B&Q takes wind turbines off shelves

A range of turbines have been withdrawn from sale after a recent study revealed they do not work as effectively as first thought.

The £1,900 micro-turbines, which went on sale across the DIY chain B&Q’s 320 stores in October 2006, claimed to generate 1kw of electricity, when wired directly into a main ring, reducing the amount of power a household would need to buy.

However, the results of a study known as the Warwick Wind Trials published last month by energy consultants Encraft warned that the home turbines generated only a fraction of the energy promised by manufacturers and, in some cases, actually used more electricity than they produced.

The study tested different types of turbines in a variety of locations and revealed that the worst performing models provided less energy than is needed to power a conventional lightbulb for one hour.

On average, the turbines surveyed provided sufficient electricity to light an energy-efficient house, but according to Encraft, this still only represents 5% to 10% of the manufacturers’ claims.

B&Q confirmed that it has temporarily withdrawn the micro wind turbines from sale and said it based its decision on the results of the study, as well as “many months of customer feedback”.

A spokesperson for the Kingfisher-owned chain said: “The Encraft study suggests that B&Q’s range of micro turbines may not perform well enough to satisfy our customers’ expectations – a finding that is reflected in the feedback we have so far received from some customers.

“While B&Q has some reservations about the sample size of the study, the published results raised sufficient concern for us to take the decision to temporarily withdraw our product from sale.”

B&Q is reported to have sold hundreds of the wind turbines since their launch last year.

The retailer said the study had also shown that turbines mounted in a “domestic, urbanised environment” were the least likely to perform well and added: “The vast majority of B&Q’s customers live in highly urbanised areas, hence this particular finding is cause for concern for the company.”

B&Q said: “We recognise that we have a number of customers who have already installed these turbines on their homes, and we are currently contacting those customers to notify them of the decision we have made, and determine whether they are happy with the performance of their individual turbines.”

Anyone who has bought a wind turbine from B&Q and who has questions about it should contact the company on 0845 609 6688 with details of the purchase, which can be found on the receipt.

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