Wind turbines are becoming more and more commonplace around the world, and its likely you’ve passed a wind farm collecting energy for the national grid. But were you aware that home wind turbines are also growing in popularity around the UK? Here we’ll run you through the requirements and details surrounding running your home by wind power.
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Home wind turbines are a system in which fans are pushed by the prevailing winds on your property. Usually the fan will be able to move slightly in order to correctly align with the wind and get the maximum amount of turning speed. This motion drives a turbine, which in turn converts the energy of this movement into electricity using a generator.
There are a few different types of home wind turbine, and the differences are based on the storage used by the system for the electricity produced.
Grid-tied systems feed the electricity they produce into an already established electrical system, attached to an electrical grid. This means that, whenever the wind speed is high enough the electricity is going directly into your home electrical system. Of these grid-tied systems, some contain batteries.
In battery-less systems the electricity produced powers the home, but when wind speed is producing more than is being used the excess electricity is sent into the grid rather than being stored in your own system. In some cases in the UK the electricity sent to the grid can contribute to reimbursements or subsidies.
There are also Grid-tied systems with back up batteries for storing some excess electricity, which can then be used when the electricity being produced is lower than that which is in use.
Finally, off grid systems store all the energy they produce in batteries, and that amount is all that’s available to the property as the electrical system isn’t connected to an overall grid.
There are two types of home wind turbine, building mounted and pole mounted. Pole mounted turbines are more expensive but often allow you to access windier parts of a property, such as at the top of hills. They resemble the commercial wind turbines we often see around the countryside in the UK. Building mounted turbines are usually cheaper, but in most cases won’t provide the appropriate amount of electricity to power a home. They’re often used in smaller applications like charging batteries or vehicles.
At the top end of the scale, the Energy Saving Trust estimates a 6kw system, which would cover the power of most homes with an average 14mph wind speed, costs between £23,000 and £34,000. A high up front cost can be negated slightly by the savings which can be made long term. In this case the turbine is estimated to save around £250 a year in energy bills, depending on the previous energy source, and could generate up to £440 a year in SEG payments.
It’s also possible to install smaller systems to lighten the load on current electrical systems.
Wind turbine manufacturers are able to offer detailed estimates of the power a turbine could produce on a given site. When you compare energy suppliers, if you think wind power could be a solution for your home it’s definitely worth seeking an estimate as the productivity of a turbine is very changeable depending on position, size and wind prevalence.
As a guide, a 1.5 Kilowatt turbine with an average wind speed of 14mph produces around 300KwH of energy per month. An average home uses around 850KwH per month, so a small turbine like this could approximately cut your energy bills by a third, and a significantly larger turbine could in principle provide all the energy requirements for a household.
Another way wind turbines can contribute to your home power requirements is as part of a hybrid power system.
This entails fitting a wind turbine in conjunction with 1 or more alternative renewable energy sources. Commonly this means a wind turbine alongside photovoltaic solar panels. The peak times for wind energy and solar energy in most parts of the UK will be at different times of the year. In theory this means the two energy systems can effectively cover for each other and provide a large amount of electricity year round, whenever you need it.