Wind Turbines - Generators
Small wind turbines produce
between 1 - 100 kilowatts (kW) and are used to produce power for
homes, farms and small businesses. They can be grid integrated
allowing individuals to sell power back to the utility company, or
stand alone providing power locally. Today's wind turbines are
a far cry from their wooden windmill ancestors. A single very
large wind generator can provide enough electricity to power five
hundred American homes!
A few advantages to wind
Free energy is generated by a naturally occurring
The process is clean as it doesn't require
mining, transportation, produce environmental pollutants, etc.
Helps people become more energy independent by
not relying solely on the utilities for power.
Can pay for itself over time and potentially
create additional income.
Wind turbines can easily be used in conjunction
with other alternative energy systems like solar power. (see hybrid
Doesn't require a large area to install, has a
Creates jobs. (per unit of energy, 30% more than
a coal plant & 66% more than nuclear)
A couple disadvantages:
People can find them displeasing to look at,
especially true in rural 'natural' areas.
As with solar power, wind turbine power
production is variable... i.e. only when the wind blows.
Noise, the turbines are not completely silent and
may irritate neighbors if close enough to installation.
Shadows will be cast by the system and might need
to be considered.
Worldwide Wind Map from NASA
If you are interested in setting up a residential wind
turbine to generate power you will need to consider several factors.
One of the first things you'll need to know is how much wind is
typically available for your location. The US department of
Energy has a
residential wind map of the United States to help estimate potential wind power
production. You'll also need to assess the location of the
turbine installation. Is the area free from obstructions like like
hills or trees and are there any applicable laws or codes that
influence placement. After you've determined how much energy
you'll need to make to satisfy your requirements, you'll need to
purchase the components (look below). There are may be state &
federal incentives, rebates and tax credits available for your
green project. (Check here
for state & here for
federal.) After you've bought the pieces you'll probably want
a professional to install the system. Do some research to find
a local company with a good, solid reputation. After
everything is up and running routine maintenance will be required to
get optimal production.
Useful websites and products:
DIY Wind Turbine Kit
Hybrid Wind and Solar Electricity
Home Power - Wind Power Basics
Small Wind Consumers Guide (GOV)