How to Size Up a Home for Wind Power

Position homeowners for big energy savings with small, easy-to-install systems.

One of the most cost-effective forms of alternative home energy that builders can offer homeowners is a small wind system. The systems are a viable solution for almost anyone, including homeowners and small-business owners, and the initial investment is relatively inexpensive compared with that of other alternative energy sources. Because of the technology of the small wind turbines today, wind systems are highly efficient, producing large amounts of energy with relatively small wind volumes. This makes them particularly attractive to homeowners looking to "go green."

Before considering a wind-system solution, make sure the site is adequate for sustaining performance. Generally, the property size must be a half-acre, but a site visit is imperative because builders and developers need to consider the surrounding areas. Heavy tree cover, hilly terrain, buildings and any other obstructions that disrupt airflow would negatively affect a wind system's performance. The head of the turbine must be 25 feet above any obstruction within 250 feet of the system to allow for adequate airflow through the turbine and for superior performance. Generally, wind speeds of 9 miles an hour or more are needed for significant energy harvesting.

Once it's determined that the site is adequate for a small wind system, installation is relatively easy compared with the installation of other alternative-energy sources. A small wind system installs very much like a major appliance, with a typical installation taking about two days for the excavation, foundation installation, concrete pouring and inspection. After the concrete is cured, a pole is erected and assembled, the generator is assembled and installed, and the grid connection is made — all in about a day. Adding to the ease of installation is the fact that the inverter and the generator are housed in the head of the turbine, eliminating the need for additional equipment to be installed. Finally, the standard mono-pole system is erected using either a crane or a winch system with a gin pole.

Homeowners can expect to save between 30 percent and 70 percent on their electric bill when generating power with a wind system. Additionally, small wind systems may qualify for federal tax credits, which effectively translate to rebates on the product.

Cost-effective, easy to install and extremely energy efficient, small wind systems may be the best alternative-energy option on the market.

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