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How a Small Wind Turbine Works, Part 2: 6 Key Benefits of Home Wind Turbines

In our first installment, we covered the basics of electricity generation and the process by which a wind turbine creates power. This time, we’ll look at the benefits of adding a wind turbine as a source of clean power for your home.

If there’s one core aspect of wind turbines that makes them a smart option for clean power, it’s that the wind is always doing its thing. It doesn’t “set” at night, and it doesn’t follow strict seasonality. And just like solar power, it doesn’t require any industrial activity to be brought to a level at which homes can use it. The wind is there, and a wind turbine can tap it in the same way a solar panel taps the sun for power. But wind’s real advantage is in those off-hours, when the panels go dark, but the turbine keeps spinning.

For this reason primarily, a wind turbine makes an outstanding complementary energy source when it’s working in concert with solar panels. Owners of these “hybrid” systems know the beauty of looking outside on a sunny, windy day.

This benefit is even more underscored for homes that aren’t connected to any utility. Off-grid homes use battery banks to store energy that they’ll need at night or during dark, rainy days when solar isn’t getting the job done. Off-gridders with wind turbines get the bonus feature of having a constant battery charging source. It’s a better night’s sleep when you know your batteries are staying full while the wind blows your turbine.

Beyond off-hour power and constant battery charging, small wind turbines provide a big benefit to homes that rely on backup generators as a source of energy. You don’t have to be living off-grid to have a very real need for a backup gas generator. Despite our advancements here in the technology age, there remain parts of the United States in which the grid is unreliable, prohibitively expensive, prone to extended outages, or all of the above. The home wind turbine provides energy security and reliability for people living in these regions. If a powerful storm blankets your solar panels in snow and knocks out your power lines, wouldn’t it be nice to use those wind gusts to a productive end? It’s certainly nicer than paying $1 per kilowatt-hour for a gas generator to run.

In review, the primary, basic benefits of home wind turbines are:

• Maximizing home energy production in areas that have windy climates
• Supplementing solar by generating more power at night, during storms, and winter months
• Enhanced battery charging efficiency for off-grid and battery-backup homes
• Cost control and protection from variable utility rates
• Energy security and reliability in areas with poor grid performance
• A clean, affordable alternative to running a backup gas generator

In our next episode, we’ll run through turbine terminology to make sure that when you’re talking about small wind, you’re talking like a pro.

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5/26/2015 8:18:08 AM

I think the time is right for matching a hybrid wind / photovoltaic system with a small electric tractor, similar in horsepower to a John Deere 850 tractor, or maybe slightly larger... Also, developing a walk behind machine, similar to the Gravely types of the past, only electric motor based could be developed. This would allow a small farm to be very sustainable; I have come across examples of bicycle based cultivators; why not convert existing machinery to wind/solar based power sources... Sounds like a good research or student project for a University electrical/electronics department. There is a growing base of individuals that are resource conscious and interested in promoting healthier organic products, who would welcome something along these lines. Recycling older smaller tractors, with conversion to electric horsepower, that could be powered by alternative sources than oil that are readily available from wind and sun screams for development!!! (Implements for the farming tasks are already developed for these tractors and is a windfall benefit).