Backyard wind turbine? There's an app for that

Small wind turbine company Mariah Power teams with developer to make an application that uses the iPhone microphone to measure wind speed.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read

Now you can test whether you're both techno-chic and an ecogeek by combining the iPhone with home wind turbines.

Small wind turbine maker Mariah Power has teamed up with software developer Create with Context to make an iPhone application designed to measure wind speed.

The application, which is due "any day," uses the iPhone's microphone to get a read on wind speed. It translates that into how much power a small wind turbine could offset. For example, a wind that averages 12 miles per hour is enough energy to run your refrigerator and freezer for a year, according to Create with Context.

The iPhone small wind application uses a microphone to get a read on wind speed. Create with Context

The application was written to get people excited about wind power. But it strikes me that actually buying a turbine based on an iPhone application is a bit risky.

Small wind turbines do indeed work, but experienced wind installers will tell you that they only deliver on their stated performance when there is a sufficient wind. That means placing a turbine far above and away from obstructions, such as trees and rooftops, in addition to getting that 12-mph average wind speed.

Two studies--one in the U.K.and one in Massachusetts--found that early buyers of pole-mounted wind turbines and roof-mounted turbines did not get the electricity output they expected. The primary reason was that the turbines weren't getting enough wind in their locations.

So an iPhone wind speed application could be fun to play with and even give you a decent idea of wind speed. But if you're serious, I'd suggest consulting a wind map from 3Tieror others and gather more data with an anemometer.

There are at least two other iPhone applications for measuring wind speed, called Wind Meter and Wind Speed, the New York Times notes.