FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
about the KISS High Output wind generator
1. How do you stop it in high winds?

2. What’s “freewheeling”?

3. What about during hurricanes?

4. How much noise does it make?

5. How is this wind generator better than the others?

6. What’s to stop the wires from pulling loose from the motor?

7. What do I get for $1,395?

8. What regulator do I have to have?

9. What does the 3 year warranty cover?

10. What kind of mount do I need?

11. Can I mount a KISS on my house?

12. Can I use solar panels with a KISS wind generator?

13. Does the electric brake use battery power?

14. How do I keep the KISS from overcharging my batteries?

15. Can I use one charge controller for the KISS and solar panels or do I need one for each?

16. How do you stop it in high winds?
You have several options:

You can just let it spin if you’ve got something more important to do, like dealing with a dragging anchor! The KISS is guaranteed to hurricane force winds, and we know of two that have operated through hurricanes with no damage.
You can shut it off with the electric brake (located on the control box near your battery) up to 35 knots. It will slow the blades to a near stop. They will turn very slowly, allowing you to tether a blade to the mounting pole if you wish.
If it is freewheeling, you can switch the brake to the OFF position which will slow the blades once the motor has cooled off and re-engaged.
Return to top of page.

2. What’s “freewheeling”?
Two thermal-sensitive bimetallic circuit breakers are connected to the coils of the stator to prevent the motor from overheating. Depending on ambient temperature, the thermal switches will open in winds of 20-25 knots and outputs of 20-25 amps, allowing the motor to cool enough to reset itself and again produce power.

Return to top of page

3. What about during hurricanes?
Since the KISS does not use set screws to attach the hub to the shaft, it’s very easy to remove the blade assembly for hurricane preparation. The hub and shaft share tapered threads, with the wind spinning the blades clockwise, always self-tightening. To remove, simply place the flats of a wrench on the flats at the forward end of the shaft and turn the blade assembly counterclockwise by hand. Stow the blade assembly below. The housing itself presents little windage. After the blow, when you’ve reinstalled the blade assembly, again use a wrench to ensure that the blades are a little bit more than hand-tightened.

Return to top of page.

4. How much noise does it make?
Noise is entirely subjective, and all wind generators will make some noise in high winds. However, KISS owners report that the KISS is among the quietest units available. Aboard s/v HOTWIRE, we don’t hear ours up to 20 knots. Our neighbors and guests say they don’t hear it either. And other KISS owners report the same. (One KISS owner said she didn’t hear hers in 30 knots! But she was down below in cold weather and perhaps has a better insulated cabin than some of us.)

Between 20 and 30 knots, it begins to whisper and sigh like the wind in a pine forest, louder as the wind speed increases.

Above 30 knots, it will be noisy along with everything else on your boat. Libbie finds it objectionable at 35 knots and just turns it off at the break switch. John doesn’t find it objectionable until close to 50 knots, but he was a drummer in a rock-and-roll band many years ago, so……… Draw your own conclusions.

Return to top of page.

5. How is this wind generator better than the others?
We don’t claim that it’s better. Just different. The brand you choose should depend on what you want out of a wind generator. The following are some of the reasons why the KISS was our #1 choice:

The KISS is designed to meet the electrical needs of typical liveaboard cruisers in the eastern Caribbean. (Think in terms of wind conditions.) The power output is high.
The KISS is among the quietest wind generators available.
The KISS is very simply designed to reduce maintenance and repairs. Maintenance involves basically two things: occasional visual check of the blades for cracks, chips, and wear; and replacement of the bearings (standard 6203 sealed metric bearings available worldwide) every few years depending on how much the unit has been used.
The KISS uses a rare earth permanent magnet alternator, a more modern, more efficient, and lighter weight generator design than using a permanent magnet DC motor.
The rotating mass is lightweight enough to use even while underway. (Other manufacturers recommend shutting their units off while underway to prevent vibration, noise and stress caused by the gyroscopic effects of a rocking and pitching boat combined with a heavy spinning mass.)
The KISS is a three-phase alternator. The AC is rectified to DC (using a standard automotive part available worldwide) in the control box located somewhere near your batteries. There is less voltage drop in AC wiring than in DC, an advantage if you must install a lengthy run of wire, such as installations on a mizzen mast.
The KISS has no brushes or slip rings. Brushes wear out and need to be replaced. They can also create high frequency radio interference, especially if you’re using an insulated backstay as your antenna. With the KISS, however, you can charge the batteries at the same time you’re transmitting on SSB or ham.
Return to top of page.

6. What’s to stop the wires from pulling loose from the motor?
A tether connecting the tailfin to the mounting post will allow the unit to turn no more than 3 revolutions in either direction. We also have optional mercury-contact slip-rings for unlimited 360 degree rotation. ($200.00.)

But think about it: when you’re cruising, how often do you spin in circles? Not often! You might tack when sailing to your next anchorage. At anchor or on a mooring, you point into the wind. At a dock, you’re probably plugged into shore power and won’t need the KISS, so just tie it off. It’s likely rare that you’ll find yourself doing 360’s.

For those times when you do, the KISS has a light spring which tends to turn the unit back to the forward position when the wind stops. If you are thinking of a mount at the top of your mizzen, please reconsider. It’s extra weight up there, and you won’t be able to use the halyard to support the unit during installation or removal for servicing. Both are safety issues.

Return to top of page.

7. What do I get for $1,195?
The KISS comes with the control box (containing the rectifier and the brake switch) and thirteen feet of heavy gauge wire.

Return to top of page.

8. What regulator do I have to have?
Aboard s/v HOTWIRE, we don’t use a charge controller. We use a digital e-meter to monitor the state of our batteries. On those windy days when our batteries are fully charged, we’ll plug in the watermaker, transmit on the SSB/ham, make popcorn and watch a video, whatever uses the power as it’s being made. (If we can’t keep up, we’ve been known to feather the unit at an angle to the wind, reducing the blade speed and the charging rate.)

If all this sounds too complicated to you, we have charge controllers and divert loads (for excess power) to make your system fully automated and prevent overcharging, especially important if you’re using AGM or gel cell batteries.

Return to top of page.

9. What does the 3 year warranty cover?
Defects in material or manufacture. We have a warranty repair facility in the US. Or, if you are out cruising, contact us for authorization to have someone else do the repairs.

Return to top of page.

10. What kind of mount do I need?
Basically, you want the blades out of accidental reach. The pole cap will fit either 1 1/2″ Schedule 40 aluminum pipe or 2″ stainless steel tube. We make a mizzen bracket, pole kit, archtop bracket for a Manta cat, and (if you must) a hoisting bracket, or we can provide you with diagrams and dimensions to have a mount fabricated locally.

See photos & info by clicking MOUNTS.

Return to top of page.

11. Can I mount a KISS on my house
Yes, but…. Do you live in a location with steady winds of sufficient strength to make wind power cost-effective? Is your location free of trees or structures that would create “wind shadows”?

The Danish educational site on wind power, www.windpower.dk, offers information on choosing a site for a landbased windmill. We now have mercury-contact sliprings for unlimited 360 degree rotation.($200.00.)

Return to top of page.

12. Can I use solar panels with a KISS wind generator?
Absolutely! We recommend supplementing wind power with solar because the wind doesn’t always blow. Use the link below to take a look at some of the solar modules available from Hotwire Enterprises.

Return to top of page.

13. Does the electric brake use battery power?
No battery power is used to keep the generator from turning when the switch is in the off position. What happens is that when the blades start to turn, all of the power they produce goes into stopping them from turning. So, you’ll notice that they will turn a little (slowly enough that you could reach up and grab one to stop them). If you want to ensure that they’re stopped, just tether a blade to your mounting tower.

Return to top of page.

How do I keep the KISS from overcharging my batteries?
A typical cruising sailboat will use most of the power the KISS makes, most of the time, without overcharging the batteries.

When the batteries become charged, you can turn off the KISS at the switch. If the boat has “wet” (flooded) cell batteries, they can withstand some overcharging without damage. In fact, they need a controlled over charge (equalization) about once a month to stay healthy.

Wet cell batteries have a higher self-discharge rate as well, so a little charging is needed to keep them topped off, compared to gell and AGM batteries that can go for several months with no charge.

However, a small battery bank can absorb less power before being damaged. Gell and AGM batteries are more sensitive than wet cells, and will be more likely to be damaged by overcharging.

Or, you can add a charge controller. The only down side to the controller is the extra $260 it will cost, but it would mean you can leave the boat with the KISS running, and not have to get up in the middle of the night when the wind picks up to check on the battery state of charge.

If you elect to go without a controller, you’ll need a battery monitor to tell you when the batteries are charged. A voltmeter is not sufficient. A battery or system monitor will tell you the state of charge, instantaneous amps, amp hours, and more.

We sell the TriMetric system monitor.

If you elect for the charge controller, we have been using the Trace/Xantrex C-40 with good results.

The way it works is; when the batteries reach the charging voltage set point (it is adjustable), the controller sends current to a diversion load, which turns the excess power into heat. The C-Series controllers can be used with wind or solar. However, if you have more than 150 watts of solar there are better choices (see MPPT controllers).

We have available two diversion loads:

One is the HWDL, a set of wirewound ceramic power resistors mounted on a phenolic plastic board, about 8 X 11 inches. This can get very hot, and needs to be mounted such that sailcloth, plastic, fabric, etc. cannot be in contact.

The other diversion load is our 12/120 volt water heater element. It replaces the element in your water heater. It has two loops of heating wire; one is 12 volts (to dump the excess power from the wind generator) and the other is 120 volts (so you can still make hot water from shore power or a genset.

The 120 volt side is only 600 watts, so it will take at least twice as long to heat a tank of w ater from shore power. We have these made to fit just about any kind of marine water heater, but we’ll need to know the manufacturer to get you the right one. Isotherm and Quick water heaters have larger diameter threaded holes and need an adaptor.

Return to top of page.

15. Can I use one charge controller for the KISS and solar panels or do I need one for each? Specifically, can the SB2512iX handle both?
The 2512i charge controller will only control the solar, not the wind. The 2512i has a circuit (called maximum power point tracking, or MPPT) that boosts the output of the solar, making the system more efficient. You should see 5 – 10 % more power on a regular basis, and more increase than that when the ambient temperature is low or the batteries are significantly discharged. More info on that at:

Blue Sky Energy INC. – Solar Boost 2000E

Wind generators require the use of a controller that has a diversion feature. The excess energy from the wind generator gets diverted into a diversion load that turn the excess energy into heat. We have two different diversion loads available: Hotwire’s 12/120 water heater element or the Hotwire Resitive Load Bank (HWRL). Our water heater element replaces the element in your tank and includes two loops of heating wire, one loop being 12 volts and the other 120 volts. This allows you to get something from the excess power. The HWRL is a set of wire-wound ceramic power resistors mounted onto a 81/2 X 11 inch phenolic plastic board, and turns the excess power into hot air.

A diversion type charge controller can be used with solar, but there are no diversion type controllers that incorporate MPPT.

So, I would recommend a 2512i for the solar, and a Xantrex C-40 for the wind, with either one of the diversion loads. If you prefer to save some $, a Xantrex C-60 could be used for both the wind and the solar, using a larger diversion load. The 2412i is $179, and the C-40 is $155, and the diversion load (either one) is $95. A C-60 is $199, and the larger diversion load (which could incorporate the water heater element) $180.

Or, to further muddy the waters, you could use either one or both without a controller, and turn the wind and or the solar off as the battery reached full charge. This would require careful monitoring of the system, and is not recommended for battery banks of gel or AGM batteries.

Copyright © Hotwire Enterprises — John Gambill & Libbie Ellis
102 West Fulton Street (map)
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
Phone/Fax: 727-943-0424
Cell 727- 638-7417
hotwiregam@aol.co

Leave a Reply