What is a Vertical Axis Windmill?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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The vertical axis windmill or turbine looks significantly different than the horizontal axis windmills that can be found dotting the landscape in states and countries around the world. The main difference between the two is that the vertical axis windmill has its primary rotor shaft set vertically, while the horizontal axis windmill has its rotor shaft arranged horizontally with airplane propeller-like blades, usually at the top. The vertical arrangement allows the windmill to be effective regardless of whether it is directed at the wind. It makes the vertical axis windmill the perfect solution in areas where the wind frequently changes direction, since it can harness the wind from any direction.

In most cases, the vertical axis windmill has the generator located near the ground. Consequently, it is unnecessary for the tower to support it. This design makes it an easy piece of equipment to maintain. One of the best places to set up the vertical axis windmill is on top of the roof of a building. Specifically, the way the wind sweeps over the rooftop can create high wind speeds with fewer problems from vibrations and wind turbulence. In addition, plateaus, mesas, and other windy land structures are great places for vertical axis windmills.


Although a vertical axis windmill can be purchased from any number of companies across the globe, some people may prefer to build their own from scratch. Luckily, for these craftspeople, there are online tutorials that give step-by-step instructions. In addition, there are several do-it-yourself books that can be used to give additional designs, building techniques, and other advice. Building a windmill can save money; however, it may take some time and effort.

The horizontal axis windmill may be currently the most common, but the vertical axis variety is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, as more vertical axis windmills are sold, additional companies that are designing, developing, and selling the equipment are popping up in countries, such as the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Italy, Finland, China, Germany, and the Netherlands. Some of the companies focus on developing small, residential-sized windmills, while other companies prefer to work on larger windmills for wind farms.

New patents and designs are continuously emerging for vertical axis windmills. Some scientists claim that since they are quieter and capture wind easier, they could easily surpass the horizontal varieties in time. Even California, an environmentally conscious state, has accepted horizontal axis windmills as a source of sustainable energy.


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