How Much Does a Home Wind Turbine Cost?

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With energy prices spiraling out of control, it’s more relevant than ever to consider the possibility of generating your own electricity.

When it comes to home-generated renewable energy sources, solar power seems to get all the attention. However, have you ever considered installing a wind turbine at home?

Home wind turbines are a great way to take advantage of a natural resource and reduce your carbon footprint.

But how much does a home wind turbine cost? And are there any drawbacks to owning one?

The installed cost of a small wind turbine can be anywhere between $300 and $75,000!

With such a huge variance in price, how do you know which one to choose, and is it worth the investment?

In this article, I’ll explain the reasons behind the difference in price of wind turbines, and answer all your questions about them!

Wind Turbines: An Overview

A wind turbine is a device that converts the kinetic energy of the wind into electrical energy.

Wind farms made up of larger wind turbines are providing an increasing share of our global energy supply, and you can now buy small wind turbines to generate electricity for your home.

small wind turbines

Most wind turbines have three blades that rotate around a horizontal axis. The rotating blades turn a generator, which produces electricity.

The amount of electricity that a wind turbine can generate depends on numerous factors, including:

  • The average wind speed in your area
  • The height of the turbine’s blades
  • The installation location
  • The efficiency of the generator

Wind turbines can be used to power your entire home or just offset a portion of your electric bill.

There are two main types of home wind turbines:

  • Roof Mounted: If your home has a high roof that experiences strong winds, you might benefit from a roof-mounted wind turbine. The power of these can vary between 0.5 kW and 2.5 kW.  Unless your house is small and your consumption low, they’ll be unable to supply all your electricity needs.
  • Free Standing: Free-standing wind turbines are more expensive to buy and install but are capable of providing enough electricity to power an entire house.

Home Wind Turbines: Cost Of Ownership

There are two main costs associated with owning a wind turbine:

  1. The upfront cost of the turbine and any associated installation work
  2. The ongoing cost of maintenance

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimates the upfront cost of a wind turbine to range between $2,000 and $5,000 per kilowatt of power capacity.

So, assuming that you want the turbine to supply 100% of your electricity, you might need a 15 kW turbine (depending on your house size and energy consumption), which would cost approximately between $30,000 and $75,000.

The ongoing cost of maintenance is relatively low, averaging around $200-$300 per year.

In terms of return on investment, wind turbines typically take between five and 15 years to pay for themselves. You can shorten this timeframe if you live in an area with high wind speeds and/or receive government incentives for installing a renewable energy system.

How To Choose The Right Wind Turbine

free standing small wind turbine in a field

Calculate Your Energy Usage

The first step in choosing a suitable wind turbine is calculating your energy usage. This will give you a good idea of how much power you need to generate and what size turbine you should look to buy.

To calculate your energy usage, simply add up all the kWh (kilowatt-hours) from each appliance and device in your home. You can find this information on the appliance’s energy label or in the owner’s manual.

Alternatively, go back through your old energy bills to get a good grip on past usage.

Calculate Your Capacity Factor

Your capacity factor measures how much wind energy you can realistically expect to generate at your location.

To calculate your capacity factor, you need to know the average wind speed in your area. Once you have that information, simply plug it into this formula:

Capacity Factor = (Average Wind Speed) / (Rated Wind Speed)

Alternatively, you can use the U.S. average capacity factor of 17%, as per the Department of Energy’s 2018 stats.

Using this average of 17%, you can calculate an estimate of your annual electricity production using this formula:

Kilowatt-hours per year = 8,760 (number of hours per year) x power rating (kW) x capacity factor

So, a 15 kW turbine will produce roughly 22,338 kWh per year, for example (8,760 x 15 x 0.17).

Identify The Perfect Location

There are two things to keep in mind when deciding on the perfect location for your wind turbine, and these are wind and distance:

  • Wind: This one is pretty obvious. You want to place the turbine in the windiest spot you can. Ideally, you want it high (aim for 30ft above anything that exists within 300ft of it) and upwind of any obstructions.
  • Distance: This one might not be quite so obvious, but it’s just as important! You must keep the distance between the wind turbine and battery store as short as possible. Electricity is lost as it travels down wires, so the further it has to travel, the more you lose.

Wind Turbines: Installation

The installation process for wind turbines can vary, depending on the size and type of turbine you choose.

Smaller, lighter turbines can be installed by a qualified electrician or skilled DIYer, while larger ones will require a professional team.

As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 for installation.

Also, before forking out for a new wind turbine and installation, it’s a good idea to check with your local planner that you don’t need any special federal permissions. You usually don’t, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check.

Wind Turbines: Maintenance

Wind Turbine Maintenance

As with any mechanical system, wind turbines require regular maintenance to ensure they continue running smoothly.

The good news is that the homeowner can do the vast majority of this maintenance, such as:

  • Blades Maintenance: Dirty or broken blades can reduce electricity production. Check your blade every 6-12 months. If they’re dirty, repair or replace them.
  • Bearings Maintenance: Bearings help reduce friction, leading to less wear and more output. Every 6-12 months, inspect the bearings for adequate lubrication, tightness, and indications of wear or damage. If the bearings are dry, apply a light coating of oil. Use just enough, so it doesn’t seep into the machine’s electrical components.
  • Gearbox Maintenance: The gearbox transforms the slow spin of the blades into a faster spin that the generator can utilize to create electricity. Inspect the gearbox every 6-12 months. If you see blue or black grease on your turbine, this means your gearbox is experiencing excessive wear. Perform routine oil changes as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Generator Maintenance: The generator is in charge of turning the mechanical energy produced by your turbine into electrical energy. As with the blades, the generator becomes inefficient when dirty. Check for rust, dirt, and debris every 6-12 months and clean away if needed.
  • Inverter Maintenance: Just like the blades and the generator, the inverter will not produce electricity efficiently if dirty. Check and clean as required every 6-12 months.
  • Tower Maintenance: If your wind turbine is attached to a tower (rather than being roof-mounted), you should regularly check that any screws or bolts are not loose. If they are, simply retighten.

Of course, more complicated repairs should always be left to a professional. Electricity is not to be messed with by the unqualified!

The Pros Of Wind Turbines

  • Reduced Electric Bills: The most obvious benefit of owning a home wind turbine is the money you’ll save on your electric bill. Depending on the size of your system, you could see a 50-100% reduction in your electric bill.
  • Increased Home Value: Installing a home wind turbine can also increase the value of your home. A study by Berkeley Lab found that homes with solar panels installed sell for around $15,000 more than similar homes without them. An accurate direct comparison is tricky, but it stands to reason that a wind turbine should also add some value to your home.
  • Renewable Energy Tax Credits: The federal government used to offer a tax credit of between 22% and 30% for installing wind turbines. This tax credit program has expired early, but hopefully, it’ll come back one day. If it does, I’ll be sure to update this article.

The Cons Of Wind Turbines

  • Upfront Cost: The upfront cost of a home turbine can be a barrier for some people. However, there are many financing options available, and the system will eventually pay for itself through energy savings.
  • Noise: Home turbines can make some noise when they’re running. This noise is typically only noticeable if you’re close to the turbine.
  • Visual Impact: Some people feel that home turbines are an eyesore. However, this is a personal preference, and many people find them visually appealing.

Other Wind Turbines Cost And Types

I’ve mainly concentrated this article on a wind turbine large enough to power an entire house.

However, there are other types of home wind turbine systems, including:

  • Microturbine: These are small wind turbines that generate around 400 watts. They’re typically used to supplement the power supply for a specific appliance, such as a water heater or electric bike. A small wind turbine cost usually comes out at no more than $200.
  • Wind And Solar Combo Turbine: Some small wind turbines come with integrated solar panels to boost output. These can cost up to $2,000.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s The Minimum Wind Speed For A Wind Turbine To Turn?

Most wind turbines require wind speeds of around five mph to turn.

What Wind Speeds Can A Home Turbine Tolerate?

Most home turbines can operate in wind speeds of up to 35 mph.

How Long Does A Home Turbine Last?

This depends on various factors. However, my research would suggest that most home turbines are expected to last around 20 years, and the battery stores for around 10 years.

Is A Direct Drive Or Geared Wind Turbine Best?

Geared turbines are usually less expensive and more reliable than direct-drive units.

How Much Do Farmers Get Paid For Installing Wind Turbines On Their Land?

According to USA Today, farmers can earn between $3,000 and $7,000 per turbine.

How Much Electricity Does Wind Power Produce?

This depends on the size of the turbine. See the ’Calculate Your Capacity Factor’ section above for more details.

The Final Word

Now that you know all about home turbines, you can decide if this renewable energy source is right for you.

If you’re interested in saving money on your electric bill and doing your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a home turbine may be the perfect solution.

Just be sure to research and compare different models and wind turbine manufacturers before purchasing.

Get In Touch

Do you already have a small wind turbine on your roof? Or maybe even a large tower residential wind turbine system in your yard?

Are you happy with the wind turbine power savings? Drop me a line and let me know.

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With her Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering (MSREE) from Oregon Tech, Steph is supremely well qualified to write on all aspects of renewable energy. She has already achieved a zero carbon footprint and her goal is to help as many other people as possible do the same. Her other hobbies include music, yoga, swimming and horror movies.
Stephanie Cole
With her Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering (MSREE) from Oregon Tech, Steph is supremely well qualified to write on all aspects of renewable energy. She has already achieved a zero carbon footprint and her goal is to help as many other people as possible do the same. Her other hobbies include music, yoga, swimming and horror movies.

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