Home Wind Power
Consumers can purchase wind units for home use. There
are medium-size units that can fulfill all of the electric
needs of a home, or smaller units that can be used as
a supplemental power supply. A wind system typically
lowers a home's electric bill by 50-90% depending on
the size of the system and the wind patterns of the
Wind power systems are most practical in rural areas
or for consumers with an acre or more of land. But check
with your neighbors and local zoning laws – you
may be able to set up a small system in a suburban area.
Depending on the size of your site and your energy consumption
patterns, you’ll likely need a turbine rated in
the 5-15 kilowatt range to make an impact on your energy
As with solar power, depending on where you live, you
can either use a “grid-tied or a stand-alone system.
In a grid-tie system, a home uses a wind power system
but the house is still connected to the local power
grid. The electricity produced by the wind system that
is not used immediately in the home is returned to the
power grid. When this happens your electricity meter
literally spins backwards as you are passing energy
to the grid. You are also building a credit on your
power bill. This is called “net-metering.? The
benefit of the grid-tied system is that it does not
include expensive batteries to be installed in your
home for the storage of power; the grid acts as the
storage system and your home and the grid exchange power
as you need and produce it.
A stand-alone system requires greater power-generation
capacity and large storage batteries. These systems
are significantly more expensive, but they do give you
total energy independence.
The most important thing to consider is the average
wind speed of your site. In general people living in
coastal areas or in the Great Plains of the U.S. are
the best candidates for wind power. If you want to measure
this yourself, you’ll need a wind-measuring device
called an anemometer. But this takes some serious time
and dedication. Or you can look at the attached map
to estimate the wind power productivity of your location.
Because wind speed increases with altitude, you’ll
want to get your wind generator as high off the ground
as possible. Trees and buildings also interfere with
wind flow so you'll need to keep the wind generator
at least 500 feet away from any of these types of obstructions.
As a rule, a generator mounted on a tower should be
20-30 feet higher than any surrounding trees.
The U.S. Department of Energy has an excellent consumer’s
guide to Small Wind Electric Systems. It will tell you
all you need to know about evaluating your site, determining
the size of the system you'll need, and much more. Be
sure to look at the state-by-state guide to regulations
and incentives for wind power in your state.
How Wind Power Works
Wind Power Systems