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Home Wind Turbine

   

Home Wind Turbine

Several small home sized wind turbine options have come onto the market in the past couple of years. While new suppliers pop into the market every month, companies like Southwest Windpower and Bergy, which have been in the wind turbine business almost forever, continue to come out with new models on a regular basis. So you're thinking it's about time you had a home wind turbine. Where do you start?

Conservation - Reduce your load

It will always be cheaper to eliminate a kilowatt of power, than to produce one. Before you purchase a wind turbine, get your present electrical consumption as low as possible. Quick payback items include replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescent (CFL) lights. Replace an older fridge or window air conditioner, with a new Energy Star model. Use a clothesline rather than the dryer. Turn down the temperature on your electrical water heater. Kill those power vampires.

Know Your Electrical Usage

Check your recent power bills. How much electricity do you use in a month? What do you play per kilowatt of electricity - include all the numbers that vary, with the usage. For example, my bill includes a price per kilowatt for - the electricity (about $.052) and another for delivery (about $0.039) = 9.1 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity. I have other costs on my bill which don't change with the amount of power used and thus I don't include them here, as they will not change as I replace the total electricity, with some that I generate myself.

WARNING: small home wind turbines will not save you money.

Average Wind Speed

Find a wind map for your area. Check here for Canada and USA windmaps. Read the average wind speed for your area. For my area, the wind speed averages about 5.5 m/s.

How Much Power from a Home Wind Turbine

Here is a link that explains how to determine the actual power you can expect a small home wind turbine to produce for you. Power from Small WInd Turbines

Netmeter vs Off-Grid or Batteries

Netmetering basically means you get "free batteries". Any electrical power that you produce, beyond what you are using at that moment, is pushed out onto the electrical grid. Your electrical utility let's you consume that extra power, when you need it. Most home wind turbines to NOT produce more power than the home will use, OVERALL. Thus you don't need to worry about being paid for any extra electrical production. Note, when you lose power from the electrical grid, your home system will also shut off and you will not have any power.

In an Off Grid system, you use batteries to store the electrical power that is produced. You'll need a few more components and a lot more money. You can also use batteries even if connected to the grid. In this case, you'll still have "some" power should the electrical grid go down.

Tower and Extras

Tower: Don't forget to price a tower for your new home wind turbine. A good tower can cost as much as the turbine. Ask the manufacturer of the turbines you look at, for a recommendation for a tower for their turbine.

Inverter: You need to change the power produced (DC) into power that can be used by your house and the Grid (AC). An Inverter does this conversion. Note that some larger home wind turbines now include the inverter.

More: For grid connected systems, you likely need a cut-off switch. All systems will need wiring and fuses. Battery systems also need a charge controller and a diversion load.

Inspection: Be prepared for costs associated with hiring an electrician and for having the system inspected before connection to the grid. Some utilities will charge you for a special meter, but install it for free, others will charge for everything.

 

Vertical (VAWT) vs Horizontal (HAWT)

For an Urban location, the main difference between vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) and horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT) is their response to turbulent winds. A VAWT is better suited for Urban locations, where other buildings and trees cause the wind to be more turbulent (gusty, with severe direction changes). Both types of home wind turbine will function better with smooth air, but a VAWT does not need to rotate into the wind like a HAWT.

HAWT tend to produce more power with a smaller size, but historically have produced more noise. Modern designs have greatly reduced the amount of noise produced. You can normally mount a HAWT higher and thus get access to faster and smoother air (and therefore more power). Guyed towers, take a lot of physical space.

VAWT have been advertised as friendly to birds. It's a myth that large commercial wind turbines are bad for birds, unless someone erects one inside a migration path. For small home wind turbines, I would not have a bird feeder on my property. And yes, the local cats will kill many times more birds than a small wind turbine.

Let's go shopping......

DIY VAWT - Windspire - PacWind - Four Seasons - WePower/Cleanfield

DIY HAWT - Southwest - ARI - Home Energy - Bergy - Honeywell

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Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT)

Here's a random sample of VAWT Home Wind Turbines. Note that other than the DIY (Do It Yourself) models, I'd consider these VAWT's to be very expensive for what you get.

DIY VAWT

LENZ-2 VAWT

By far the best priced home wind turbines are the ones you build yourself. Here's a few links to models we like:

55 Gallon VAWT by Jeff Berezin

 

Lenz2 VAWT - 52 watts @ 12.5 mph

 

V10 by Faroun

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Windspire

Windspire Video

Power: 1.2 kilowatts (kw)

Annual Production: 2,000 kw

Size: 30 ft tall, 2 ft wide

Includes: Inverter - ready to connect at 120V
             : also includes the tower!!!

Cost: around $ 5,000

Website: Windspire Overview

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PacWind

Delta-I by PacWind

With 4 models available, all VAWT and ranging in price from $4,500 to $35,000, there may be a model just right for you. Let's look at the Delta I model: $5,500 includes shipping.

DELTA I

  • 2kw Rated Power
  • No cut-out speed
  • Cage dimensions of 78”d x 48”h
  • Ideal for: homes, boats, buildings,
    emergency power, remote power
  • Available stacked in tower
    configurations
  • Great in moderate to high
    wind conditions
  • Safe in all wind conditions

Website: Delta I

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Four Seasons Windpower

Windspire Video

Power: 200 watts to 10 KW

Annual Production: varies

Size: varies

Includes: Controller & Dump Load
             : tower(monopole) is available

Cost: around $ 200w= $1,685. 10KW = $28,445

Website: Four Seasons Windpower

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Wepower/Cleanfield

Wepower Wind Generator

Power: 600 watts to 12 KW*

Annual Production: questionable

Size: varies

Includes: Controller

Cost: unknown

Website: Repower / Cleanfield

Note: Jan 11 2010, Wepower & Cleanfield announce intent to merge. Neither company reports their wind generator power production in standard terms nor publish the prices for their products. We find their products very expensive for what you get.

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Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT)

Here's a random sample of HAWT Home Wind Turbines. 4 foot DIY HAWT with PVC blades

 

DIY HAWT

4 foot PVC Blades

Just like with VAWT, the best priced home wind turbines are the ones you build yourself. Here's one from our site, which includes the plans and several pictures to help you through the building process.

Cost - about $100

Included: - just the wind turbine. Tower will cost you just as much as the wind turbine.

Power: about 100W

Website: DIY Wind Turbine

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Southwest Windpower

Skystream 3.7 by Southwest Windpower

One of the oldest wind turbine manufacturing companies in existence, they are also one of the best. They have a full range of sizes for the HOME consumer.

Power: 200 watts to 3 KW

Annual Production: varies

Size: varies

Includes:Skystream 3.7 includes everything except the disconnect switch - ready to connect to your fuse panel for GRID-TIE.

Cost: around $599 and up

Video of Skystream 3.7: Skystream

Website: Southwest Windpower

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ARI Wind Turbines ARI Wind Turbines

 

Power: 450W, 750W & 900W

Includes: Charge Controller

Cost: 450W=$675, 750W=$1,125, 900W=$1,275

Website: ARI Green Energy

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Home Energy - Energy Ball ARI Wind Turbines

 

Power: 500W, & 2.5KW

Includes: Charge Controller or an Inverter

Cost: 500W=$5,600, 2.5KW=$9,200

NOTE: I can't see them ever selling a unit at these crazy prices!

Website: Home Energy Americas

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Bergy WindPower ARI Wind Turbines

 

Bergy has also been in the wind power business for several years.

Power:1 KW, & 10 KW

Includes: Charge Controller or an Inverter

Cost: 1 KW=$2,790, 10 KW=$ 23,500 or $29,500

NOTE: If the 10KW unit is configured to charge batteries, it produces 7.5KW and cost $23,500. At 10KW and Grid Intertie, with Inverter, it cost $29,500.

Website: Bergy

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Honeywell Wind Turbine - WT6000 Honeywell WT6000 Home Wind Turbine

 

Honeywell has redesigned the small home wind turbine, by placing the generator along the outside edge of the blades. As a result, their home wind turbine will start to produce power at light winds of just 2 MPH.

Honeywell states that their wind turbine can be mounted VERY CLOSE to your rooftop. We know the wind speeds just at rooftop level are both slow and turbulent. I am very surprised at their recommended mounting.

Note also, that even though this wind turbine will produce power at 2 MPH wind speeds, it would only produce 60 cents worth of power, in a whole year. Thus, I would consider this a "marketing" ploy and not a reason to purchase this particular home wind turbine.

Still, if you mount this wind turbine where it will catch a good breeze, it should do well and at a reasonable price.

Power:2 KW, - 1,500 kwh per year.

Includes: Charge Controller and Inverter

Cost: 2 KW=$4,500,

Website: Earthtronics

 

This is just a short list of some of the wind turbine manufactures. Look around your immediate area for a supplier. It's always great to be able to talk face-to-face to the person who sold you your wind turbine. Also, please be aware that a huge number of new companies have come online in the past few months. Several are from China and offer very attractive pricing. It's hard to judge the quality of new vendors, without a track record. Let the buyer beware.

 

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