Clarian Technologies Aims to Take Financial Sting Out of Wind Power with Jellyfish Turbine

[Updated with comments from Kelly Jo MacArthur on page 2]
In recent years, we have seen an explosion of alternative energy devices, yet most of these technologies remain out of the reach of the average homeowner. To outfit your roof with solar panels, you’d probably be out $10,000 to $20,000 as an initial investment. Clarian Technologies, a brand new, three-employee Seattle startup, wants to change all that. With its products slated to hit the market in 2010, the company aims to bring affordable wind and solar energy devices to the masses. I spoke with Clarian founder Chad Maglaque to find out more.

The two products that he hopes are coming to stores near you soon are the Jellyfish (wind turbine) and Sunfish (solar panels). Maglaque’s vision is that an ecologically-minded but not necessarily wealthy homeowner could pick up one of these at Home Depot, Best Buy, or Costco, set it up on their roof or in the garden, plug it into a regular power outlet, and start generating electricity—without having to bring in a contractor, electrician, or inspector.

The cost? The starting price for the Jellyfish is $399, and the Sunfish is $899. Clarian is already talking with Costco about stocking the devices, Maglaque said.

In currently available wind and solar technologies, a device called the inverter is a big cost hurdle, Maglaque said. That’s the part of the technology that converts DC to AC current that can be used in your home, and adds at least $3,000 to $4,000 to the price tag. “We wanted to tackle that with the view that smaller is better,” Maglaque said.

So Clarian’s products don’t actually need the inverter. This isn’t a new concept, Maglaque said. Large industrial wind turbines don’t use inverters either.

When Maglaque explains how few obstacles there are to a plug-and-go wind or solar energy generator, it seems like there’s a huge hole in the alternative energy market. The existing plugs in your house are coded to take an appliance up to 1,500 watts. But a 1,500 watt solar panel array would normally cost $15,000 to $20,000, Maglaque said. “There are not many people who can afford to do that,” he said. “That’s where there is this disconnect in the market.”

Enter the Jellyfish, which is three feet tall and can be mounted on a roof … Next Page »

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Rachel Tompa is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. She can be reached at Follow @

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