INSTALLING A WIND TURBINE TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY FOR YOUR HOME
I’d like to get off the grid by installing a windmill to produce electricity. Do you have any recommendations? -Andrea
There have been a lot of exciting innovations in recent years in both solar and wind power to generate electricity for your home. Unfortunately, most of the solar options are still too expensive at present to justify going totally off the grid, so I think you’re choice for wind power is a good one, though wind turbines are pretty costly, too.
Windmills have the advantage of being active both night and day, as long as the wind blows, so make sure you live in an area that has consistent winds before considering installing one. For a personal take on what it’s like to live off the power grid using a wind turbine and solar panels, check out our article on Living Off the Grid.
The wind generator I’ve seen that I like the best is the WindTronics wind turbine from Honeywell. I’ve seen this one in action, and it’s truly impressive. What really sets the WindTronics wind turbine apart is that it has a start up speed as low as 1/2-mile-per-hour. The WindTronics wind turbine costs close to $6,500 and will generate up to 1,500 kWh per year.
Also, make sure you take advantage of the energy efficiency tax credits for homeowners, which can provide a 30% federal income tax credit if you install an approved wind or solar power system before 2017.
Wind turbines take up more space than solar panels, and they aren’t as suitable for as many properties. For starters, wind turbines work best for homeowners who have at least an acre of property. The more open space you have between buildings and trees, the better. Additionally, they are usually a better option for people who live in rural areas and don’t have stringent homeowners associations or local code issues to navigate.
Small, residential wind turbines can range anywhere from 30 to 140 feet tall, with the average being around 80 feet, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Generators usually have a capacity of between 2 and 10 kilowatts, depending on how much power the home needs and what the wind conditions are in the area. Turbines aren’t cheap – costs can come in between $10,000 and $70,000 – but there are federal tax credits that help soften the blow, and you can usually recoup your investment in 6 to 30 years, depending on the specifics of your system.
The Power of Wind and Solar Combined
If you want to build in a layer of redundancy in your home power generation, you can combine a wind turbine with solar energy panels on your roof so you can create power in a larger variety of weather conditions. With a powerful storage battery, you’ll be well on your way to eliminating electricity bills from your life.
For wind enthusiasts who are still on the grid, you can usually sell excess power that you generate back to your utility company, similar to how the process works for solar energy, helping to drive your electricity bills even lower. A solid turbine should last for at least 20 years, and hopefully much longer, although they do require yearly inspections to keep them running in peak condition.
The U.S. Government Has Your Back
The Department of Energy publishes a consumer guide for small wind electric systems packed full of even more information. If you are interested in learning more about home wind turbines, or need other electrical work performed, call up a trusted electrician today.