How to Save Money by Switching to a DIY Wind Turbine Generator

How to Save Money by Switching to a DIY Wind Turbine Generator

Introduction

Installing a small wind turbine generator on your property can greatly reduce your electricity bills while also benefitting the environment. DIY wind turbines are an affordable option that allow homeowners to generate their own renewable electricity. In this comprehensive guide, I will explain the costs and benefits of building a homemade wind turbine, considerations for optimal placement, how to choose the ideal wind turbine design, and provide a step-by-step tutorial for constructing and installing your own system. Follow along to learn how you can harness clean wind energy and start saving money!

Cost Savings from Wind Turbine Electricity Generation

One of the biggest incentives for investing in a residential DIY wind turbine is the long-term cost savings. While the initial costs of materials and construction can seem high, a wind turbine will eventually pay for itself in electricity bill savings and then continue generating free renewable energy for years to come.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 5 kW wind turbine like the one we will build in this guide can produce 6,000 to 12,000 kWh annually. With the average electricity rate around 10 to 15 cents per kWh, that could save you $600 to $1,800 per year on utilities. Factoring in the average cost of $3,000 to $5,000 for a DIY turbine kit, the system would pay for itself in 2 to 8 years. After that, your homemade wind turbine will continue producing free electricity for 20 years or longer with minimal maintenance, providing decades of reliable return on your investment.

Other Financial Incentives for Residential Wind Turbines

Beyond the basic utility bill savings, there are additional financial incentives that can improve cost-effectiveness when you install a wind turbine:

  • Tax credits – A federal investment tax credit (ITC) covers 26% of small wind turbine costs for homeowners. Many states/provinces also offer production incentives or property tax exemptions.

  • Net metering – Selling excess power back to your utility via net metering can further offset costs.

  • Increased home value – Adding a wind turbine increases your property value, especially for off-grid homes.

So installing a DIY wind generator provides immediate savings on electricity, plus long-term profit through ongoing energy production, incentives, and added real estate value. The costs are quickly recouped, making wind energy very economical.

Factors to Consider When Planning Your Wind Turbine

Getting your wind turbine project right from the start will ensure maximum energy production and savings over time. Here are key factors to consider before building your system:

Wind Resource Assessment

The most critical factor is assessing your wind speeds. On average, small wind turbines require annual wind speeds of at least 9 mph to be viable. The higher and more consistent the winds, the more power the turbine will generate. Use a home anemometer for at least 1 year to determine your average wind speeds at hub height.

Turbine Siting

Find a position on your property that has consistent, unobstructed wind flow. The turbine should be sited upwind of buildings and trees that could cause turbulence. As a rule of thumb, situate it 100 feet away from obstructions for every 10 feet of tower height.

Equipment Sizing

Choose a wind turbine size (kW rating) and tower height appropriately matched to your site’s wind resource and power needs. Bigger is not always better if winds are low. Use sizing calculators to select suitable equipment.

Zoning Requirements

Consult local zoning laws, as some municipalities restrict wind turbine installations. If needed, obtain construction permits before building.

Installation Costs

Factor in expenses for tools, equipment rentals, concrete, electrical components, and construction materials. Know your DIY budget and get cost estimates to size the project appropriately.

Choosing the Best DIY Wind Turbine Design

For a first wind turbine, start simple. The most reliable and cost-effective option for homeowners is a grid-tied horizontal axis wind generator using an off-the-shelf generator head on a tilt-up guyed lattice tower. Here are the components you will need:

  • Generator head – Select a proven small wind turbine ranging from 1 to 10 kW matching your site’s wind speeds. Higher kWs only make sense if you have sufficient wind. Consider brands like Skystream, Southwest Windpower, Bergey, or homemade designs using car alternators.

  • Tower – Opt for a hinged tilt-up guyed lattice tower at least 30 feet tall. This allows easy raising and lowering for maintenance. Alternatively use a freestanding tower, but they are more expensive.

  • Inverter – Grid-tie inverters convert the turbine’s AC current into usable DC power for your home. Choose an inverter with surge capacity for your turbine’s kWs.

  • Batteries – For off-grid systems, you need deep cycle stationary batteries to store power, but grid-tied systems feed directly into your house.

This traditional horizontal axis wind generator with guyed tower design is simple, efficient, and economical for residential wind energy.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Constructing a DIY Wind Turbine

Once you have selected equipment and a site, follow these steps to build your own wind turbine:

1. Prepare the Site

Clear an area at least 100 feet around the tower location. Dig a 3 to 4 foot deep hole for the concrete tower base pad. The diameter should be 3 times the tower base width.

2. Pour the Concrete Foundation

Build formwork and reinforce with rebar grid for the pad. Pour concrete and allow a week to fully cure before mounting the tower.

3. Assemble the Tilt-Up Tower

Assemble tower sections using guy wire rings and attachments. Fasten the hinged base plate. Lift into position and anchor guy wires at proper angles.

4. Install the Turbine

Bolt the generator head onto the tower top plate. Attach blades if not pre-assembled. Connect and test wiring, grounding and equipment controls.

5. Connect to Grid

Run wiring underground to your main electric panel and install a grid-tie inverter with surge protection. Engage an electrician if needed.

6. Raise the Turbine

Use the gin pole lifting system to safely tilt up the tower. Lock in place with a collar pin. Connect and tension guy wires.

7. Perform Safety Checks

Inspect supports, wiring connections, guy wire angles, bolt tightness and brakes before start-up. Verify manuals for all maintenance needs.

Once constructed, your DIY wind turbine will be ready to start producing emissions-free, cost-effective wind energy for your home! Monitor performance and enjoy the savings.

Conclusion

Installing your own small wind turbine is an ideal way to take control of your energy costs and make an eco-friendly impact. Assess your wind resources, research permit requirements, budget accordingly, and take time to build a safe and robust system. With proper siting, sizing and installation, a homebuilt wind generator can quickly pay dividends by harnessing free clean power year after year. If you have the skills and ambition, transitioning to wind energy could save you thousands in utility bills while benefiting the planet.