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Residential Wind Power

Residential Wind Power

Wind power is the process of turning the forces naturally generated by the movement of the air into useful energy including, most importantly, electricity. While commercial wind farms are becoming increasingly visible across the landscape, people should be aware that home wind power is also an option. Residential wind power is becoming increasingly economically feasible for use in small scale enterprises and homes, and depending on the viability of your site for wind based power generation, small wind power can make a great supplement or even an alternative to the traditional power grid.

home with wind and solar

Image above: Home in Jefferson County with solar hot water system and a wind turbine. The wind turbine is a 16 ft. diameter Whirlwind 4000, 4 kw rated power. It is grid-connected through an inverter. This installation was done pre-1985.Credit: Green, Jim // nrel

Residential wind power, or small wind power, canbe the answer to a lot of energy issues. The technology has been around in one form or another for far longer than solar electricity, and thus is rather more advanced. This also of course means that the costs are relatively lower and the equipment far more efficient as companies have had more time to develop and perfect the technology. Of course, the technology is still far from perfect, and while a home wind generator will be cheaper in the long run, it will still require a larger outlay of money to start out with. Residential wind power can take a while to pay for itself, but when it does the advantages of free power with a very low impact on the environment are huge.

There are some things to keep in mind however when looking at small wind power as an alternative energy solution for your home. There are two main ways to go about getting on the wind power bandwagon. The first way is to go off grid completely, and rely solely on the wind to produce your electricity. There are a few requirements to doing things this way, and they really are fairly important. 

The first requirement of an off the grid system is that you must live in an area with good access to wind (i.e. no other large buildings in the way of your collection device) and that the average wind speed each year has to be at least 9 miles an hour, or 4 meters a second. This is the minimum wind speed necessary for most residential wind power systems to insure that you have enough power to perform basic electrical tasks in your home.

There are new small wind generators becoming available like some of the vertical axis wind turbines that do not require high wind speeds or even towers. These are just now coming to market. Companies like Bluenergy AG are manufacturing vertical axis wind turbines that even incorporate solar cells !

Here is something to consider if you happen to live far enough away from the traditional power grid that connecting to it is either economically or physically unfeasible. Remote site power grid tie ins can be prohibitively expensive, ranging anywhere from 15,000 to up to 50,000 dollars a mile depending on the terrain the power lines will have to cross. These are perfect situations to try out wind power as in this case, the cost outlay for the wind turbines is less expensive that the cost of connecting to the power grid, and since after it recoups the value of the initial outlay in saved utility fees wind power is free less the cost of maintenance, in this case wind power is actually the better deal. There are government incentives and grants currently available to help offset some of the costs of alternative energy installations 

Stand alone residential wind power systems are great for those who wish to be totally self sufficient and independent from the traditional power companies. Whether for economic or moral reasons, residential wind power can reduce the load on less environmentally friendly power companies and get you harnessing the power of the wind to meet your electrical demands.

There is a catch with stand alone residential wind power systems, which it that unless you are lucky enough to find just the right spot, the wind is never blowing all the time. This means that you will either have to find a way to store any extra power your system produces while you are not using it, and that most likely means battery banks. Unless you are a skilled electrician, heavy use batteries like these may be something you will want to get a bit of professional help with, either with the installation itself or simply with the design of the system, as this can be a technical pitfall best avoided from the start. If your battery system is not storing all the energy it is capable of, you may face the risk of running out of electricity when you need it most.

small wind turbine in Maine Credit: Tom Walsh /nrel

Image above: Small residential wind power turbine in Winter Harbor, Maine With the help of a federally funded Residential Energy Assistance Challenge grant a Bergey windmill generates up to 10 kilowatts of electricity for the Millstream Heights Apartments, a subsidized elderly housing complex in Winter Harbor, Maine. The wind turbine supplies power to the building that houses the community room and laundry room for the complex, which includes 14 one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units.
Credit: Walsh, Tom; The Ellsworth American // nrel

If you do not meet these conditions and would still like to get involved in home wind power, there is another alternative. If you live within the range of the power grid, you can tie in to the system and always have power available when you need it. This method does not require a battery backup (although it is still an option) and when you are not currently using the energy your system is producing, you can actually sell it back to the power company for a profit. This means that while your system is producing extra electricity, it is not only taking some of the load off the less environmentally friendly power plant, but it will also cause your own power meter to run backwards. By the end of most years, you  should see your power bill disappear almost entirely, if not have a negative balance with the power company!

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Wind Power Companies | Producing new alternatives in energy.
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Contact Us at New Home Wind Power
Contact Us at New Home Wind Power

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