Wind turbine systems for homes are one of the more cost effective forms of generating electricity from a renewable energy source if you have the right site. Learn more at one of our classes on Residential Wind Power Systems.
Wind turbine systems for homes are one of the more cost effective forms of generating electricity from a renewable energy source if you have the right site. In general terms, a site that has at least a half acre of open land and average of 10 mph (16km/h) or higher winds is a good candidate for a wind turbine installation.
It is possible to have a system that only gets its power from wind, however, many people combine getting power from a wind turbine with getting power from a solar electric system. The two technologies are often complimentary: when there's little sun (e.g. during the winter or when it's overcast), there's often more wind and vice versa.
The most commonly used wind turbines for homes are usually not very large - ranging from 3 feet (~1 meter) to 6 feet (~2 meters) in diameter. There are also some like the Bergey Excel which are as large as 22 feet (6.7 meters) in diameter and used for more energy consumptive homes or businesses.
Most of the small wind turbines that are available for use with individual homes and business produce no more noise than the wind would whispering through the leaves of a tree. Small wind turbines have also been shown to hurt fewer birds than glass patio doors that are so common on many US homes.
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Just like solar electric systems, wind powered systems can be used in two ways: off-grid or on-grid. Off-grid is when your home or business is entirely disconnected from an electric utility company and you generate absolutely all of the electricity you need. Usually these systems cost about 30% more than an on-grid (or 'grid-tie' system). A grid tie wind power system sends all of its electricity back into the public electrical network (grid) which the electric company gives you credits for. At the month, the electric company sums up your credits with how much your home or business has consumed, and if you're lucky the electric company will owe you money! Unfortunately, most electric companies only pay you a small fraction of what they charge you for those extra kilowatt-hours you've created. So it's usually ideal to design a system that very closely offsets how much electricy you consume or just little less, than attempting to make money from the electric company.
A basic wind power system will consist of:
A grid-tie wind power system can have almost exactly the same components as the off-grid system except that inverter is a special inverter which connects directly into the public utility grid.
Increasingly, there are also systems which don't use a battery bank at all - the electricity flows directly from the wind turbine into the special 'grid-tie' inverter and then into the grid. These batteryless grid-tie systems have the added advantages that they tend to be less expensive (no batteries to pay for) and more efficient (because the electricity doesn't have to pass through the battery bank first). On the downside, if there's a blackout then your wind turbine system will also shutdown and not be able to provide power to your home or business.
Be an educated consumer! Chances are if you have read this far you are already an intelligent, product savvy person looking to optimize a renewable energy solution that has the right features and positive effects on your household or business that you want with cost. Here's your itinerary for determining the right wind power solution for your needs: