In our previous article, “How Much Wind Does a Wind Turbine Produce,” we discussed the potential benefits of commercial wind turbines and wind farms. But can you install a personal-size wind turbine in your yard to produce reliable electricity for your home?
Maybe. The technology is accessible, but whether or not it will work for your specific needs depends on several factors, such as your energy consumption, your location, local regulations, and the amount of money you have to invest in it. Many people are experimenting with this concept as a viable off-the-grid alternative energy source. Wind turbines reduce pollution by using a renewable resource–wind–to create electricity and reduce utility costs.
Where do you start in planning for a residential home turbine?
Before you head to your favorite online shopping website and click “add to cart,” you need to perform substantial research to determine if this is a good solution for your needs.
The US Energy Information Administration reported in 2020 that an average U.S. residential customer used an average of 893 kWh per month. Of course, usage will vary dramatically depending on how much technology you use (i.e., computers and televisions), how large your home is, and how many major appliances (i.e., furnace, water heater, dryer, oven, hot tub) are powered by electricity. Review your monthly utility bills to determine how much electricity you would need to generate to fulfill your family’s electricity needs.
Next, check the zoning requirements and covenants in your area. County and city ordinances may limit wind turbines to rural areas, require adherence to property setback provisions, be of a limited height, or require homeowners to enter into net metering agreements. Be sure to check all the requirements for your specific location before going too far down the road with turbine research and selection.
At the same time, it’s a good idea to measure the wind strength on your property. Use a residential grade wind anemometer over an extended period to understand the wind speed and consistency you can expect in the future. If other neighbors use wind turbines, ask them for information about their experiences. Many factors will make a location more susceptible to wind, including open spaces exposed to common meteorological conditions or proximity to the ocean and powerful oceanic winds. Most turbines require a minimum average wind speed of at least 10 miles per hour.
With this knowledge in hand, you can research wind turbines for your property. The upfront costs of purchasing a residential wind turbine can be quite substantial depending on the unit’s capacity and material quality. In general, residential wind turbine owners only see a positive payback on their investment after living on the property for many years or over a decade.
How much electricity will a residential wind turbine produce?
There are many factors that will influence the answer, including its capacity rating and wind speed. Wind speeds are stronger higher in the atmosphere, so taller turbines will access more wind. Wind turbines are rated by wattage production, with most residential models between .5 and 1.5 kW. For example, this Automaxx Windmill is rated at 1500W or 1.5kW. A 1.5kW turbine will provide enough power on average to fulfill the electricity needs for a small home that generally uses about 300 kWh per month with an annual wind speed of at least 14 miles per hour.
With this information in mind, most homeowners choose residential wind turbines to supplement instead of replacing their electricity needs. For example, a wind turbine can generate electricity to power a water pump on a residential property or supply electricity to a work shed or barn. However, a wind turbine can be a perfect solution for tiny homes in areas that experience sufficient winds.
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The Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition’s mission is to enhance the livability of the Rogue Valley. We promote and educate on alternate fuels, seek to decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!