Can you hear me now?

Sonrisa came to us with a nicely installed Air-X Marine wind generator. This was installed in 2007 and at the time was the standard for marine wind generators. It is still a powerful unit rated at 400 watts and is very simple and reliable and an identical model is still available new.

While powerful the downside with this unit is the thin flexible blades are very noisy when compared to newer wind generators. Even in moderate wind of 15-18 knots the flutter and whir of the generator blades make it sound like a gale. Even inside the cabin the noise is noticeable and in the cockpit it’s downright unpleasant.

I’ve also read that some cruisers are so offended by the noise, they will pull up anchor and move if someone anchors too close with one of these generators running.

For that reason we’ve only been using ours at night in locations where we pretty much have the anchorage to ourselves.

The same company that makes our Air-X Marine generator also makes another model called the Air Silent X. This model is virtually identical to ours but has newly designed aerodymanic carbon-fiber blades to significantly reduce the noise and improve efficiency.

Fortunately for us, these blades are fairly standard for this type of wind generator, so I ordered a set of the Silent X blue blades to retrofit to our Air X Marine.

The upgrade process was quite easy. I found that I could put a scrap of plywood on the solar panel and (gently) use it as a platform to work on the generator. The old nose cone popped off and a single nut holds the blade assembly onto the end of the generator shaft.

wind generator on pole with blades removed
Old noisy blades removed

The blades simply un-bolt from the base plate and the new blades fit exactly in place. Interestingly the instructions call to coat the entire socket for each blade with the provided TefGel to reduce galvanic corrosion between the blade and the base plate. I hadn’t thought of it but carbon fiber is conductive and certainly could react with the aluminum base plate and stainless screws.

Old blades and base plate
Better than new

Once the new blades were installed and the generator given a much-needed wipe down and a spritz of Corrosion-X, it was time to see how much of a difference the new blades made.

Wow. Simply wow.

Sonrisa’s ‘new’ quiet wind generator

It’s like having a whole new machine. I honestly do not think it’s an exaggeration to say that the blue blades easily reduces the generator noise by 70%. I’m sure we’ve gone from having one of the noisiest generators in the harbor to one of the quietest.

Since there wasn’t any wind when I took the old blades off, I didn’t get an opportunity to record the ‘before’ noise of the wind generator with the original blades, but it was just like this:

We’ll no longer have any reservation about turning our wind generator on.

At $400 the blades seemed at the time to be an expensive upgrade, but given how easy it was to install and being less than 30% of the cost of a new wind generator, I’m very happy with this upgrade.