I want to get a wind turbine and install it on my roof. Is that possible?

It is possible. However, anyone who is thinking of going down that road would do well to keep some things in mind:

1. Wind turbines perform best in conditions where there is what is called a smooth, laminar flow. This means minimal turbulence and an easy flow, like driving your car down a newly paved highway. A laminar flow tends to be found higher in altitude than one’s roof, and away from anything that can cause turbulence, like trees, electric and light poles, other buildings, etc. In fact, the best wind is 30 feet above anything within 300 feet. So if you are going to install a turbine on a roof, instead of being exposed to laminar flow, it will be exposed to turbulent wind, which is harder on the turbine and will reduce the performance. Having said this, many people still install turbines on the roofs of buildings because they have a significant wind resource and the energy the turbine produces is still worth the investment.

2. Noise. Have you ever had a critter in your attic? Were you relieved when you finally got rid of it or when it finally went away? A turbine can be like that – random noises at times that may not be so convenient. The level of sound generated by a wind turbine will vary from model to model, but generally speaking the homeowner will notice a difference. So if you’re sensitive to noise, this is something to take into consideration. Read the turbine product literature and ask questions about different models to see which one has the lowest sound impact. Consider installing on a barn or a detached garage – a place with a roof you aren’t sleeping under.

In the long run, you are better off installing a turbine where the quality wind is; as high in the sky as is possible. Your turbine will produce more energy and last longer. Sometimes it can make sense to install a small turbine on a roof. Just beware of the sounds turbines generate, and don’t be surprised if the turbine doesn’t produce as much as the performance charts say they will.

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8 Comments

  1. Travis

    I have a roof-mounted Air-X 400w wind turbine, and love it! It’s mounted on my garage / workshop. The unit is not mounted TO the roof, but THROUGH the roof. In contrast, a satellite dish on a roof is mounted TO the roof, not THROUGH it. The generator pole extends a few feet into the structure, where it is mounted to rubber isolators. When it’s windy, I can see the pole inside the building moving slightly as the rubber mounts are doing their job of allowing a small amount of movement to absorb vibration, but holding the pole upright through the weather-tight seal wit the wind generator on top of it. Small turbines like the AIR-X (now Breeze, 30, and 40) I don’t think are any problem for roof-mounted, especially if you have an outbuilding, like a garage or shed, to mount them on. It’s not as efficient as putting them up on a 60′ pole, but it’s DIY-easier, and easy to access for maintenance. I don’t think I’d put anything bigger than an AIR series (400w or so) through a roof.

  2. Dan

    This page certainly has all the info I needed about this subject and
    didn’t know who to ask.

  3. Claude Albertario

    Can a wind turbine be attached to a chimney instead of the roof, to reduce noise in the house?

  4. Paul Ebener

    I’ve developed a vibration dampening system that totally eliminated sound & vibration transmission from my roof mounted turbine using commercially available isolation components.I’ll send pictures & descriptions to anyone who needs this help.
    Paul

    1. Mark Bartel

      Yes, please send pictures and description of your roof mount sound damping system.

    2. Brian B

      I would love to see pictures and the how you did it. I am going to be doing this
      very soon and I havent really found a good way to do it so far. Thanks

  5. Randy Peck

    This is a very important point about Wind Turbines- noise is a way of existence. I have a turbine with a 12ft rotor and not only do the blades make sound but also the aternator, which makes a roaring sound when the blades are spinning at high speed. The best way to describe what the roar sounds like is to watch the original Star Trek series’ ”The City On The Edge Of Forever”, at the beginning and end when the Guardian is in view. The noise is not that loud, but the similarity in pitch is remarkable.

    My turbine uses a tower over 60ft high, so the sound is dampened somewhat I think, but maybe in reality it’s because of the tower- a steel pipe – that the sound is created in the first place! However in my case, when I hear the sound, I know my batteries are being charged and I actually enjoy listening and watching the machine in action.

    An option for the homeowner who can’t sleep is to shut the turbine down at night using a stop switch.

  6. Tom

    Wind turbines should never ever be installed on structures not specifically engineered to handle the stresses and vibrations caused by them. An asphalt or tile roof with wooden rafters held together by a combination of metal nails and gravity is meant to do only one thing — keep the rain and snow off your head and your possessions. Installing a wind turbine on your roof is liable to compromise your roof’s ability to do its one job. That’s because this kind of construction is only meant to hold up the roof itself and a typical dead weight load of snow. It is not meant to stand up to severe vibration or lateral forces.

    And, as the blog states, the turbine probably wouldn’t function optimally either, but that’s a distant second consideration in my book. The last thing you want to do when trying to improve your energy efficiency is to destroy your house. A 30, 60, or even 80 foot pole costs a lot less than a new roof or new house, especially if the damage is considered owner-inflicted by your insurance company and they refuse to pay.

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