Not blowing in the wind

A recent article in Slate should be read by anyone considering installing a residential size, tower-mounted wind turbine at their home in a suburban or urban location.  For despite the sometimes generous government and utility incentives being offered for the installation of residential wind turbines, you’d still want the turbine to produce a reasonable amount of electricity.

But finding a good location for a wind turbine on a residential lot in a suburban or urban area where the wind blows hard and consistently enough for a wind turbine to work at or near optimum most of the time can be difficult – if not impossible.

Trees, tall shrubs and houses slow the wind and increase turbulence, which reduces turbine output and increases potential maintenance costs and down time.  Zoning restrictions on tower heights prevent wind turbine towers from being tall enough in many suburban and urban areas to take advantage of the stronger and more consistent winds higher up. 

Even though, as noted in the Slate article, the American Wind Energy Association estimates that 13 million American homes – about 11% of all residences – are suitable for a tower mounted turbine, most homes are not viable locations for a wind turbine.  You need to have your residence evaluated by a reputable wind turbine installer before you make the decision to buy a turbine.

As has been stated on this website before, unless you live in a steel-framed or concrete house, do NOT even think about installing a wind turbine on your roof.

Sure, even in the worst location, the wind turbine will produce at least some electricity.  But it may not produce much.  And the whole point of buying a wind turbine (or solar panels) is to produce electricity.  You don’t want to end up with a pricey piece of yard art.  I’m certainly not advocating against the installation of residential wind turbines.  Just do your homework, first.

About the Author

Mark H. Witte is a strong proponent for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and believes individuals should have more control over how the energy for their homes is produced.