The short answer... maybe.

Turns out that a home wind generator can provide a homeowner with a real-world alternative to electricity purchased off the grid. Or at least a portion thereof. But there are conditions upon which that practicality hinges. What Makes A Home Wind Generator Practical?

Must Have Wind

First and foremost, the homeowner needs a reliable source of wind, and enough of it. The Department of Energy suggests that a homeowner needs a location with winds clocking in at an annual wind speeds of 9.8 to 11.5 mph. You can get an idea of wind speeds in your general area by consulting a wind resource map. The DOE, among other entities, publish such maps by region.

Need Clearance Around Wind Turbine

Clearance comes in second. Your region might have a qualifying wind speed, but all that is negated if you don't have clearance on your property to be able to access that wind. You need to be able to get a turbine 30 feet above wind obstructions like trees, buildings, etc. to avoid turbulence that can reduce energy efficiency and even damage the turbine. Most experts recommend at least an acre of land. In some cases, zoning may require it.

Legal and Zoning

Speaking of zoning, local zoning codes need to allow for home wind generators. One common fight: tower height. And while local zoning departments have discretion when it comes to issuing waivers for small wind turbines, nothing is a given. Contact your local zoning office early in the planning stage.

High Utility Bills

Your monthly electric bills need to be relatively significant. If you're paying the local utility $150 a month or more for electricity, a home wind generator could save you money - provided the above conditions are also met. Why so much? Because a home wind generator represents a sizable up-front investment. The payback on that investment hinges on the contribution it can make every month to your electricity needs. The greater your needs, the greater the contribution, the shorter the payback period and the sooner the system can begin delivering energy at a cost of zero or near zero.

By contrast, if a homeowner uses very little electricity, the monthly contribution of such a system would be minimal and payback much longer. Indeed, there is a point at which payback is so long that it matches the functional life of the system, and no real savings is ever generated. Hence, $150 a month is a rule of thumb to ensure some level of cost savings over the life of a wind generator.

Comfortable With The Long-Term Investments

Last but not least, you need to be comfortable living with long-term investments. As is hinted by the example above, payback is measured in years.

About the Author

Writing for the website, author David Alan Carter offers up a more detailed guide to home wind generators, and compares residential solar energy to home wind power.

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Filed under: Wind Power Articles

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