Residential windmills are popping up all over the place, from small farms to urban apartment buildings. Their owners hope that the investment will payoff big…but will it?
To get the peak performance out of a residential windmill, you must fulfill certain requirements. These include:
Having the right location –
Thought weather is a big thing when it comes to windmills – you do need a certain amount of wind to get good energy generation – there are other aspects of your home's location that you need to investigate before you spend the bucks, such as:
- Are tall towers allowed in your area?
- Do you have enough space for the tower and required equipment?
- Will your neighbors be okay with having a windmill next door?
If you answer no to any of these, then a residential windmill will not work for you.
Having the right attitude -
A residential windmill isn't something you can just take down if you don't like how it looks or if it doesn’t meet your expectations. This is a long-term commitment - residential windmills usually last at least 20 years – so it's important that you really, really want this in your backyard.
The size of your residential windmill will depend on how much electricity you want to generate. The "micro" windmills (20 to 500 watts) are mainly used to charge boat and RV batteries. Small windmills (1 to 10 kW) can be used for small applications like powering pumphouses or lighting remote buildings. For residential uses, windmills that generate over 100 kW are usually best.
To correctly calculate your electrical generation needs, it's best to consult a professional. Most windmill manufacturers will provide this service as part of their package. They usually look at your past power usage, proposed site, and the usual weather patterns of your area to determine which of their windmills would be best.
Though the wind is free, the windmill is not. Depending on your local zoning requirements, conditions, and the type of residential windmill you are buying, installation could start at around $3,000 and go up as far as $50,000.
The residential windmill industry is extremely competitive, so it's best to shop around. Get quotes from various companies. You want to make sure that the quotes are for similar equipment and kW generation. This way, you can compare "apples to apples" and ensure that you are getting the best price.
Some local governments and utilities provide a small rebate for the installation of power-saving or power-generating devices like solar panels and windmills. These rebates don't come close to covering the full cost of a windmill but every little bit helps so look into these programs.
Don't forget the cost of maintenance when you're looking at installing a windmill on your property. Residential windmills are not one of those "set and forget" sort of home investments. Maintenance must be kept up to ensure the safe and efficient running of the machine. Most windmill manufacturers will offer a discounted maintenance program – you just have to ask.
Also, take into consideration the need for additional insurance. Things happen – lightening strikes, freak hurricanes hit – and with special disaster insurance in place you can be assured that your new windmill will be taken care of.