Your Own Wind Turbine Basics

Picture courtesy Dhruv

Wondering about How to get a Wind turbine for your home? Wondering whether it will be worth it? Wondering what, how etc… Then read on…

Before starting realize if you don’t live in a plot around an acre in area it is better to not to go for full fledged wind energy.

Reasons – Turbines needed to generate enough power to run a home are generally large and noisy. The standard towers stand at 80-120 feet with turbine blades between 10 -20 feet.

Simply put wind turbines collect kinetic energy (energy from the moving wind which turns the blades) and convert it into electricity usable in homes. If you live in a neighborhood with decent wind during most of the time (7-10 miles per hour minimum) meaning open areas around etc that will help. Homes are also connected to a local utility just in case there is not enough wind. When your turbine produces power you use it and sell the excess back to your utility (check with your local utility whether they have the set up for that).

Before thinking about going with wind turbines find out whether there are any zoning or other restrictions in your area. Some restrictions might cap the height of structures allowed in an area etc…  Also whether your utility company is set up to buy back the excess power you may generate, meaning a grid connected system. Stand-alone wind energy systems can be economically viable for homes, farms, or even entire communities (a co-housing project, for example) that are far from the nearest utility lines.

Size of the Turbine – In general homes use around 800-2000kWh per month, there by requiring a 5-15 kilowatt range turbine (which will again depend mainly on the wind in your locality).  The towers are generally 80-120 feet tall and the rotors around 10-60feet in length. Smaller turbines have rotor blades between 3feet to 4 feet in length.

Price – A standard home wind turbine can cost 6000 to 22,000$ as per the manufacturers charges based on the size, application, service agreements and installation. There are 2kWh turbines available from around 2000$ and smaller 450Watt turbines for less than 1000$. A wind turbine will lower your power bills by 60-90%. One good thing is the larger turbines are made to function smoothly without major maintenance for up to 20 years.

If economics is of concern make sure you have a steady wind of around 10mph for a steady production of electricity. Check your wind resource here or get an anemometer for around 500-1500$ to measure the wind in your site.

Another option is to have a hybrid system ie a system with a photovoltaic cell system (Solar) so that it will make up for lower wind speeds in summer when the Sun shines bright!

Once you invest in a wind turbine, be ready for the long haul it is a long time investment for economic and environmental returns.

Some interesting facts from the EERE website –

Today, U.S. wind energy installations produce enough electricity on a typical day to power the equivalent of more than 9.7 million homes.

America’s wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road, and will conserve approximately 20 billion gallons of water annually, which would otherwise be consumed for steam or cooling in conventional power plants. Is that cool or what??

Over its life, a small residential wind turbine can offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 200 tons of greenhouse gases, that is so Green!!

If you are thinking about installing a wind turbine I hope this article helped you. Live Green!!

Some more pages to read if interested:

1. EERE Wind
2. Bergey
3. American Wind Energy Association

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