Home wind energy offers a lot of opportunities for those who have at least an acre of land and the money to harvest the power of the wind. In regions and locations that have enough wind to make the investment worthwhile, there are a couple of popular options: individual wind turbine systems and wind farms of multiple or varied equipment, such as solar and wind combinations.
Ranches, farms, homes and small businesses can use small turbines. A small turbine looks like a little horizontal jet with blades in the front. Usually, there are three blades, then the body, which holds a rotor, generator and alternator. There is a frame and a tower type of mount and even a tail, to convert the kinetic wind energy to power. There is also other power conditioning equipment such as inverters, batteries and and controllers. Power conditioning equipment is required if the turbine is connected to power grids.
These assemblies and their supporting frames are classified as “small”, but are still quite large. The tower height is usually at 30 to 100 feet, above the ground and any obstacles in order to get away from ground turbulence, and the entire assembly can measure about 20 feet from blades to tail.
Wind turbines are stand alone, since the vibration would cause serious problems if mounted to the roof of a structure. Also, the larger blades capture more energy, with a maximum 30 foot blade length, turbine housing and minimum 30 foot height making for a large bit of equipment.
The assembly and tower can be lowered and raised in order to protect the equipment from extreme wind forces.
Once local wind conditions are deemed to be adequate, local zoning and codes and the issues of making a serious and long term investment are considered. Many codes for turbine power require at least an acre of land, compliance with codes and between $3,000 to $50,000, US to install. The average is about $35,000 US.
In addition, if the average electrical bill is over $150 US, there is plenty of space, local zoning allows for the equipment, and/or there is no other power source for the property, then wind turbines are a possibility.
There is some confusion in terms between the funky old windmills of the past and the sleek, highly efficient turbines of today. Both meet the same ends: using wind to turn blades that produce electrical current, but the sleek turbine is the current form of windmill for the property owner who has the wind, the space, the money and the ability to meet the local codes for installing such equipment. The older windmills are simply more beautiful!
“Small Wind Power Systems: A U.S. Consumer’s Guide”, a pdf file at the US Energy Department: Windpowering America.gov.
“Windmills Of the World”