Over the years, we’ve learned a few things about building the best wind turbine in the market. AIR has gone through a series of continuous refinements from the AIR 303, AIR 403, AIR-X and AIR Breeze. Each successive model has been more successful – in fact, AIR is still the world’s best-selling machine; with more than 135,000 units sold. Even with this success, there is always room for improvement. As technology advances and we learn about people’s needs, we evolve our products to do more while fulfilling customer expectations.
Today we’re releasing our latest and most reliable generation of AIR turbines: the AIR Breeze Marine, for sailing and off-grid coastal applications, the AIR 40, for off-grid remote homes, industry and telecommunication towers in non-corrosive environments, and the AIR 30, for hobby, RV and educational use.
The latest designs required a great deal of efforts on the part of our engineers as well as independent laboratories which helped us pinpoint weak spots in our products. Specifically, the most common causes of failures were excessive heat build-up during extreme wind events and mechanical stresses on the circuit board.
What did we do?
Southwest Windpower is probably the only small wind company with its own wind tunnel. Our engineers gathered information from warranty claims and in-house and external product analysis. We then duplicated identified problems in our wind tunnel and then began the process of changing the design. Specifically we:
1.Performed a comprehensive characterization of the AIR 30 blades to determine the optimal tip and root angle to capture the wind and made changes to the mold.
2. Optimized the software on all AIR products to enhance performance, reliability and reduce excess heat build-up in high wind speeds
3. Upgraded the circuit board using higher temperature rated components to further reduce susceptibility to extreme temperatures
4. Integrated changes to the circuit board configuration to reduce mechanical stress on the board and mitigate component failures
How do we know we did it right?
After completing improvements, we contracted an independent laboratory to perform a Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT). HALT uncovers issues in product design, component selection and/or manufacturing that we couldn’t otherwise find without running units in various field environments for an extended period of time. The HALT subjects the turbine to all kinds of stresses and weather and temperature fluctuations in quick succession.
AIR has been around for nearly 15 years and each year we discover new ways the product is used. AIR is found everywhere from a monitoring site in Antarctica to a village clinic in Sri Lanka. It’s the best because it is easy to install and operate. We at Southwest Windpower remain committed to making a difference with wind energy.