Big Wind Turbines, Small Wind Turbines

Reader Contribution by Staff
1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3

Wind turbines come in all sizes, but if you’re trying to understand exactly how big a wind turbine is some of the terms are unfamiliar. What’s a kilowatt exactly? How is that different from a megawatt?

There’s a handy cheat sheet here that explains all the measurements, but I find them a little hard to visualize. Fortunately, there are a lot of great photos out there on the Web! Below are a few wind turbine photos as a frame of reference. You can find many more wind turbine photos online by visiting the Web site of the National Renewable Energy Lab.

Small Wind Turbines

The smallest home wind systems are equal to about a kilowatt. For example, the wind turbine pictured in this cornfield is a 1 kilowatt wind turbine.

Another common size of small wind turbine is a 10 kilowatt turbine, such as the one pictured by this house.

For a better sense of what sizes wind turbines come in, check out this page from the American Wind Energy Association. It has a list of manufacturers of small wind turbines (defined here as anything 100 kilowatts or less), and the models they produce, with links to more information.

Big Wind Turbines

On the other hand, some of the commercial scale wind turbines are closer to a megawatt (1,000 kilowatts.) The wind turbines pictures along this road are 1.5 megawatt wind turbines.

If you want to get a better sense of what megawatts means, check out this handy map from AWEA that shows commercial-scale wind projects in the United States. Click on the links to different states and you can find out exactly where new wind projects are being built and how many megawatts they are.

Photos courtesy DOE/NREL

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368