What is Power kite?
It is a large, steerable kite designed to provide significant pull (and lift in some cases!) to the user.
What can you do with a Power kite?
Play with the wind (simple flying), kite jumping, landboarding (mountainboard), buggying, snowkiting (with ski or snowboard), manlifting and of course kitesurfing.
How much power can it produce!?
It can produce enormous amount of pull, especially when flying in “figure-eight” in the power zone. A group of scientists at the Delft University of Technology successfully generated 10KW of power by flying a 10m2 kite (see the video bellow)! Also container ships can reduce the fuel consumption up to 50% (usually 10-40%) using large power kites! So, keep this in mind next time when you deal with wind and avoid flying in gusty conditions, especially if you are a beginner.
ParaFoil vs Inflatable kites?
Foil, of course! Parafoil (Ram air) kites are self-inflatable (don't need to pump 10-15 min!) and the canopy design is similar to paraglider wing. Ones launched the cells are filled with air, which produce high enough inside pressure and the kite remains solid even in very low wind conditions. Due to the high project area they are much more efficient (more power per square meter), stable, smaller and lighter. Also have bigger wind range and wind window (bigger area in which can fly). There are special models for kitesurfing, which have closed or semi-closed cells, thus keeping the kite inflated (or, at least, making the deflation extremely slow) even in the water! Some of the disadvantages are more line consumption (which produces more drag), water re-lunch on pure open-cell designs and slower turning speed on some old models.
How can you steer it?
There are two ways, using handles or control bar. For simple flying, "free jumping" or buggying it's easier to steer using handles and you have better control on all 4-lines. It's more precise and allows you to do rapid turns. It has incredible low wind performance, too. The basic safety system is using "Kite killers" which makes possible to release the handles in an emergency situation without losing the kite.
Control bars are much more complicated and have different safety features. The main advantage is the ability to manage the amount of pull. So called "De-power bars" have this feature. For snowkiting, kitesurfing and ATB (all terrain board) is more suitable to use de-power bar than handles. It's less exhausting because your kite is attached to the harness. The bar has light pressure and pulls the brake lines only. Also you can fly it unhooked even without a harness and leash line, but this is not so common....