They have been around for centuries, but they are quickly becoming the darlings of the eco-friendlies and clean energy nuts. Windmills, or in this case, wind energy generators, come in all shapes and sizes.
But in actuality, how feasible and cost-effective would it be for you to integrate a small wind system at your home, cabin, or camp? It might be easier than you might think. And if the small-wind tax credit somehow holds onto its tenuous place in the farm bill, it might just be cost-effective for you to invest one that can help defray, or even eliminate your monthly electricity bill.
The economics will be different for everyone, so I am not necessarily encouraging you all to run out and buy a micro wind turbine. I will also warn you that interconnection laws vary by country, state, province, municipality, etc. So, before spending ANY money on one of these gizmos, be certain that you have an adequate wind resource, and if you are planning on connecting to the grid, that you understand the interconnection standards that apply.
Please use this information with caution: you must not cloud your judgment with mental images of backward-spinning electric meters and negative utility bills. While this is possible, you don’t want to spend all of your hard-earned money on a micro turbine that your local HOA, planning board, or zoning commission never lets you put up.
I should also note that while vertical axis wind-turbines may be the wave of the future for small-wind (especially in urban settings), there are lots of companies making big claims about their products right now, and I am not comfortable with my own knowledge of the products to include them in this listing.
The Skystream 3.7 is the first fully-integrated, grid-tied wind energy system designed for residential use. This “plug and play” turbine is an all-inclusive wind generator (with controls and inverter built in) designed to provide quiet, clean electricity in very low winds.
Unlike many other turbines, the Skystream 3.7 will turn downwind because it has no tail rudder to keep it facing into the wind.
Cost*: $5399 (not including tower and installation materials)
Rated Capacity: 1.9 kW continuous output, 2.6 kW peak
Rotor: 12 feet (3.72 m); 50-325 RPM
Interconnection: Utility connected or battery charging
Alternator: Gearless, permanent magnet brushless
Voltage Output: 240 VAC (Optional 208 VAC)
Estimated Energy Production: 400 kWh/month @ 12 MPH (5.4 m/s)
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Tim is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media where he writes regularly about the politics of energy and the environment, green business and clean tech. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.