Do you need to supplement your energy production with a wind turbine for home? Let’s take a look at the options and what you should consider before you buy.
Check out our article about wind turbines if you want a general overview. In this article we’re going deep into wind turbines specifically for residential use.
What is a home wind turbine?
Home turbines are essentially small wind turbines that make sense for residential use. They certainly produce less power than your massive industrial-sized wind turbines, but they can go a long way to off-set your energy costs and supplement your energy production through renewables.
A home wind turbine usually supplements an existing solar energy system and makes sense if you live in a location that gets regular wind.
Farmers have used small turbines for decades and now that the climate crisis is more intense and the cost of fossil fuel energy is increasing, residents in urban areas are looking at wind as an option for renewable energy.
How does a wind turban for your home work?
Wind turbines are powered by wind and convert the wind energy to kinetic energy in a generator. This generator then converts kinetic energy to electrical energy. The energy is stored in a battery and converted from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) through an inverter. Your household appliances need AC power to work.
Wind turbines need to be in windy conditions and this is usually higher up – so you will see them installed on very long poles or towers or on the top of a roof or carport.
Types of home wind turbines
Wind turbine innovations are constant and we have seen very interesting designs tested and produced. Your traditional wind turbine for home has a horizontal shaft and looks like a propeller stuck on the end of a pole with a tail to keep it aimed at the wind.
Other designs include vertical shaft turbines which look like egg beaters, and some homes even have a wall of disc-like structures installed in a large array. The discs spin in the wind to produce electricity.
Turbines can be installed directly onto your roof or on a tower that’s planted in your garden.
Advantages of domestic wind turbines
There is clearly the advantage of using renewable energy instead of fossil fuel energy which causes climate change. Wind turbines are considered green and renewable sources of energy because the wind is free and turbines don’t emit carbon dioxide into the air when they produce electricity.
The energy saving you get is significant too – wind power can do a great job of reducing your overall energy bill.
Wind turbines don’t take up as much surface area as an array of solar panels would, although they produce far less energy than modern solar panels.
Disadvantages of home wind turbines
Sadly, the electricity output from small wind turbines is much smaller than other forms of renewable energy.
Right now, wind power requires complex gears, breaking systems and mechanical structures which make them higher maintenance than solar panels.
Some wind turbines can also be noisy, although technology is reducing this problem, and can be a hazard to birds who accidentally fly into their propellers.
The upfront cost of your average wind turbine is relatively large (although costs are coming down) and as a result they may take some time to pay for themselves in terms of energy savings.
Wind energy is still a great way to add to your renewable energy production despite the disadvantages.
Before you buy and install a wind turbine for home on your property
You need to check on local regulations for where you live before you install a tall structure in your garden. The neighbors might complain about the noise or that you are spoiling the view for them and cause trouble for you.
Also consider space required and where you will install the wind turbine. If you have a large yard with good open space for lots of wind to come through you will have no problems.
Do you get regular, fast wind in your area? It’s no good getting a costly wind turbine only to find that it hardly ever spins because you just don’t have enough wind. Check out local wind maps for your area so you can be sure you have good wind for most of the year.
Here’s another great wind resource for the USA to understand wind in your area.
How to choose the right home wind turbine
You need to understand your own energy needs once you’ve done your research about wind energy in your area and if you have enough wind.
Check out local installers in your area and ask them to do a proper assessment of your daily energy requirements. Your solar panel installer should have done this for you too. You should have a good understanding of how many kilowatt hours of energy your home needs per day and where that energy is going to come from. What exactly will the wind power be used for and what happens when the wind doesn’t blow or if the sun doesn’t shine?
Typically a large wind turbine with a rotor diameter of 18 to 20 feet will produce 5kW of energy with good, constant wind. Most people in residential areas can’t set up something this big and don’t get enough wind, so solar panels are going to have to produce most of your power.
When you buy a wind turbine you should consider:
- How much power it outputs in various wind conditions
- What is the necessary cutting wind speed (how fast must the wind blow before it produces electricity)
- What is the turbine’s rated wind speed (at what wind speed does the turbine produce the most energy it can)
- Is the turbine fully weatherproof and highly rated for all weather conditions?
- Built by a reputable company with a good history and reputation?
- Does it come with a warranty?
- Check out the reviews so you know how noisy it is!
Typical home turbines only have about 2,000 Watts power rating so keep this in mind for your energy planning.
You should make sure your turbine has the necessary safety features to prevent damage from too-strong winds and to ensure electricity is safely transmitted to your inverter and battery bank.
Uses for a home wind turbine
Your wind turbine can be used to:
- Supplement your overall energy supply
- Work together with solar panels to charge up your battery bank
- Charge small appliances and run things like fish pond motors or garden lighting
Should you install a home turbine yourself?
Modern kits are very user-friendly and are shipped with all the relevant safety components and instructions. We do recommend that if you are not experienced you get a qualified installer to do the work for you.
Turbines create electricity and there are always safety issues when it comes to working with power, especially if you are connecting systems to the main grid or to sensitive appliances.
Our motto: DIY is only for experts who know what they are doing!
Are there home wind turbines for condos or apartments?
Sure, there have been some interesting innovations recently and wind power is now accessible for people living in apartment blocks, flats and condos.
Can you imagine a SPHERICAL turbine that moves with wind from both horizontal and VERTICAL directions? That’s what the team at the O-Wind Turbine project came up with. This turbine is omni-directional and suitable for urban environments.
The bottom line on home wind turbines
Yes, we believe that wind energy can play a part even in urban, residential areas but do manage your expectations. It’s unlikely you will get much power from where you live in the city so always regard wind as a supplement to solar.
We believe any reduction in the reliance on fossil fuel energy is a good thing. If you can you should definitely consider wind power for your home.