In the past, home wind turbines were limited. Now there seems to be a ton of them out there which can make finding the best one a bit overwhelming. Let’s start by considering what you need to be thinking about when weighing the pros and cons of any small turbine and then talk about some options in the 300 watt-3000 watt range.
- Cut In Speed
All turbines have a minimal speed at which they will start making power. The lower the speed the better but you may have to pay for that. If the cut in speed is higher than the average steady winds in your area then you don’t want it.
People purchasing wind turbines that do not have an appropriate cut in speed for their area is one of the biggest reasons why they are dissatisfied with their puchase.
How big of a turbine can you support in the space you want to put it? You may very well have room for several smaller turbines rather than a single large one. Evaluate your space first and then find a turbine that can meet your needs.
- Power generation rating
How much power do you really want to produce? There are small turbines that are rated to 400 watts while larger ones can be 1500 watts or more. Usually the higher the watt rating the more the turbine will cost but this is not always the case.
The type of materials and special features on the turbine can drastically effect how much you are paying per watt of energy produced.
- Special features
Some turbines have a safety cut off that can prevent damage if winds become to gusty or fast. This can save your main prop. This is an important feature to have.
I know that where I live there has been plenty of turbines that have fell victim to very high winds and storms. This is one of the reasons you see very little wind power and a lot of solar in western North Carolina.
- Accessories Needed
Some turbines have more of the extras you need than others. If you are adding to an existing renewable energy system you may not need some of this equipment and be able to save some money.
However if you are just starting out and need everything, a bundle deal is often a better value and helps to ensure you have components that work well together. Read descriptions carefully so you know what is actually included with your turbine.
Quick Note On Reviews
I am going to show you some small wind turbines that I think are worthy of consideration for small scale home use. I do want to take a minute to explain one thing I have noticed about reviews of turbines. The fact is that people tend to either love them or strongly dislike them.
Due to the nature of wind power, choice of site, and all the other factors, customers often blame the turbine for the overall failure of the project regardless of the factors of their site.
This means when reading reviews you really need to consider the details customers write about and not so much the customers that just say something is junk because they didn’t get it to work the way they wanted. This is really not helpful info and you see it a lot with wind power comments.
This turbine is made to withstand constant use under marine conditions. This means that it is made of very high quality components that will stand the test of time. You can use this turbine to generate power on a boat. A 5.6 mph cut in speed means you start making power with a light wind. The maximum power generation of 400 watts is achieved with wind speeds of 28 mph.
At 17 lbs and about 46 inches in diameter when assembled, this entire turbine can be transported and installed by one person if needed. Customers recommend using a 1.5 inch rigid aluminum pole for mounting with some also grounding the turbine to protect it against lightning damage.
The Mophorn Turbine offers afford ability and a reasonable size for small wind production. The 6 blade design allows for quieter operation so if you are in a neighborhood or anywhere that noise is a big concern then you could run this turbine where others may cause some complaints. The cut in speed for this turbine is higher than some, at 9 mph so this is definitely best for an area that has some fairly steady moderate winds.
The turbine is made to resist the effects of salt water so those near the ocean can rest assured that this turbine can stand up to the climate. The built in automatic or manual breaking system protects your turbine from damage during periods of gusty or very high winds. This would be a great addition for those that have some solar power and want to add a small turbine to increase there renewable energy options.
Popsport Wind Generator 400W Hybrid Wind Turbine Generator DC 12V/24V Turbine Wind Generator 3 Blades
The Pop Sport turbine has 3 blades and a low cut in speed of about 5.5 mph makes it a good choice for those that are concerned if they have enough wind to make wind power feasable. With a 400 watt output this turbine will do a good job of supplying supplemental power.
It is small enough that you can put it in a variety of spots on your property. On top of a barn, outbuilding, or your home are all options. Low vibration means that this turbine is not going to be loud during operation. For those that just want a basic small turbine this is one to consider.
WINDMILL 1200W 24V 42A Wind Turbine Generator kit. MPPT charge controller included (Amp, Volt & Watt display) + automatic and manual braking system
There is something to be said for going larger with a turbine. First of all if you have a place to mount it and are going to mess with wind power at all, then you might as well have one that is capable of generating a larger amount of your power needs.
This kit has everything you need except batteries. An built in MPPT charge controller regulates the maximum power point of the turbine. For those that want to make sure that their turbine is protected during heavy gusts, there is an automatic breaking system so you don’t have to worry about doing anything when you know a bit of a storm is coming. A low cut in speed of 4.5 mph on this 1200 watt turbine means you are generating power in lighter winds.
This turbine is not as large or heavy as you might imagine. A weight of 33 lbs and a rotor diameter of 5.8 feet makes this a manageable size. Remember that during installation or if you have to move it you can detach each of the 3 blades so you are not trying to move something very bulky at a precarious height. Maximum wind speed for generation is 31 mph sustained.
In the $1600 price range you can get a turbine that is capable of producing a lot of power! This turbine has a low cut in speed of 4.5 mph and a 3000 watt or 3KW hour power generation capacity. This is good for someone that wants to generate a lot of their own power from wind and get a lot for their money.
An automatic braking system protects your turbine so you don’t have to. This turbine is still lightweight enough to be manageable. Customers say that this turbine does very well in high winds and will generate a lot of power but at lower speeds you get substantially less power generation per hour, more like in the 200 watt an hour range.
ECO-WORTHY 12 Volts 500 Watts Wind Solar Generator: 12V/24V 400W Wind Turbine + 12V 100W Polycrystalline Solar Panel + 24cm Cable with MC4 Connector
If you want to experiment with renewable energy then you can get a good deal by purchasing a wind turbine and a solar panel in one package. This means that you can have power under a variety of conditions instead of just relying on one.
This package is available in different size turbines and you can get combos that have up to 6 panels at 100 watts each which is a small enough size that they can be moved around by one person. You get a controller with this set up so you have to add mounts for your turbine and panel and you will need batteries for power storage.
Even if you have a lot of solar panels and are looking for a small turbine, it is worth it to get this turbine and panel because it gets good reviews and the price for both is less than the cost of just buying a small turbine in a lot of cases.
The turbine weights just under 18 lbs and the included panel is just over 20 lbs. It is recommended the turbine be mounted on a pole that is 4.5-10 meters tall for best performance.
This is a good budget turbine. For around $200 with shipping you get a turbine capable of producing up to 300 watts of power per hour.
This is perfect for those that are just starting out with wind power and don’t want to make an investment in a large turbine right away. A 4.5 mph cut in speed is pretty amazing to find in a turbine in this price range.
Maintenance and Placement
Wind power on a small scale can mean having some equipment that is placed to where it can be less than convenient to reach it. If you mount a small turbine on your house, then you can expect to have to crawl up there on a ladder or out a window sometimes.
A lot of people mount turbines on poles but again you need to get it up in the air enough to be safe to work around and under it. It also needs to be high enough so that major obstructions are not blocking it from receiving a lot of wind.
Type Of Mount
While some are going to want to just want to mount a turbine on their house, you do need to be sure that your mounting hardware and/or pole is sturdy enough for the job. Metal framework poles or similar are often seen on installations that are meant to be very permanent or withstand major weather.
Don’t skimp on these parts or you will regret it. Damage to your turbine or property not to mention the safety issues involved can add up fast.
Making your wind power generation choice
I recommend getting a turbine that is larger than what you think you will need. The maximum output of your turbine is how it is sized but that is not how it is always going to perform under typical wind conditions at your place.
When winds 20 mph and your turbine reaches maximum power generation at 30 mph, you are going to be putting less into your batteries. A 1000 watt turbine could at times only be producing 200-300 watts of power per hour if speeds are 10 mph.
Budgeting For Accessories
The things you need to get your wind power can add up. If you already have a solar set up or some batteries this can reduce the cost you need to get started but you are probably going to want to add some battery storage to your system, especially if you are already at the point where you are producing enough solar or other renewable energy to keep batteries full a lot of the time.
Have you used wind power in the past? Do you still? What have been the challenges and what has worked best for you? Those of you that have built your own towers or even your own turbines should feel free to share below! I know I have seen some pretty neat innovations on Youtube and other sites.
Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them.
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