A small wind turbine rotor with ominous clouds in back

Small home wind turbines are a good alternative for saving money on power, living off the grid, or living in the suburbs. More and more households are beginning to use this energy-efficient, eco-friendly energy source.

If you’re considering investing in this renewable technology to generate power for your home, you may be wondering about the typical lifespan of a small wind turbine.

This article will examine the factors that affect a small wind turbine’s lifespan, why they fail, and how to extend their lifespan. So, to learn more about small wind turbines, keep reading.

How Long Do Small Home Wind Turbines Last?

Small home wind turbines last for about 20 years. However, if the environmental factors that affect their lifespan are addressed, and proper maintenance methods are followed, you can expect a 25-year lifespan.

Factors Affecting a Small Wind Turbine’s Lifespan

The load and stress put on the structure by the wind determine the lifespan of a small wind turbine. However, if the turbine loses efficiency and needs to be replaced or discarded, the lifespan might be shortened.

Here are the factors affecting a small wind turbine’s efficiency and lifespan. 

Wind Speed

Wind speed determines the amount of electricity produced by the turbine. It also affects how long they can last. The stronger the winds, the more stress is placed on the rotating blades as they rotate to generate more electrical and mechanical power. 

Most home turbines operate in a specified range of wind speeds known as cut-in and cut-out speeds. The cut-in speed is the safe point where the turbine can generate power and reach its maximum output despite the wind speed. However, when the cut-out speed is reached, the turbine needs to be shut down to avoid damage to the equipment.

Here’s a news article and video of how high winds in North Dakota caused wind turbines to shut down.

Location

It would be best to protect your wind turbine from strong winds that disrupt trees or tall buildings. While it needs wind to function, very high winds can blow a small home turbine off its structure, inflicting damage and shortening its lifespan.

Some tips to follow when determining your turbine’s location include:

  • Placing it on the windy side of your home to have more prevailing winds hit it.
  • Ensuring the turbine is 30 feet (9.14 meters) above anything and that nothing is within 300 feet (91.4 meters).
  • Checking any loosened bolts or other electrical or structural connections.
  • Finding a spot where it doesn’t cause too much noise disturbance to you or your neighbors because you’ll be forced to bring it down. 

Pro Tip: Always ensure you’re working with a small wind turbine that meets safety standards and has been tested and certified for use in homes.

Here’s a brief YouTube video from Residential Home Wind Turbine of small wind turbines being installed on a roof to supply steady power for the years ahead:

Screenshot of a Residential Home Wind Turbine video on small wind turbine repairs
Courtesy of Residential Home Wind Turbine

Turbine Design

The design also plays a significant role in determining how long it will last. Turbines with larger blades require more significant space and higher wind speeds to work than those with smaller blades

Additionally, those with large blades are more vulnerable to damage than those with small blades.

Fire

Because your home wind turbine is typically mounted above the roof or off the ground, it is prone to catching fire, particularly when struck by lightning. A turbine can be entirely consumed by fire, and no amount of repair will bring it back to life.

Similarly, the turbine’s rotor and other mechanical failures can produce heat, leading it to catch fire and be consumed. To avoid breakdowns and extend the life of your home wind turbine, have it checked at least twice a year. 

Typical Warranty Period for Small Wind Turbines

The warranty on small wind turbines will vary a bit. As with any industry, the manufacturers try to strike a balance between quality, support, longevity, useful life, and of course their own profitability. They want to sell as many units as possible as to satisfy the buyer’s expectation of useful product life, while also not replacing units on their own dime ongoing.

When looking at the most popular wind turbines for sale around the internet, the average warranty period is around five to six years.

Other Factors Affecting Your Wind Turbine’s Lifespan

The factors mentioned above are the key ones that can influence the lifespan of your home wind turbines. However, there are a few other factors that could compromise it.

  • Extreme weather conditions – in addition to high winds, heavy rains or snow can cause your small wind turbine to fail and limit its lifespan.
  • Air density – your turbine needs dense air to produce a higher power output. However, thick air puts a lot of pressure on the rotors, which might cause them to fail and require replacement or repair. 
Two small wind turbine rotors pictured next to each other with ominous clouds in back

Reasons for Small Home Wind Turbine Failure

Depending on whether you have a rooftop or standalone home turbine, there have been cases of turbine failure that have shortened their lifespan. The most significant incidents that limit the lifespan of a residential wind turbine involve external or internal failures.

External Wind Turbine Failures

To avoid external wind turbine failures, ensure your small wind turbine is adequately cared for and maintained, including sheltering it from rough weather. Some factors that can limit its lifespan include:

  • Bird strikes
  • Intense rainfalls
  • Blade cracks or corrosion
  • Lightning strikes
  • Very high winds

So, it’s advisable to have it checked and serviced by a professional, especially after severe weather, to ensure that it lasts as long as possible.

Caveat: External problems are challenging to repair, which might shorten the lifespan of your turbine.

Internal Wind Turbine Failures

These issues are categorized as electrical and mechanical failures.

Electrical Failures 

These are the most common ones caused by the temperature and humidity in the area where your home turbine is located.

When water or cold air enters the turbine, it can induce a short circuit, causing the converter to fail. As a result, electrical failures are costly, but if the problem is minor, a professional may quickly repair the turbine, and it will be up and running again.

Looking up from the ground at a small wind turbine and a worker with a clipboard about to perform maintenance

Mechanical Failures 

On the other hand, mechanical failures have a long-term impact. Fortunately, they are less common, primarily if you regularly service your small wind turbine.

Mechanical failures are further divided into the following categories:

  • Blade failure – rotor blades mostly break down over time due to heavy winds. Furthermore, the larger the blade, the more pressure it exerts on the turbine’s structure and other components.
  • Generator failure – the generator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. Unfortunately, the generator can lose its potency with time, especially if it is not sufficiently serviced.
    If a generator fails, the turbine will be unable to generate power, ending its life. Fortunately, it may be fixed or replaced to restore the turbine.
  • Gearbox failure – gearboxes are built to withstand extreme operating conditions. When a gearbox fails, it usually happens after the turbine has reached the end of its useful life.

Can You Extend a Small Home Wind Turbine’s Life?

Even though most modest residential wind turbines endure roughly 20 years, there is a chance to extend their lifespan by another 5-10 years. How is that possible?

You can extend the life of your small wind turbine to roughly 25 to 30 years through timely and proper maintenance, such as life extension, monitoring the weak signs, protecting it from lousy weather, and structural monitoring.  

Final Thoughts

Small wind turbines are a viable alternative to costly electricity in our homes and afford several benefits, including:

  • A renewable energy source so that it won’t run out.
  • They’re affordable when compared to electricity.
  • Eco-friendliness because they don’t cause pollution.

That is why so many homes have installed them to reap the benefits.

Keep in mind that a small wind turbine can last for about 20 years. However, you can prolong its lifespan to roughly 25 to 30 years with regular maintenance and monitoring.

Sources

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