(San Luis Obispo, Ca)
I was the importer/distributor of Kestrel turbines in the US market prior to their purchase by Eveready Battery, and headed the marketing/distribution effort at DC Power Systems (now called Soligent) for 3+ years. More recently, I was employed by Kestrel to take care of US technical matters and act as liaison with dealers and customers of their products. I am very familiar with all things Kestrel.
Kestrel’s best points are it’s unique and effective alternator design and reliable pitch control systems, as well as the highly reliable speed control used on the smaller 600 Watt , 5 and/or 6 blade e 150/160 models. The 120 pole windings used in the 1 and 3 kW models produce the cleanest DC output in the industry, which is ideal for use in telecom applications and other applications where noise is a critical factor. They are also extremely robust, being primarily fabricated of heavy steel and hand laminated fiberglass.
Now for the not so good.
Kestrels management leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least. Questionable decisions by current (2014) management have led to the withdrawal from the American (also Canadian) market and left a number of owners with orphaned equipment and no local support. The reasons for their decision undoubtedly included the very low cost of PV and the high aggregate costs involved in the installation of small wind equipment in general. But a big factor is the alternator’s vulnerable rectifier, which is located on the stator plate. The stator is sandwiched between twin rotors in the heart of the machine and requires dis-assembly to effect repairs, which cannot be done in the field. This is made worse by a tendency to damage from high voltage transients caused by lightning. Since many installers tend to steer away from including redundant lightning suppression devices, especially owner-installers, there have been a number of 3 kW machines in particular that have required repairs and/or replacement under warranty. This has cost Kestrel a lot and probably helped in their decision to withdraw from our market and remove the 3 k machine from their lineup entirely. All this is unfortunate for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Kestrel had the best 3 kW turbine on the market and full certification. Bummer.
Kestrel IS quite active with the 1 kW direct water pumping turbines in other parts of the world, but I was unsuccessful in convincing them to offer them in this market. After 34 years in the wind business, most of them in small wind, I can definitely say that it’s a tough business!