Debates have always raged over the effectiveness of using wind power systems. There have been countless speculations about their future and their potential to replace existing means of power generation. Small-scale wind power setups, especially those meant for non-commercial and residential purposes, have often been criticized for their apparent lack of power, scanty output, high costs and a host of other associated inconveniences such as the noise and vibrations (caused by the rotor blades), their dependence on good wind speeds and their overall complexity. The scales have always tilted in favor of large-scale, commercial wind power generation plants. In 2007, in a story entitled “It’s no breeze making switch to wind power” published in the British paper The Telegraph it was opined that, ‘small wind wasn’t ready for prime time’. Interestingly, this opinion came at a time when countries around the world, like Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Ireland, were seriously considering using wind power more extensively for a most diverse range of uses.
Later that year, the world was shown the brighter side of using residential wind power in an article published in The New York Times entitled, “Homespun Electricity, From the Wind”, in which several success stories were profiled that clearly established the tremendous financial and environmental benefits of using residential wind energy for the generation of electricity for the household. In this context one might remember the account of Rena Wilson and her husband and how this couple had taken advantage of the gusts of wind blowing through their estate near Urbana, Illinois by erecting a 56-feet high wind turbine and bringing down their electricity bills from $ 90 to $ 10. The article concluded by saying that ‘residential wind energy is shortly heading towards the mainstream’.
Anybody contemplating setting up a residential wind energy system at home needs to have a few facts and figures before taking the plunge into the wonderful world of wind energy. The first in the list is having a clear and accurate idea about the amount of electricity that is typically needed for his or her home. According to the statistics revealed by the AWEA, a typical US household needs around 780 kWh each month. Did you know that even the simplest of residential wind energy turbines can lower your household electricity bill by around 50% to 90%? You are also advised to keep your monthly utility costs handy for future computations and comparisons.
Next one needs to determine the average speed of the wind blowing in the region where the installation is planned. Different manufacturers specify different minimum wind speeds for their products. However, anything less than the minimum specifications will rule out the installation of the system in that location. If you are planning to have your setup installed within the United States, the best way to find out the average speed of the wind in your area is to consult the Wind Resource Maps from Windpower America. It takes just a few clicks of your mouse to find out all you need to know. For people living in other countries, the best bet is to check with the nearest airports where wind speed records are maintained for aeronautical purposes.
Third comes matching a product with the electricity needs of the homestead. For those living in the US, AWEA compiled Small Wind Turbine Equipment Providers list provides all the necessary information in detail.
Here is a very important consideration to make. One needs to review the production estimates at different wind speeds from the manufacturers about their products and match them with the desired output at the given location. In case it fails to meet the target, setting up the residential wind energy turbine may be a wrong decision.
Finally, one should consider the expenses involved and the future savings. One needs to peruse the cost of installing the product with the time it is likely to take for recovering the expenses for the initial setup. The best way to go about it is to carefully compute and compare the cost of implementation of the project against the projected monthly savings in utility charges. Remember that you should also take into account any government incentive that might be available. A typical project analysis is given below:
(A) Cost of implementation of the Residential Wind Energy Turbine $ 10,000.00 (B) Monthly saving in Utility billing .. .. . . $ 75.00 (C) Yearly saving in Utility billing .. .. .. . $ 900.00
Number of years for recouping the initial cost 11 (Eleven years)
These days one can easily buy a wind generator kit to have an additional means of getting power. However, in spite of their simplification over the years, setting up a wind generator system at home can throw up many obstacles if you are not careful. Why take chances when there are so many good guides available today to help you through every step of the way? Get a guide and have a smooth installation. As Dylan would have said, “It’s blowin’ in the wind.
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