Rooftop wind turbine invention seeks support in Google contest

Jan 29, 2009 by Lisa Zyga weblog
Seattle inventor Chad Maglaque has submitted the Jellyfish rooftop wind turbine to Google's 10th anniversary "Project 10 to the 100th" contest. Image credit:

( -- A Seattle man has invented a small wind turbine that can be installed on homeowners' rooftops. The "Jellyfish" wind turbine generates about 40 kilowatt hours each month, which is enough to light a home using high-efficiency bulbs.

According to inventor Chad Maglaque, 42, the advantage of the rooftop wind turbines is that people can buy them at big box stores like Costco, and the devices wouldn't require extra expenses and inspections that large-scale wind systems do. Maglaque built a prototype of his turbine for about $100, but expects that each turbine would initially cost $400-$500 if sold in a store.

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Seeking financial support to continue his project, the West Seattle resident has entered his prototype in Google's "Project 10 to the 100th" contest. The contest celebrates Google's 10th anniversary by awarding $10 million to five innovative inventions. Google received more than 100,000 entries submitted in 25 languages, and has narrowed the field to 100 entries. Starting March 17, the public can vote to determine the top 20, and a Google advisory panel will pick the five winners.

According to an article in The Seattle Times earlier this week, Maglaque's YouTube entry for his wind turbine is one of the most viewed among all the submitted projects.

The three-foot wind turbine, which has three vertical blades, could be plugged directly into an outdoor electrical socket. The turbine's variable-speed motor is then connected directly to the electrical grid. When its sensors detect an adequate amount of wind, the turbine automatically turns the motor on, generating electricity that can either be used in the home or fed back to the grid.

While other small wind turbines have already been developed, most require an expensive converter to transform variable wind energy into a steady current for the grid. Maglaque's design doesn't need a converter, making it easier to use and relatively less expensive.

"It's not going to power the whole house," says Maglaque, who does freelance work in product management and strategy for technology companies. "But it's about doing every little bit."

If Maglaque decides to push his idea forward, he will have to obtain safety certifications and utility approval, and face other various restrictions. In his project application to Google, he said he would use the contest money to pursue these certifications, as well as to support policy change among governments and utilities to allow the devices to operate.

More information:

About the Jellyfish Wind Turbine -

Google's Project 10 to the 100th -

via: Seattle Times and Ecogeek

© 2009

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User comments : 11

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2.4 / 5 (5) Jan 29, 2009
The prototype costs less than what he predicts the mass-produced version to cost in a store? That's insane. There's also no evidence he's getting his turbine out of the turbulence zone (
4.6 / 5 (5) Jan 29, 2009
Prototypes can cost less for many reasons, assembley not costed, purpose is to show function not durility, safety or ease of use. Maybe it does not have all the eletrical needs to handle things like a lighting strike with out shorting the whole house.
5 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2009
"Maglaque's design doesn't need a converter, making it easier to use and relatively less expensive."

How does it keep it's synchronized to the grid frequency and voltage? If it doesn't it's just going to pollute the grid with useless noise and contribute nothing.
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2009
soylent: exactly what I was thinking - how can it synchronize with the grid?

ryuuguu also has a good point, cost of (minimum) #6 cable to a [code approved] ground rod and from there to the breaker box will add significantly to the cost of an installation. (all system grounds have to be bonded together or you can run into trouble). and, in order to avoid problems with your home owner's policy if there is a lightning strike, installation should be done by a licensed electrician.
2 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2009
And after all, if he's going to sell it, he'll want to profit from it.
I actually love it, though I'm not sure how when you plug it in the grid, it will automatically power your home. And most importantly, how the electricity provider won't charge you for what you produce.
3.8 / 5 (5) Jan 30, 2009
40 kwh per month doesn't seem like it's worth the effort, even though it would cost only $400 to $500. Throughout a lot of the US, a large percentage of homes average kwh usage is over 1,000 kwh per month. Only a 4% reduction from this investment. I suppose every little bit helps. The simple payback would be about 4 to 5 years which is pretty good. Most people can achieve even better savings and paybacks by making sure their house is properly insulated, caulked, etc.
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2009
Somehow my comment was truncated. I had also mentioned that dumping electricity back into the grid is dangerous. If the power goes out and some linesman is out there fixing the line, your wind turbine or portable gas generator could kill him. Adding something like this should involve a cutoff switch that activates when the grid goes down, and that's not cheap.
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2009
If you do the math, 24 hrs X 30 days = 720 hours per month. 40,000 watts/month comes out to an average of 55 watts 24/7. Not even enough for light bulb, well maybe a couple of the spiral bulbs but that's about it.
So about 40 of them could maybe run a regular house.
1 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2009
Smaller Turbines are comming. There is one that seems promising
which uses a fluid driven vacume enhanced generator. here is the link to the patent http://www.patent...ow-page3
It goes in production soon.
It has been going through tests at Clarkson U.
Efficiency is approaching 50%
1 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2009
after 2 votes I get 1 out of 5!! Why!!! I love this anonymous voting. Those who voted 1 out 5 please reveal yourself and explain.
not rated yet Apr 13, 2009
Whoa, can someone explain to me how using a "dead man's cord" is in anyway a viable solution for connecting this to a house's electrical system/grid???

My prediction: Jellyfish is sued out of existence after 6 months when its product is responsible for a fire that burned down a house and killed a family of 5. It's rare I hear of a product that so flippantly flaunts with such potentially dangerous consequences. Or is this just a scam to win a $100,000 in a contest, knowing they don't have to give the money back when their product doesn't make it to market??