How Wind Power for Your Home Works
Today small wind turbines are a next step for those who have gone as far as possible with energy savings in the
home and are still connected to the utility grid.
Most homes use about 800-2000kWh of electricity on a monthly basis and a 4-10kW wind turbine will just about
meet all needs for such a household.
Most areas of the country can support wind energy systems but for maximization of the benefits over the seasons
it is often best to combine both solar and wind systems.
Wind energy must be more carefully evaluated though as terrain will have a major effect on a wind turbine and
your positioning relative to the prevailing wind.
The structure will usually contain a rotor, generator, mainframe to support it, and a tail fin to keep the
turbine focussed into the wind.
Early systems were not as mechanically reliable; particularly those with gearbox or belt drive features.
Today this is a thing of the past with new designs and standards.
Look for a low speed direct drive generator, a rugged mainframe and a tower that will give you easy You will
also need an acre or more of land as the recommendation for height is to be at least 30ft higher than any structure
Mounting a DIY wind generator on a
building is not recommended as turbulence can affect performance and there are issues of noise and vibration. On
this point, most rotors are constructed of wood or fibreglass to reduce the hum that comes from metal blades.
Once up and running you will also need a battery bank to charge up although these are normally less than that
required for solar systems.
The big plus for most domestic installers is the hope that they can sell a surplus of generated electricity back
to the grid. In these cases a battery is not part of the system and when the household is generating an excess this
is immediately "sold' to the utility company.
For those who set up a home wind power
kit in the 1980's when tax credits were available electricity costs for a household can be less than
If you have the acreage, a willingness to outlay the $30,000 to set up and an area with a prevailing average
wind of 10mph or more, then there are still advantages without any federal or local tax credits.
Systems costs can be recovered in about half the average 30year lifetime of the system and you are not at the
mercy of utility company's price increases and blackout possibility!
One piece of sound advice is to install an anemometer before you commit to a wind system as a years measuring
may give you the most accurate idea of your location's potential.
The US Department of energy does have wind maps available but these only show average in an area and where you
are situated in relation to geographical features will make big differences especially in hilly areas. Computer
generated performance models can be supplied by many of the installers before you commit as well.
The American Wind Energy Association [AWEA] offers additional methods of rating the energy production of
differing units in varying conditions.
Remember that technology in this area is advancing rapidly with better performing models, batteries and less
noise output for suburban users.
A green alternative certainly worth considering on its own or as part of your self reliance for the future!