Wind Turbines for Homes

Wind turbines for homes in residential / domestic areas typically range from 300 Watts to 5kW, but in some instances a 10kW or 20kW turbine could be used. A typical installation will use a 1kW turbine. So how do wind turbines work? Turbines use the wind to turn a rotor that drives a generator. They come in many shapes and sizes.

The most common is the horizontal axis turbine with blades like an aircraft propeller and a tail or vane to direct it into the wind. Larger wind generators are more suited to non-urban areas as the turbine needs to be mounted on a tower and makes some noise in operation.

A wind turbine produces an alternating voltage and current, and these are rectified to provide DC at the correct voltage to charge batteries, similar to the system in a motor vehicle. Reference: Wiki.

A number of vertical axis and more aerodynamic wind generators are being developed and show promise in overcoming wind turbulence and noise problems in urban use. Domestic wind generators are usually used in stand alone power systems and designed to charge a battery bank, but more recently they are grid connected as well.

Wind speed mappingWind speed map
Home turbine plan

Obtaining a Wind Speed Map

A home wind turbine requires a reliable wind resource. There are many factors that influence wind pressure and output including air density, the swept area of a rotor, wind speed and turbulence. The later can be affected by trees, houses and hills, but can be reduced by tall system towers.

A wind speed map provides a complete data set of wind occurrence, frequency, direction, seasonal variation and speed at height in a local area. A very useful piece of information for the novice and professional intending to build a wind turbine for home use. Here is a NSW Wind Atlas to help determine wind speeds. 

Components of residential wind turbines

  • Tower: structure to get the generator up into the wind
  • Rotor: spinning blades that convert wind into mechanical motion
  • Generator: device that converts motion into electrical energy
  • Base and anchors: tower foundation and support
  • Transmission conduit: wire cable between devices and controls
  • Control and inversion devices: converting ac to dc power and shutoff controllers
  • Grid interface and metering and or
  • Battery array

Reference: Wind Power Basics: A Green Energy Guide

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