A small wind turbine in a field with clouds and blue sky in the background

With gas prices rising, renewable energy is becoming increasingly important. Wind power is one of the most cost-effective options for renewable energy sources.

However, before you go out and buy a wind turbine, you need to know if the wind is strong enough where you live for wind energy to be helpful or a hindrance.

This article will go into depth about the required wind speeds for small wind turbines and discuss a few popular wind turbines and their required wind speeds to generate power.

How Fast Must the Wind Blow For a Small Wind Turbine to Operate?

The wind must blow at a minimum of 9 mph (4 m/s) for a small wind turbine to function. Generally, the minimum wind speed required for a wind turbine to generate electricity is between 5.6 and 10 mph (2.5 and 4.5 m/s).

Continue reading for an overview on small wind turbines, a more in-depth examination of average wind speed requirements, and what to do if you want a small wind turbine and live in an area typically with less than nine mph winds (4 m/s).

The Average Wind Speed Requirements for Small Wind Turbines

Knowing your area’s wind speed is essential before buying a small wind turbine. Knowing the annual wind speed will help you both determine whether or not a turbine is worth buying and which turbine is best to buy.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, small wind turbines require at least nine mph (4 m/s) wind speeds. The cut-in wind speed, or the speed at which a wind turbine begins to generate electricity, is between 5.6 and 10 mph (2.5-4.5 m/s). 

Other rates you might need to consider are the cut-off wind speed, the speed at which the wind turbine stops generating electricity, and the survival wind speed, which is the absolute fastest the wind can blow without damaging the turbine.

You can also consider a small wind turbine’s rated wind speed, which is the wind speed at which the turbine can generate the maximum energy output.

What Are Small Wind Turbines?

Small wind turbines are turbines with a typical power of between 400 watts and 20 kilowatts (kW). These turbines can power homes and small buildings either in addition to or instead of an electrical grid.

When deciding if you want to buy a small wind turbine, you need to consider much more than just the average annual wind speed of your area. Location is critical when it comes to utilizing wind energy.

Suppose you live in an area with a lot of obstructions. In that case, your wind turbine might not receive the amount of wind or speed necessary for enough electricity to make a difference. 

The best areas to put your wind turbine are on the tops of hills, near clear plains, by a water source, and in the crevices of valleys. These areas all have excellent access to wind, helping your turbine generate the most power possible.

The Nature Power Wind Turbine Generator in front of a lodge in the Alps with mountain peaks in back

Popular Small Wind Turbines 

There are numerous different wind turbine models and brands out there, and choosing the best one depends on many factors, including:

  • What you will be using the small wind turbine for
  • Whether or not it will be connected to the electric grid
  • How much power you need to generate
  • Where you live

The US Department of Energy states that the average home uses about 10,649 kilowatt-hours (kWh)/year, or around 877 kWh/month. 

Suppose you are getting your small wind turbine to live off-grid or not in conjunction with the electric grid. In that case, you need a higher-powered turbine since you will have no backup source of electricity. 

Since so many factors go into deciding on a small wind turbine, let’s look at some of the best models for residences and discuss their best applications. 

Aeolos-H 500W Wind Turbine

Aeolos-H 500W Wind Turbine is a terrific 500W small wind turbine. Aeolos is a well-known and well-respected wind turbine brand, so you know you’ll get reliability.

Promo photo of the Aeolos-H 500W Wind Turbine
Courtesy of Aeolos

This 500W wind turbine has a permanent magnet generator with an efficiency of 96%. Using it alongside the electric grid is best because it is a lower-powered turbine. For that reason, this turbine is best for home lighting and street light projects.

Here are the cut-in, rated, and survival wind speeds for the Aeolos-H 500W:

  • Cut-in wind speed: 5.6 mph (2.5 m/s)
  • Rated wind speed: 26.8 mph (12 m/s)
  • Survival wind speed: 100.7 mph (45 m/s)

Windspire 1kW Vertical Axis Wind Turbine

Windspire 1kW Vertical Axis Wind Turbine is an excellent 1kW small wind turbine. It is a vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT). Instead of looking like a propeller, like a horizontal-axis turbine (HAWT), it looks like vertical rods rotating around a post. 

The top of a vertical-axis small wind turbine
An example of a vertical-axis wind turbine

VAWTs are a great choice if you don’t want to rearrange your wind turbine every time the wind direction changes, as wind flow from any direction can generate electricity. These turbines are often shorter than HAWTs, so maintenance may be more straightforward.

Here are the cut-in, cut-out, and survival wind speeds for the Windspire 1kW Vertical Axis Wind Turbine:

  • Cut-in wind speed: 8 mph (3.6 m/s)
  • Cut-out wind speed: 35 mph (15.6 m/s)
  • Survival wind speed: 110 mph (49.2 m/s)

Bornay Wind 25.3+

Bornay Wind 25.3+ is a fantastic 5kW wind turbine. When working at a 42% capacity factor, the average capacity factor for most wind turbines, 5kW turbines can generate about 18,393 kWh annually, or 1,533 kWh a month. 

Promo photo for the Bornay Wind 25.3+ small wind tubine against a gray and white gradient
Courtesy of TeknoSolar

This turbine offers more power than the average home consumes, so you can use a Bornay Wind 25.3+ as your sole source of electricity if you live in a suitable area with the proper wind speeds. You can also use this turbine to pump your water or for telecommunications.

Here are the cut-in, rated, cut-out, and survival wind speeds for the Bornay Wind 25.3+:

  • Cut-in wind speed: 4.5 mph (2 m/s)
  • Rated wind speed: 26.8 mph (12 m/s)
  • Cut-out wind speed: 67.1 mph (30 m/s)
  • Survival wind speed: 134.2 mph (60 m/s)

Ryse E-10 HAWT

The Ryse E-10 HAWT is a fantastic 10kW small wind turbine. It is incredibly safe and reliable and can potentially displace greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 60 acres of forest annually. 

Closeup on the motor and blades of the Ryse E-10 HAWT small wind turbine
Courtesy of Ryse Energy

This turbine is also incredibly quiet, ranging from 46 decibels at 196.9 feet (60 meters) to 33 decibels at 590.6 feet (180 meters). For reference, according to the American Academy of Audiology, 30 decibels is equivalent to a whisper, and 50 decibels is equal to moderate rainfall.

Here are the cut-in, rated, cut-out, and survival wind speeds for the Ryse E-10 HAWT:

  • Cut-in wind speed: 4.5 mph (2 m/s)
  • Rated wind speed: 20.1 mph (9 m/s)
  • Cut-out wind speed: 67.1 mph (30 m/s)
  • Survival wind speed: 156.6 mph (70 m/s)

What To Do For an Area That Doesn’t Get Enough Wind

As said, annual average wind speed is essential when deciding if you want to buy a small wind turbine or not. If you live in an area that doesn’t get the average wind speed, there isn’t much of a point in spending a considerable amount of money on a wind turbine.

Still, suppose your household, or wherever you want to set up a turbine, doesn’t get the necessary minimum average annual wind speed. In that case, you can consider getting a hybrid solar and wind power system.

Use a Hybrid Solar/Wind Power System

Average wind speeds vary with the seasons, with it being windier in autumn and winter compared to summer and spring. Conversely, solar power is best in the summer and spring rather than winter or autumn. Therefore, a hybrid solar/wind power system may be advantageous.

During the darker seasons, where there is little sun but more wind, your wind turbine can be the primary energy source. On the other hand, when it is sunnier and less windy, your solar panels can be the primary energy source.

To sum it up, a hybrid solar/wind power system is terrific when you don’t get enough wind for a small wind turbine to be useful or have good consistent power all year round.

Conclusion

Before buying a small wind turbine, check if your area has a high enough average annual wind speed. If your location does not get the wind speeds best for small wind turbines, it is not ideal to buy a wind turbine.

The minimum average annual wind speed for a small wind turbine is nine mph (4 m/s). Most small wind turbines begin to generate electricity between 5.6 to 10 mph (2.5 to 4.5 m/s).

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