5 Essential Checks for Wind Power at Home

Essential Checklist

Congratulations on your decision to explore generating your own electricity through wind power.  Whether you are looking to reduce your power bill and save money, achieve independence from the local power grid or limit your carbon footprint, wind is a universal and reliable energy source that will serve you well for many years to come.

Before you go any further, we must first determine if using wind power in the home is suitable for you.  Here are five key criteria, in order of importance, that you MUST check first:

  1. Wind
  2. Local zoning regulations
  3. Household energy consumption
  4. Supplemental power system or totally off-grid
  5. Location of the wind turbine

1. The Answer is Blowin’ in the Wind

This is the most important consideration you’ll make when deciding on a wind turbine for your home.  Quite simply, you need wind to run your turbine.

Ideally you want to have enough wind pass through your property to power your wind turbine all year round.  If your regionThe answer is Wind experiences very low average wind speeds (typically below 5 m/s, 11mph or 18 kmh) or your home is in a sheltered area, you are likely to struggle to generate any meaningful power from your turbine.  In this case, a wind turbine is probably not the best option for you.

Most home wind turbines typically have a cut-in speed (wind speed at which electricity is first produced) of around 3 m/s (7mph or 11 kmh), depending on the model.  As the wind speed increases, so too does the energy output of the turbine until the rated wind speed is reached.  Rated wind speeds for full energy production are generally between 12 and 22 m/s (27mph/43kmh and 49mph/79kmh respectively), again depending on the model.

One of the biggest contributing factors to the energy output of the turbine are the blades.  Those turbines with more blades, like 9 or 11, have more surface area for the wind to act against in order to keep the rotor spinning.  This means the turbine will be able to generate energy in lower wind conditions than a comparable 3-blade model.

To estimate the wind speeds in your local area, use this free, high resolution global wind atlas produced by the Technical University of Denmark and the World Bank.

2. Welcome to the Neighbourhood

Now that you have determined winds speeds in your region are sufficient to sustain long-term electricity generation, youWelcome to the Neighborhood need to find out what local zoning laws have to say with regard to wind turbines in your neighbourhood.  Some communities may offer incentives to homeowners to build renewable or alternative energy systems on their properties, whilst others may not allow their installation at all.

If wind turbines are not excluded under local bylaws, check to see if related structures such as towers or detached structures over a certain height (say greater than 10m) are allowed, require a permit or are outright banned.

Local electricity authorities or utility companies may also require notification of your decision to install a wind turbine for electricity generation.  This is very likely if you intend to sell any surplus electricity to the local power company for use in the grid.

3. Watts’ my Number?

To ensure you get the right wind generation system for your needs, you first have to determine how much electricity you use in your home.  Please do not guess your electricity consumption, otherwise you risk installing a wind generation system that will never meet your needs.  Invest some time in getting realistic energy numbers for your home.

Energy auditThe most obvious source of information for household electricity consumption is your monthly power bill.  These days, most power bills contain a wealth of data on a household’s electricity use including the current month’s usage, monthly consumption over the past 12 months (good for assessing seasonal changes in power use), and total or average annual electricity consumption.  If you don’t have your power bills handy, contact your energy provider and ask them for the last 12 months’ worth of your electricity use.

Alternatively, you can conduct a detailed energy audit of your home to determine what areas of the home, such as heating & cooling, hot water, lighting and appliances, are using all that electricity every day.  This analysis will give a much more accurate picture of your household’s electricity consumption with the added bonus of helping identify potential energy-wasting devices.  If you are intending to live off-grid in a new home, or are already living off-grid, then you will likely need to carry out an energy assessment of your home since you do not have the convenience of a monthly power bill.

Whichever method you use, you need to know your household’s average daily electricity consumption, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).  Here are a few ways to calculate your daily consumption:

  • Add up the kilowatt-hours used each month for the last 12 months and divide the total by 365 days in a year
  • Take the total annual or average annual kilowatt-hours consumed and divide by 365
  • Add up the daily kilowatt-hour demand of every electricity-based device in the house (if you calculated daily numbers as part of a detailed energy audit)

Now that you know how much electrical energy (kWh) your household uses each day, this can be compared with the estimated electricity output (kWh) of your wind turbine.  If the turbine cannot produce enough electricity, then you may have to find a secondary source of power to supplement the turbine.

4. Going off the Grid

Choosing wind power doesn’t mean you have to give up the grid altogether.  The flexibility of wind power generation meansOff the Grid that you can use your wind turbine as a supplemental source of electricity, significantly reducing your power bill, but still be connected to the grid power supply for those days when winds speeds are not enough to meet all your electricity needs around the home.

Whether you choose to go completely off-grid or use wind turbines to supplement your grid power, always consider turbine kits with high rated power, measured in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW).  Turbines rated less than 1kW (or 1,000W) won’t produce nearly enough energy for a reliable electricity supply and will simply waste your time and money.

A further option to consider is a hybrid system where your wind turbine is paired with photovoltaic (solar) panels.  This maximises your capacity to generate electricity more consistently.  Wind power works best when solar power doesn’t, such as at night, during poor weather conditions (particularly cloudy or overcast days) and throughout the winter months when sunlight levels are limited.

For off-grid systems, turbines with more than 3 blades and a 2kW (2000W) energy output are a more suitable option.  You will also need to consider using batteries for energy storage.

A general rule of thumb to go by with wind turbines: Bigger is generally better.

Now here’s the trap that homeowners need to avoid when selecting a wind turbine: the power rating of the wind turbine (kW) is NOT the same as the electricity output of the turbine (kWh).

Simply put, if you took 3 different wind turbines with the same power rating of 1kW, each turbine would achieve its rated 1kW output at different wind speeds.  The swept area of the turbine blades (measured in square metres), which differs from turbine to turbine depending on blade size, also has a major impact on the amount of electricity generated.  Therefore, how much electricity (kWh) is produced at various average wind speeds is a much more useful means of comparing different wind turbine models.  But don’t worry, we will help take all the guesswork out of this for you.

5. Location, Location, Location

Where you locate your wind turbine around your home is critical to its success.  Just like an airplane, wind turbines operate at their best when exposed to strong, undisturbed (less turbulent) airflow.

As well as knowing the average wind speed at your property, understanding the direction of the prevailing winds for your region is critical to assessing the potential impact of any obstacles when choosing the best site on your property.  You need to check that there are no significant obstacles in the turbine’s path that would disturb or reduce the airflow available in which to generate power.

Ideally, the turbine should be placed upwind of any buildings or trees on your property to expose it to the prevailing windsLocating your Turbine (and better airflow) as much as possible.

Wind speed increases and turbulence decreases the further away you are from the ground.  This makes sense as you rise above hills, trees and buildings which act like a barrier or shelter belt to slow down the speed of wind and create pockets of turbulent air.  What this means for you as a homeowner is that you are going to need a tower to operate your wind turbine effectively.

A common rule of thumb for calculating tower height is mounting the turbine at least 9 metres (30 feet) above the nearest obstacle within 150 metres (500 feet) of your home.  In a suburban environment with single single-storey housing of typically 5 metres (16 feet) in height surrounding your property, you will likely need to install a 14-metre (46 foot) high tower for your wind turbine.  Remember to account for the growth of trees when determining tower height.

Ultimately, good location of your wind turbine, using both position and height, will help minimise the harmful effects of turbulence.  Reduced turbulence leads to higher electrical production, decreased turbine repairs and maintenance, and increased turbine lifespan.  Increased lifespan leads to a better return on your investment.

Last but not Least

If you have reached the end of this checklist and discovered that your home is unable to benefit from a wind generation system, don’t despair.  Whilst it might not make sense to invest in wind power right at this moment, keep checking back here on a regular basis.  National governments and local authorities around the world are under increasing pressure from their communities to reduce fossil-fuel based power generation and address climate change issues.  Regulations and incentives may be introduced in the near future that makes electricity generation from wind power a realistic option for you.

For those of you who can confidently tick all the boxes in the checklist – you have wind, zoning laws allow wind turbines, you know how much electricity your household consumes and whether you want to stay connected to the grid or go completely off-grid, and you have a great site for a turbine and tower – well done.  You are now well on your way to enjoying the benefits of a clean, abundant and sustainable energy supply, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Check out this 11-bladed beast for powering the home in just about any wind conditions.

22 thoughts on “5 Essential Checks for Wind Power at Home”

  1. I’ve been thinking of getting onto some form of renewable energy source once I buy a house, but I’m not sure what the best choice is. We live here in Canada where it gets pretty darn cold and there is a lot of snow in the Winter. Do you recommend getting wind power in these conditions?

    Also one more thing you may be able to help with: I was watching the American news not too long ago and I remember something coming up about windmills or wind turbines supposedly giving people cancer. That sounds kind of crazy to me, is there any evidence of this?

    Sorry for all the questions, newbie here just trying to learn a thing or two. Thanks for the great read!

    • Hi Tyson, thank you for the great comments and questions. 

      I’ll answer your first question by comparing wind turbines with solar panels as these two are typically the most common methods of generating your own electricity at home. Wind turbines can operate in dust, rain, hail/ice and snow and continue to generate electricity unlike solar panels where dust, ice and snow can cover the panels, blocking out the sunlight, and reducing the panels’ ability to produce electricity. Hail may also damage the individual photovoltaic cells requiring costly replacement. Another benefit of a wind turbine is that the generator gives off heat as it works to produce electricity which helps to prevent the buildup of ice – basically the turbine is its own de-icer. Arctic weather stations take advantage of this fact by using the electricity generated from their wind turbines to de-ice the solar panels so they can work in the snow and ice.

      To your second question, I believe this may be ‘fake news’. President Trump is on record earlier in 2019 stating that the noise from wind turbines can cause cancer.  I’m not aware of any scientific or medical evidence to date that proves a conclusive link between turbine noise and cancer.  If there was such a link, given most home-scale wind turbines produce sounds between 40 – 60 dB (decibels), you would be more likely to get cancer from your vacuum cleaner than a wind turbine in your backyard.  I hope that puts your mind at ease.

  2. Generating my own electricity has always fascinated me. I am considering the both options of solar and wind. Thank you for writing such an informative post on wind power and the check list. Never thought about the neighborhood laws, definitely have to check that out. Will keep coming back to red and share your post 🙂


    • Thank you Nuttanee for your feedback.  Wind and solar power together will certainly give you the best of both worlds.  If you do end up running the two systems together, I would give some serious consideration to selling any surplus electricity you generate back to your local energy provider.  This will help reduce the payback period on your renewable energy investment.

  3. Wow! Great post and taught me how to have electricity for my own home. I believe, if I can have one like this at home, I will be able to save hundreds of dollars on electricity costs. And that, makes me want to learn more through your website! Thank you very much for this valuable information.

    However, the question is, if I have measured the strength of the wind with the tools you recommend in my area (I live in a suburb and close to a mountain), can I immediately have 1 turbine at home and start generating electricity? Then, does the wind located in an area higher than the ground surface, have a greater wind strength? Or is there an ideal height from sea level?

    Besides, if you give a scale of 0 to 10 for me who doesn’t know anything about electricity, is installing this item really difficult?

    Please guide me..

    • Hi Asmadi, thank you for your comments and questions.  

      Wind speed increases with altitude particularly below 1000m largely because the roughness of the ground terrain generates friction (turbulence) which reduces a wind’s kinetic energy, and therefore speed, at lower levels.  By using a tower, you can lift the wind turbine above the ground turbulence generated by nearby trees and buildings to get cleaner, faster winds for generating electricity. The ideal height is the one where your turbine can operate at its best to provide as much electricity as possible for your home.  This will depend on your local wind conditions, nearby obstacles, and what type of tower your site can support (a fixed guyed tower requires more space than a free-standing tower because of the guy wires, for example).  

      Installation can be daunting if you are new to home wind turbine systems. Building a suitable tower may require the help of some mechanically-minded friends or family members over a weekend or two, otherwise use a local builder. Depending on the regulations in your area, you may be required to use a registered electrician to complete the wiring of the wind turbine system to your home.  Once the turbine is connected, it should be able to generate electricity straight away, providing there is enough wind to turn the blades.

      Keep an eye out for future posts where I will discuss towers and system installation in more detail.

  4. Those 5 essential checks are great! I would like to have a wind turbine at my house, but sadly I do have obstacles. My house is a rental house so my landlords would have to approve such a thing and there is just way too many trees out front and in the backyard not to mention train tracks behind my house. I do live in a state though that gets a lot of wind so that wouldn’t be much of an issue there. What was the biggest obstacle you had to deal with when trying to get wind power/turbine at your house?

    • Thank you Brian for your feedback. Renting can pose additional challenges for tenants who wish to install renewable energy systems on the property, but it’s not impossible.  Talk to your landlord about your proposals – it never hurts to ask. You may have a progressive landlord who is prepared to do a deal with you.

      The biggest obstacle you are likely to face installing a wind power system in your home is with neighbours and local authorities.  Thankfully more and more bureaucrats are waking up to the benefits of residential renewable energy systems with more proactive authorities and utility companies incentivising the whole process through subsidies, tax credits and property easements. 

      Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for one’s neighbours.  There will always be people out there who, regardless of the economic and environmental benefits of a wind power system, believe that wind turbines reduce property values, kill birds, interfere with radio/TV transmissions, are noisy and pollute the skyline/view.  That can be quite a hefty mythology to overcome.

      If you do decide to install a wind turbine, go and talk with your closest neighbours first.  Let them know what your intentions are and address any fears or concerns they may have.  This should help avoid any misunderstandings later on and your neighbours will appreciate your forethought and consideration. 

  5. This is something I am very interested in.  I’m not looking to get totally off the grid but taking advantage of what is already available to us would certainly be an option to saving money on an electric bill.  I’m always looking for ways to decrease our footprint.

    I’m going to be moving in a couple of months to an area that has more wind than where I live right now.  I don’t think it’s always at the best level for good production but that would be the case for most areas wouldn’t it?   Some is better than nothing isn’t it?

    I’ll be checking this out more (I’ll be installing a weather station when I get moved) to see if this would be a viable addition.

    Sometimes you have to spend a little to save more?


    • Hi Wayne, thank you for your comments and commitment to reducing your carbon footprint. Great to hear you will be arming yourself with some really good meteorological data from your weather station.  This will make any decision to invest in wind power so much easier.

      Remember that with a wind turbine, you have a 24-hour window over which to generate electricity. It may be calm during the day and you get very little production, however during the night, the wind gets up and away goes your turbine, pumping out some really good kilowatt-hours (kWh).  That’s the advantage of a wind turbine – it’s always available to generate electricity.  You don’t have the same generation window with solar panels.

  6. Thank you so much for the answers to questions I have had about wind in terms of whether it would be an option when it comes to green energy. I am already on board with solar power and have seen first hand at how great it is. Matter of fact I live in a state where the power companies embrace both solar and wind with dozens of solar farm and wind farms along the Atlantic Ocean coast.

    I have been contemplating adding wind to my solar power panels but wasn’t quite sure if it is even viable in the area where I live. For instance, where I live doesn’t always have enough wind blowing through my property on a consistent basis. Sometimes the sustained wind can be enough and sometimes not. But I already knew that I had solar for those times that wind would not produce enough.

    My problem is having enough wind for when solar is not producing enough. So now with your checklist I have a way to determine if the wind option is something I should proceed with. Thank you for listing the checklist in order of importance and providing the ranges of wind speed and energy output. When it comes to the overall size of the wind turbine, would a smaller size with more blades produce as much as a large 3 blade model?

    • Hi Robert, great to hear of your success with renewable energy in your home. Pairing your solar panels with a wind turbine is a fantastic idea.

      To answer your question about wind turbine sizing (assuming you are talking about rotor/blade disc size), the rule here is – bigger is better.  That is because the swept area of a wind turbine (the area the blades sweep as they turn) is a key factor in determining how much power the turbine produces.  The larger the swept area, the more wind energy that can be captured (much like a sail) and converted into electrical energy. So in theory, the larger 3-blade model should produce more electricity than a smaller, multi-blade turbine.

      Where turbines with more than 3 blades have an advantage is with a lower startup or cut-in speed. More blades means more surface area for the wind to act on and create sufficient force (torque) to start the rotor disc spinning.  Therefore, having a wind turbine with more than 3 blades is better for regions with lower average wind speeds (less than 25kmh or 15mph) because you will be able to generate electricity in conditions where a 3-blade model may remain stationary. So that’s a lot of potential electricity that could be missed because your turbine’s not turning.

      Check out my review of the 11-bladed Missouri General 2kW Freedom II Wind Turbine which is ideal for homes in regions that experience low wind speeds. 

  7. I have always agreed with this system of saving and producing electric power, there are people who have made their own small generators and do not need to be so large.
    Recently I was in Aruba and I could see how an investment of 10 large generators were being destroyed and they no longer gave them their maintenance, because some complained about the ghostly noise being located more than 5 km from the city.
    Are there more models of generators that you can show?
    I like the form and content of the website, the blog, the affiliate notes and privacy.

    • Hi Jaime and thank you for your feedback. It is unfortunate that some people cannot see the benefits of wind power as a free and natural energy source and will oppose both domestic and commercial wind developments purely on aesthetic grounds (i.e. turbines are ugly and noisy). Thankfully, advances in wind technology in recent years have successfully mitigated many of the historical drawbacks of turbines such as noise, threat to wildlife and cost of maintenance.

      I’m currently researching more home wind turbine models and will post these as they become available. A key focus of this site is to recommend suitable generators that will meet the electricity demands of a modern home. There are many turbine kits currently on the market that simply won’t do the job and installing them would just end up in frustration, unnecessary cost and very little energy production for the homeowner.

      Stay with us, more to come.

  8. Thanks a lot for sharing with us this amazing article. Recently I moved to a new house and I want to turn it into a 100% ecological home. After all the problems we have with the environment, climate change, global warming I think our goal should be to save this planet. The first step is to generate my own energy through solar and wind energy. I really appreciate the useful and explanatory information you have put here. I live in an area where the wind is very strong and I could extract a great power with the help of a turbine.
    Thank you again. I wish you success!

    • Thank you Nimrodngy.  Absolutely agree with you that we need to be doing more to save our planet and I applaud your efforts to work towards a 100% eco-friendly home.  Please keep us posted on your progress as this would be a great topic of discussion.

      When you do get to the point in your project of deciding on methods of generating electricity for your home, here are a couple of articles I recommend that may help:

      Freedom from the Grid

      Sibling Rivalry: Wind Turbines vs Solar Panels

      Good luck and stay tuned for more exciting developments in home wind power.

  9. Hi Randall, I think you have done so well to bring up this crucial article at this time because a lot of people over the years have been clamouring for the opportunity to generate their own renewable source of energy, me included, your article is of high importantance.

    Having said that I think I would really carry out more research on this wind power generation for the home so as to cut my cost because my monthly power consumption is always on a high. I think the only problem I would have now is sufficient wind generation because my place is always relatively hot during the day.

    • Hi Carol, really appreciate the support.  I definitely recommend doing as much research using renewable energy at home as necessary until you are comfortable with any decisions you make.  Depending on the winds available at your place, you may find that a wind turbine is not appropriate and you need to look at solar panels. Check out this article first:

      Sibling Rivalry: Wind Turbines vs Solar Panels

      I will be providing more information shortly on how to measure the wind resource at your home and determine if a wind turbine is right for you, so please stay tuned.

  10. Those 5 essential checks are great! I would like to have a wind turbine at my house but we recently install solar system and it is working very well. Your ideas are awesome. Generating my own electricity has always fascinated me. I am considering the both options of solar and wind. Now a days we are using solar panel.

    Thank you for writing such an informative post on wind power and the check list. Never thought about the neighborhood laws, definitely have to check that out. Will keep coming back to read and share your post

    • Hi Harish, appreciate your comments. Congratulations on choosing renewable energy to help power your home. Many wind turbine systems are designed to integrate with solar power so your goal of one day using wind power is still very achievable. 

  11. Many thanks to you for sharing such an excellent article with us. I want to have an air turbine in my house and these five essential checks are really great. I’m really glad to know through your article how to make electricity for my own home. I believe that if I can keep wind turbines, my electricity costs will be reduced and my money will be saved. But one of the obstacles I have is that there are many plants in the house I live in. I have no doubt that there is a lot of wind here, but it seems to me a barrier to getting wind power or turbines in my home so you have to question how it can be installed in this situation? I’m not really asking for the spirit of the trees so I’m asking for advice. But I will definitely install it.

    • Thank you Shanta for the excellent question on turbines and trees.  Trees will definitely block or disturb good airflow from reaching your wind turbine and therefore rob it of fuel to generate electricity.  The key is to get the turbine up above the trees into some good, clean air for maximum generation.  This will involve putting the turbine on a tower.  Remember to account for tree growth when deciding on the height of the tower.  You will also need to check local regulations on the allowable height of structures in your area.


Leave a comment