The Wind Power Light Company

1925-1960

 
 

Wind Power Light Company - In 1925 Basil Miller founded the Miller Motor Company to manufacture wind-driven farm lighting plants exclusively under the Miller Air-Lite brand. In 1932, E.A. McCardell and his father, H. C. McCardell, purchased the company and changed the name to the Wind Power Light Company. Wind plant sales grew during the Great Depression and into the early 1940’s based on the strength of their unique “downwind” direct-drive design, quality construction, and excellent performance. Ernst Arndt joined Wind Power Light as an engineering manager and brought with him his extensive experience from his days at Wincharger, Parris-Dunn, and Ruralite. Wind Power Light Co. produced five wind plants - three 32 volt models with power ratings of 1250, 1800, and 2500 watts and two 110 vdc versions of the 1800 and 2500 watt models. A matching Wind Power Light farm electric plant was available to insure a continuous supply of electricity.


Wind Power Light Generator -  An extremely thoughtful and elegant design, this machine has to be at the top of the list for performance and reliability and was clearly a whole home system. The 1250, 1800, and 2500 watt models were a unique downwind type to eliminate the tale vane fitted for directional control with the exclusive “power ring” design feature to boost power production. A 3-blade rotor and fly-ball type governor for speed regulation were fitted with blades made of Douglas fir. With the generator mounted forward of the yaw access it balanced the rearward rotor and allowed the machine to respond well to changing wind direction. A very clever aspect of their design is based on the fact that the center 1/3 of a high efficiency rotor’s swept area does not contribute power but actually reduces power. Ed McCardell installed a shroud called “the power ring” to direct air flowing over the generator to the outer portion of the swept area where it could increase power output by 10 to 20% - sweet! The only issue with the downwind design is that the lattice tower would disturb smooth airflow through it affecting power in the wind “shadow” behind. An aerodynamic stub tower section in front of the blades could have ameliorated this negative effect. The 3 blade, downwind design is preferred for all of todays large scale wind turbines - mounted on “monopole towers” to minimize tower shadow effects.


Tower - Wind Power Light Company designed a yaw post and slip-ring system that would allow their machines to be easily mounted to ANY 3 or 4 POST tower. It incorporated a clever means to precisely level the wind machine for optimum orientation performance - even if the tower was a little off.


Battery - It appears as though they relied on dealers and battery manufacturers to supply battery sets for their plants.


Farm Electric Plant - WPLCo originally offered an Onan 123L gasoline/gas farm electric plant rated 1200 with the wind generators to assure a continuous supply of electric power.


During the 1940’s, the company supported WWII with generator sets, diversified it’s products, changed its name to Winpower, and acquired the Parris-Dunn Corporation. Despite a great reputation to sustain them, rural electrification began to affect wind plant sales which gradually slowed significantly by the early 1950‘s. Ironically, they converted to manufacturing tractor driven PTO generators to provide reliable power to farms that had replaced their reliable wind plants with the unreliable rural electric grid. The experience with farm electric plants and military gensets allowed them to develop portable and stationary generator sets to continue through the1950‘s. Winpower continued to produce a few of their wind plants into the 1960’s. Today they have become a partner with their old rival Wincharger, now Winco, and continue to produce a line of generator products.


                                    Downloadable WinPowerBrochure.pdf

PARRIS-DUNN CO.

Wind Power Light Company (Winpower)

History