Bosworth Instrument

How much wind is needed to power a home turbine?

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Courtesy of Bosworth Instrument

First do you have what it takes? Whether you are considering a small rooftop unit or a large residential turbine you need to know how much wind power is in your area. Wind resource maps, published by the US Department of Energy show airflow speeds at 50 meters (150 feet) above the ground and are a great resource in deciding if you are in a viable location. That's great if you are installing a larger 10 kilowatt turbine which is typically installed on a 100 foot tower and has a rotor diameter of 24 feet. Below that you really need to evaluate the potential air power of your site on a micro level.

Measuring potential for a small rooftop turbine is simple.

You need to collect air flow data using an anemometer. Also known as an air velocity meter it is used to measure wind speed. This can help you decide whether if an investment in a turbine makes sense. Ideally the anemometer should come with a data logger. Then you can set it up to sample wind speed throughout the day and download the data to a PC for evaluation. The Extech HD300 anemometer has a data logger and Windows compatible software to analyze the airflow. It's easy to set up and use.

5 key things to keep in mind before purchasing a home turbine.

  1. Homes in urban centers usually are not the ideal location for most turbines because of turbulent wind flow around surrounding buildings. You need a consistent, strong airflow to generate electricity. Ideally urban areas that can effectively use turbines are the roofs of high-rise commercial and residential apartment buildings.
  2. A turbine needs 7mph to get started and an average of at least 10-12mph for 6 hours a day to generate electricity.
  3. An average home uses 800-1000 kilowatt-hours per month.
  4. A general rule of thumb in the turbine industry states that a residential wind powered system should not be considered unless you pay $0.10 or more per kilo-watt hour.
  5. A small home turbine like the Southwest Air Breeze will produce 38 kilowatt-hours per month with a 12mph consistent wind speed or about 4% of what a home needs. To put it into perspective a 100 watt light bulb left on 5 hours a day will consume 15 kilo-watt hours per month.

While you may not be able to jump off the power grid a wind turbine is a viable way to generate electricity. With the power of wind you can forget about carbon footprints.

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