The most frequently asked questions
How do residential wind turbines work?
A wind turbine, which is installed on top of a tall tower, collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity that is compatible with a buildings's electrical system. In a normal residential application, a building is served simultaneously by the wind turbine and a local utility. If the wind speeds are below cut-in speed (7-10 mph) there will be no output from the turbine and all of the needed power is purchased from the utility. As wind speeds increase, turbine output increases and the amount of power purchased from the utility is proportionately decreased. When the turbine produces more power than the building needs, the extra electricity is sold to the utility. All of this is done automatically. There are no batteries in a modern residential wind system.
Small wind systems for remote applications operate somewhat differently.
Will a small wind turbine save me money?
The wind turbine typically lowers your electricity bill by 50 to 90 percent. It is not uncommon for wind turbine owners with total-electric homes to have monthly utility bills of only 20 to 40 euro for nine months of the year. In northern parts of the country where less air conditioning is used the bills can be very low year-round. The amount of money a small wind turbine saves you in the long run will depend upon its cost, the amount of electricity you use, the average wind speed at your site, and other factors.
Will it help the environment if I install a wind turbine?
Yes. Wind turbines produce no pollution and by using wind power you will be offsetting pollution that would have been generated by your utility company. Over its life, a small residential wind turbine can offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 200 tons of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and other gases which cause climate change).
Don't I have to take wind measurements for a year or more?
For most residential systems the cost of taking wind measurements is not justified. Wind resource data published by the local weather station is sufficient for an experienced evaluator to predict wind turbine performance. In very hilly or mountainous areas, however, it may be best to collect wind data before purchasing a system to ensure that your site is not in a sheltered area.
Do wind turbines make noise?
Small wind turbines do make some noise, but not enough to be found objectionable by most people. A typical residential wind system makes less noise than the average washing machine.
Will I have to change any of the wiring?
No. A wind turbine is easily retrofitted to virtually any building without the need to change any wiring or appliances. In most cases, the utility will install a second utility meter to measure how much surplus electricity it is purchasing from the turbine owner.
How reliable are wind turbines? Will I have to perform much maintenance?
Most small turbines have very few moving parts and do not require any regular maintenance. They are designed for a long life (up to 20 years) and operate completely automatically.