Would You Consider Installing a Wind Turbine in Your Backyard?

| 7/20/2010 12:03:40 PM

Tags: question to readers, wind,

600 Watt Wind TurbineBeing from a rural Kansas town, to me a small wind turbine in the backyard of someone’s home is the iconic vision of self-sufficiency. However, wind turbines are popping up all around the country from small towns to big cities.

Wind turbines vary in size and production of energy so you can pick the best fit for you. The electricity they produce can lower your utility bill and lower your impact on the environment. 

Would you consider installing a wind turbine in your backyard? Share your thoughts below.  

Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitter or .

Photo by Ed McKenna, courtesy DOE/NREL 

12/19/2010 3:16:57 PM

I would love to have a wind generator in my backyard. In fact, I think I will put an antique Wind Power Light Co. wind generator produced in 1939 up this spring. I have been collecting American wind generators manufactured by nearly 2 dozen companies in the 1930's and 40's for the past 35 years. They competed with the successful Delco-Light farm electric plants introduced in 1916 by General Motors and produced until 1947. In addition to Delco-Light and wind generators there were 150 companies competing in the 32 volt farm electric plant business serving nearly 800,000 rural homes, farms, businesses, schools, churches, and resorts. In 1935, the most popular Delco-Light, rated 800 watts, with a large capacity battery sold for $495, a Jacobs Wind Electric Company model 60, rated 2500 watts, with a 60 foot tower, and large 440 Ah battery sold for $595. By contrast the REA extended the central grid to rural areas at a cost of $950/customer plus a monthly service charge and per kwh costs. This will be my 4th antique wind generator installation and I have never had a single problem with any of them. If we could do it 70 years ago what are we waiting for?

8/2/2010 8:45:20 PM

I am not here to judge anyone, but you have to be kidding me right??? You would love too, but XXXXXXXXXX reason you can't or won't install one. Come on people, so an Internet search on wind turbines and there are as many styles and types and cost from DIY of a couple of hundreds bucks to $100,000.00 + the sky is the limit. Once you make a commitment to buy/build one and install it, you will find the money, time and energy to start changing you life. Remember that Rome was not built in a day, neither does you energy power plant. Buy it one piece at a time and built it over a few months. This is my plan to install my wind and PV panels, as I want a combo unit. I also want some kind of battery storage unit. So do some research, then make a plan and go for it, your paying for it one way or another. Good luck and God bless America...

7/27/2010 12:54:50 PM

For those concerned with costs of a wind turbine, check out the Mother archives. there is an EXCELLENT article on building your own wind turbine In Make magazine vol. 5. the estimated cost at time of publication (about five years ago) was $425.00. Granted with wind, taller is better for peak efficiency of energy production, however at that price you can put up one and in short order put up a second. I would like a blended system with wind and solar anyway. We are fortunate here in Iowa. Our state laws mandate that the utility company has to pay you for any excess energy you run back onto the grid. It isn't about the tax breaks like out in California. it's more supply and demand... if you supply it, you can demand to be paid! i want to try some small task related systems first. I want to try a small system that would just light the barn and barnyard first. Then get bigger as I get more proficient.

rick vanhorn
7/27/2010 11:37:52 AM

I'd really like to put up a wind generater. But in Arkansas you only get credit for the extra power and if you do not use it by the end of the year you loose that credit. What gives? If the government would offer up front cost sharing I believe more alternative power would be used. But to put out for the enital cost and wait for a tax credit that you might or might not need is dumb. Oh well, typical Washington burocracy.

jeanette redmond_1
7/25/2010 3:57:49 PM

Recently on television, (The World's Greenest Homes on Planet Green), I saw wind turbines in the form of open cylinders where the internal spiral structure captured the wind. They were mounted on top of a commercial building, and looked quite elegant from all angles. If I could afford it, and if my home owners association allowed it, I would certainly install them. They would have to withstand 80 mph winds in the winter storms here in the San Juan Islands, on the coast of WA.

7/25/2010 10:19:16 AM

I heat with a wood boiler, heat domestic water with solar, heat my shop with active air solar and water and if need be have a multi fuel stove in the coldest room in the house. Drives my LP supplier nuts. I'd love to drive my EU nuts with a wind turbine. Hail to all self sufficient independent thinkers and doers. Like our forefathers.

7/24/2010 5:36:30 AM

I would love to be off the "Grid"! I live in South Dakota were the wind blows constantly and were we as a state don't take advantage of that wind! To have a wind turbine in my back yard would be WONDERFUL! However, I don't think I will ever be able to afford one!

hoyt mcguyer
7/24/2010 3:27:41 AM

My town of Rowlett Tx. has made a point of being "Pro-green". Being "Pro" on windpower is a part of the push. Ordenances have been modified to allow tower mounted units in the city limits! As others have stated, the up front cost can be prohibitive. M.E.N. has had many articles about making your own wind generators, but for me the cost would be in the interface with the outside world. I.E. the electrical stuff that alows you to make the meter go backwards and not burn down your house. As with all things governmental, you have to have a permit and a "licenced electrician" bless everything off before inspection. All that adds up as well. When I can afford it, its going up!!

7/23/2010 7:01:58 PM

It has always been my dream to have wind powered energy & be able to have the electric company owe me, but I have never been able to afford it.

susan _2
7/23/2010 6:24:31 PM

I would if I had the money to buy and have one installed. I can't afford to pay attention these days.

tony deckard
7/23/2010 3:42:08 PM

In a heartbeat, if I could afford it. Beccie: The magnetic technology is not at all new. The probelem with it, I hear, is that the magnets wear out-loose their magnetism or some such-too quickly to make them cost effective. That's a shame.

laura _1
7/23/2010 2:44:13 PM

The home I want will be passive solar to keep the energy needs low. Some roof panels would be my primary energy source, since it's well suited to my area. I would love to use a waterwheel and wind energy as my other energy sources. There is a business in town that has been using a waterwheel to power their building for many decades already.

treehugger _1
7/23/2010 2:18:20 PM

I would love to install a wind turbine, and solar panels and... WAIT, I need to remember to pace myself! I'm having a heck of a time figuring out if I am going to cause a problem in my 'small town' by having a chicken tractor... a wind turbine and a chicken tractor... the conspiracy! Just like with the chicken tractor, I have no idea what the regulations are or how to go about figuring them out. We just bought our small brick house on it's tiny lot a year ago and there is a major learning curve! Raised vegetable beds in the front yard seem to be getting us lots of attention but no problems that I know of. Point me in the direction for figuring out how to do this stuff within town limits... and I will do as many as possible, as quickly as possible!

7/23/2010 2:05:25 PM

I would love to do this. i would need to know how much it would cost to install one in my area as well as what was needed to do it. Please do a story on it!

7/23/2010 2:03:46 PM

Has anyone ever heard of the magnetic energy being shown out there. It is a new technology that promotes eternal power from the use of magnetic power. I would be totally interested in this phenom and do not want to invest in signing up until I get some feedback from your viewing audience. Thank you for letting me post this. Beccie

steven _1
7/23/2010 12:50:04 PM

Like everyone else I am looking at offgrid solutions to energy use. I have looked at wind power as a power source both as the primary and as the secondary means of production. Right now it is not my first consideration. Oklahoma is feast or famine as far as wind goes. Some days there is barely a breath then other days the wind blows fiercely. I don't know that it is consistent enough to provide reliable power as a primary source, even with a battery bank storage buffer. The construction difficulties of raising a heavy generator for home use and make it survivalable against heavy winds while providing easy access for maintenance raises the cost significantly. To have one next to the house fly apart in the middle of a storm would be horrifying. Mechanical brakes add complexity and and wind vane noise. I've never seen a windmill that the rotor and pivot bearings didn't start to squeal with time from exposure to rain, sand, rust, snow, hot and cold. The noise is incessant and irritating next to the house. Installing the generator at a distance from the house (which on a farm I can easily do)creates issues with voltage drop from the generator/battery bank reducing its efficiency and making it even more expensive. For these reasons if I ever raise a wind generator for power it would probably supplemental to another primary source. Installing a windmill to power a pump for livestock like was done in the 1930's is still viable simply because it is out yonder.

debra hutcheson
7/23/2010 12:09:51 PM

Just an FYI: An area nearby just had several wind turbines knocked over by high winds because they didn't put in a solid enough foundation. Make sure they are secure and safe!

7/23/2010 11:41:22 AM

I would love to put up a turbine! Living in north Texas,the winds blow almost constantly. Too bad I live so close to the edge financially that it is only a dream.

7/23/2010 11:34:56 AM

I plan on homesteading and will use both wind, solar and passive heating and cooling. I don't want to pay for something when, with the technology the way it is today, I can get what I need and want for free.

joergen andersen
7/23/2010 11:26:26 AM

Go with the wind in combination with solar and earth heating - will pay you back - and not to forget - reduce using of oil, polution - greenhouse warming, you will get it better and the eart will get it better - and last - new car? why not look at Tesla - www.teslamotors.com - forgot an important issue - use the companies we have at home and create new workplaces. PS, in this hot summer - if using earthheating - reverse it in summertime and get AC for free(nearly). Joergen

7/23/2010 10:52:05 AM

I'd be much more likely to go for solar since here in east TN I think there's more sun than wind. But I won't do either until the price comes down significantly and payback is less than 10 years.

amy wimmer_1
7/23/2010 10:50:26 AM

I agree with most on here. I would love alternative energy but it is very cost prohibitive

7/23/2010 10:41:01 AM

I would very mush like to install wind energy on my acerage! I'm only working part-time now ( shocking at 48 yrs. old )and this project is cost prohibitive for me! I live in rual Iowa with average wind speeds of 12mph, I think!??!

7/23/2010 10:27:59 AM

We would love solar or wind power for our home. We live in the country, so we have plenty of room and no HOA rules to deal with. The problem we are facing is the pricing. We live in rural SC, there are no dealers, so on top of the HUGE price of the models, we would also have to pay outrageous shipping and handling to get it here. Then, if we couldn't put it up ourselves, we would have to find someone to put it in for us (there is a green company a few counties down from us who could probably do this for us, the only positive, I guess).

raymond looper_1
7/23/2010 10:04:14 AM

I plan to move to Tenneessee this fall. I will have a solar powered steam generator for power. The solar motor is small and will run the generator on about 5PSI steam.

wb washburn_2
7/23/2010 9:46:48 AM

I would absolutely love to put up a wind trubine or two in our back yard. It has not taken off in AZ enough to bring the pricing down but that is something I am watching very closely. Solar and wind are quite plentiful in AZ and every indivifual should be considering such options. The difficulty is in the cost and the restrictions but there are more HOA's beginning to see the light and re-do their parameters. The need for individual families to be able to generate at least part of their own energy is becoming more apparent day by day.

carol b_3
7/23/2010 9:01:39 AM

Yes! I'd love to be able to put up a wind turbine AND solar collector panels; unfortunately, while I live in a small-town community, I'm "in the city limits". Wish it were not so. And, yes, I know - move to the country. Well, most of us can't afford two houses! Anybody want a standard suburban brick house in the city with a "picky" neighborhood association? Me, neither, but, too late! Covenants and restrictions here will not permit alternative energy sources. Wouldn't wan't to ruin the neighborhood, now, would we? So, how's total blackout going to work for people, I wonder? I've just finished watching a History Channel piece on the aging infrastructure of our country and the GRID problems; I would very much like to see FEDERAL regulations that FORBID states and communities from preventing homeowners to make REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS for alternate energy sources that would relieve the coming "Grid-Lock". I think we're all going to need alternative energy in the not-so-distant future, and, then what?

dyan buffa_2
7/23/2010 8:26:36 AM

I have a small urban garden in Reno NV and would love the idea of a wind Turbine in the middle of the garden. It would be like garden art and serve to show the community that alternative energy is possible.

ara morenberg_2
7/23/2010 4:27:38 AM

While we can't consider it for our current home (space and city ordinances don't allow it), we most certainly are considering it for our land in Tennessee. We plan to move there one day and would like to build a zero-energy home and love nothing more than to go totally off the grid. We've thought it might be smart to have a wind turbine and solar system so as to have backup.

jared barnhart
7/21/2010 7:51:27 AM

We are actually looking at this model for the house we are currently building in the country: http://www.wepower.us/products/falcon/falcon-1-2kw.htm It's a little spendy, but the quiet factor is important to us. And there is now a dealer in town. We (will) live on a prairie hill in North Dakota, so the wind is abundant.

heath israel
7/20/2010 2:59:29 PM

Considering I'm in a city, No. Effective roof-top wind turbines are a myth and there just isn't enough room in my back yard to put up a tower tall enough to get above the turbulence. Solar and geothermal are the only real options available to me (and neither of those work either due to a huge tree in the neighbor's yard blocking most of my afternoon sun and the fact that you need a good 100' between the two holes for geothermal to be effective...my lot is only 94' long from line to line).

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