Residential Wind Power – Is it Right for You?

This article focuses on planning and installing a residential wind power generation system, not as much on how a wind energy system works.

Wind power generation, an alternative and renewable energy source, has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the last few years. Technological advances make it more and more feasible to install wind power generators for individual homes. The newer systems are more efficient and quieter then their older equivalent wind generators.

Not every geographical location however, is suited for installing a wind power generator. A consistent wind, with average speeds of approximately 11 miles per hour is required to make a wind energy system feasible. Lower wind speeds can be suitable for battery charging and water pumping in your remote weekend cottage.

Wind availability maps are published by the US National Renewable Energy Lab. You can get a general idea from these maps if you are living in a state and county with sufficiently high winds.

Once you confirm this, you will need to also check if your exact location experiences the required, consistent average wind speeds. If your home, your property is located on the side of a hill, your sheltered location might not provide the required wind speeds. Maybe you can install the wind turbine high enough, to just extend it over the ridge. You will then possibly be able to pick up sufficient wind.

Local wind maps, can also be found at the National Renewable Energy Lab. These maps howver, are not very easy to read and understand. Fortunately though, you can simply contact a wind power manufacturer, such as those listed in the American Wind Energy Association website. They can tell you if it is feasible to install a wind power generator for your home.

At this point, just get some general information about the feasibility of installing a wind power system for your home. You have some more checking to do, before you spend a lot of your and the manufacturer’s time on details.  If you are handy on the tools and like the odd DIY project then perhaps you could even build your own windmill.

Next step is to check the local codes and requirements. Your town might have some bylaws, or if you live in a subdivision, there might be restrictions in place, that will not allow you to install a wind power generator for your home. Don’t let that deter you! Get a petition going in your town or city to change the bylaws, perhaps you can even get a community buying plan in place.

Talk to the neighbor hood association. Who knows, maybe the whole subdivision will end up supporting a wind power generator for all the homes!
Don’t forget to also talk to your neighbors. Unfortunately, some people still believe that all wind energy generators are noisy and kill birds. Inform the neighbors as you investigate and learn more.

Once you know that no local laws, regulations, neighbors or neighbor hood associations will stop you, it is time to talk to the manufacturers again.

I recommend talking to at least two different wind power manufacturers with different types of rotors, such as horizontal axis wind turbines, or vertical axis wind turbines. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages. You want to make sure that the type of system you end up installing is the best for your particular application.

Ask the manufacturer a lot of questions, such as:

- How much clearance is required around the tower and rotor blades?
- How tall will the wind tower be?
- What are the noise emissions? Do they have certified sound data?
- How many installations have they done? Can you go see one?
- What output can you expect from their system?
- What is the installed cost per kilowatt-hour?
- What kind of warranties do they provide?
- What will they need from you to do to make it happen? (besides money)
- Will they apply for the required permits?
- Will they make the connection to the electric grid?
- Will you have to hire a general contractor?

Compare all the answers between the different models and manufacturers and then you can make an educated decision.

A handful of States provide some incentives for installing small wind power systems. Check with your state and local governments. Another option could be to get a reduced-rate mortgage for adding the wind power system. Check with your mortgage company or mortgage broker.

If you find after doing all this research, that wind power is not the solution for you, then maybe a solar photovoltaic system is your solution.  On the other hand if a wind generator is still at the top of your renewable energy list then i suggest you look at our do it yourself wind turbines.


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