Closeup on the motor and blades of a small wind turbine

Small wind turbines used to be the domain of eco-warriors and off-the-grid hippies, but not anymore. Today, they’re becoming more popular as people look for ways to save money on their energy bills and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

But are they affordable?

This article will explore the cost of small wind turbines and whether or not they are affordable for the average American family. We will also look at the savings homeowners can achieve by using a small wind turbine and how this compares to the cost of traditional energy sources such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy.

Are Small Home Wind Turbines Affordable?

Small wind turbines are not exactly affordable. They cost approximately $3,000-$8,000 per kilowatt of capacity. Since the average US home needs a five-kilowatt turbine to meet its energy needs, you would need to spend at least $12,000 (with incentives) on a small wind turbine.

What Are Small Wind Turbines, and What Do They Do?

You can think of small wind turbines as mini versions of the giant wind turbines you see in fields and mountains. They both work on the same principle of capturing the wind’s kinetic energy and converting it into electric current.

The main difference between small and large wind turbines is their size and capacity.

Large wind turbines have a blade diameter of around 400 feet (122 meters) and can generate up to eight megawatts of electricity. Small wind turbines have a blade diameter of about five feet (1.5 meters) and can generate up to 10 kilowatts of electricity.

Another difference between small and large wind turbines is that the small ones are designed for urban and suburban areas, whereas the big daddies are designed for use in rural areas.

This designation is because small turbines need to be close to the buildings they are powering, and large turbines need to be in open spaces with a lot of wind.

A mountain peak with several wind turbines installed

Most people who use small wind turbines are looking to generate all or most of their electricity from renewable sources. This is because renewable energy is more environmentally friendly than traditional forms of energy such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear.

The idea is to generate at least half of your electricity from renewable sources and then use traditional forms of energy to make up the rest. This tandem is known as a “hybrid system.”

How Much Do Small Wind Turbines Cost?

The cost of small wind turbines can vary depending on the size and capacity of the turbine. For example, units with a one-kilowatt capacity can cost as little as $3,000, while turbines with a 10-kilowatt capacity can be as much as $80,000.

Let’s look at an example:

My uncle’s farm uses a lot of electricity. They have a lot of appliances and farm equipment, and he also uses well water to run the farm (think powerful water pumps). His monthly electricity bill is around $1,000.

If my uncle wanted to generate all of his electricity from renewable sources, he would need to install a small wind turbine with at least 10 kilowatts. This investment would cost him around $30,000 for the cheapest turbines before incentives.

a house roof with solar panels on it, and a small wind turbine at the top

While this may seem like a lot of money, it is essential to remember that the cost of traditional forms of energy is also rising. For example, the price of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power is expected to increase in the coming years. This development means the cost of renewable energy will make more sense as time goes on.

How Much Money Can You Save With a Small Wind Turbine?

The average household can save around $100 per month by switching to renewable energy. This figure adds up to about $1,200 per year, meaning the average family can save approximately $12,000 over ten years.

The payback period for a small wind turbine is between ten and 15 years, meaning it will take around that long for the savings to equal the initial cost of the turbine. After this point, you will be saving money every month.

So, if we take our example from before, my uncle would save around $10,000 per year by switching to renewable energy. Thus, it would take him just over three years to recoup his initial investment.

$10,000 per year is a lot of money. You could use it to pay your debt, save for retirement, or invest in other things.

Are Small Wind Turbines Worth It?

Small wind turbines are worth it if you want to save money on your electricity bill and do your part to protect the environment. They are also a good investment, as they will eventually pay for themselves.

If you’re considering installing a small wind turbine, be sure to do your research. There are many types of turbines, and not all are right for every situation. You will also need to consider the cost of installation and maintenance.

Horizontal axis and vertical axis are the most common types of wind turbines. But the horizontal axis is the most efficient of the two. 

The top of a vertical-axis small wind turbine
Vertical axis small wind turbines like this one are less common than horizontal axis turbines.

Of course, there are also a variety of sizes to choose from. The size of the turbine you need will depend on your electricity requirements. For example, a one-kilowatt turbine can generate around 24 kilowatt-hours daily, while a 10-kilowatt turbine can generate about 200 kilowatt-hours.

Let’s say you finance a 5-kilowatt turbine for $13,000 after incentives.

Your payback period would be ten years. So by year 11, you’d have a net savings of $1,200. After 20 years, you’d have saved $12,000, and after 30, you could have saved over $24,000.

So, small wind turbines are an excellent investment for those looking to save money long-term and do their part to protect the environment.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Small Wind Turbine

Now that we’ve looked at the cost of small wind turbines let’s look at the pros and cons of owning one.

Pros

  • You save money – when you generate your own electricity, you’re less reliant on the grid and can save money on your energy bill.
  • You help the environment – wind energy is a renewable resource, so using it reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and helps to combat climate change.
  • Efficient use of land – a single wind turbine can generate a lot of electricity, so they take up less space than other renewable energy sources like solar panels.
  • Wind power creates jobs – the wind industry employs thousands of people in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance.

Cons

  • Upfront costs can be high – the initial investment can be expensive, although many financing options are available.
  • Wind turbines require regular maintenance – like any other machine, you must regularly maintain them to keep running smoothly. Unfortunately, routine servicing can add to the cost of ownership.
  • Not suitable for everyone – wind turbines are most effective in areas with high wind speeds. If you live in a region with little or no wind, a wind turbine probably isn’t the right renewable energy source for you.

Overall, small wind turbines are a great way to generate electricity and save money, but they’re not suitable for everyone. If you’re considering investing in a small wind turbine, firts do your research to see if it’s the right choice for you.

How To Choose the Best Wind Turbine for Your Home

There are many different factors to consider when choosing a small wind turbine. The first is your energy needs. How much electricity do you use? Do you want to offset all of your usage or just a portion of it?

Other variables to consider include:

  • The wind resource – wind speeds can vary tremendously from one location to another. Contacting your local weather station is the best way to find out the wind speed in your area.
  • Height of the turbine – the taller the turbine, the more electricity it will generate. But taller turbines also cost more to install and require a stronger foundation.
The Nature Power Wind Turbine Generator in front of a lodge in the Alps with mountain peaks in back
  • Type of turbine – the most common type is the horizontal axis turbine, which is more efficient than the vertical axis.
  • Turbine size – the size you need will depend on your energy needs. A one-kilowatt turbine can generate around 24 kilowatt-hours daily, while a 10-kilowatt turbine can generate about 200 kilowatt-hours.
  • Cost of the turbine – this is a significant consideration. Small wind turbines can range in price from $3,000-$10,000.

Once you get all your specs in line, the next step is to find a reputable dealer or installer. Again, be sure to get references and read online reviews before making your final decision.

The Best Places to Install Turbines

If you’ve decided that a small wind turbine is suitable for your home, the next step is to figure out where to put it.

The best location for your turbine will have the following characteristics:

  • High ground – turbines work best when they’re high above the ground, with less turbulence.
  • Zero obstruction – the turbine needs to be in an open area with no trees or buildings blocking the wind.
  • Proximity to the grid – your turbine should be near your home or business so that it’s easy to connect it to the electrical grid.
  • Distance from structures – the turbine should be at least 30 feet (nine meters) from any buildings to avoid noise and vibration issues.

The best way to find the perfect location for your turbine is to contact a professional installer. They will be able to assess your property and help you find the ideal spot for your turbine. 

However, it is also possible to mount a vertical axis turbine on a residential rooftop. This application can be a great way to maximize the power output of your turbine while still keeping it close to your home.

Small wind turbines atop a roof

These turbines are less common but will become more popular as technology improves.

The Best Wind Turbine Brands

This post wouldn’t be complete without a list of some top small wind turbine brands.

Here are some of the most popular brands on the market:

Bergey Windpower

Bergey is one of the leading manufacturers of small wind turbines. The company offers various models to suit different needs, from one to 10-kilowatt turbines. We particularly like the wind data logger, which lets you monitor your unit’s performance.

Pinnacle Power

Pinnacle Power is another reliable small wind turbine manufacturer. It offers various models, including horizontal and vertical axis turbines, and its products are some of the most affordable in the market. That makes them an excellent option for budget-conscious buyers.

Vestas

Vestas is a leading manufacturer of both large and small wind turbines. The company offers a wide range of models, including the V150-1.8 MW, one of the most powerful turbines on the market.

Plus, its turbines are backed by a strong warranty, making them an ideal option for buyers who want peace of mind.

Siemens Gamesa

Siemens Gamesa is one of the top small home wind turbine manufacturers. It made a name for itself in the late 1970s as a pioneer in developing turbine technology.

And the company is one of the few manufacturers that continue to produce small home wind turbines. It is headquartered in Germany but has manufacturing plants worldwide.

Final Thoughts

The average cost of a small wind turbine is between $2,000-$50,000. Of course, the precise expenditure will depend on the size and power output of the turbine. But with prices like these, small wind turbines are an affordable option for many homeowners.

Contact a professional installer if you’re considering a small wind turbine for your home. They will be able to assess your property and help you find the ideal spot for your turbine. And they can also help you choose the best model for your needs.

Best of luck!

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