So, you want to build a backyard wind turbine? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this eBook, you will learn how to construct a
backyard wind turbine from scratch. Similar sized commercial wind turbines will
set you back a couple of hundred dollars, but with a little effort you can save
yourself some money and because you’ve constructed it yourself, you’ll
understand the inner workings of a wind turbine in the process.
This eBook reduces the project down to just five little systems. If attacked one at a time, the project won’t seem too difficult. Outlined in this guide:
How to build and assemble the blades
The hub and tower
The charge controller
The battery pack systems.
Each system’s technical background is explained and then how you can build your own one is explained. A full cost breakdown of the project is available on the Deluxe Version Backyard Wind Turbine in 5 Steps. This is a more in-depth version of the eBook with hints and tips to help you with your build. It also gives you access to the Renewable Energy Methods online power and cost-saving calculator.
Now that your wind turbine is up and running let’s look at how to connect batteries to your backyard wind turbine. This is the system that will store the clean energy produced by the wind turbine. Then convert it into useful electricity you can use. Making the system is pretty simple. All you need to do is source the batteries and connect them to each other. Then connect one end to your charge controller. The other end is connected to a power inverter. This converts the stored energy into useable electricity.
We will cover the charge controller and inverter in another post which you can find here. This section will help you with the more difficult part. Like what type of battery to use, what voltage and capacity to use and what orientations to arrange them in.
Let’s start with what type of battery you should use. The different types of chemical energy storage you can consider are lead-acid, lithium-ion, hydrogen and flow batteries. Here’s a brief overview of each of the different technologies that can be used to connect batteries to your backyard wind turbine.
Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most popular energy storage options. Today they are widely used in phones, laptops and cars. They have a high round-trip efficiency of about 99%. An energy density in the range of 250 Wh/kg and capable of withstanding just under 2000 cycles before fading. The popularity of the Lithium-Ion battery has led to advances in technology. It now is outperforming the other types of battery with respect to energy density, power density and round-trip efficiency. The image below shows a schematic of a typical lithium-ion battery.
Lithium-Ion batteries are one of the most expensive types of batteries. They are nearly six times as expensive as lead-acid batteries. If you choose this option your investment cost will be high. The higher costs are associated with the materials use and the manufacturing process. There are also concerns about the disposal of spent lithium batteries as can release toxic material. So if you’re trying to be environmentally conscious with your project this is something to consider.
The lead-acid battery is the oldest, cheapest and most mature form of chemical energy storage. Deep-cycle lead-acid batteries are ideal for small-cycle renewable energy integration applications. These batteries can be discharged repeatedly by as much as 80% of their capacity. So they are suited for grid-connected systems where users sell power back to the grid. They have low investment costs and relatively low maintenance. Making them one of the most suitable batteries for small-scale wind energy projects. The image below shows a typical lead-acid battery.
Limited cycle life and poor performance at low and high ambient temperatures are a pitfall of this technology. But it is the cheapest and most widely available battery and can be bought in your local motor factor store. Like lithium-ion, lead-acid batteries are environmentally unfriendly and toxic materials make it a hazardous product to dispose of when spent.
Hydrogen Energy Storage
A hydrogen fuel cell uses electrolysis of water process to produce hydrogen and oxygen. Excess electricity from a power generation source supplies the electrolyser (reverse fuel cell), splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen). The hydrogen can then be stored in compressed gas or liquid form. When electricity is needed, H2 is supplied to a fuel cell which converts the hydrogen and oxygen back to electricity and water. Or directly to a gas turbine as a combustible fuel. A schematic of a hydrogen fuel cell is shown below.
Hydrogen-based energy storage systems are receiving increasing attention today, particularly in relation to their integration with renewable power sources. Hydrogen fuel cells have several advantages including high energy density and large storage capacity. It is still a costly method of energy storage. But has one of the lowest round-trip efficiency ranges of 20-50%. It would be hard to source for a small-scale energy storage system. You can consider this battery and make use of if you can source them priced reasonably.
Connecting your batteries
Once you’ve decided on a battery technology the next thing to look at is the voltage and amperage. The most easily sourced battery sizes are 12V and 24V which are perfect for your single backyard wind turbine project. Now let’s consider the amperage. The batteries can come with a range of storage capacities. The capacity of a battery is measured in amp-hours. Say if you get a battery that is 12 volts and has a capacity of 10 amp-hours. You’d probably want to connect 10 together in parallel to up the storage capacity to 100 amp-hours. This would be perfect for your small-scale project. The higher storage capacity of your system the more energy you will readily have on hand. So there really should be no cap on the storage capacity of your system. The next image shows how batteries can be arranged in parallel to increase the storage capacity.
The batteries should be connected positive to positive and negative to negative using jumper cables. They can be purchased online or in hardware stores. The last positive and negative output in the series must be connected to the inverter to turn the DC voltage into useable AC power. Make sure you source an inverter with a plug adapter output, so you can run an extension cable with a multi-plug adapter away from the system to where you want to use it. Inverters can be quite expensive and will most likely be the most expensive item for this project. But you want a good quality inverter for the safety of yourself and the products you’re using your clean energy to power.
So that’s how to connect batteries to your backyard wind turbine. Now you have all the knowledge and tools to go out and source the best type of batteries for your wind turbine. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide your budget. So make sure you do your own due diligence before you commit to buying your batteries.
Then it is as simple as connecting your batteries to the generator of your turbine through a charge controller. Then you’ll be able to collect the energy your wind turbine is producing. We’ll cover this in another post here.
Now that you have your wind turbine and you mast built let’s take about how to secure a backyard wind turbine. If you missed the other post you can check them out here.
Securing your wind turbine into the ground is a crucial part of building your wind turbine. You need your mast to be strong enough to withstand storm-force winds. In this post, we’ll show you how to be confident your turbine will remain upright even in the most vicious of storms.
To properly secure your wind turbine mast you’ll need to do two things:
Create a concrete foundation for the base
Secure the mast using tensioned guy wires
First, let’s talk about creating a concrete foundation for the base of the wind turbine. At your local hardware store, you can your hands on some concrete base buckets. These buckets come with a concrete mix already inside. All you have o do is add water and stick in whatever you want to cement and there you have it. You can then dig a hole in the ground, place the bucket in and cover it up.
This creates the perfect base for your wind turbine mast. If you can find this cement bucket mixes you can just create your own by buying a bag of cement, some sand, some aggregate (gravel) and water. Add all this into a bucket and it does the same job. Look out for details of the best mixing ratio on the bag of cement. A good ratio is usually 1 part cement 3 parts sand and 3 parts gravel.
Now let’s look at creating the guy wires. Just like securing an aerial or telecoms mast you’ll need to secure your wind turbine mast using tension wires. In typical structural engineering (building bridges) triangles are the ideal design shapes. Just look at most bridges and you’ll see recurring triangular shapes. This is because triangular shapes are the strongest. So four a backyard wind turbine we want to secure using 3 to 4 wires in a pyramid shape like the mast shown below.
You want the angle of the wire and the ground to be approximately 45 degrees so it forms a right-angled triangle. Use a Swanson tool or large protractor to get this angle right. The length of the tie-down wire doesn’t matter but you do want to attach the wire as close to the top of the mast as possible. This will ensure the mast is rigid and stable in high winds. You can use something as simple as nylon ropes for the tie-down wire.
Or go for something stronger like steel rebar wire. It all depends on your budget. Then you can just tie the rope to the mast or use a bracket and clips to secure the steel wire to the mast as shown below. To secure the wires to the ground you can simply use ground pegs to secure the wire to the ground.
So that is it. Now you can be confident that your wind turbine mast will be strong and secure. Even in the most vicious winds, your wind turbine will be operational.
To be extra safe a good thing to do is to install a fail-safe at the bast of the mast. This is so you can take down the wind turbine if extremely strong winds are forecast. This can be as simple as being able to lift the mast out of the concrete base by installing a larger pipe into the cement bucket and sliding your mast pole into it. Just be careful not to damage the wind turbine blades as you let it down to the ground.
As always we’d love to hear your feedback so feel free to send your comments or questions to email@example.com.
This week we will look at how to build a wind turbine mounting pole. A steel pole can be used to get your wind turbine up above any obstructions such as houses and trees. Obstructions can stop the wind from getting to your wind turbine. Industrial wind turbines are constructed up to 100 meters tall, but luckily a backyard wind turbine doesn’t have to be that high. Although, we should know that the higher up the wind turbine is the more power it is likely to produce.
First, let’s get a brief look into the background of mounting wind turbines in the air. At sea level, the wind quality is often better than it is over land where turbulence will be higher. Weather forecasts usually measure wind speeds at 10 meters above ground level and lots of things can influence wind speeds. If it is reported that there will be 10 m/s winds tomorrow, it may not necessarily be that speed at your wind turbine.This is why it is very important to get the wind turbine up high and out of turbulence.
Weather forecast also measures wind speed at huge distances from obstacles like trees and buildings to get more accurate readings. Turbulence causes the wind turbine to shake from side to side. This can cause damage to the turbine and make it very noisy. We need to reduce this shaking as much as possible to reduce this damage and noise when it’s operational. Again, height is a good solution for this.
For wind turbines on a boat or a caravan, the turbulence will appear when the wind hits the vehicle, so the closer the wind turbine is to it the more turbulence there will be.
When building backyard wind turbines, mounting them away from trees and buildings will be nearly impossible. In residential areas, there will always be some sort of turbulence around your turbine. However, we can take steps to reduce this interference.
The image above shows the arc of turbulence give off a house of height H. The image above shows the further away from the house the turbine is located, the shorter the mounting pole can be. Let’s look at an example of estimating your ideal wind turbine mast height.
Say there is a 10 meter tall two story house with a backyard length of 100 meters (typical size of a soccer pitch). If you want to set up the wind turbine at the bottom of the yard you would have to build the wind turbine mast 10 m tall to avoid turbulence.
Let’s say we half the length of the garden to 50m then we’d have to mount the wind turbine up twice the height as the house which would be 20m.
Alternatively, we could mount the wind turbine on the roof of the house. Then it would only have to be about 1 m above the top of the roof to avoid the turbulence. Although this would be an unsightly option. Not to mention you would probably have a hard time convincing your neighbors or the local council to let you do it.
If your in a residential area we recommend mounting your wind turbine as far away from your house as possible and using the rule shown above to calculate how high it should be.
For a caravan or boat mounting the turbine over a meter above the vehicle should be enough to optimize performance while reducing noise levels.
Constructing the mast
Constructing the mast is actually quite easy. All you need is some lengths of strong steel rod. You should be able to get this in your local hardware store. If you’ve used our guide to construct the body of the wide turbine (read the post here) you will want to get some hollow cylindrical steel rod. This is so the bolt part of the pivot center easily slides onto the wind turbine mast. Just add some grease and the turbine will spin freely when the wind changes direction.
*PRO TIP* You know how everyone has caged trampolines? Well, the steel rods used to hold up the net are the perfect solution for the wind turbine mast. Even better most of them are design to slot into each other. So you can make the mast any height you need it to be. So now you can go out and pick the perfect spot for your wind turbine. Then, estimate the height of your wind turbine mounting pole using the guidelines stated above.
Or you if you have a lot of money to spare you can source a great one on Amazon like the one shown in the image below. It is very expensive though. We are an Amazon Associate so buying through clinking the image below supports the site and really helps us out.
We’ve just given you given a lot of information so we’ll stop here. Next week, we’ll show you how to construct a base for your wind turbine. We’ll also look into how to secure the wind turbine mounting pole so it remains sturdy and safe during high winds.
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Let’s look at how to build a wind turbine tail fin. The tail fin will be the last part of your wind turbine body. If you missed our post on how to build a wind turbine you can read about it here. In this post, we will show you how to create the perfect tail fin for your back yard wind turbine. From a simple design to a more complex aerodynamically efficient one you’ll learn how to make both here.
What a Tail Fin Does
First, though let’s look at what a tail fin actually does for your wind turbine. We want to have our wind turbine in operation as often as possible. This means that any time the wind is blowing we want it to be creating clean electricity. To do this efficiently we want the blades to be facing into the winds at all times. Without out getting too technical, wind changes direction because of air warming during the day and rising upwards causing differences in air pressure. Basically, the wind direction can change a lot during the day so your wind turbine needs to be able to pivot quickly in any direction to be operating efficiently.
Tail Fin Design
So let’s look at a basic design to help you build a wind turbine tail fin. All you need for a basic fin design is a rectangle plank of wood or sheet of metal and an L-Bracket. The figure below shows how this can be constructed simply with a few screws or bolts. It’s not the prettiest design but it will surprise you how well it can move the wind turbine when the wind changes direction. If you’ve already added the bolt and pivot center (the design is shown here) to the body you can test it out by simply putting the bolt into a metal rod about a meter long and putting it into the ground. This can also be a help to get the balance of your counterweight just right.
Now let’s look at a more advanced design. This can be a lightweight and more aerodynamic design depending on the material you use and how well you are able to machine it. You can also 3D print this design if you have access to a 3D printer. You can buy and download the drawing file here.
The image below shows the design of the more advanced design for your wind turbine fin. To download a PDF of the design click the button below. You can also get a version of the pdf with dimensions here.
Alright, let us be the first to congratulate you on getting this far. You’ve got the blades and hub of your turbine made and assembled together! Now it’s time to move on to build a wind turbine body for your project.
If you missed out on the first 3 parts you can get them here. And don’t forget to sign up for the 12-week program so you get weekly email instructions. After 3 months you’ll have a free energy producing wind turbine up and running.
OK, so back to how to build a wind turbine body. This part of the wind turbine connects everything together. It holds your blade and hub assembly at the front. The fin and counterweight at the back. And in the middle, it includes the pivot center to allow the turbine to rotate when the wind changes.
We’ll split this post up into 3 parts one for each of the parts and show you how to attach each to your body.
Counter Weight (We’ll cover the fin design in another post)
The blade and hub assembly
First, we’ll discuss what to use for the actual body of the wind turbine and how to design it. Like the hub for attaching the blades, you want this part to be strong. It’ll hold all the parts that will experience the brunt forces of the wind. So we recommend making it out of wood. You can also use metal if you are comfortable with metal work. Although this will make the turbine heavier and harder for the winds to move.
Even a simple 600mm block of wood, like the one shown below, is the perfect simple design to get the job done. It has the generator mounted to the front and the counterweight mounted to the back. In the center, you can see a piece of plumbing equipment with a long bolt screwed into it that acts as the pivot center. Granted it’s not the best-looking design but it’s strong, sturdy in the wind and best of all, dirt cheap.
Blade and hub assembly
Now let’s look at each of the 3 body components separately. We’ll start with the bracket used to mount the generator to the body. Most of the small generator you can buy online come with threaded holes on the outside to make it easy to attach it to things using bolts. Then buying 2 simple L-brackets (one for each side) like the one shown below which can be found in your local hardware store is a great way to attach your generator to your body using bolts or screws.
If you still have to purchase a generator check out this resource list to see the ones we suggest you buy and if you missed how to attach your blades to a hand and then to the generator check out this post on the subject here.
For the pivot center, all you need are two pieces of hardware that you can easily get in your hardware store. Make sure the plumbing valve or joint you buy has a threaded section for the bolt and a wall mounting to attach it to the body. The image below shows the plumbing joint you can use to attach the long bolt to. The bolt can be screwed into it and then be inserted into a pole used to lift the turbine up into the air. We’ll discuss this further in another post.
Finally, you need a counterweight for the back of the body to offset the weight of the blades and stop the body from tipping over. If you have some old weights lying around you can easily bolt these to the top or bottom of the back of the body. We suggest bolting the weights to the bottom of the body to leave room for the fin. An even easier solution to this is to use a bottle of sand or gravel and some water. This can then be cable tied to the back of the body and there you have it your wind turbine body is ready.
Now that you have your blades made, it’s time to build a wind turbine hub. The hub will be used to attach all the blades together so they can be attached to the body. If you haven’t got you blades together check out our blade design post here.
We hope you have got your generator ready to go. If not, don’t worry you can still start this part of the project. First, though check out this free resource list. It’ll show you the best generators you can purchase from Amazon and have it delivered to you by the time you finish constructing the hub. Or you can check out how to build your own generator in our free PDF guide here.
Types of hub design
The conventional design for a wind turbine hub is to have 3 blades. But you can have more than 3 if you want. The more blades there are on a wind turbine, the more torque (rotational force) produced and the slower the rotational speed of the hub, this is because more blades cause increased drag caused by wind flow resistance. Wind turbines used for generating electricity need to operate at high speeds and actually, don’t need a lot of torque. So, the fewer the number of blades, the better suited the system is for producing power.
But wait! Why don’t we see more wind turbines with 1 or 2 blades instead? Well while theoretically, one-bladed wind turbines are the most aerodynamically efficient designs, they are not very practical because they are very unstable at higher speeds. Two-bladed designs are theoretically the next best design. But they are affected by a wobbling during operation. The image below shows the efficiency of different hub designs.
The image above shows that the 3 blade design is the most power efficient design. It’s no surprise that’s why 90% of turbines are designed like this and it’s the design we suggest you use.
Building the hub
The hub of your wind turbine is going to be the easiest part of the build to construct. Although this doesn’t mean it isn’t a crucial component. If this part of your turbine breaks due to the rotational forces acting on it during operation the whole thing can come crashing down. So you will want to get this part right for the sake of the structural integrity of your wind turbine. It can be as basic as a piece of wood, but you will ensure it is a hardwood. One that’s appropriately treated so it can survive outdoors in wind and rain for years.
Your hub needs to hold the 3 blades on one side and connect to the generator on the other side. To do this we suggest you split the hub into two different components; the face and the connector. First, let’s look at the face the design below can be used for the face.
The face is a simple disk design the will have the 3 blades mounted to it. If you’re more comfortable with metal working or have an aluminium disk lying around that’s even better. The figure below shows a simple wooden hub with the 3 blades screwed to it. The wood used was ash which is a common hardwood and a good substitute for aluminium.
And that is pretty much it for the face. All you have to do now is screw or bolt your blades to the circular face and you have the first part. The second part is the hub. This is the part that will attach your blades and face to the shaft of your generator. This is the part that transfers the energy from the wind into your generator which then turns it into electricity.
In the resource list, we showed you a part you can buy on Amazon. It’s a perfect part to use for your hub. Just make sure you buy a hub who’s inner diameter matches that of your generators’ shaft diameter or it won’t work. Again we are an Amazon associate so clicking the link below helps support the website.
It’s a great little hub because it comes with already threaded holes that can be easily and simply bolted to the face. It also comes with an Allen key and bolt kit to mount the hub directly onto the shaft of your generator. Again, just make sure you get one that matched to shaft diameter of your generator.
So there you have it that’s all you need to build a wind turbine hub. Now you can attach your wind turbines to a working hub that you can then attach to your generator. So once you have them all attached, get a volt meter out and hook it up to the output wires of your generator and test out how many volts your turbine can output from just one simple hand spin. You’re not well on your way to creating free electricity. Keep an eye out for next weeks email where we will talk about the body and how to attached your newly made blade and hub part to it.
What is the first thing you notice when you look at a wind turbine? The blades, right? Well, that’s exactly where we’re going to start and build wind turbine blades
There are a number of different orientations of wind turbines we have to consider. Let’s discuss them before we narrow it down to exactly what design would be best for what you need.
Horizontal or Vertical Blades
First, let’s talk about the axis. There are two types of designs for wind turbines. The horizontal axis wind turbine (HAWT) and the vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT). In a HAWT the main axis of the turbine is parallel to the ground. The blades rotate perpendicular to the ground, shown in the picture below. This 3-blade fan-like design that we all know and love dominates the wind turbine industry and can be seen dotted all over the world in wind farms.
A VAWT is an upright design with its blades perpendicular to the ground. This design can be a good option for a small-scale project. To learn more about the two types of wind turbine axis download the deluxe version of the 5 Steps to Building a Backyard Wind Turbine eBook. You’ll get an in-depth look at how you can design the perfect axis for your homemade wind turbine project.
What are Aerofoils?
Wind turbine blades are aerofoil type shapes which slightly resembles a teardrop. This same design helps give airplanes the lift they need to rise up into the sky. Here this design will help you wind turbine cut through the air when the wind blows.
Aerofoil blade designs can be created using a sheet of hardwood. Or from light steel if you have access to a workshop and the proper cutting tools.
However, for those of us who don’t a simple trick is to use some PVC pipe. This is the pipe you can see used commonly for underground water work and sewage piping. You can easily go to your local hardware store and pick up some meter-long off cuts of this type of pipe. If you ask the staff they might even give you some cut off for free!
Now all you have to do is cut the pipe in half and then into quarters using a hand saw. Now you have the perfect lightweight, strong and durable aerofoil blades. The image below shows the desired cutting process for the pipe where it is slightly narrower at one end, so the other end can be easily mounted to the hub.
For the design of your homemade wind turbine blades, a lot of design is trial and error. To get the best blade sweep diameter, lengths and number of blades and we suggest using the design measurements outlined in the figures below, but ultimately the final design will be up to you. Try playing around with our energy and savings calculator to see what blade length works for you.
The wind turbine we made with PVC pipe offcuts. Screwed onto a circular hardwood hub.
Have a look at this PDF drawing of the wind turbine blade we designed in the PDF below:
So that’s it now you have all the tools you need to go out and build your own wind turbine blades. The first step to getting your wind turbine blades built. Next up is the Hub, so look out for help with this in the next email.
Here we will look into the cost of investment of a backyard wind turbine. First, we’ll look at what you’ll pay for a professional to come and install a wind turbine into your backyard or what you would pay for one on Amazon.
Professionally installed turbine
So the cost of investment of a backyard wind turbine professionally built in your backyard depends on what kind of wind turbine you want for your home. A quick google search shows that a 10 kW turbine can coat as much as $40,000 (£23,000) which is a huge investment. This type of turbine can produce up to 5,000 dollars/pounds depending on your cost of electricity. This means it would take at least 8 years just to pay off that initial investment*. This is usually a better idea for small businesses looking to take advantage of government incentives.
Online purchased turbine
Let’s look at the price of another option. So you can go less professional and use Amazon to buy all the parts you need to build your back yard wind turbine. One of the better wind turbines available on Amazon (shown below) will set you back about $3500. This will only get you the blades, a generator, a body and fin and charge controller. You’ll need to source a good tower, a couple of batteries and all the other electronics outline in our resource list page. Altogether you are likely to spend anywhere from 5000 to 9000 dollars going down this route to get it all set up and working. This turbine has only a third of the power of the professional one. Again we can calculate that it would create about 1300 dollars/pounds a year and take you 4-7 years to pay off.
We are an Amazon associate so buying a turbine using the below link would help us out but what we really want to do is show you all your options and let you know how long it would take to pay each of them off. By all means, go on ahead and buy the turbine below.
It’s a great product and can produce enough electricity to drastically reduce your electricity bill each year but check out the next section to see your third option.
Lastly, let’s look at the cost of building your own backyard turbine. In our free to download eBook: 5 steps to a backyard wind turbine, we outline the total cost of building a backyard wind turbine from scratch. (We also show you how to build it so check that out if you haven’t already). The table below shows the parts, where you can source them and how much they cost.
So for less than $300 you can get your wind turbine up and running. Now you will have to put the turbine up on a tower which again you can source online. Or build your own as we outline in the eBook. Building a turbine like this means your power output will depend on the generator you buy so we’ll look at two options using the Renewable Energy Methods Savings Calculator to see what we can save.
Let’s assume you go with the above chart buy a 100 Watt generator for around $20. Using the calculator we find out that this turbine will create $65 of electricity a year. With your investment of just $280, it’ll take you 4 years to pay off. Now, what about going for a better motor? You can get a good 500 Watt generator on Amazon for about $250, effectively doubling your investment. With this generator, the calculators find you can produce $240 per year. So an investment of $530 would take just over 2 years to pay off.
So this suggests for a backyard wind turbine it’s worth investing in the bigger generator. But even the smaller investment can save you a lot of money in the long term.
*Assuming the cost of electricity is 0.20 dollars/pounds
Let’s talk about home wind turbines and the grid. You’re probably here because you’re thinking about generating your own electricity, and home wind power has crossed your mind. Great! We here at Renewable Energy Methods would love to help. After all, who really wants to pay more on their utility bill than they have to? Small wind energy is renewable, non-polluting, and, in the right circumstances, can save you money.
Is wind power for you?
So is home wind power the right choice for you? The answer may surprise you because living in a windy area is not necessarily the most important factor. If you want to go off-grid and produce your own electricity, you almost certainly want to consider installing a home wind turbine. Even if your location is not overly windy.
If you want a wind turbine to realistically pay off your investment, you really need to live on at least an acre. Living in a rural area helps. If you’re in a residential neighborhood, you’re could run into conflicts with zoning permissions or neighbors. Saying that even if you have a modest garden a wind turbine can still reduce your electricity bill quite significantly. You want to ensure that if your neighbors live close they are OK with the noise and sight of your turbine. Maybe you could show them the benefits of one and get them to join the renewable energy revolution too!
There are guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guide to Small Wind Electric Systems, a free publication for homeowners available at the link below. It’s a great read even if you live outside the U.S. It gives you some great information on how to make your home more efficient. Installation and maintenance costs of a wind turbine and connecting to the grid are also included.
Renewable energy experts often recommend installing hybrid wind and solar energy systems for off-grid living. These systems work well because wind and solar energy tend to be most available at different times. If your main goal is energy self-sufficiency, you may want to be off the grid. You can do this by hooking your wind and solar power up to a simple battery system. Then use a battery inverter to tap this electricity straight into your home.
Connecting to the grid
But if you want to produce your own residential wind power, a grid-connected system can make a lot of sense. With this setup, on days when there is plenty of wind and your wind turbine produces more power than your home needs. That power then goes onto the local utility grid. When you need more power than you’re generating, you draw power from the grid as you normally would. Grid-connected systems are often cheaper. Because, without the responsibility of producing all of your own electricity, you can install a smaller, less expensive system. You can also go for a system that doesn’t use the battery pack and backup generator. So that means if you consistently generate more electricity than you need, you can actually get cash back from your electricity supplier. Turning your wind turbine into another form of cash flow for your home.
Let’s look at an example. Say you install a 5-kilowatt turbine for your home. You can expect to produce on average about 5000-kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year. This is about half of the average energy consumption of a U.S. household per year. Now if you install a couple of solar panels that produce another 5000 kWh a year you can cover your electricity costs for the year.
On top of this is you invest in home energy efficiency reducing your household energy consumption by 25-50%. Your house will require less energy than the average household. All of a sudden you’re producing more energy than you use. That equals profit once you pay off the initial investment. You can overproduce by 2500-5000 kWh a year resulting in hundreds of dollars/euro/pounds back in cash depending on your price of electricity.
Exactly how this relationship with the utility works depends on local regulations. Most grids have net metering regulations that help make grid connection a good deal for homeowners. Essentially, when you take electricity from your utility provider, your meter runs forward. When you put excess electricity into the grid, it runs backward. Pretty simple! Now just think of what you can do with all that extra cash if you get your electricity meter running backward.
Not sure where to start? Go to our top 5 free resources page to get you on your way to another cash flow for your home.