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A small wind electric system can be a clean, affordable way to power your home. | Photo courtesy of Thomas Fleckenstein, NREL 26476
Small residential wind turbines have been around for decades, and in recent years they have become a more affordable option due to tax credits and various other incentives offered at the state and federal level. With that in mind, Energy Saver has a long list of resources available to pique your interest and inform your decision to install your very own small wind electric system. We’ve compiled a list of them below.
Practicality and Costs
Before the planning phase of installing a wind turbine, you may want to know what’s at stake. For information on the costs included for purchasing a wind turbine, what parts are needed, maintenance, and other bare bones questions, consult the U.S. Department of Energy’s Consumer’s Guide to Small Wind. There you can find resources and tools available to answer all of these questions and more regarding small wind systems.
In addition, a 30% federal tax credit on small residential wind turbines is available until the end of 2016. Existing homes and new construction both qualify. To learn more, visit ENERGY STAR. You can find a list of state incentives using the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
You can learn how to plan your small wind energy system with several resources and analysis tools. Estimating your wind resources by consulting wind resource maps, airport wind speed data, and researching zoning/permitting (height and noise restrictions) are the first and simplest steps toward planning your very own residential wind turbine. For a full list of this information, please consult our article on Planning a Small Wind Electric System.
You’ll also want to decide whether or not you want a stand-alone or grid-connected system, both of which have unique requirements. You can learn these individual differences in the hyperlinks above. Grid-connected systems are sometimes preferred because they allow you to give excess energy back to the grid for payment by your own utility company, offsetting electricity bills even further. Stand-alone systems may be more practical in remote areas.
Once your research is complete and zoning and permitting green-lit, you may need assistance installing your small wind electric system. Many of the considerations above also apply to this process; however, if you plan to connect to the grid, you’ll need to learn about electricity distribution systems and the conditions required. You'll likely want to find contractors in the area to assist you. For more on these, please visit our article on Installing and Maintaining Small Wind Electric Systems.
A small wind electric system isn't a practical option for everyone, but if you think it might work for you, the resources above will help get you on track to plan your own system.