Small wind turbines (usually producing less than 10 kilowatts of electricity) can be used to generate electricity for a home or small business. A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts -- the amount of electricity that can illuminate ten 100-watt light bulbs.
Point to and then CLICK on the WIND button to see how the wind turbine provides power to a home. Excess power that is not needed goes back to the power grid. Now click on then hold the button that says NO WIND.
Local ordinances and zoning and building codes should first be investigated before considering buying a small wind turbine.
The smaller turbines today are fairly efficient, producing electricity in winds as low as 7 to 10 mph. They are also fairly quiet. The wind system usually generates power at the same voltage that your home uses, so the turbine can be wired directly to the home or business' electrical system like an appliance.
When the wind is blowing, the turbine provides power for the home. When it is not blowing, the utility company provides the power. Sometimes both sources provide power for the home. If your home is using less electricity than what the wind turbine is making, your electrical meter may actually "turn backwards." This is called "net metering."
A typical 10 kilowatt home wind turbine system will cost $25,000 - $35,000 to install. Depending on the amount of wind available, it will produce between 10,000 to 18,000 kilowatt/hours (kWh) per year. Such a turbine has a blade diameter of about 20-25 feet and needs to sit on a tower about 100 feet tall. Homes sitting on a one acre parcel could probably accommodate such a turbine, depending on local zoning restrictions.
Incentives are being offered to homeowners and small businesses to help purchase wind turbine systems. In California, incentives from the Emerging Renewables Rebate Program can help reduce the cost of a grid-connected wind system.
For information on how to buy a small wind electric system please download the "Buying a Small Wind Electric System: A California Consumer's Guide", (February 2002, Adobe Acrobat PDF file, 20 pages, 133 kilobytes).
Also visit the American Wind Energy Association for information about small wind energy systems.