically the longer the blades, the stronger and heavier they must be to withstand the exponential increase in torque.  The MK4+ solves this issue by using a unique 20% carbon fiber molded blade that is not only long and rigid, but extremely light as well (<300g).   This allows us to produce a blade that is up to 9" longer than the competition, but it weighs much less, and sweeps up to 40% more area. 

We also focused on the airfoils to get a super-efficient, super-quiet, Aero'coustic blade that gives exceptional power while maintaining low-speed start-up capability.  This way the turbine can take advantage of all-day energy production, but also can generate more serious power when the winds pick up.  It doesn't do much good to have great potential generating capacity if the blades never turn in the real world.  Compare our start-up and output to the competition, and you will see the distinct advantage. Details of the Design: The blade and tail design focuses on several key strategies:

  • Low Start-up Speeds
  • Very Low Rotational Inertia
  • Very Low Noise at Optimum Tip Speeds
  • Very Low Yaw Error
  • Optimized Tip-Speed Ratio (the ratio of the speed of the tips to the speed of the wind)

While our carbon-fiber reinforced blade set has an extremely low rotational inertia, a strong and lightweight blade is only part of the story.  The starting torque on a wind turbine is generated in the blade area closest to the hub, while the power producing torque is produced in the blade area closer to the tips.  By use of German-engineered computer modeling and simulation, a variable blade profile was produced that can react quickly in low wind speeds, yet produce high torque and optimal tip-speed ratios at high speeds.  The blades are produced in a solid-model-patterned single-cavity injection-molding tool, so that each blade is identical in weight and profile.  Using a 20% carbon-fiber filled polymer makes the blade very light, durable, and repeatable. Lightweight blades have a low rotational inertia, which is critical in wind-energy production in the real world. Low rotational inertia allows the blades to accelerate more quickly, which means they can spin faster in lower wind speeds, therefore keeping the tip-speed-ratio (the speed of the tips vs. the speed of the wind) more constant.  Operating closer to the optimum tip-speed-ratio during gusts also allows the turbine to improve energy capture from these sudden gusts as well. Another way to increase aerodynamic efficiency --and to reduce noise on an airfoil blade-- is to manipulate and control the lateral airflow over the foil.  Of course, some of the best engineering solutions often come from mimicking what is already found in nature. Whales and certain fish have amazing hydrodynamic efficiency and stealth through the use of tubercles , or raised and slotted sections on the leading edges of their fins.  Our blades likewise use biomimicry-inspired riblets along the leading edge of the blades, which help the airfoil to create more power at lower speeds, and to operate more efficiently in turbulent air streams.   These Aero'coustic riblets, also prevent the air from traveling down the blade edge and "vortexing" off the blade tip contributing to tip noise. The noise you hear from most wind turbines is the sound of wasted energy. How quiet is it... really ? The MK4+ is extremely quiet, and we have never heard one quieter.  In fact, it measures only 35dB at 5 meters in 10 knots of wind.   At 15 knots, just a flutter, but no tip noise.  As the wind builds the flutter noise will increase.  Above 30 knots, everything exposed to the wind at that velocity will generate some noise, including the MK4+.  To get an idea of how quiet it really is, just watch the video below.  Note that the video was shot with a CMOS rolling-shutter camera, so the blades appear to be turning slowly, while in actual fact they are turning at several hundred RPM.  Video compliments of customer Hayden Cochran on his Island Packet "Island Spirit":

What is Yaw Error, and why is it so important?

wind-solar-streetlight-controller-with-buck-system.jpg-200x200.jpg

This is quite different from most of the other, and more expensive, 400W generators.  The typical marine wind generator charge controller uses 50 year-old technology, which is simply a load-diverter switch, which, upon reaching a set-point, diverts 100% of the energy to a set of resistive elements (essentially heater coils).   So, when the battery reaches its dumpload set-point it isn't actually fully-charged, and this type of Partial State of Charge (PSOC) cycling damages the battery by reducing its capacity, and sulfating the battery plates.  They can't fully-charge the battery because they have no way to dump only the excess power produced, while continuing to top up the battery.  They can only dump all of it. The best scenario would be to have a way to progressively dump power so that the batteries could be fed with only the power that they need at this final stage of the charging process.   

medium-pic16f884-tqfp-44.png

 The controller is very compact (5-5/8" H x 5-7/8" W x 3-1/4" D), fanless, and is designed to be bulkhead mounted.  

It has the following additional features:

(1) Full monitoring capability (Volts, Watts, Amps), no additional battery monitors, shunts, panels, or displays needed (2) Backlit LCD display with clear graphical readout (3) Manual Brake deployment via keypad, so no additional stop switch is required (4) Battery charge level indicator (5) External load control (for managing lighting, etc)

Unlike some other popular marine wind generators which have internal controllers, there are no on-board electronics in the hot and salty elements, and there is no need for additional rectifiers, heat sinks, stop-switches, large resistive loads, or ammeters.  It all happens automatically and safely within the charge controller. It even protects from over-charging and under-charging. It is truly a hands-off charging solution.

Maintenance and Warranty: The MK4+ is designed to provide years of trouble-free service out in the elements, and has a 3-year warranty against defects in materials or workmanship.  We specified a simple and rugged mechanical set that uses very few parts, is easy to maintain, and will stand up to the rigors of the marine environment.  Unlike most single bearing automotive alternator-based designs, our dual low-friction rotor is supported by two low-friction bearings to provide long-life and easy start-up.  The unit is easy to disassemble, understand, and maintain.  The body is made of a lightweight magnesium and aluminum alloy, which is pre-treated with a zinc-aluminum nano-coat, and then a double marine-grade  epoxy powdercoat to resist oxidation and corrosion.   The MK4+ is bluewater tested by full-time cruisers, and like all of the Marinebeam products it is backed by the best technical support and warranty in the business.  Be sure to look at the various customer installation picture above to see some of our installations around the globe.

Interesting Links

Click here for our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document.

Link to download PDF copy of installation manual  (V2.2)

Link to download PDF copy of controller manual  (V2.1)

Should you have further questions, feel free to contact us by phone or email.  Jeff, our resident MK4+ technician can be reached M-F 9-6PM at (864) 275-7837.  Or you can reach him by email at [email protected]

Product Videos

Custom field, product reviews, write a review.

Marine Kinetix MK4+ Wind Generator

18 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews

Marinekinetix mk4 wind generator - highly recommended.

Posted by David Pollock on 28th Jan 2024

I’ve had my MarineKinetix MK4 Wind Generator for over 10 years and it has performed flawlessly! It is an exceptional product! Produces great power and is super quiet. While I also have solar, in the winter down in the Keys or further south, the daylight hours are reduced. But there is usually a 10+ knot wind. Nothing like waking up in the morning with the batteries fully charged. And quiet - I have had guests on my boat in a mooring field comment on the noise of wind generators on other boats. The MK4 is whisper-quiet, built solid with quality materials and they provide great service! Highly recommended!

Posted by Bob Golembicki on 12th Jun 2023

I replaced our very old two bladed Four Wind mizzen mounted generator this past winter with an MK4+ and are very happy with the output and how quiet and well balanced the new generator is as we’ve been sailing around the Chesapeake Bay this year. We’re running the engine to charge only on very calm days and maybe half as much as we had to with our old generator.

Posted by George Cline on 17th Feb 2023

Love my new wind gen. It’s quiet. Build quality is top notch. Installation is simple. Much happier with it than my previous wind gen from another brand.

Awesome product

Posted by Bob Osborn SV Pandora on 9th Dec 2022

After spending time with fellow Cruisers that had this unit on their boats, I had one installed this year. I had a wind generator years ago that we noisy and didn't put out much power. This one is as good as advertised. Quiet and powerful. I wrote a blog post about our power generating efforts aboard Pandora. Check it out. http://www.sailpandora.com/?p=12803

Recommended

10/3 Round Marine Tinned Cable Wire

sku: WR-10-3G

Round profile 10/3 marine tinned cable.

50 Amp Manual Reset Circuit Breaker

sku: CB-50A-42

50 amp manual reset circuit breaker.

Shown here are all of the wind generator pole mount components that are included in this kit - all hardware is 316 SS.

sku: MK4-MOUNT

Marine wind generator mounting pole hardware kit.

Replacement Blade for MarineKinetix MK450 or MK4+ Wind Generator

sku: BL-MK-4+

Replacement blade for marinekinetix mk450 or mk4+ wind generator.

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How to Install a Wind Generator on a Sailboat

How to Install a Wind Generator on a Sailboat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

The marine wind generator is, without a doubt, one of the most effective ways of charging your boat's batteries while you are away from the electricity grid. One of the most important things to take into account when selecting a marine wind generator for your boat is the installation process.

As a sailor, you'll most definitely rely on electricity in running various parts of your boat. In addition to the power needed to run the electronics that are of great importance for navigation and safety, electricity is essential for lighting, refrigeration, and running other appliances. But because you always sail deep in the water where there's no electricity, you need another source of power that we can use to charge the boat's batteries while we are out there on the water. This is where the wind comes in handy. You're already using wind to propel your sailboat, so it makes sense to use the very same wind to charge your boat's batteries and ensure that every part of your boat runs smoothly and meets your sailing needs.

Marine wind generators are more and more becoming a standard feature on sailboats. They are a great source of renewable energy and one of the most important things is to learn how to install a wind generator on a sailboat. Installing a wind generator on a sailboat is a process that must start with an assessment of the sailboat's power needs. Knowing the amount of power that your boat will consume in 24 hours will at least give you a rough idea of the size of the battery bank you require and how many amps your charging devices should produce.

You should also know where and how to install the wind generator's system. This will, of course, directly affect how well the wind generator's turbine converts the wind power into electrical energy. You should also ensure that the amount of battery storage available on your sailboat, as well as the controls available, is efficient in ensuring that the generated power doesn't go to waste.

In this article, we'll take a comprehensive look at how to install a wind generator on a sailboat and everything else you need to ensure that your wind generator works properly and efficiently.

Table of contents

The Importance of Using a Wind Generator on a Sailboat

Even though wind generators may not be of much help off the wind, they are increasingly becoming more appealing to sailors looking for an alternative source or extra power for their sailboats. The fact that they rely on the same wind that you use to move from one point to the other makes them quite a hit. Additionally, today's marine wind generators have undergone continuous improvement over the last few decades and are now well proven and quite reliable. This is exactly why wind generators are still common in sailing despite the advent of solar panels and hydro generators.

A wind generator will keep your boat's batteries charged at all times as long as there's wind. It doesn't matter whether you're at the port or out on the water, the wind generator will continuously pump out power even on cloudy days. That's not all; wind generators are cost-effective since they're maintenance-free and do not need any launch or recovery. More importantly, there are very powerful wind generator units that can produce more than 400 units of power, which is just enough to keep a fairly medium sailboat running and operating for 24 hours.

But just like with anything that has advantages, there must be some disadvantages. One of the most noticeable downsides of relying on a wind generator is that the power produced by the generator can significantly reduce if there's no wind. Most wind generators can manage to produce about 200 watts of power in wind speeds of 20 knots but things can even become worse when you're anchored at the port since winds are generally very low at the ports. As such, you may need an additional source of power such as solar panels, especially if your sailboat has heavy power requirements.

Installing a Wind Generator on a Sailboat

Installing a wind generator on your boat's charge system is a serious process that requires careful planning and attention. As we noted earlier, this process should start by first assessing your boat's power needs. You should be able to determine the amount of power that your boat and its appliances need to consume in at least 24 hours. This will certainly give you a clue of what you require.

The general idea is to ensure that you don't have to keep your boat's engine running so as to keep your batteries charged because this might not be enough in running your boat's appliances. In most cases, a boat's power needs are modest. Well, the boat generally needs power for lighting, running the navigation and safety equipment, refrigeration, and powering a stereo, if any.

The Equipment Required

One of the most important pieces of equipment required when installing a wind generator on your sailboat is the turbine. Generally speaking, the turbine should be functional at both medium and high wind speeds. You have to, however, keep in mind that even the biggest wind generator won't produce much power if the wind speed is below 8 knots. The turbine should be tough, reliable, and quiet. You certainly do not want a turbine that sounds like an approaching helicopter as this can be so annoying.

Given that early models are very noisy, three-bladed rotors are becoming more and more popular. They are smartly designed with CAD blades that significantly reduce the whistling and thrumming sounds that occur at the tips of the blades. These modern rotors are also designed to be more efficient and reduce friction through the use of permanent magnet alternators that allow speeds of the blades to be reduced, thereby reducing the noise levels considerably.

With that in mind, some of the best wind generators to go for include Air breeze, Eclectic Energy, Leading Edge, Rutland, Silentwind, and Superwind.

The Aerodynamics of Turbine Blades

Ensuring that power moves from the turbine's alternator and safely into your batteries may seem like a simple process. There are, however, aerodynamics involved and it only makes sense if you understand how they work.

In terms of the blades, they operate based on a similar principle or a plane's wing. There may be some differences but they are generally designed to produce optimum output. This means that the turbine blades should not go too fast as it can mitigate the wind generator's efficiency. The same applies if it is too slow. In essence, it works like a car gear so having very high or low gear can be inefficient. The idea here is that the airflow will become unstable if the blades are at very high speeds.

The best way to solve this problem is to rely on the "tip speed ratio". This technically describes whether or not the blade tips are moving faster than the actual wind speed. As such, the blade tips should be moving at 320 knots on 20-knot wind speed but there should also be the survival speed, which is just the right wind speed that is needed to produce the right amount of power to sustain your sailing needs.

The Amount of Power that Your Boat Needs

It's of great importance to budget for the amount of power to ensure that every facet of your sailboat is functioning properly. Of course, there are obvious appliances such as plotters, interior lights, and fridges. There are also navigation lights, engine monitors, entertainment systems, pumps, watermakers , gas alarms, electric winches, hydraulics, and many other things. You should also make a good margin that will have you covered if there's an emergency.

You should also consider other things such as air conditioning (though this may need fuel) as well as the type of sailing you're planning to do. Will you be sailing upwind or downwind? Well, such minute factors can significantly affect the amount of power that your boat needs. It is, therefore, crucial to determine a clear and accurate idea of how much power you need to generate to perfectly operate every part of your boat.

Mounting the Wind Generator

One of the most challenging things that revolve around how to install a wind generator on a sailboat is where to mount it. Location is very fundamental and can either positively or negatively affect how your wind generator operates.

The golden rule that governs the position of the wind generator is quite straightforward. It should be mounted in an area of the vessel where there will be no interruption of the flow of air or wind to the turbine from all directions. Generally, the wind generator is mounted on the boat's mast with two stays. You can easily raise or lower the wind generator if it is installed with a pivoting base. But if it is installed on a fixed mast, it can cause difficulty if you want to secure the wind generator when there's an impending storm.

And because the main aim is to optimize the output from a wind generator, there are a few important things to do. The most important thing is to ensure that it is very stable. This is because even a slight rolling or pitching might just be enough to rotate it away from the wind. The wind generator also requires clean air from all directions and as much as possible.

As you can see, these two principles seem to be at loggerheads given that you'll get more wind speed as you go higher but this may affect the stability of the turbines. With this in mind, mounting the wind generator on mizzen masts can be a good option but choosing to mount the turbine just above the cockpit is an even better option. The idea here is that it will be a lot easier to manually control the turbine if all other options of braking it doesn't work. Again, installing and maintaining the turbine overhead the cockpit is a lot easier than when it is mounted on the mizzen masts.

That's not all; mounting the turbine over the cockpit also means that the cables need to transport power from the turbine to the alternator are much shorter. This means that the wire diameter will be a lot smaller without necessarily affecting the voltage. The fact that the voltage can drop if the wind generator is mounted up higher on the masts should be particularly important.

This is because it can affect the overall performance of the wind generator and the power it produces and this means that the power supplied to your sailboat might just fall short. Again, a considerable amount of weight can be reduced if the turbine is mounted just over the cockpit. The cables will be reduced and the overall stability of the wind generator will be increased if it is installed overhead the cockpit.

Of course, you'll also have to install the electrics that come with the wind generator unit. For example, there's the controller that is used in regulating the power supply from the turbine, as well as the dump load resistor that is essential in absorbing any excessive current that may be produced when the batteries are fully charged. There's also an inline stop switch, which is essential in turning off the unit when it's not in use. Well, most of these installations are straightforward and are generally shown in the unit's installation guide.

Assembling the turbine should also be a walk in the park. Units do come with fasteners and are accompanied by installation instructions that are easy to understand and follow, thereby making the installation and assembling process a breeze.

So if you've decided to install the wind generator overhead the cockpit, which is our best location, you must find a perfectly sized pipe and mount it solidly at any corner of the stern. You have to ensure that you support the pole with at least some diagonal tubes so that it doesn't swivel. And if you are planning for an off voyage escapade, using the hose clamps to secure the main pole might not be the wise thing to do. This is because they'll most likely snap and twist as a result of constant vibration and miles of hard sailing.

Securing Your Boat's Wind Generator

With that in mind, you should also be prudent enough to secure the wind generator if there's a pending storm. As a sailor, you should be prudent, stay alert, and prepared in case there's a storm. The most important thing is to know the dynamic of the wind generator and how to apply electric brakes or even have the turbines lowered when there is a storm.

You can do this if the wind speeds are more than 15mph. This is of great importance in ensuring that the wind generator does not overheat or the blades do not break. You can also choose to remove the wind generator altogether and store it in a safe place.

All in all, the importance of having a wind generator on your sailboat as an alternative energy source can never be downplayed. This is a great source of renewable energy that will have your boat working perfectly well even if you are sailing in some of the remotest corners of the world. Just know how to install the wind generator, have it maintained, and protected when there's a pending storm and you'll be good to go.

Until next time, happy Sailing!

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Climatebiz

Wind Turbines For Boats (A guide for seafarers)

Kyle Browning

If you’re a sailor or boat owner, you know how important it is to keep your batteries charged. But did you know that you can use sustainable energy to power your boat? In fact, you can harness the wind’s kinetic energy with wind turbines for boats.

Humans have been harnessing the wind for thousands of years. Early seafarers have used this wind to power their boats, getting as far as Australia!

But with modern technology, you can now use this kinetic energy to power your boat’s batteries!

We cover everything you need to know in this guide on wind turbines for boats. We look at the type of turbine you need, calculate the required energy, and the costs involved.

  • Affiliate Disclaimer

Table of Contents

Can A Wind Turbine Power A Boat?

With advances in alternative power technology, boats have started taking advantage of solar and wind energy.

By installing a small turbine onto your vessel, you’ll be able to charge your batteries as long as there’s wind. 

However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to power your whole boat. Sure, you’ll be able to harness some kinetic energy from the wind, it might not be enough. 

There are a lot of appliances and crucial instruments on board that need power.

Ideally, wind turbines can power your average sailboat boat, but a couple of factors could affect this. 

Some of these influences are:

  • The wind resources available in your cruising area:  windspeeds along a coastline differ from windspeeds on a lake.
  • Turbine placement:  the higher you mount a turbine on a boat, the more electricity it’ll generate.
  • How often you use your boat:  you’re more likely to experience higher wind speeds while sailing than in the harbor. 

Regardless, a wind turbine for boats is handy to install, even if it’s just for that extra boost. 

What Size Wind Turbine Does My Boat Need?

This boat has a wind turbine fixed on the stern — wind turbines for boats.

Your energy requirements will determine the size of your boat’s wind turbine.

For example, if you’re going for a fun and relaxed trip, you’ll only need power for your electronics. Conversely, if you’re going fishing or trolling, you’ll need a more extensive battery system. 

Understanding The Math Of Wind Turbines For Boats

Calculating a power turbine’s energy output can be a little confusing; let’s go through the math to understand everything better. 

This formula works out each electronics power demand and, ultimately, your boat’s power demand. 

Power (W) = Voltage (V) x Current (A)

The next thing to remember is that each device has a runtime — while the device is running, it uses power (watts). The number of watts something uses in an hour is called watt-hours. For example, an appliance rated 500 W will use 500 Wh of energy in an hour. 

The same appliance rated 500 W will use 1000 Wh in two hours — this is the same as 1 kilowatt. 

Amperes – or amps for short – is a unit of measurement of electric current. They’re also used to indicate the capacity of your battery. 

Energy (Wh) = Voltage (V) x Capacity (Amp-hours or Ah)

For example, a 12 V, 100 Ah battery will give you 1200Wh

Wh = 12V x 100Ah ∴ Wh = 1200

That means your battery can give off 1.2 kW of energy per hour. 

How Much Power Does Your Boat Use? 

The size of your battery will determine what size your wind turbine you’ll need. For example, a wind turbine that generates 400 watts can charge an 800 Ah battery for a day on a 12-volt system . 

The average 45-foot sailing boat uses 150 amp-hours per day. However, your battery bank needs to be at least double or triple the size, so it doesn’t deplete. For example, a 450 Ah capacity battery in a 12V system would require 5.4 kWh per day. Can a wind turbine generate that much power?

As we’ll see later in this article, the average wind turbine has a max of 0.42 kWh. So on paper, that’s 10 kWh per day. However, in reality, it’s much different.

You see, the 0.42kWh is only guaranteed when you’re facing 20-knot winds all the time. Unfortunately, that’s not possible – at least for most of us. 

In fact, according to Betz law , your wind turbine will only generate 59% of its actual capacity. Taking that into account, let’s see if a 420 W wind turbine will still power our example boat: 

0.59 x 10 kWh = 5.9 kWh

That’s just over the amount your battery can handle. 

Which Boat Wind Turbine Is Suitable For You?

To determine which turbine is suitable for you, you’ll have to calculate the power demand of your boat. You’ll multiply the amps per device by its runtime to do this. For example, Autopilot uses 4 amps, and you use it for 12 hours — that’s 48 Ah. 

Based on this seafarer’s measurements, here’s a general look at how much power a vessel uses: 

If this sounds right for your boat, you’ll need 138.8 Ah during the day and 117.3 Ah at night — that’s around 256.1 Ah per day. 

Additionally, we’ll need to know the kWh to determine the turbine size. Using the calculation above, we can calculate that the required energy is 3073.2 Wh which is 3.07 kWh. 

To ensure that your battery doesn’t deplete, let’s double the required energy, which now equals 6.14 kWh.

In conclusion, you’ll need a turbine that generates 6.14 kWh per day. 

How Much Can The Average Wind Turbines For Boats Generate?

Due to external factors, your turbine will only generate 59% of its capacity. For instance, the average turbine can produce 0.42 kW at 20-knot winds. However, it’s more likely that your average recreational sailboat will experience 12-knot winds. 

At 12 knots, the average turbine generates 53 watts, equal to 1.2 Kwh per day. Unfortunately, 59% of that is only 0.75 kWh. That’s nowhere near the required amount.

Perhaps you’ll find that this amount of energy will power your boat. If not, hopefully, it can at least power your fridge, GPS, lights, and freshwater pump.

How Much Do Boat Wind Turbines Cost?

Wind turbines for boats can be installed higher on the stern without affecting the balance.

That was a lot to get through, but the hard part is over.

Now that you know your turbine requirements’ wattage, you can start looking at prices.

Off the bat, the average turbine will cost $1446 and can generate a maximum of 885 watts. But, of course, this is the maximum wattage, and you’re unlikely to reach this capacity.

Here’s a table of turbines that compares the wattage to price:

Surprisingly, the most cost-efficient turbines are the ones with higher wattage. Therefore, you can say that forking out the extra money for a higher wattage turbine is worth the investment.

Where Is The Best Place To Install A Wind Turbine On A Boat?

Wind turbines for boats are most efficient when facing directly into the wind. Any swaying or rocking will cause the turbine to turn away from the wind, decreasing efficiency. As such, it’s best to place the turbine near sea level or above the cockpit.

The Higher It’s Placed

Did you know that placing the turbine higher will increase its production rate? In fact, setting the turbine on the masthead can increase its efficiency by 50% . However, putting the heavy machinery that high can disrupt your vessel’s stability. 

In addition, the pendulum effect of the boat is more intense at that height, decreasing the turbine’s efficiency. 

Near Cockpit Level

However, placing the turbine just above the cockpit is a good option and here’s why:

  • Having the turbine above the cockpit allows for easy access, making maintenance easier. 
  • While the wind speeds are slower at this level, the turbine will be more stable.
  • The distance between the turbine and the battery bank is smaller. This means you can run smaller cables between the two. 
  • You won’t have to worry about voltage drop due to the short transfer distance.

The Downside

Having a spinning rotor and blades near you can be dangerous, especially in high winds. Just keep an eye out for the ‘sweep’ area of the blades and ensure the turbine is positioned high enough. 

How Much kWh Can A Boat Wind Turbine Produce?

‘How much’ is always tricky as multiple factors are involved. For instance, there are different wind speeds according to where you sail. However, most manufacturers say that their turbines have a max of 0.42kWh. 

To understand this better, let’s look at three different turbine models and compare their stats. 

wind turbine for sailboats

The Silentwind turbine has a maximum output of 420w at a wind speed of 25 knots (28 mph). However, most boats will only experience a max of 20 kt (23 mph). At this wind speed, Silentwind can generate up to 140w. 

In addition, the turbine has a cut-in speed of 6.2 kt. (7 mph). However, common wind conditions of 12 kt. (13.8 mph) will generate 45w. 

The Silentwind turbine sells for $2,069 with the option of a mast-connector kit for $420. 

Rutland 914i Windcharger

wind turbine for sailboats

The Rutland promises a 30% efficiency increase due to its maximum power point tracking (MPPT). It has a maximum output of 450w at a wind speed of 28 kt (32 mph) and a cut-in speed of 4 kt (4.6 mph)

At 20 knots wind, it generates 255w, and at 12 knots, it drops down to 60w. You can buy the Rutland for $729.95 and view its brochure here . 

Nature Power wind generator 

wind turbine for sailboats

Nature Power offers a turbine that generates 500w, making it a good option for larger boats. It has a maximum wind speed of 24 kt (27 mph) and a 6.1 kt (7 mph) cut-in speed. 

Additionally, it ranges from 55w to 280w between 12 kt and 20 kt wind speeds. 

The turbine goes for $534 and includes an internal MPPT regulator.

Comparison Table Of Wind Turbines For Boats

Let’s put those in a table to compare the figures. Something to keep in mind is that 400w is about 800 amp-hours per day on a 12V system. 

Are Wind Turbines Better Than Solar Panels On A Boat?

Wind turbines and solar panels are great options to install on a boat. However, which is better? Their price and efficiency can determine this.

Cost Comparisons Between Solar Panels And Wind Turbines For Boats

When comparing costs, the number of watts generated is vital. For example, a solar panel might generate the same wattage as two turbines. 

You’ll have to do some research and calculations to determine your boat’s energy needs. By doing so, you can calculate how many solar panels/wind turbines you would need. 

In addition, the price of solar panels and wind turbines will depend on your location. But, a quick comparison puts wind turbines for boats in a higher price bracket than solar panels. 

Solar Panels cost anywhere between $400 and $1200. In contrast, most wind turbines fall in an $1100 to $1800 price bracket. 

Efficiency Comparison 

Both solar panels and wind turbines come with their advantages and disadvantages. These affect the efficiency and energy output of your boat. 

The most significant difference is that solar panels won’t generate power at night or on cloudy days. On the other hand, wind turbines can generate power 24/7. In addition, since they have low cut-in speeds, the turbines will continuously generate power as long as there’s wind. 

However, solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years, while wind turbines for boats only last 20 years. It’s also important to note that solar panels don’t need a lot of maintenance, whereas wind turbines do. 

Lastly, solar panels tend to generate more power than wind turbines. Depending on your sailing needs, you might prefer solar panels to wind turbines or vice versa. So at the end of the day, the choice is yours. 

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, a complete guide to wind turbines for boats!

We’ve looked at calculating the energy requirements of your boat and how to match that with turbines. Additionally, we compared different turbine costs and kW outputs. Lastly, we looked at three different types of marine turbines which you can use.

In conclusion, wind turbines are exceptionally efficient for smaller sailboats or recreational boats. However, wind turbines can also work if you have a larger boat and are just looking for an extra boost.

We suggest a hybrid solar panels and wind turbines system for larger boats with high energy demands.

If you have any questions or want to share your projects, we encourage you to join our community !

Tags: wind turbines for boats

Kyle Browning

Kyle is a researcher and content specialist at Climatebiz. He has a strong interest in green technology, particularly in photovoltaic systems. Kyle believes in a future where everyone has affordable access to renewable energy, regardless of their race, religion, or social status. This ideology led Kyle to found Climatebiz - with the goal to provide free information for anyone, anytime. You can follow Kyle on Twitter at @kylebrwng

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I have a wind generator on my boat + solar panels. I wish to buy the electrical device that shares and supplies the power to the boat batteries (the charger) that can work with both sources (generator + s. panel) . Where can I find it – and what are your recomendations?

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

Choosing a Wind Generator for a Sailboat – Complete GUIDE

Nothing denotes a salty off-the-grid ready yacht more than the sight of a wind generator mounted on the stern. Once, these were the main component of a sailor’s renewable energy arsenal. 

But today, as is the case with wind generators for RVs , the technology has fallen behind the fantastic strides that solar panels have made. Today’s solar panels are less expensive and more efficient than ever before, while wind generator technology hasn’t progressed much in the last 50 years.

Still, there are limited times when wind generators make the most sense on sailboats. Here’s a look at who could benefit from one and five of the best options on the market.

Table of Contents

Is a wind generator right for me, how much power do i need, alternatives to wind power, things to look for in a marine wind generator, 5 great marine wind generators.

Before you dive into the whirlwind of information out there about marine wind generators, take a step back for a reality check. Wind generators were the standard-bearer for years onboard sailboats, but in the 21st century, their usefulness has all but been replaced by solar panels. Solar is efficient, silent, and completely maintenance-free. 

As a result, the usefulness of a wind generator is now much more limited. There are many pros for wind generators—but most of them can be negated by one simple fact–the amount of usable power they produce is significantly less and more expensive than solar. 

Furthermore, the two times when a wind generator does make sense are not conditions typically encountered by most cruisers. Wind generators are only effective for significant power when the apparent wind speed on deck is more than 15 knots. That’s apparent wind speed on deck—meaning most downwind sailing in winds less than 22 knots true or so would be out. 

And then there are anchorages, where sailors hope that a wind generator will help them live off-the-grid to avoid a generator or engine recharge. How many anchorages have you recently sat in that had a constant 15 to 20 knots of undisturbed wind blowing through them? Most of the time, we’re trying to get out of conditions like that, not anchor in them. 

There are some parts of the world where these conditions are the norm. Caribbean trade winds and high latitude winds make wind generators more attractive. Those sailors stuck in the “horse latitudes” in between will find their wind generators silent and motionless most of the year. 

The other time that adding a wind generator makes sense is when there is simply no other renewable energy option available. A wind generator can mount in many ways on nearly any type of sailboat. It has a tiny footprint, unlike a large solar array. 

The bottom line is this—only add wind power when you have absolutely no space left for solar. If you’re maxed out on solar, a wind generator can give you a little boost. But another solar panel will consistently outperform a wind generator—unless you’re that rare sailor whose anchorages of choice feature steady and uninterrupted 20-25 knot winds.

Choosing a Wind Generator for a Sailboat_Where you make it

Pros and Cons of Wind Power for Boats

  • 24-hour per day operation (as long as it’s windy)
  • Small installation footprint, compatible with most sailboats
  • Good options when solar panels cannot be used due to mounting problems or shading (especially on ketches)
  • Very low power generation in most conditions
  • Ugly and bulky, mast and mount included
  • Not effective when sailing downwind (like most tradewind sailing)
  • Not effective in protected anchorages
  • Maintenance intensive, moving parts and bearings wear out
  • Limited controller options, many not compatible with LiFePO4 battery systems
  • Expensive compared to solar

When calculating your requirements for off-the-grid living, the math does not lie. The problem is not lying when you do the math. You can find many calculators and spreadsheets online to help you make the basic calculations.

First, you need to know precisely how much power every electrical consumer on the boat will use and how long it will run each day. These items are often variable—refrigerators will have to run longer in hot climates and the summer, and lights will burn longer during the dark winter months. For everything that uses electricity, calculate the watts used per day (24-hour period).

Next, you’ll want to take into account how much power is being generated. It’s impossible to get accurate numbers for your setup until you’re out there doing it. In general, solar can be counted on for its maximum output for three or four hours a day. How many sunny days a year depends on your location. Again, there are many calculators online.

The wind is good for 24 hours a day, of course, but the wind is seldom that constant. So when calculating the math for a wind generator , it’s very easy to feel good about the choice. But practice has routinely shown that even a small solar array will outperform it in nearly every location.

As already mentioned, the number one choice for most sailboats for renewable power is solar. Solar panels are inexpensive and last for decades with zero maintenance. The downside is that they require a lot of shade-free space to work best.

For boats looking to make power during offshore passages, hydrogenerators are another solution. As long as the boat is cruising at six knots or more, the water passing by has enough potential energy to run electronics and charge batteries. The Watt & Sea Hydro generator is one of the best options out there, but there are also towable generators that do not require permanent installation. Some boats even have the option to use the free-spinning propulsion propeller to create electricity. Of course, these options only help charge the batteries when the boat is moving under sail, and only then at fast speeds. 

Choosing a Wind Generator for a Sailboat_Where you make it

Power Output

The first thing to realize is that you must take manufacturer’s ratings for their units with a grain of salt. The numbers are engineering calculations for ideal conditions. That is to say, conditions that a marine wind generator will likely never get to experience. 

Of all of the performance numbers worth considering, perhaps the most interesting numbers are those at the low end on the scale – when does the unit start producing power, and how much. Most of us boat in places with 15 knots of wind or less most of the time, so this is the range your wind generator will sit in for most of its serviceable life.

Noise Level

First and foremost – do not be fooled by online reviews. Every wind generator on the market produces noise. Since the noise is generated from multiple sources, it can be hard to compare apples to apples when shopping for a generator. 

Blade design has a significant effect on noise – some blades are simply noisier than others. Not only does the blade’s aerodynamics make noise, but they can also cause vibrations. All wind generators will require occasional rebalancing and adjustment to minimize vibrations from the blades. 

The moving parts inside the generator can also cause noise. Most are mounted with standard ball bearings that can and do go bad. Many manufacturers advertise these as maintenance-free, but that’s simply unrealistic in the marine environment.

Finally, the mount on the boat is a significant source of noise because it transmits the blade’s vibrations, no matter how minor, into the boat’s structure. Proper mounts have rubber dampening pads built-in, but even still, some noise will get through. This can sound like a buzz, hum, or even a thumping noise.

Quality of construction plays a huge part in how much noise a wind generator makes. As a result, you get what you pay for with wind generators. Unfortunately, the inexpensive hardware store models built for residential use are typically the noisiest. 

You can compare the noise output of various wind generators by taking a stroll around the marina docks or a dinghy ride around the anchorage. Bad or poorly-maintained wind generators can be heard from many boat lengths distance. On the other hand, a high-quality unit will be difficult to hear when you’re standing under it, much less on another vessel.

Correct Voltage

Wind generators should be matched to your primary battery bank—the one that you’ll be charging. Most boats will be 12 volts, and a few will be 24. 48-volt systems are becoming more popular on electric yachts and those using the battery bank for big consumers like air conditioning. These are the exceptions to the rule, however. 

Charge Controller Functions

Unlike solar, wind generators are typically matched to the charge controller that the manufacturer packages with the unit. There are simply a lot more factors that go into regulating a wind generator, including the generation technology it uses and how it brakes or diverts its load. 

Charge controllers are either PWM (pulse width modulation) or MPPT (maximum power point tracking). PWM is a less expensive technology, while MPPT controllers are more expensive. In the world of wind generators, which one a controller features is a bit of a toss-up. Some manufacturers swear by MPPT, while others say there is no benefit to the added cost. 

Most solar chargers accept a solar input, usually only about 100 watts, though. It’s probably more efficient to run your solar array on its own MPPT charge controller. But if you’re only planning on installing a small array and don’t want the hassle of programming separate charge controllers, having the option with your wind controller is a very nice feature. 

Finally, the programmability of the charge controller is a significant factor. Very few of the older PWM charge controllers allow you to input charging profiles. Again, this is less of a problem with wind power than with solar. But if you’re planning to use less forgiving battery chemistries like lithium, you’ll want as much control as you can get from your controller. 

Brake and Automatic Cut-Off

Being able to cut a wind generator off in an over-power or over-speed scenario is extremely important. All wind generators come with some form of braking system. The brake needs to be used when the system reaches a full charge, or the wind speed goes beyond the wind generator’s limits. 

Remember that the generator’s not simply limited by what the blades and bearings can handle. There is also the strength of its mounts to consider. For example, a 60-knot gust on a free-spinning generator will impose an unbelievable force on its mounts.

Then there are wiring considerations. The wind generator is only designed to output so much power, and during your installation, you must use wire sized for the maximum output. What happens if more than that amount of current goes through wires due to a brake failure? Heat and possible battery damage will result, but hopefully, the circuit breaker or fuse will cut it off before then. 

Some have aerodynamic brakes that turn the generator as wind speed increases. This theoretically means that it can never go over its designed limits.

Others feature a brake that is automatically or manually activated. It’s designed to come on when the current reaches a maximum, such as during powerful wind gusts. It also breaks the unit to a stop when the batteries are fully charged. 

An alternative plan is to have a diversionary load. Some wind generators will come with dump loads, which are nothing more than ceramic heating elements. When the wind generator produces too much power, power is redirected from the batteries into these heating elements. They’re also used when the generator produces too much power for the system during storms. 

Mounting and Unit Weight

The mounting mast used to secure the wind generator is sometimes more complicated than the wind generator itself. It must be strong and stayed from all angles. Stainless tubes with two supports are commonly used to mount them to the back of yachts. 

The construction and position of the wind generator are essential to reduce vibrations and noise within the boat. Don’t mount a wind generator over someone’s bunk! All proper mounts have sound-deadening materials like rubber grommets built in to make them as quiet as possible.

The blades of a wind generator must be positioned so that they can’t catch any lines, canvas, or flags from other parts of the boat. This makes stern-rail mounting almost impossible on ketches and yawls. On these boats, mizzen mast mounts are often the best alternative. 

Keep in mind as well that the spinning blades of a wind turbine are like spinning knives. Sailors have lost fingers trying to secure wind generators during storms. Therefore, they should be mounted high enough that it is impossible to accidentally come in contact with the blades during normal operations. 

As mentioned before, another critical component of the mounting is calculating the correct wire size. This is calculated from the unit’s maximum output, the round-trip length of the wire run, and the unit’s charge voltage.

Finally, the positioning of the wind generator should supply it with uninterrupted airflow. If the wind is blocked, even slightly, but a mast, sail pack, or hardtop, the wind generator’s efficiency will be negatively affected. These items could also induce turbulence into the air being supplied to the turbine, which could result in vibrations and noisy operation.

Choosing a Wind Generator for a Sailboat_Where you make it

When shopping around for wind generators , notice that power output is not one of our main criteria. This might seem odd, but all of the wind generators on this list produce more or less the same amount of power in a given wind. Some start producing at lower speeds, and some keep producing at high speeds, but in general, these occurrences are so minor and so rare that they don’t calculate into the shopping process.

Eclectic Energy D400

The D400 has a legendary reputation among cruising sailors as the wind generator of choice. It is nearly silent to the point of being very difficult to hear. It is built by Eclectic Energy in the UK, and you can spot its distinctive shape and five-blade design on yachts worldwide. 

For all the pluses, there are some detractors from the D400. For one, it is pretty much the most expensive option. It is also the heaviest—it requires a much beefier mount than other options do. 

SilentWind Pro

The SilentWind has a few advantages over many other wind generators. For one thing, the included MPPT charge controller features Bluetooth programming via a smartphone or tablet. In addition, you can set many parameters for the charge profile—meaning that it is one of the few wind generators that are at least somewhat compatible with the next generation of lithium marine battery systems. 

Compared to the D400, the SilentWind has a more lightweight and compact body. It’s a three-blade design that features blue composite fiber blades. The SilentWind is made in Portugal. 

Rutland 1200

Rutland is the wind power branch of the Marlec renewable power company from the UK. Rutland makes a wind range of wind generators for yachts of all sizes. The 1200 is a three-blade generator that features an MPPT controller with a solar input. At 10 knots of wind, it produces about 40 watts of power. 

Primus Air Silent X

Primus makes a variety of wind generators from their facility in Colorado. The “top-of-the-line,” so to speak, is the Air Silent X. It’s an upgraded version of their Air X that comes supplied with quieter blades made of distinctive blue carbon fiber.

Superwind 350

The German-made Superwind has a unique overspeed and overcharge protection system—the units feature feathering blades. This is undeniably more complex than many other options on the market. These generators are designed to be installed in grueling conditions where a damaged generator cannot be repaired quickly. Their primary market is aimed at remote telecommunication equipment stations and offshore sailors.

wind turbine for sailboats

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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Choosing a Wind Generator

Practical sailor begins its two-part report on wind generators for cruising sailboats begins with a look at features including blade size, number of blades, output considerations and installation..

wind turbine for sailboats

When cruising sailors think of renewable energy, their thoughts immediately turn to the wind. When selecting a marine wind generator for your boat, several factors must be taken into account, and separating fact from fiction is hard. Claimed output data for specific units can vary greatly from real-world performance. In part one of our series we introduce the six units we test, the Air Breeze from Southwest Wind Power, the Superwind SW250, the KISS High Output, the Ampair 100, and the Rutland 913. The selection presents a good cross-section of micro wind turbines available today and allows us to make some conclusions regarding the best wind generator for particular marine applications.

Wind Turbine Test

In 2007, Practical Sailor tested six wind generators side-by-side over the course of four days in February. The previous time we attempted a similar side-by-side test, it was a bust. The turbines spun feebly in a marina with little wind. Prior to that attempt, we long-term tested five models individually on a hilltop in Rhode Island (“Wind Generators, Part 1: Ten Years of Experience,” Oct. 1, 1995, and “Fourwinds II Quietest Large Diameter Wind Generator,” Nov. 15, 1995). Although that round of testing didn’t compare units under the same conditions, we took enough output readings at various speeds to create output curves and came to the dismaying conclusion that over the long haul, an average 50-watt solar panel would outperform the units we tested. (None of the units exceeded an average output of 10 amp hours per day.)

The wrench in the works in both of those previous tests was lack of wind. This time, we had plenty of wind. The test site was at the water’s edge, and five of the six wind generators spun simultaneously: the KISS High Output Wind Generator (made in Trinidad), the Rutland 913 (England), the Superwind SW350 (Germany), a prototype Air Breeze from Air-X makers Southwest Windpower (Arizona), and the Ampair 100 (England).

Conspicuously missing from our test were a pair of two-bladed units: one from Hamilton Ferris (reviewed in our Feb. 15, 2003 issue ) and one model from Fourwinds. Both companies said they could not meet our timetable, despite our long lead time for delivering a unit. Weve been assured that as soon as these units become available,

Practical Sailor will be able to test them. Another unit that looked very promising on paper was the Ampair 300. (Theres also an Ampair 600 for 24-volt systems.) This three-blade, large-diameter unit had a problem with the motor shaft on the first day of testing, and we returned it for repair. We expect to test the refurbished unit soon.

The topic of wind generators is not easily digested over a long lunch. Performance alone may not be the deciding factor, and several other details come into play – not the least of which is the possible mounting location for a set of blades whose tips slice the air at speeds as high as 200 mph. So before we dive into the results of Practical Sailor’s most recent wind generator test , we will focus here on key decision points in purchasing a wind generator and some general conclusions regarding wind generator selection based on our testing.

Wind Generator 101

Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical power, and ultimately electricity. This electricity can be used immediately to power equipment, but is typically stored in batteries for future use. Larger turbines may generate enough power to carry or “float” larger loads (such as a small fridge during an overnight stay aboard), while smaller units produce enough electricity to power smaller loads for a few minutes (bilge pumps, etc.) or perhaps top off your battery banks after a weekend outing.

All generators share a few basic components: a rotor – they don’t propel, so theyre not propellers – with aerodynamic blades, an electrical generator, some form of rotor over-speed control, and a mounting system (pole, arch, etc.). Most also will have rotating electrical contacts, which enable the unit to operate in a continuous 360 degrees of rotation. All but one of the units in our test, the KISS, had this feature. The KISS generator has an internal spring (inside the mount) and a rope lanyard tied to the tail of the unit and mounting pole – the lanyard is a specific length to prevent the unit from rotating more than three or so times, after which the spring is supposed to return it to its original position once the wind dies down.

Wind turbines either produce direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) power, which is then converted to DC via a rectifier. Of the models we tested, the KISS and both Ampair units utilize a rectifier to convert AC to DC, while the Rutland 913, Air Breeze, and Superwind 350 produce DC. Each approach has its pros and cons: AC can be transmitted over longer wire runs with less power loss (due to overall resistance of system wiring), even when smaller gauge wire is utilized. DC systems, on the other hand, don’t require the use of a rectifier, which reduces expense, cuts down on the number of parts that might fail, and eliminates a few installation steps. As for cons, DC motors have brushes and commutators, both of which require periodic maintenance to prevent generation of electromagnetic interference (EMI), which can disrupt onboard electronics. The rectifying diodes in AC-producing units can also be damaged if exposed to reverse-polarity voltages during installation or maintenance.

Design Evolution

In terms of design evolution, no great technological breakthroughs have emerged since our last test. According to Betz Law (see “Estimating Wind Power”) a wind turbine can theoretically use about 60 percent of the energy in any wind. Even the small turbines meant for use on land are still far from that ideal.

“What they are getting is a piece of that 60 percent Betz limit,” said Jim Johnson, a mechanical engineer for In the Wind at the National Resources lab. “The better units will produce about 40 percent of that limit.”

Ongoing research at National Wind Technology Center – including the development of more efficient, quieter blades – will eventually trickle down to micro-turbines (as the boat-sized units are called). However, the limited marine market, price-point competition, and design limitations imposed by marine applications likely will slow this process. Advances generally have been baby-step improvements in rotor noise, more efficient blades, reduced shaft friction, and smarter regulators. If the last 12 years are an indication of whats to come, what we buy this year probably wont be much different than what will be available five years down the road, when our turbine will likely need an overhaul or replacement. Like any moving part on a boat, these things do break down.

Power Output

Wind-turbine makers often bear a “label rating” according to potential output under ideal conditions. For instance, the Ampair 100 will produce 100 watts (volts x amps = watts) in a 28-knot breeze. Aside from the fact that no one purposely chooses to anchor for long in a 28-knot breeze, these numbers can be deceiving.

Turbine manufacturers will typically provide speed-output curves that graph output at all wind speeds within their units range of operation. Others will simply indicate projected output at a sampling of fixed, steady wind speeds. Either approach can yield a distorted picture of real-world output. Some makers base their steady-wind output projections on absolutely fixed wind speeds (impossible, except in a wind tunnel). Other makers reach their output numbers by using a standard wind distribution model known as the Rayleigh distribution, a statistical method used by wind power experts to translate average annual wind speed data into potential wind power estimates (see chart below).

“You should take any output figures published by the manufacturers with three very large grains of salt,” say Paul Gipe, whose website ( www.wind-works.org ) and book (“Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm and Business”), covers the topic of wind power for land applications in great detail.

This, of course, is one of the reasons we are looking at these units in a real-world application.

Wind Turbine Types

Wind turbines can usually be classified as either small rotor units (blade diameters less than 48 inches) or large rotor units, with typical blade diameters of around 60 inches. All things being equal, the highest potential output will increase with the diameter of the rotor. A rough rule of thumb is that larger units typically generate around 4 amps in 10- to-15 knots of steady wind, while smaller units average about 1.3 amps.

The main challenge confronting any wind generator is the fickle nature of wind itself. Wind generators present a Catch 22 scenario. While they are most effective when exposed to steady winds with the vessel at anchor, the best anchorages tend to be sheltered from the wind. As such, the cut-in speed of a wind generator (the point where it actually starts producing electricity) and its output in lower winds (10 to 15 mph or less) can be more important than maximum rated output.

Smaller, multi-blade units (typically six blades) have an advantage in this respect. These blades have less inertia, so they require less wind to start turning, allowing them to reach their cut-in speed and start producing power sooner in light winds. So, if your cruising anchorages are characterized by light breezes, a small blade is the way to go … or is it?

A key factor in potential power output is the cube rule: Available wind power varies as a cube of wind speed. So if wind speed doubles, energy content (measured in kilowatts per square meter) increases eight times. A 10-mph wind has one-eighth the power of a 20-mph wind (10 3 =1,000 versus 20 3 =8,000), and a seemingly insignificant increase in wind speed from 10 to 12 mph can increase available wind power by 73 percent.

What this means from a practical standpoint is that if you choose a quiet anchorage that experiences occasional higher-than-normal gusts (squalls or katabatic winds, for example), a wind turbine could potentially yield more energy than it would if you were anchored in a steady, moderate breeze during the same time period.

Wind generators with fewer larger blades have higher maximum outputs and can produce more power in higher winds. (A one-bladed rotor, odd as it may seem, has greater potential for output than one with multiple blades.) This means that while a large-blade turbine might not match the output of a small-blade wind generator in light winds, its higher output in gusts can compensate for its higher cut-in speed and poor performance in lighter winds. A key factor is whether the occurrence of higher gusts is high enough to keep up with power demands.

Another consideration output-wise is that while sailing downwind, you have to subtract the boats speed from the wind speed to get the apparent effective wind speed at the generator. If the true wind speed is 14 knots and boat speed is 7 knots, your generator is actually “seeing” only 7 knots, meaning output will be greatly reduced.

Rotor Speed Control

While wind generators obviously require wind to operate, at some point (typically around 35 knots of sustained wind), youre approaching the too-much-of-a-good-thing level, and some form of blade speed control mechanism is required to prevent physical damage to the unit and, in some cases, the boats batteries. Braking, or blade speed control, can be accomplished in a number of ways. Some units have “self-braking” blades that stall at certain speeds, while others are designed to gradually turn away from the wind as higher than acceptable speeds are reached. Friction or air-brake systems are also used, as well as electrical stop switches. Finally, some turbines require you to physically tie or secure the blades, often an unattractive prospect in a rocking boat, considering the speed at which the blades can rotate. For extreme weather conditions, even the makers of units with stop switches recommend that you physically secure the blades and rotate the units to reduce windage, or remove the unit altogether.

OtherConsiderations

While construction, size, weight, and ease of installation are all important considerations when choosing a wind turbine, noise is often a deciding factor. All models are noisy to some extent. However, some units are as loud as an engine or genset running at anchor, which defeats one of the reasons folks turn to renewable energy – peace and quiet.

Much of the noise from a wind generator is caused by air movement at the tips (tip vortices) and back edges of the blades, which is why there is constant refinement in blade design. Blades with fine, smooth trailing edges and smaller tips will generally be quieter. Although noise can be reduced by factors such as construction and blade design, as a general rule, units with smaller blades are quieter than those with larger blades. The number of blades is a factor as well – a six-bladed unit will always be quieter than a two- or three-bladed unit, provided the blade diameter and design is equal.

Some folks don’t mind the noise of a larger unit, equating it to the sound of “money” flowing into the proverbial energy bank. Others (often those anchored beside you) will find it annoying. A good way to compare noise levels of various units “in the wild” is to walk the docks of your local marina or dinghy around the mooring field and observe others wind gens – it also gives you the opportunity to ask how satisfied the owners are with each unit.

Wind-power study is rich with mathematical formulas, and theres one to account for mounting height as well. According to the Wind Profile Power Law, wind speed rises proportionally to the seventh root of its height above sea level. By this formula, doubling the height of a turbine, then, increases the expected wind speeds by 10 percent and the potential power by 34 percent. However, at the slight altitude changes that are possible on a boat (say the 20 feet between a pole mount and a mizzen mount), this formula will likely have little bearing.

More important for our discussions of boat mounting is the “roughness” factor, which accounts for obstructions that impede windflow. The slight shift from pole mount to masthead will clearly alleviate roughness. How this will affect output will vary from boat to boat. Estimated increases in output range as little as 10 percent to more than 20 percent.

Mounting a wind generator is often a balancing act of aesthetics and performance, meaning your choice can look good but operate poorly or vice versa. The best spots are those that offer an unobstructed flow of wind while keeping whirling blades well clear of rigging, self-steering vanes, davits, or, most importantly, the outstretched arms of the tallest crew member.

Stern Poles and Arches

Stern poles and arches are popular mounting choices – both keep your wind generator in place where it can be tied down or serviced, but up and out of the way of outstretched arms. Stern poles are less expense, but proper bracing is crucial not only for strength, but to reduce movement of the pole (which, in turn, minimizes vibration and noise transmission belowdecks). Arches cost more, although the added expensive of having one fabricated can often be justified if it will serve multiple purposes (i.e., mounting for radomes and solar panels as well). The multiple attachment points on deck can also serve to dissipate vibration on the deck.

Mizzen-Mast Mount

A boat with two masts has the option of mounting its wind generator about two-thirds up the mizzen or at the very top. Both choices offer more exposure to wind and provide a cleaner-looking deck, however, they do add weight aloft and the units will be more difficult to service. Theyll also require longer cable runs, meaning you may have to upgrade to larger wire sizes to address voltage drop concerns. Securing them will also be more of a challenge, particularly those that have to be physically tied off in high winds.

Rig-Suspended Mounts

Rigging-suspended mounts, such as a fore-triangle hoist, are a good alternative when you just can’t seem to locate that perfect mounting spot. This option produces less vibration, and units that are designed to be deployed in this manner can easily be removed and stored to clear the decks when needed, however, they can’t be used while underway.

Conclusions

Based on our research (including the most recent data that well report next month), a large-diameter, three-bladed unit is a good choice if maximum potential output is a chief concern. Small-diameter units can’t be written off, however. If low noise, small size, and a low cut-in speed (for low wind areas) are your first priorities, these units have much to offer.

Three of the units in our most recent test – the Superwind 350, the Air Breeze, and the Kiss High Output – had best days of 88-115 amp-hour production. Worst days were less than 10 amp hours. This is enough, or nearly enough, to meet the average amp-hour requirements aboard a modern cruising boat fitted with a watermaker and refrigeration.

Despite these persuasive numbers, our evaluations and experience in the field indicate that relying on a single wind turbine for ones primary energy source is not the most sensible way to optimize for efficiency, particularly while under sail, when the rocking motion of the boat further inhibits performance. Solar panels have no moving parts, are durable, and in many ways are better suited for a lifestyle that tends to follow the sun. With the assistance of todays Multi Point Power Tracking Technology (See “ Boosting Solar Panel Output ,” Chandlery, August 2006), a single, 80-watt solar panel can replenish as much as 60-80 amp hours on an ideal summer day. Wind turbines, in our opinion, should be regarded as a viable option for a cruising sailboat with high energy needs to supplement its solar panels, genset, or high-output alternator – not as the ultimate solution to onboard energy production. Next month, well take a close look at the performance and features of each of the units.

  • Installation Options
  • Wind Generator Details
  • Plotting Wind Distribution
  • More Wind Generator Details
  • Wind Generator Blade Design
  • Estimating Wind Power

RELATED ARTICLES MORE FROM AUTHOR

please watch out when buying a Chinese turbine or other power generator items. they say 400-watt turbine but what they really mean is 400 watts/day. i had this problem. I could only get maybe 3 amps out of it now I know why. I also saw somewhere in the article they talked about amp-hours why? are all specs really per hour?

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Best Marine Wind Generator 2021

Getting your hands on a boat is only the first step towards becoming a true sailor. Once you’re comfortable with how your boat handles and operates, it’s time to start customizing it to your liking. Installing something like a marine wind generator can let you enjoy some of the amenities you’d only find onshore.

However, even budget marine generators can be relatively pricey compared to other, more minor fixtures. This means that a little bit of research can go a long way when it comes to saving you money and finding the right product will be sure to work. Today’s review guide will be based on finding the best marine wind generator .

We’ll look at six different turbine generators in this guide, each of which excels in its own way. After our reviews, we’ll also explore some of the key features to look for in a high-quality marine wind generator, and we’ll answer some frequently asked questions. For now, however, let’s get started with our reviews.

Best Marine Wind Generator

Our top pick: tesup master940 wind turbine kit, key points at a glance.

  • Durable injection-molded fiberglass blades
  • Lightweight aluminum body
  • Turbine blades engineered for quiet operation
  • Cooling fins help dissipate heat around the generator body
  • Generates up to 900W of power

The Details

The best marine wind turbine is the TESUP Master940. As the name suggests, this model can produce over 900W of power, making it the most powerful turbine on this list. Sweet!

However, there are more reasons to buy this wind turbine than just its high level of power output. Here’s the power output curve:

This model has some of the best build quality we’ve seen in a consumer wind turbine. All of the Master940’s components have been built to be as strong and light as possible. This is evident when you take a look at the materials used in its construction, with fiberglass blades and a strong yet light aluminum body.

The Master940 is equipped with a few clever features that help keep it running smoothly and prevent long-term damage due to overspeed. Unlike other wind turbines, this one comes equipped with a load dump system consisting of resistors in the charge controller that improves the reliability of the Master940’s wiring and circuits.

This wind turbine system is also designed to cut down on the amount of maintenance that you have to perform, as it comes equipped with a charcoal-free sliding contact that won’t have to be topped up.

The Master940 is designed to be used in all environments, and it won’t fail at high or low temperatures because of its inbuilt resilience.

The aluminum housing has better thermal transfer characteristics, and the inclusion of fins helps generate wind-flow that dissipates the heat into the surrounding air.

This turbine’s only weaknesses are its high price point and its relatively complex setup process, but they’re both a small price to pay for the Master940’s impressive performance and quality. This the best marine wind turbine available.

Our Runner Up: 400W Lantern Vertical Wind Generator by Happybuy

  • Double bearing design helps reduce vibration and noise
  • Microprocessor control gets the best performance out of the turbine at all wind speeds
  • The vertical turbine design offers omnidirectional performance in all wind conditions
  • Effective at harnessing the turbulent wind in the wake of a boat’s superstructure

While our runner up wind generator may not look as traditional as some of our other top picks, there’s a reason why the Happybuy Lantern-style looks like that. The layout of the fan blades on this model is designed to keep the power output constant no matter which direction the wind is coming from.

The improved omnidirectional performance of this wind generator makes it ideal for use on boats, especially those with a more cluttered superstructure. If you only have room for your wind generator near the back of your boat, you’ll still be able to generate power using that disrupted windflow.

Along with its unique design, the Happybuy 400W lantern wind generator is easier to assemble than most of the competition. If you don’t have much experience working with wind generators, then you can get this model up and running on the same day that you receive it.

Keep in mind that this model is mainly designed for faster wind speeds, as you won’t get much power output at speeds below 25 mph. While it will start spinning at lower speeds, you simply won’t get much useful power out of it. If you’re looking for a relatively well-built unit with powder-coated components and the ability to operate in a variety of wind directions without adjustment, this model is a great fit.

Best Budget: Happybuy 400W Wind Turbine Generator

  • Features a corrosion-resistant design with an aluminum housing and stainless steel fittings
  • The magnetic circuit allows the generator to run at low wind speeds
  • The automatic braking system prevents damage from high wind speeds
  • 400W of power output

Compared to the previous model from Happybuy, this 400W wind generator features a more traditional design, and it’s one of the more affordable options on this list. Despite featuring such a low price point, this Happybuy wind turbine is surprisingly reliable, and that’s one of the most crucial features to look for in a budget turbine.

Here’s the power output information:

To further improve its long-term reliability, this Happybuy wind turbine is made out of corrosion-resistant materials that have further been treated with a coating to reduce damage from UV light and salt spray. This model’s durability also makes it more effective in gusty conditions where other models may even be damaged by high wind speed.

Keep in mind that this wind generator doesn’t come with a mounting pole, so you’ll either need to buy the official one separately or you’ll need to create your own. While you’ll have to get creative when you come up with a mounting solution, assembling the turbine itself is surprisingly easy, and you can even do it if you’re a beginner.

In case of overspeed, the Happybuy wind turbine is equipped with an automatic braking system that will prevent the components from being damaged. Overall, this model may not be the best-performing on this list but it offers much more than its competitors within the same price range.

  • ♻[MAIN PARAMETER] ~ Rated Power: 400W ; Rated...
  • ♻[CONTROLLER INTRODUCTION] ~ Model: FWS03/06-12...
  • ♻[HIGH-QUALITY BLADE] ~ The blade material is...
  • ♻[POWERFUL PERFORMANCE] ~ 3Phase AC PMG,...
  • ♻[WIDE APPLICATION] ~ This wind turbine is...

Best for Ease of Installation: SHZOND 400W Wind Turbine Generator

  • Max rpm of 800
  • Fiberglass reinforced blades
  • Comes with mounting hardware included
  • 400W of rated power output

The SHZOND wind turbine generator may look like a pretty standard one at first glance, but it’s designed to be a perfect fit for customers who are new to marine turbines. To that effect, the SHZOND 400W turbine is designed to be assembled in less than an hour, and it’s remarkably easy to use once you have it built.

This is also one of the lightest wind turbines on our list, as the housing is made out of vinyl while the blades are made out of fiberglass. The only metal parts you’ll find on the SHZOND wind turbine include the nose cone and the stainless steel mounting hardware and screws that keep all of the parts together.

Compared to other wind turbines on this list, this model from SHZOND will start spinning at lower wind speeds, only requiring about 10 mph speeds to start generating power. Keep in mind that this model is relatively sensitive to rapidly shifting wind directions because of the flexible mounting, so you may have to anchor it in a particular direction if you don’t want it to spin out of control.

This model’s control unit is also equipped with an auto-shutdown feature, ensuring that you don’t overload the battery.

Despite being easy to assemble, this SHZOND wind turbine comes with relatively vague instructions, so you’ll have to rely on the pictograms and what other customers have said about the assembly process. Even though this may seem like a pretty major annoyance, the SHZOND wind turbine’s strengths more than make up for it.

  • Well suited for the leisure sector, it is famous...
  • Wind generator rated power: 400W;Rated Voltage:...
  • Material of Wind Leaf: PBT;Start-up Wind Speed:...
  • Human-friendly design wind turbine, easy to...
  • Blades using reinforced glass fiber, helped with...

Best for Output Per Dollar: Automaxx Windmill 600W Wind Turbine Generator

  • Weather-resistant construction and corrosion-resistant materials
  • Features both automatic and manual braking systems
  • 600W of power output
  • Comes with a one-year warranty

This Automaxx wind turbine has a higher power output than many of its competitors at the same price point, so if you’re looking for something powerful that can provide good value for money, this is it. To make this model more suitable for use in marine environments, it is made out of corrosion-resistant materials.

This model has a maximum rated speed of 30 mph since it doesn’t feature a mechanical braking system, so it is more suitable for regions without extreme wind gusts. However, to make up for this, the Automaxx wind turbine has a relatively low cut-in speed, so you’ll have a broader band of wind speeds in which this model can operate.

The Automaxx turbine also swivels in a 360-degree arc so that it can be adjusted to match the wind direction. Unlike some of its competitors, it takes a lot for the wind to push the turbine out of alignment on its own, so you won’t have to worry about putting extra work into securing it so that it remains facing the wind.

The included charge controller features a wattage display and can easily be wired directly to your battery or battery bank. Here’s a basic wind turbine wiring diagram:

One of the main weaknesses of this model is that it uses only a magnetic braking system, and we would prefer it to be supplemented by a mechanical brake that could let it work in higher wind speeds.

  • 【Effective Generation】Maximum power generation...
  • 【Wide Range of Applications】 Marine-grade,...
  • 【Environmentally Friendly】Take a stride...
  • 【MPPT Charge Controller】Max power point...
  • 【Easy Installation and Maintenance】We take...

Best Marine Wind Generator Buyer’s Guide

Marine wind generators are an excellent choice for sailboats that may not have a powerful enough generator to run all of the onboard electrical devices. However, they aren’t only made for sailboats, as some smaller motorboats may not have an efficient way of siphoning power from the engine for electrical implements.

Using a marine wind generator hooked up to a battery, you can run devices like your radio, onboard GPS, and you can even charge your phone. Marine wind generators are also a better choice than small generators or auxiliary power units since they’re smaller, quieter, and more ecologically friendly.

Important Features to Consider

Ease of use and ease of setup.

Wind turbines still require a certain level of knowledge on the part of the user, but as time goes by, they get easier to hook up and use. A wind turbine that’s designed to be as user-friendly as possible therefore overcomes one of the main hurdles that many buyers face when they consider purchasing them.

A marine turbine needs to be made out of suitable materials so that it doesn’t end up getting damaged by the elements while it’s mounted to your boat. Metals like aluminum and stainless steel won’t rust and therefore fail after a bit of exposure to water.

The material will also determine how heavy your wind turbine is. Too heavy of a turbine may adversely affect your boat’s performance and will certainly be more difficult to set up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do i need to wire my marine wind generator myself.

Yes, in the vast majority of cases, you’ll need to hook up the generator to the battery that you’re using to store the energy, so you’ll need to have a basic idea of what you’re doing to get the system running.

Can I supplement my marine wind generator with solar panels?

Yes, you can wire your marine solar panels into your energy generation system on your boat, even coupled with your wind turbine. In fact, some wind turbines are even designed to work with solar panels straight out of the factory, without much modification on your end.

Other Products We Looked At:

Marsrock small wind turbine 400w.

Aside from that, there are plenty of intelligent design features like the copper brackets in the blades that will prevent you from accidentally damaging them by tightening them too much. The charge controller on this wind turbine is also relatively intelligent, cutting down the speed of the blades so that the power output is consistent.

One of our favorite things about this wind turbine is that it’s a lot more affordable than many of its competitors, but it’s still reliable and features the same 400W power output. While this wind turbine is a solid choice, it doesn’t exactly stand out in any particular area, so it couldn’t match our top five.

  • Copper brackets in the blades keep them from cracking when fastened to the hub
  • The blades are made of plastic reinforced with carbon fiber

The Master940 is the best marine wind generator available, and its only major downside is that it’s so expensive. If you’re not willing to spend so much on your marine wind turbines, the Happybuy Vertical Wind generator is available for a more reasonable price and can generate power regardless of the direction the wind is coming from.

If you’re trying to save even more money, and you’d rather opt for a more traditional type of marine wind turbine, Happybuy’s other 400W wind turbine is cheap, easy to set up, and much more reliable than its competitors.

We hope that these reviews have given you a good idea of what to expect from these marine wind generators.

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Sailboat on the open sea in front of a wind farm

Product description

Superwind 350-ll

In a nutshell

The Superwind 350-II is the first choice for demanding applications that require quiet, efficient and reliable power generation. Designed to meet the high demands of sailing yachts and other applications where reliable power generation is essential, Superwind generators have been setting the standard for many years.

Special features

The unique rotor blade adjustment allows efficient energy production even in stormy weather when other wind turbines have long since shut down. Damped wind tracking ensures stable operation in changing wind conditions. Acoustic decoupling eliminates disturbing noise below deck. Our units are made from seawater resistant materials for maximum durability. The coordinated design of wind generator and charge controller optimises performance and efficient power generation. The units are manufactured in our factory with the utmost precision and craftsmanship.

Technical data

► Special features

► Superwind 350-ll in action

► Technical data

► Dimensioned drawing

► Power  curve

► Contact / Inquiry

Features of the Superwind 350-ll

Patented blade adjustment.

Product photo wind turbine SW 350-II

Similar to large wind turbines, the rotor blades of all Superwind generators are automatically adjusted above the nominal wind speed and the aerodynamic loads are limited directly at the rotor. High forces on the structure are avoided, significantly increasing safety and reliability. At the same time, a Superwind continues to generate full power well above the nominal wind speed: situations in which other wind turbines have to be shut down.

The adjustment mechanism is maintenance-free, fully protected and integrated into the hub. The purely mechanical operation works reliably even in the event of external malfunction and keeps the wind turbine in a safe operating state, independent of electronic components.

"Silent Power" rotor blades

Rotor blades optimised in the wind tunnel that are barely noticeable during operation due to the structure of the rotor blade surface (keyword: sharkskin).

Damped wind tracking

The wind vane tracking system is designed to reliably turn the wind turbine into the wind when there is sufficient wind to generate electricity. The Superwind generators are equipped with a damping system to ensure that they always track into the wind, even in turbulent locations. The damping of the wind vane also prevents unwanted oscillations caused by waves on buoys or ships.

SW 350-II generator nacelle incl. mast bracket with integrated structure-borne noise decoupling

Integrated vibration isolation

The Superwind 350-II's noise decoupling is built directly into the mast mount, so there is no metallic contact between the mast mount and the tower. This means that the generator hum cannot be transmitted through the mast and no additional damping elements are required in the mast or at the base of the mast. This results in a significant reduction in noise levels, making the Superwind 350-II virtually undetectable below deck, even on aluminium and steel hulls. The rotor blades of all Superwind turbines are fully synchronised via star hubs. This makes them more resistant to start-up wind and turbulence than previous technologies.

Star Hub is the rotor hub design of our current wind generators. The patented rotor blade adjustment works fully automatically at high wind speeds, regulates the output above the nominal wind speed and limits the load on the generator. The new star synchronisation of the rotor blades makes all Superwind turbines more resistant to strong winds and turbulence compared to older technologies.

Coordinated overall concept

Because we develop our systems in-house, all components are perfectly matched. The electric generator, for example, is precisely matched to the aerodynamics of the rotor and delivers charging current even at low wind speeds. Designed as a brushless synchronous machine and powered by neodymium magnets, the generator has outstanding efficiency across the entire power range.

While conventional generators have to shut down when the wind is too strong, the rotor blade adjustment and the generous dimensions of the generator ensure that Superwind generators can deliver full power at all times, even at very high wind speeds.

Product photo wind generator SW 350-II

With the Superwind 350-II, you are ready to take on the challenges of blue water sailing or short trips.

Superwind 350-ll in action - reliable energy at sea

Discover the versatility and robustness of the Superwind 350-II through this selected collection of photos and videos. Designed specifically for sailboats and marine adventures, this wind generator provides consistent and reliable power in the most diverse environments.

From the gentle breezes of tropical waters to the challenges of stormy oceans, the Superwind 350-II demonstrates its strength, reliability and efficiency. The pictures and films give a vivid impression of how the Superwind 350-II is helping sailors all over the world to generate power independently and safely, even in the most remote waters.

Photo collage of various sailing ships

Videos from customers and partners

wind turbine for sailboats

Dimensioned drawing

Dimensioned drawing wind generator SW 350-II

Performance curve

wind turbine for sailboats

We are represented by selected local partners in many countries. Please contact us via our contact form so that we can forward you to a suitable local contact if necessary.

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Wind generators – buyers’ guide

After a flurry of recent technological developments, Duncan Kent compares the latest high-output wind turbines

wind generators

Three-bladed rotors have become increasingly popular. Although early models were quite noisy, smart CAD-designed blades have considerably reduced the thrumming and whistling sounds by removing the turbulence around the blade tips. Furthermore, the use of more efficient, low-cogging (less initial friction) permanent-magnet alternators has also allowed blade speeds to be reduced, further limiting ambient noise levels.

AIRBREEZE £1,169.50

wind generators

The Airbreeze is easy to assemble as everything is contained within the casing, requiring only a quick blade assembly before being ready to mount. It’s not the most powerful and can be a little noisy in high winds, but it’s very good value as you don’t need to spend money and time installing an external charge controller.

Verdict: Easy to assemble, mount and operate, but noisier and less powerful than some

ecopowershop.com

ECLECTIC ENERGY D400 £1,350

wind generators

Although it’s fairly straightforward to assemble, it’s not made any easier by the sheer weight of the generator.

During previous trials it proved to be one of the quietest on test, started quickly and outputting an increasingly progressive rate of charge. It is also less prone to yaw from side to side than some, keeping head into wind to ensure a more stable output.

Provided its mounting can handle the loads, its sturdy build allows it to continue operating in very high winds, producing a staggering 50A+.

Verdict: Solidly engineered, very powerful and quiet. The flip side is it’s heavy and needs dump resistors

eclectic-energy.co.uk

LEADING EDGE LE-300 £649.95

wind generators

The device is easy to assemble and light enough to carry in one hand. An integral rectifier produces a two-wire DC output and its efficiency has recently been improved with the fitting of stainless steel counterweights to offset the effects of pitching and yawing common on a yacht.

A run/stop switch is supplied that brakes the turbine by shorting its output. It can also be supplied with a dump load style regulator to prevent overcharging (£189.95).

The LE-300 is probably the quietest of all the three-blade models available, but it’s also one of the least powerful.

Verdict: Light and great value, but with a lower output than many of the others

leturbines.com

LEADING EDGE LE-450 £899.95

wind generators

The alternator uses rare earth fixed magnets and has zero ‘cogging’, allowing the turbine to start quickly and to spin in the lightest of breezes. Furthermore, having five blades of advanced design allows the swing radius to be kept to a minimum and reduces wind noise noticeably, while its light weight allows it to be safely mounted on a mizzen mast or possibly even a stout spreader.

Verdict: Well designed, lightweight and good value, but needs manual tethering in over 35kt of wind

RUTLAND 914i £649.96

wind generators

An optional multi-stage charge regulator is available, which has an on/off switch and LED charge status indictors. It can also accept and integrate solar panels up to 160W.

The surprisingly cheap HRSi regulator (£78.50) works electronically to gradually slow the turbine in high winds or near full charge situations, rather than using resistive dump loads.

The 914 is quiet in operation and quick to start generating in light winds. Well made, its heavy metal hub acts as a flywheel, giving it enough momentum to smooth out the pauses during brief lulls in the wind.

Verdict: Quiet and inexpensive, with a smart controller. Relatively low output

marlec.co.uk

RUTLAND 1200 £1,195.00

wind generators

High rotation speeds and efficient alternator design results in plenty of raw power. Marlec’s latest smart HRDi charge controller (£155.95) continuously alters the rotation speed of the generator, slowing it down as the batteries become more charged. It also incorporates the latest Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology to optimise all the available energy produced and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), which enables multi-stage charging to keep the batteries topped up. Other features include dual-battery bank control, an input for up to 250W of solar panels and an optional remote digital display.

Verdict: Powerful, well-made and with smart regulation. Has a wide rotation diameter

SILENTWIND 400 £1,291.33

wind generators

The Silentwind is heavier than it first looks, mainly due to its high output, permanent magnet 420W alternator. Recent (2016) upgrades include a boost feature in the generator and a lower start speed thanks to its ‘low cogging’ design.

Available in 12V, 24V and 48V versions, its three-wire AC output connects directly to a recently upgraded smart charge controller with solar inputs, an LCD display, integral brake switch and Bluetooth connectivity so the user can monitor their battery status and charge from a mobile device or laptop. Furthermore, the new controller (£410.42) now consumes only 20mA itself, rather than the 100mA of the old model.

Verdict:   High power output and a nifty Bluetooth smart controller, but all at a price

technicalmarinesupplies.co.uk

SUPERWIND 350 £1,528.75

wind generators

The SCR Marine charge controller option (£384) has two independent outputs, for start and service banks, although it does rely on the rather crude method of dumping any excess loads to two large resistors, which can get very hot if the device is left running in a gale.

Despite having a slightly lower output alternator than some, in field tests this device gave a very respectable performance in wind up to 15 knots, and provided serious amps in higher winds up to 28 knots.

Verdict: Light, well made, quiet and powerful, but expensive and reliant on dump load regulation

mactramarine.co.uk

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Blowin’ in the Wind: The Best Marine Wind Generators

Blowin’ in the Wind: The Best Marine Wind Generators

Whether you're walking down a road, climbing a mountain or sailing on the sea (with a white dove, maybe), there's one constant: Wind. 

Bob Dylan may have had all sorts of other ideas in mind when he wrote "Blowin' in the Wind," but the idea stands. When the wind blows, power is supplied. The times, they are a-changin', and we boaters need power out on the water for motor batteries , stereos, marine electronics, lights, bilge pumping and what have you.

Sure, when you're in your marina slip, you can just hook up to power. But when you're out on the water, that's not exactly feasible. Plus, it's always good to do everything we can to save the environment, reduce our carbon footprint and what-not.

Today, we're going to discuss the best marine wind generators and turbines for boats to answer your power problems whether you're a leisure powerboater, a liveaboard sailor  or own the wooden schooner Water Pearl (that would be Bob's, of course). More Dylan references may or may not ensue.

What Is a Marine Wind Generator?

You know those wind turbines you see standing tall on land? Well, a marine wind generator is essentially the same thing. It's just smaller and attached to a boat (or a magic swirlin' ship).

Swirlin' ships aside, marine wind generators work by harnessing the kinetic energy of air, or to be exact, the wind. Once caught, the wind is converted to a rotational motion that turns an alternator, which then produces electrical energy. This energy can be used immediately or stored in batteries (12V or 24V) for later use. Voila, it really is magic!

Parts of a Marine Wind Generator

  • Blades are those things on the end that turn (similar to the blades on a ceiling fan). They're connected to a shaft that turns with the blades.
  • A tower or mast , usually about 9' tall, is the pole that attaches to the boat (like a sailboat mast) and holds the blades up in the air.
  • Stay poles , usually two 8' poles, are used to hold up the mast. They're attached at an angle to keep the mast in place.
  • Clamps, crimp rings and TY wraps are used to keep it all together.
  • Control panels and electronics let you make sure everything is operating as it should.

Benefits of a Marine Wind Generator

  • Economical (free energy!)  - This is probably the biggest reason to consider a marine wind generator. Once you've made the initial purchase cost, you've got all that free energy coming in. We boaters need all the free we can get.
  • Relatively low maintenance  - Marine wind generators are pretty much an install it and forget it kind of thing. Like the song, it's just there blowin' in the wind.
  • Environmentally friendly  - We all want to conserve energy, go green and save the environment (or we should if we really love the boating lifestyle like we say we do). Marine wind generators don't add to air or water pollution, and they don't emit greenhouse gases.

Disadvantages of a Marine Wind Generator

  • Noise and vibration:  They can be quite noisy (especially when the wind is really kicking it up). You'll be on a rockin' boat whether you want to or not.
  • No wind, no power:  This one is self-explanatory.
  • Very high winds:  On the flip-side, marine wind generators can be damaged in very high winds. There are, of course, ways to avoid this problem. You can use a regulator or charge controller that senses the battery voltage and reacts in the appropriate manner. Some wind generators can change the pitch of each blade in response to the wind. Others have flexible blades that bend easier in the wind (this method, however, can cause even more noise).

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What to Consider When Choosing a Marine Wind Generator

  • Decide how much power you'll need for things like the stereo, navigational electronics, refrigerator, lights, laptops and other devices.
  • Where do you spend most of your time on your boat? Ocean or inland? You'll want to gauge the amount of wind generally found in that area.
  • What are your normal cruising speeds? Obviously, any wind is good, but most marine wind generators don't provide much power below eight knots.
  • What are the water and weather conditions in your normal navigational routes? You'll want to align your choice of wind generator with how rough or calm the water is, as well as the types of weather typically found. As an example, with higher wind speeds, you'll want a bigger blade sweep to get even more energy.
  • Where do you want to put it on the boat? I've seen marine wind generators attached to the back of a sailboat, on a hardtop and at the very front of the boat. Take into consideration where it will be out of the way as far as foot traffic on the deck.
  • Are there any noise restrictions? Remember when I said marine wind generators can be noisy? I wasn't kidding. Noise restrictions are a real concern in certain places: narrow inland waterways, residential communities and businesses.

Blowin' in the Wind: The Best Marine Wind Generators

The best marine wind generators provide power production and have high blade efficiency and reduced sound. There are a wide array of marine wind generators on the market. I've picked out a few that stood out to me.

Ista Breeze 500w 12V/24V Wind Generator

The Ista Breeze 500w provides a reliable source of energy in extreme conditions via its hybrid charge controller. It has a low thermal load, an aluminum powder-coated generator alternator case, stainless steel ball bearings and a front bearing with a friction-free sealing disc to prevent moisture , dust and debris.

Ista Breeze i-2000 48V Wind Generator

The maintenance-free aluminum Ista Breeze i-2000 has a maximum power of 2200w. It has durable and lightweight glass fiber reinforced plastic rotor blades, which also provides excellent stability.

High-strength aluminum housing has cooling fins. The sliding contact provides good current flow and no cable twisting.

Primus Wind Power Air X Marine Wind Turbine

With microprocessor technology and heavy-duty design, the Primus Wind Power delivers great performance and high wind protection. It's lightweight and has integrated power electronics for an easy installation. It produces 30 kWh of energy a month for high-wind marine use.

Primus Wind Power Air Silent X

Due to the enhanced carbon fiber blades, the Primus Wind Power Air Silent X provides increased power and more noise reduction than the standard Air-X.

It operates with a three-phase brushless permanent magnet alternator and microprocessor-controlled electronics.

Happybuy Wind Turbine Generator 400w

The Happybuy Wind Turbine Generator 400w features synthetic injection-molded high-strength plastic blades. Aerodynamic blades allow the rotor to run smoothly and quietly. It's great for use in high wind or in combination with solar panels.

Features include high-quality aluminum and stainless steel fittings, low start wind speed and a permanent magnet generator with low torque integrated automatic braking system. It also offers oxidation and corrosion resistance.

Happybuy Wind Turbine 300w

The Happy buy Wind Turbine 300w offers powerful performance in a unique lantern design. Its three-dimensional lantern-style design generates power at lower wind speeds while effectively regulating current and voltage. 

It has auto wind direction adjustment, a permanent low-torque magnet generator and high-strength plastic blades with resistance against UV rays and water and sand corrosion. Plus, it's just cool to look at.

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Best Wind Generators For Sailboats

Wind generators for sailboats are a great way to power your boat while at sea. But what are the best wind generators for sailboats?

Michael Moris

October 17, 2023

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The best wind generators are designed specifically to meet the demands of sailors. These include features like high strength, small size, lightweight, and corrosion resistance. Silentwind, MarineKinetix, Superwind, Rutland, and Automaxx build the best wind generators for sailboats.

The wind can be a sailor's best friend or worst enemy. When the wind is blowing, sailors love it because they can harness its power and use it to steer their boat. But when the wind suddenly dies down, the boat will lose momentum and may even drift off course without any way of correcting for this loss in speed. This is where a good-quality wind generator comes into play!

Our experts took the liberty of testing and reviewing the best wind generators for sailboats. After hours of testing, we were able to compile a list of the best wind generators for sailboats that are available on the market today.

Table of Contents

‍ 1. MarineKinetix MK4+

MarineKinetix MK4+

The  Marine Kinetix MK4+  wind generator is a top-of-the-line device that's perfect for boats and RVs. It features a built-in regulator that ensures your batteries are always fully charged, while its advanced cooling system keeps the unit running smoothly even in harsh weather conditions.

The Marine Kinetix MK4+ is a carbon laminated blade turbine. This type of rotor design results in enhanced airfoil aerodynamics that can dramatically improve power generation compared to older designs. It features an ultra-lightweight composite hub and blades, making it exceptionally durable even when exposed to corrosive saltwater or when run through heavy winds or storms.

The MarineKinetix is one of the most popular marine wind generators today due to its cutting-edge technology and soundless design. The MarineKinetix is the new standard for anchorages across the world. It has a 44 percent larger swept area than other marine wind generators, allowing it to collect more power and ensuring that all of that power reaches your battery bank safely.

The MarineKinetix MK4+ is a hands-off, no-fuss wind energy production system specially designed for use in the sea. The aerodynamic and structural features of this high-output, low startup speed system are based on the finest of European wind science. It also has world-class aerodynamic efficiency, thanks to its carbon-filled aero-acoustic rotor blades, which are designed to minimize noise while maximizing airflow.

Furthermore, the MK4+ is an incredibly quiet wind generator; we've never heard one quieter. It has a noise level of only 35 decibels at 17 feet in 10 knots of wind. This makes it perfect for use in small anchorages and crowded harbors.

The Marine Kinetix MK4+ is also one the lightest wind generator on the market, weighing in at only 17 pounds. It can be easily transported and is perfect for use with sailboats, powerboats, and RVs.

Overall, the Marine Kinetix MK4+ is an incredible wind generator and a great choice for any boat or RV. If you're looking for a quality, durable, and quiet wind turbine, the Marine Kinetix MK4+ is definitely the one for you.

  • Rated power output: 450 watts
  • Rated voltage: 12/24/48V
  • No of blades: 3
  • Rotor Speed: 500-1000 rpm
  • Weight: 17 lbs
  • Ultra-lightweight and durable construction
  • Easy installation
  • Carbon-laminated blades for enhanced power generation
  • No noise at all!
  • Three-year warranty
  • Not the most powerful turbine around

2. Silentwind 400 Plus

Silentwind 400 Plus

The  Silentwind 400 plus  is a wind turbine that has been designed for use in both marine and land-based applications. It is a reliable and efficient turbine that can provide power for boats, RVs, cabins, and other applications where a reliable source of energy is needed.

Compared to its predecessors, the new Silentwind 400 plus is equipped with high-duty carbon laminated blades. The company has dubbed these 'Silent Power Blades.' Silent wind claims that these blades provide improved wind monitoring and faster startup times than last generation's 400. These have been tested to work at turbulent speeds, and the generator is IP54 classified as waterproof/weatherproof, which means it will handle high humidity and moderate rain without damage.

According to reviews, the 400 plus has a starting speed of 4.2 knots and a max output of 425W at a 30% lower speed than other comparable generators. This is mainly due to the Silent Power Blades, which create less resistance to the wind, along with a three-phase triple alloy magnet generator

Because this turbine uses neodymium magnets, it can be used in any weather condition, unlike generators whose magnets will become demagnetized from the effects of wetness. The 400 Plus also has a 1-year warranty.

The turbine's blades are easy to access for cleaning or replacement without needing to remove the entire generator. This is an extremely valuable feature as it allows units to remain ready for operation at all times, even if they need servicing. The company claims that this generator also operates more quietly than other models on the market due to its specially designed 'silent power' blades. In addition, this model does not require oiling like some competitor products, which reduces both short-term maintenance needs and long-term expenses.

In terms of functionality, this generator can provide energy in most weather conditions due to its high-performance blades, advanced alloy magnets, and high-efficiency circuitry. It also features an easy-access design that allows for quick maintenance, which is invaluable when power needs are critical.

The Silentwind 400 plus is rated for 420, 450, and 500 watts. Its available in 12, 24, and 48V models. The 12V model is the most popular, with a weight of only 25 pounds. The turbine has an adjustable speed range of 550 to 1700 rpm, which means it can start at very low wind speeds.

Furthermore, the Silentwind 400 plus also has a built-in regulator that protects against overcharging and discharging. It is also equipped with an LED display that shows the turbine's speed, voltage, and amps being generated. This allows the user to make necessary adjustments to ensure maximum efficiency.

The only drawback we could find was that the company does not currently have a distributor in the United States. However, Silentwind has stated that they are working on this and hope to have a U.S. distributor soon. Also, due to range limitations, the Bluetooth feature is virtually useless in the open ocean.

Overall, the Silentwind 400 plus is an efficient and well-made wind turbine that can provide power for various applications. It is reliable, easy to use, and has been tested at hurricane speeds. It is a great choice for anyone looking for a dependable source of energy for their sailboats.

  • Rated power output: 420/450/500 watts
  • Rotor Speed: 550-1700 rpm
  • Generator weight: 15 lbs
  • High-duty carbon laminated blades
  • Quiet operation
  • Minimal maintenance required
  • Adjustable speed range
  • Built-in regulator
  • U.S. distributor not yet available
  • Bluetooth feature useless in the open ocean

3. Rutland 1200 Wind Turbine

Rutland 1200 Wind Turbine

The  Rutland 1200 Wind Turbine  is an efficient and reliable model that's capable of powering anything from sailboats to recreational vehicles. It has a durable, white epoxy-encapsulated frame, carbon fiber blades, and sealed bearings for consistent power generation. The turbine works best in light-to-medium wind conditions but can also charge 12 V batteries on larger vessels or RVs.

At 500 watts, the Rutland 1200 is a medium-sized turbine that packs a powerful punch without taking up too much room. The turbine features a sleek and modern design that blends in perfectly with any sailboat or RV.

The Rutland 1200 is a top-of-the-line wind turbine that's built to last. It has a sturdy frame, carbon fiber blades, and sealed bearings that can withstand even the harshest marine environment. The turbine also features a smart controller that prevents overcharging and protects your batteries from damage.

Best of all, this turbine is easy to install. The manufacturer includes all the necessary hardware, so you can simply attach it to your mast. It also comes with an emergency tiller control that allows you to harness power when needed during an emergency situation, and the design of the blades ensures that the wind is captured smoothly and efficiently.

The Rutland 1200 is a top-of-the-line wind turbine that's built to last. It has a sturdy frame, carbon fiber blades, and sealed bearings that can withstand even the harshest marine environments. The turbine also features a smart controller that prevents overcharging and protects your batteries from damage.

According to some users, the rotor was too small for larger boats or RVs and didn't generate enough power to be useful in high winds. Others said the blades were too noisy and made too much vibration when in use. It's also relatively expensive, although the price tag is to be expected considering the brand name and its capabilities.

Overall, this turbine is a great option for anyone who's looking to take their boat or RV off the grid. It has a durable design that can withstand harsh conditions, easy installation, and smooth operation. It's an excellent choice for those who have been looking to harness wind power but don't want to spend too much money on a DIY kit.

  • Rated power output: 500 watts
  • Rated Voltage: 24 V
  • Blade diameter: 48 inches
  • Weight: 17.2 lbs
  • Durable and well-built construction
  • Highly portable – easy to install and uninstall
  • Too small for larger vessels or RVs
  • Makes too much vibration when in use

4. Superwind 350

Superwind 350

The  Superwind 350  is a small, lightweight wind turbine that is perfect for sailboats. When in operation, it can charge various batteries, including the 12V battery found in most sailboats. This unit has a power output of 350 watts and is equipped with an LED display that shows how much energy is being generated.

The Superwind 350 also comes equipped with Auto-Feathering Overspeed-Avoidance System. In layman terms, this system prevents the turbine from spinning too fast and damaging the blades. It does this by sensing when the wind speed is too high and then automatically slowing down the turbine. This system is especially valuable for sailors who often find themselves in high winds and can prevent costly damage to the turbine.

The blades' speed decreases as the wind speed rise to 25 knots; they start "feathering" (dumping air) to be less efficient and slower. However, as the wind dies down, the blades re-pitch, becoming more effective. In comparison to other comparable products, this action delivers a steady stream of charging current to the batteries without shutting down to avoid overcharging.

The Superwind 350 can also run in combination with solar panels and traditional diesel generators, making it the perfect choice for sailors who charge their batteries with multiple sources throughout the day. In addition, this turbine can be used in conjunction with a voltage-sensitive relay to automatically start and stop a generator based on the battery's state of charge.

Furthermore, The Superwind generator family also employs a brushless A/C stator to minimize noise and radio interference while the unit is generating power. This is a great feature for sailors who want to run power-intensive electronics such as refrigerators and air conditioners.

The only drawback we could find was that it's not the quietest. This could potentially cause issues, especially if you're trying to sleep below deck.

Overall, the Superwind 350 is a great choice for sailboats looking for an efficient and reliable wind turbine. It is easy to use and comes equipped with various safety features. It is also compatible with a variety of battery types and solar panels.

  • Rated power output: 350 watts
  • Rotor Speed: 450-1250 rpm
  • Weight: 24 lbs
  • Automatic speed regulation system (feathering and re-pitching) prevents damage to the turbine.
  • Compatible with solar panels and traditional generators
  • Not the quietest turbine on the market

5. AutoMaxx DB-400 Wind Turbine

AutoMaxx DB-400 Wind Turbine

AutoMaxx DB-400  is a great and affordable choice for any boat or RV owner looking to harness the power of the wind. It features large blades that allow it to generate more energy than most other marine turbines out there, while its lightweight and compact design make it easy to transport and store when not in use.

The AutoMaxx DB-400 is an expertly designed and efficiently engineered model that's capable of powering any vessel or recreational vehicle. It has a sleek and ergonomically designed white rotor, bearings, and hub that ensure fast wind speed increases for optimum energy production. The turbine is also made from durable, high-quality materials that can withstand harsh marine environments.

The AutoMaxx DB-400 wind turbine installs easily and quickly on any boat or RV, and it comes with all the necessary mounting hardware. Once installed, it's easy to use and requires minimal maintenance. The turbine has been designed for 12 V systems, and it's capable of producing up to 400 watts of power.

When it comes to performance, the AutoMaxx DB-400 Wind Turbine really shines. The turbine has been tested in some of the worst wind conditions and still produces more than enough power to keep your batteries charged. It has a sturdy, all-weather design that can easily handle heavy winds and rough conditions. It's also extremely quiet and vibration-free, making it the perfect choice for any boat or RV owner looking to harness the power of wind energy.

According to a few users, the devices didn't spin at the stated cut-in speed and generated less power than expected, although most people said they worked as predicted. It's tough to tell whether these flaws are due to poor installation, miscommunication between vendors and consumers, or unrealistic expectations. It's always a good idea to put your device through its paces when it arrives to ensure that it's functioning as intended.

Overall, the AutoMaxx DB-400 Wind Turbine is an efficient and reliable model that comes at a great price. If you're looking to get started with wind energy on your boat or RV but don't want to spend too much, this turbine is definitely the best choice for you.

  • Rated power output: 400 watts
  • Rated voltage: 12 V
  • Sturdy and durable construction
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Budget-friendly
  • Poor performance in high winds
  • Not the most efficient in its class

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Enjoy energy independence – With our safe and quiet generator

The Silentwind wind generator is designed to charge batteries on sailing vessels by converting wind energy into electricity.

The generator has been developed and produced for use in marine environment. It can be used in various wind conditions: small, medium and high.

Silentwind is lightweight (6kg), built in aluminum alloy suitable for marine environment, corrosion protected, stainless steel shaft, waterproof sealed bearings.

The Silent Power Blades are produced in carbon fiber, hand-laminated, with great resistance and minimum noise emission, which is the great differentiator of the Silentwind.

The charge controller is external, hybrid (wind and solar energy), has multifunction display and integrated stop switch (electronic / manual).

The parameters can be adjusted directly in the controller or through the application that is available in IOS and Android. Among the available parameters are the brake module, which allows the maximum current adjustment, and the load cut-off voltage module, which regulates the maximum charge voltage of the batteries.

Silentwind starts charging with only 4kn wind, generating 50W at 14kn and 100W at 19kn. As maximum it generates 420W (Generators 12V) at 29kn.

The mast supports are developed for vibration absorption and consequent noise reduction.

For further information, contact us. We are available to assist you with your project.

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10 Best Wind Generators For Sailboats (Reviewed) in 2021

Best-Wind-Generators-For-Sailboat

The generators are widely known for their maintenance-free operation and requiring no launch or recovery. Today, wind generators are very common to many sailors in the blue water cruising routes.

With lots of best wind generators for sailboats in the market, finding the best model can be quite a challenge. When you get to choose your model, you will be faced with a lot of options that can kill you with a headache.

However, there is no need to put yourself to the challenge. have done the whole searching for you. I have search through the models and came up with the list below. I have also listed the features that make secure wind generator stand among the others. So, it’s an article you want to read.

1. Tumo-Int Wind Turbine Generator – For Sailboats

2. npower wind turbine – smart controller, 3. sunforce 44444 – best watt wind generator, 4. eco-worthy wind solar – power with mc4 connector, 5. happybuy wind turbine generator – 3 blade low wind speed, 6. windmill (db-400) – wind turbine generator kit, 7. missouri wind and solar – 11 blade wind turbine, 8. eco-worthy turbine generator – house & boat, 9. mophorn wind turbine – controller for power supplementation, 10. eco-worthy wind solar power – best for boat, best wind generators for sailboats (faqs), top 10 best wind generators for sailboats in 2021.

Tumo-Int Wind Turbine Generator

The generator design also allows it to operate amazingly with low noise and a little vibration. The Tumo-Int Wind turbine is an excellent product as it picks upwind in an extraordinarily even in the l ow winds .

The wind boosting controller ensures that the turbine captures every little wind energy and converts to power. Installing the generator on the sailboat is quite simple. The mounting suggested in the instruction is a bit involved, but an accomplished DIY person can achieve it.

  • Permanent magnetic triple-phase
  • Wind Boosting Controller
  • Low energy to start up
  • 1-year warranty
  • Easy installation
  • Incomplete installation kit

NPower Wind Turbine

With 400 watt power, the turbine efficiently harnesses wind energy 24/7 AC output power. The three-strong symmetrically designed blades ensure that you get the possible control over long distances.

Additionally, it’s impressive that the Wind turbine system includes power conversion to Direct current (DC) at the battery bank for 12V charging and can be used with 24V or 12V systems.

For the most efficient charging my NPower Marine Grade system uses the reliable MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) smart controller.

  • Powder-coated Fiberglass blades
  • Maximum Power Point Tracking
  • Overspeed/Overcrank Shutdown
  • Weather Resistant construction
  • Pole mounting design
  • Smart Controller
  • Assembly takes time
  • Not backed by a warranty

Sunforce 44444

With its 400 watts or 27 amps maximum power, it provides enough power to charge your batteries. It’s fitted with a fully integrated regulator which automatically shuts down when the batteries are entirely charged.

Additionally, the China-manufactured product takes DIY skills to have it assembled and mounted. The whole unit is 27 L by 44 W by 44 H inches. The unit attaches to any robust pole, building, or the Sunforce 30-Foot Tower Kit. Our Wind Generator here uses a 12-volt battery which is not included.

  • Weatherproof cast aluminum Construction
  • Portable and Quiet Wind Generator
  • Fully integrated regulator
  • Manufactured in China
  • Ready to use
  • A bit difficult to install

ECO-WORTHY Wind Solar - Power with MC4 Connector

The kit comes with a highly efficient and compact alternator that has high-performance NdFeB permanent magnet. It’s impressive that the system uses a hybrid controller which is PWM that is designed with overload protection.

Additionally, the system automatically shuts down when the batteries which are being charged are fully charged thanks to the fully integrated regulator. The whole wring system shown on the product description is suitable for a 24v system and to use a 12v system you need to connect the solar panels in parallel connection.

  • Long Cable with MC4 Connector
  • A built-in automatic braking system
  • Compact, high-efficient alternator
  • Polycrystalline Solar Panel
  • Somehow expensive

Happybuy Wind Turbine Generator

It’s a 400watt wind turbine that is durable and with low maintenance. The ease of assembly, high efficient, and quite an operation makes it super ideal for your sailboat. Its powerful performance relies on a permanent magnet generator that has low torque.

It also comes with an integrated automatic braking system which reduces the speed when the wind tends to be so much. The high wind energy utilization factor ensures that there is maximum annual power generation.

  • An Integrated automatic braking system
  • Battery Overcharging Protection
  • Anti-UV anti-corrosion material
  • Battery Discharging Protection
  • Nylon Fiber Wind Leaf
  • Offers low wattage
  • A bit small Tailpiece

Windmill (DB-400)

It’s an entirely self-sustaining stand-alone device which generates clean GREEN renewable energy continuously without your supervision. With 400 watt power, 16.8lbs weight and durable, heavy-duty construction make it ideal and a perfect model to use to charge your sailboat battery.

The best thing about this wind generator package is that it comes with all the parts and accessories needed in having it working.

  • High-quality Polypropylene/Glass Fiber
  • MPPT Maximum power point tracking
  • The inbuilt automatic braking system
  • Manual braking switch
  • UV protection coating
  • 1 Year manufactures warranty
  • Not that powerful
  • Improvement of Customer service could be better

Missouri Wind and Solar

When they turn they turn the generator blades and the powerful motor which provides 2000 watt working power. The unit is hot-dipped galvanized with zinc-coated hubs which provide excellent durability.

It’s designed with an innovative keyed shaft and hub stabilizer and also include a self-tightening cam-lock washer to keep the blade set from spinning on the turbine shaft. The combo system has heavy-duty stars and stripes with a tail and a PMG mounting bracket that ensures you get the best performance.

  • Fully hot dipped galvanized components
  • Raptor carbon fiber blades
  • Permanent magnet
  • Cut-in wind speed
  • No installation kit
  • The installation is difficult

ECO-WORTHY Turbine Generator

The turbine works with even the smallest wind to provide the best working power. Cable labeling makes it super easy to have it together and to work.

The cable adapter connects the controller with the solar panels, and you need to get other connectors to join the turbine with this controller. The over thermal protection shuts down the output protecting it from damages.

  • High-performance nylon fiber blades
  • Monocrystalline Solar Panel
  • Precision molding injection
  • Y Branch MC4 Connectors
  • AC/DC Power Inverter
  • Takes time to have it installed

Mophorn Wind Turbine

The wind blades are made from high-quality nylon fiber that makes it weather-resistant and with its easy assembling with DIY installation, and this is a sailboat generator that you want on your sailboat. The Mophorn 700W wind generator kit is ideal for businesses, green windmill, mechanical energy, and homes supplementation.

  • High-quality stainless steel and aluminum fittings
  • Permanent Magnet Generator
  • Power Supplementation
  • Superior Performance
  • Quite heavy
  • Difficult to assemble

ECO-WORTHY Wind Solar Power

With the combination of all these units allows this turbine Eco-Worthy turbine to offer 1KW power for your sailboat. The set comes with a new style controller which is more efficient and entirely automatic, no need to set any parameters.

The solar panel is constructed from the corrosion-resistant aluminum frame for durability and outdoor use. The design allows it to last for decades and also withstand the snow load (5400Pa) and high wind (2400Pa).

  • 400W Wind Turbine Generator
  • Solar Cable Adapter
  • Hybrid Controller
  • No instructions manual

Best Wind Generators For Sailboats Buyer’s Guide:

With the above information, it’s clear that picking the best wind generators for sailboats from the list is quite hard. As you might’ve noticed, most of the products on this list are quite similar, but some features are distinctive. With the below factors, the choice will be much simpler and straightforward.

Automatic Braking System

With best wind generators for sailboats, there is a breaking system built in to reduce the speed of the turbines when the wind speed gets too high. The turbine also provides protection from overcharging the batteries from and the motor from overheating.

Tower Height

It’s vital that you buy a model that comes with a tall tower which can allow it to take advantage of the high average wind speeds which are possible at elevated heights. The higher you go, the more wind you will get. But when you are finding more breeze, it’s vital that you ensure there are no obstruction structures around it. Remember to check the bridges and the deck cover.

Installation

The installation of your best generator for sailboats should be a simple DIY installation. It should come with the necessary DIY equipment kit to help you. The installation instructions should be easy to read and follow. Whatever you do, you must never try to install your wind generator on the roof of your sailboat. That way you won’t jeopardize your boat’s roof structural integrity.

Power Output

You might be counting it as a backup, but you need to make sure that the power output is powerful enough to change the number of batteries you have in your sailboat. I recommend that you also ensure you buy a wind generator that features inbuilt MPPT power tracking. That shows that the wind generator system is quite efficient.

Quality Build

One thing that determines the durability of the best wind generators for sailboats is the construction. That’s why you need to make sure that the model you pick is made from high-end, durable materials like polypropylene and Glass Fiber for the blades. It’s also vital the wind turbine to have a UV protection layer to keep it from damage by harsh UV rays.

Q: How long should I expect my wind generator to last?

A: The life expectancy of a wind generator for sailboats can take around 20 to 25 years depending on the usage. But the moving parts will need to be replaced before that.

Q: How much wind is needed to turn the wind turbine?

A: Wind speeds of as low can rotate small turbines as 8mpH, and on the other hand, the bigger turbine will need something like 13mpH.

GLOBO TOOLS OVERVIEW

I hope it is much easier now to find the best model now than it was before. I also hope the searching process is now much simpler and straightforward. With all this information, you should be able to find a perfect model out of the list of top best wind generators for sailboats.

  • Wind Turbine for RV
  • Batteries for Wind Generators

About the author

wind turbine for sailboats

Sharif Miah

I am Sharif, 22, a student, currently doing the BBA program. Besides, I am an online Blogger.

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ECO-WORTHY 600W Solar Wind Power Kit: 2 * 100W Bifacial Solar Panels + 1 * 400W Wind Turbine for Home, RV, Boat, Farm, Street Light and Off-Grid Appliances

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ECO-WORTHY 600W Solar Wind Power Kit: 2 * 100W Bifacial Solar Panels + 1 * 400W Wind Turbine for Home, RV, Boat, Farm, Street Light and Off-Grid Appliances

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  • 【Ideal Output】The ideal daily power generation of our 600W Solar Wind Power Kit is up to 2.4KWH. The combination of solar and wind makes it a good choice for residential and commercial use
  • 【Bifacial Solar Panel】High efficiency Bifacial Monocrystalline Solar Panel is your best choice for off-grid appliances. The back panel uses composite materials, the light transmittance up to 91.5%, the conversion rate of 23%, compared to traditional solar panels, energy surge up to 33%
  • 【Wind Turbine Generator】400W wind turbine solve the problem that solar panels could not work during night time or when the sun is not strong enough. It has a low start-up speed, high wind power utilization, lightweight, low vibration with 3 blades and auto windward direction adjustment
  • 【PWM Hybrid Controller】Our solar wind power kit includes a 40A PWM Hybrid Controller for battery protection. It can automatically shut down when the battery is fully charged, protect it from overcharge and short circuit
  • 【Package Include】2* 100W Bifacial Solar Panel + 1* 400W Wind Turbine + 1* 29ft Wind Turbine Cable + 1* 16ft Solar Cable + 2* Z-Bracket

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wind turbine for sailboats

State leaders celebrate progress of Revolution Wind project on state-of-the-art vessel

Gov. Dan McKee and other officials celebrated the progress of the Revolution Wind project on Thursday.

The project is 15 miles south of ProvPort and is expected to be operational in 2025. 

It's part of a partnership between Orsted and Eversource to create an offshore wind farm that is expected to generate about 400 megawatts for Rhode Island and about 300 megawatts for Connecticut.

Part of the morning's celebration was onboard the state-of-the-art vessel Eco Edison.

  • ALSO READ:   Massachusetts cannabis commission to discuss pot supply in Martha's Vineyard 

Its owners say it's the first American-built boat of its kind. 

The vessel is a 262-foot-long liveaboard ship that will house turbine technicians who will service the turbines.

More than 125 local union workers recently completed the construction of Revolution Wind’s turbine foundation components.

 It's part of a $100 million investment from Orsted and Eversource in work at their ProvPort hub that makes it the largest offshore wind supply chain investment in Rhode Island’s history.

When completed, the 704-megawatt Revolution Wind project will be the first commercial-scale offshore wind project for Rhode Island and Connecticut and the first multi-state offshore wind farm in the country.

State leaders celebrate progress of Revolution Wind project on state-of-the-art vessel

COMMENTS

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    Quick Answer - The Best Wind Generators for Sailboats. AutoMaxx DB-400. View at Amazon. Primus Wind Power Air-X Marine. View at Amazon. Nature Power 2000W. View at Amazon. Missouri General Freedom II. View at Amazon.

  7. MarineKinetix MK4+

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  9. Wind Turbines For Boats (A guide for seafarers)

    The Silentwind turbine has a maximum output of 420w at a wind speed of 25 knots (28 mph). However, most boats will only experience a max of 20 kt (23 mph). At this wind speed, Silentwind can generate up to 140w. In addition, the turbine has a cut-in speed of 6.2 kt. (7 mph).

  10. Choosing a Wind Generator for a Sailboat

    Choosing a Wind Generator for a Sailboat - Complete GUIDE. Published December 3, 2022 By Matt C Categorized as Buying Guides, Boat Gear and Accessories. Nothing denotes a salty off-the-grid ready yacht more than the sight of a wind generator mounted on the stern. Once, these were the main component of a sailor's renewable energy arsenal.

  11. Marine Wind Generator Test

    The micro-wind turbines assembled for this comparison include the KISS High Output Wind Generator, the Rutland 913, the Superwind 350, the Ampair 100, and a prototype of the Air Breeze. ... Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers ...

  12. Choosing a Wind Generator

    Practical Sailor begins its two-part report on wind generators for cruising sailboats begins with a look at features including blade size, number of blades, output considerations and installation. When cruising sailors think of renewable energy, their thoughts immediately turn to the wind. When selecting a marine wind generator for your boat ...

  13. Best Marine Wind Generator 2021

    The Details. The best marine wind turbine is the TESUP Master940. As the name suggests, this model can produce over 900W of power, making it the most powerful turbine on this list. Sweet! However, there are more reasons to buy this wind turbine than just its high level of power output. Here's the power output curve:

  14. Nine wind generators on test

    This is a simple and effective method of slowing the blades, although it can be noisy unless you also turn the turbine out of the wind and tie the blades off. Conclusion. For UK cruising, where the wind usually blows between 8 and 15 knots, the quickest off the mark was the Air Breeze, which gave an impressive 1.8-8.4A between 7 and 15 knots of ...

  15. Sailing

    Superwind 350-ll in action - reliable energy at sea. Discover the versatility and robustness of the Superwind 350-II through this selected collection of photos and videos. Designed specifically for sailboats and marine adventures, this wind generator provides consistent and reliable power in the most diverse environments.

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    RUTLAND 1200 £1,195.00. The recently-launched, three-bladed R1200 has been purpose-built for the marine environment and, when combined with the intelligent HRDi charge controller, looks to be one of the most powerful and efficient wind generators on the market. Thanks to a unique blade design this model also boasts a very low start-up speed ...

  17. Can A Wind Generator Power My Sailboat?

    A sailboat wind generator system is relatively simple, consisting of three main components: The wind generator, a charge controller, and the battery bank. The wind generator harnesses the wind's energy and converts it to electricity. The charge controller conditions the power from the wind generator for safe storage in the battery bank.

  18. Best Marine Wind Generators & Turbines for Boats

    Swirlin' ships aside, marine wind generators work by harnessing the kinetic energy of air, or to be exact, the wind. Once caught, the wind is converted to a rotational motion that turns an alternator, which then produces electrical energy. This energy can be used immediately or stored in batteries (12V or 24V) for later use.

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    Rutland 1200 Wind Turbine. The Rutland 1200 Wind Turbine is an efficient and reliable model that's capable of powering anything from sailboats to recreational vehicles. It has a durable, white epoxy-encapsulated frame, carbon fiber blades, and sealed bearings for consistent power generation.

  20. Know how: Wind Generators

    In fact, the relationship between wind speed and the energy it contains is cubic, so power decreases exponentially. To put that in context, a boat doing 8 knots dead downwind in 20 knots of true wind would experience an apparent wind of just 12 knots. A turbine might generate 40 watts in 12 knots of wind, but most manage 200 watts in 20 knots.

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    The Silentwind wind generator is designed to charge batteries on sailing vessels by converting wind energy into electricity. The generator has been developed and produced for use in marine environment. It can be used in various wind conditions: small, medium and high. Silentwind is lightweight (6kg), built in aluminum alloy suitable for marine ...

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    My wind generator shortlist was indeed short: the turbine had to be functional at medium to high wind-speeds—none of them generate much power below 8 knots or so—it had to be tough and reliable, and it had to be quiet. I've shared anchorages with boats whose wind generators sounded like approaching helicopters.

  23. Typmar Maglev Marine Wind Turbine

    Typmar Maglev Wind Turbine. Typmar Maglev is a hybrid vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) systems which combines drag and lift based design together. It incorporates an S-Type Savonious rotor and Darrieus motor (Eggbeater type) three airfoil blades maximizing output performance. The entire structure rotating floats on a magnetic field minimizing ...

  24. 10 Best Wind Generators For Sailboats (Reviewed) in 2021

    1. Tumo-Int Wind Turbine Generator - For Sailboats. The lists start with a beautiful and powerful Tumo-Int Wind Turbine Generator Kit. The generator uses three patented wind turbine blades that have twisted aerodynamic and accurate symmetrical design ensuring the rotor captures maximum power from the wind energy.

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    High Tech Carbon Fiber Wind Generator Blades kit for Air X/Silent X/30/40/Breeze 2-ARBR-103. $438.00. View. Looking for AIR Breeze Marine Wind Turbine high-energy output? eMarine Systems is a trusted and authorized dealer of AIR Breeze wind turbines and parts. Visit our showroom to see our inventory of AIR Breeze turbines and parts today!

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    The federal the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) conducted its first inspection of an operational offshore wind turbine in U.S. waters, checking out a generator at the South Fork Wind project off New York and Rhode Island. "This first wind turbine inspection is critical for industry, BSEE, and the nation as domestic ...

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  28. McKee to celebrate progress of Revolution Wind project on state ...

    Its owners say it's the first American-built boat of its kind. The vessel is a 262-foot-long liveaboard ship that will house turbine technicians who will service the turbines.