How to Buy a Residential Wind Turbine

The American Association of Wind Energy maintains a directory of Small Wind Turbine Equipment Providers. You'll want to find a company with a good reputation in close enough proximity to your home to be on hand for maintenance and repair calls. If other people in your neighborhood or community are using residential wind power systems, ask where the units were purchased and how they were installed.

Stop! Have You Had a Wind Assessment?

You may want to rely on the company's wind site assessor or contract for a private site assessment of your own, but don't move forward without first securing a specific wind analysis. Wind quality at your location is crucial in selecting a turbine that will function at maximum efficiency and give you the best return on your investment.

Get Bids and Answers to Specific Questions

As with any major home improvement project, get at least three bids or estimates. Your residential wind turbine company should be able to answer all of the following questions:

- For the turbine unit you are suggesting for my site, what is the annual energy output in kilowatt hours given an average windspeed of 10 to 12 mph?

- Are you basing the estimated annual energy output on measurements averaged from other installations of this turbine or on product-testing data gathered in a laboratory setting?

- Using the specific wind assessment for my site, how is the turbine's annual energy output likely to differ in practice from your estimates?

- How long have you been making or selling this turbine? How long has this model of turbine been for sale? How has this unit been tested for reliable performance in the field?

- How many of these units have you sold and can you provide me with contact information of customers who would be willing to discuss the turbine's performance with me?

- What is the safety and maintenance record for this unit?

Do Your Own Research and Consider Your Options

Once you have received three bids, independently research the recommended turbines. Don't just rely on the manufacturer's websites, which are, after all, marketing tools. Try to find independent reviews of the equipment and don't be shy about contacting people who have shared their personal experiences with the unit online.

If you are planning on installing your own residential turbine system, you can either buy complete residential turbine kits or assemble the separate parts of the system from different suppliers. You will still need to practice the same degree of caution and find out the same energy, testing, and safety information. Luckily, there is an active renewable energy community of do-it-yourself installers online. If you plan to move forward in this way, slow down, build some online contacts, and read accounts of self-installed wind systems.

Many do-it-yourself installers meticulously document the progress of their projects and share freely, and honestly, their mistakes and successes. If you go this route, you will also be personally responsible for meeting local zoning requirements and for installing a system that will meet local wiring and safety codes. Don't just buy the first turbine "kit" you find. Proceed slowly, and make sure you understand every step of the process and that you are confident about what you are buying and why you are buying it before you sign on the dotted line.

There are plenty of companies selling residential wind systems. By the time you're ready to spend money, you should know the specific quality of wind at your site, and how your wind system will be interconnected with the local power utility. At this point, you may well feel confident enough to seriously consider doing the work yourself. If so, read on to learn more about diy self-installed residential wind turbines.

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