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Last updated: 14 July 2021
Home wind turbines allow you to harness the power of wind and turn it into electricity. If you live somewhere that is exposed and windy, it could be an effective way of getting carbon-free, renewable and cheap energy
How do home wind turbines work?
It’s quite a simple principle, home wind turbines rotate using the power of the wind to produce DC electricity via a generator. An inverter then converts DC to AC electricity which can be used in your house to power your lights, television, or other electrical appliances you have.
Should I get a home wind turbine?
Although getting a home wind turbine sounds great as it cuts down on the amount of carbon dioxide releasing energy that is needed for a home, it certainly isn’t for everyone. The amount of wind that you receive is affected by where you live, and where your home is. If you live in a city surrounded by other buildings, the likelihood is that you probably don’t get enough wind to make it worthwhile.
If you live in the countryside, on an exposed hill however, then it might be a good idea to get one. The Energy Saving Trust has a wind prediction tool, which estimates the amount of wind you receive based on your area, but they also suggest using an anemometer to measure your wind speed before buying a turbine.
If your average speed is over 5 metres per second (5m/s), then great! Installing a wind turbine may be efficient enough for you to produce cheap energy. Once you have paid for the cost of installing a wind turbine, the energy created is free, although you will still have to pay to maintain the turbine.
If you don't get enough wind in your home, but are committed to generating renewable energy, consider installing solar panels, or a home hydropower system.
What types of domestic wind turbines are there?
There are two types of wind turbine that you can buy for your home:
- Pole mounted wind turbines – these are free standing turbines, which can generate up to around 5 or 6 Kilowatts (kW).
- Building mounted wind turbines – these are smaller than pole mounted wind turbines, and can be installed onto the roof of a building. They can usually generate around 1 or 2 kW.
There are also different systems that you can use to connect your wind turbine to your home, these are:
- Battery-less grid tiered – the energy that is generated from this system is used to power electricity in your home, but any excess is then fed into the national grid. It does mean however, that if there is a power cut there will be no back up electricity for your home as it is not stored anywhere.
- Grid tiered system with battery backup – in this case, energy from the national grid is still used, but excess energy is stored in batteries. These will form backups if there is a power cut, meaning that you will still be able to power your home if the national grid fails. The batteries can be expensive however, and will need to be maintained and replaced eventually.
- Off grid systems – these aim to completely separate from any reliance on the national grid, relying purely on wind energy. These require more or larger turbines than the other systems, and a lot more batteries.
How much does it cost to install and maintain wind turbines?
Installing wind turbines aren’t cheap, ranging from between £3,000 and £30,000 depending on the type and size of turbine that you choose, and whether you use batteries or not. Pole mounted wind turbines are usually more expensive than building mounted turbines, but they generate more electricity, and are generally more efficient as a result.
It also costs to keep wind turbines maintained, which is usually around £100 to £200 a year. However, a well looked after turbine should have a lifespan of over 20 years.
There is some government support encouraging people to have wind turbines installed. VAT on turbines is just 5%, compared to the current 20% rate for most other goods.
Do I need planning permission?
Depending on where you live in the UK, you may or may not require planning permission to install your wind turbine. In England or Scotland, some turbines do not need planning permission, although there are a strict set of conditions that need to be met. In Wales and Northern Ireland, planning permission is needed.
As a general rule of thumb however, it’s best to check with your local council regarding what you would like to install. That way you’ll save yourself any hassle in the future and have your turbine installed with peace of mind.