Are There Any Problems With Mounting Wind Turbines on Top of Houses?

| 6/4/2008 12:00:00 AM

Are there any problems with mounting wind turbines on top of houses?

It's appealing to look at a tall building or house and think about putting a turbine on top of it. This would eliminate the cost of the tower and reduce wiring costs. Unfortunately it's not that easy for two reasons.

The first relates to the quality of the wind. By putting a turbine on a building, the turbine will be higher and should get stronger winds, but quality wind is essential if a wind turbine is to produce power. Houses, much like trees, cliffs, and other wind turbines, create turbulence—effectively removing a lot of the wind’s ability to turn the blades.

Now some may argue that the roof is shaped in such a way that it won't disturb the wind too much, which brings us to the second issue with mounting a wind turbine on a house: vibrations. While spinning, the turbine will create vibrations that will make noise and can seriously damage the structural strength of a house.

With all of that said though, I have worked on small 400 watt turbines on roofs at the Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark. The turbines were mounted on concrete beams that went all the way to the ground so that addressed the issue of the house’s structural strength. However, the rule of thumb is, don't try it unless you're in a very special situation.

— Raphael Shay, Community Sustainability Manager, iCAST

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