Clicky

Small Wind Turbine Guide 2017: What’s the Best System?

Find out how you can supplement your energy supply with a wind turbine in our complete guide. Find the best wind turbine for your clean energy project today.

best-wind-turbine-reviews-2017Wind turbines are a great method of supplying renewable energy to your home. When set-up in favorable conditions they can provide clean energy in the most satisfying way.

Today we take a look at the best small wind turbine systems available right now. We have a table below where you can compare the systems, and there are more detailed reviews following that.

We’ve included home wind turbine kits that start at 400 Watts and go all the way up to 1600 Watts.

Don’t forget to check out our guide too. We discuss everything you to know about home wind turbines before you buy.

Use the quick navigation links below to jump to the part that interests you most.

Quick Navigation

 Guide to Residential Wind Turbine Kits
Review Comparison Table
Wind Turbine Reviews

PictureModelRatingPriceCut in Speed (mph)Power Rating (Watts)Rotor Diameter (meters)


WINDMILL 1200W Wind Turbine kit

N/A$$$$4.512001.7
windmax-hy400-500-wattWindMax

4.1$$$5.64001.2


Windmill DB-400

3.4$$6.74001.2


GTSUN 600W

N/A$$7.84001.2

WINDMILL 600W Kit
3.6$$$4.56001.3
maxwolf-300wMaxwolf Wind Turbine

2.9$8.93001.1


WINDMILL 1500W kit

4.1$$$$$5.615001.7
missouri-raider-1600-wattMissouri Raider 1600W

4.0$$616001.6


ECO-WORTHY Wind/Solar Combo

3.4$$5.64001.2

Cut-in speed: This is the wind speed at which the wind turbine first starts making energy.

Residential Wind Turbine Reviews

We’ve ordered the residential wind turbine kits from highest power output to the lowest.

missouri-raider-1600-wattMissouri Raider 1600W

The Missouri Raider is American designed and made. The company (Missouri Wind and Solar) are knowledgeable and helpful with any questions you might have. This model comes in two choices of color (black and grey) and also two voltage systems (24V and 48V).

The turbine tail and hub feature a heavy duty construction which will last the tests of time. With up to 1600W of output this is one of the more powerful turbines we have looked at. This means it also has a larger rotor diameter of 1.6m. It has an impressive cut-in speed of 6mph too, which makes it good in lowers speed winds.

It also has a PMG (magnet) generator which ensures it runs smoothly and never sticks. The Missouri Raider is one of the larger wind turbines we have listed, but also one of the cheaper ones. It is a good value piece of kit.

Bottom Line: This wind turbine for home use offers great value. It’s a pretty powerful residential turbine that doesn’t break the bank.


windmill-1500wWindmill 1500W

The Windmill 1500W is the one of the most powerful home wind turbines we have looked at. It comes rated at 1500 watts and has a rotor diameter of 1.7 meters. This larger size means it has a bigger wind catchment area, and a pretty low cut-in speed. The cut-in speed is just 5.6mph, so energy can be generated with relatively light winds. Windmill suggest a battery capacity of 200A for this model and a 24V system.

The unit is made from high quality polypropylene and glass fiber material, and is finished with a weather resistant coating. It is easily installed and can be hooked up with solar panel units with relative ease. It comes with an MPPT controller that will protect the batteries from overheating. The controller will also ensure that the system is running efficiently at all times.

All that is needed to complete your wind turbine set-up is the pole and a battery pack. This model also comes with a handy 1 year full warranty.

In the box:

  • Center piece (generator)
  • Tail Piece
  • MPPT Charge Controller
  • 3 x Blades
  • Nose cone
  • Manual brake switch
  • Amp meter display box
  • Hex screws, locking nuts, spacers, hex keys

Bottom Line: In our opinion, this is one of the best residential wind turbine kits available. The inclusion of a charge controller makes installation much more straight forward.


windmill-1200w-turbine-generator-kitWINDMILL 1200W Turbine Generator Kit

This 1200 Watt rated residential wind turbine kit comes with a high performance MPPT charge controller included. The charge controller is an essential part of the operation as it matches the voltage of the wind turbine to the batteries.

The 3 blade turbine has a cut-in speed of 4.5 mph which means it will start producing energy at relatively low wind speeds. The blades themselves are made of polypropylene and glass fiber with a weather proof seal. The system has a rotor diameter of 5.6 feet.

The kit has many safety features to protect the circuitry and hardware. These safeguards include voltage surge protection, battery overcharge protection, sudden gusts and high speed wind defense, and an integrated automatic braking system. It comes with a manual brake switch too.

The kit comes with all the necessary hardware to start harvesting wind power except the battery bank. Here’s a quick run through of what’s included:

  • Generator (center piece)
  • 3x blades
  • Tail piece
  • Nose cone
  • MPPT charge controller
  • Manual brake switch
  • Hex screws, nuts, keys, spacers, and installation manual

The system is suitable for batteries with a capacity of 100 Amps or more. It is also suitable to be combined with solar panels to supplement your energy needs on days of low wind.

The kit comes with an MPPT charge controller. These are the most efficient types of charge controllers and are especially effective in larger wind and solar installations.

The kit comes with a 1 year manufacturers warranty.

Bottom Line: This kit solves the problem of finding a suitable charge controller for your installation. It’s really easy to set-up and is an ideal starting place for those just beginning their adventure with wind power.


windmill-600wWindmill 600W

This is a full home wind turbine generator kit. It is marketed as being easy to install, and can be used in conjunction with solar panels. It is made of a high quality polypropylene and glass fiber construction, which is fit for any weather conditions.

The kit includes an integrated automatic braking system and also a manual braking switch. It is rated for 600W power and 31mph wind speed. It has both 12V and 24V systems and features an auto-detection mode. The suggested battery capacity for this turbine is 100A or larger. The digital MPPT charge controller is specially designed to always generate the maximum power output, and operates the safety features like auto breaking and battery over-charge protection.

It has a really low cut in speed of 4.5 mph. This is the lowest of any model we have featured, and means it is the best at producing energy at low wind speeds. This turbine also comes with an excellent one year warranty. This is one of our favorite models that we have featured in our home wind turbine reviews.

In the box:

  • 1 x Center piece + generator
  • 1 x Tail piece
  • 1 x Digital MPPT charge controller
  • 3 x Blades
  • 1 x Nose cone
  • 1 x Manual break switch
  • Hex Screws, locking nuts, spacers, hex keys and instructions

Bottom Line: If you don’t need the power output of the larger turbines then this is one of the best residential wind turbines in the smaller size. This is a small wind turbine for homes that can supplement with solar power too. It’s one of our favorite home wind turbine kits.

 

eco-worthy-580wECO-WORTHY 580W Combo

This model is slightly different from the others. It is a solar and wind combination that includes solar panels too. This kit comes with everything you need to get started apart from the electrical cables (14 AWG cable) to connect the turbine and solar panels to the controller, a pole, and batteries.

The model we have listed here is the smaller version, but it can be increased in size with a larger solar panel array. The controller is designed to auto-detect a 12V or 24V battery system.

The wind turbine has a really good cut-in speed of just 5.6mph. This makes it good in lower winds. Having the options of solar energy and wind energy means this can generate energy at all times of the year, and at day and night.

This comes at a great price considering all that is included in the kit. The turbine, controller, and solar panels are all included.

In the box:

  • 3 blade wind turbine
  • Hybrid controller
  • 100W solar panel with MC4 connectors (the number of panels can be increased)
  • 1 pair MC4 connectors with 12cm wire (to connect the solar panel to the controller)

windmill-db-400Windmill DB-400

This Windmill 400 watt wind turbine for home use is ideal for off the grid use on land or at sea. It has been well designed to survive all that nature can throw at it. It has a UV coating and will not be corroded by salt water. Furthermore, it can withstand strong gusts and high winds. It also comes with an integrated breaking circuit that means it will “switch off” when the batteries are fully charged.

It has a rated power of 400W and fits a 12V power system. This turbine is ideal for battery capacities of 50A or larger. It has a decent cut in wind speed of 6.7mph which means it can still supply energy on calmer days. Windmill also offer a full one year warranty to offer some peace of mind during the difficult first year of operation.

The package ships with everything you need except a pole and battery. This is the inventory:

  • 1 x Center piece + tail (including generator + MPPT)
  • 3 x Blades
  • 1 x Nose cone
  • 1 x Manual break switch + voltmeter display box
  • 9 x Hex bolts (large)
  • 2 x Hex bolts (small)
  • 1 x Hex key
  • 11 x Nuts
  • 20 x Washers
  • 1 x Unilateral open wrench
  • Installation manual

windmax-hy400-500-wattWindmax HY400

The Windmax HY400 home wind turbine kit comes with great reviews and customer feedback. It has a 5-blade design which means it can deal well with low wind speeds. In fact, it has an impressive cut in speed of 5.6 mph which matches models that retail at a much higher price. This makes it an efficient energy producer, capable of providing power even when the wind speed is lower.

The system is designed to charge a 12V supply and is rated at 400W with a max rating of 500W. The kit includes a generator, blades, controller and screws/bolts. However, it does not come with the pole needed for installation. You will also need your own battery bank to store the energy produced. This Windmax model has a robust construction and is said to be able to withstand strong gusts of wind of +50mph.


 

gtsun-400wGTSUN-400W

This model is made of lightweight aluminum and a carbon-fiber composite. It is a 3 blade system, designed to be as productive as possible, even during low wind speeds. It is the cheapest of the 400W rated turbines we have encountered, and represents a good value purchase.

It has a cut in speed of 7.8mph which is a bit higher than some other more expensive models. It include tip stall protection and also an electromagnetic brake. It is said to have 20-year lifespan. During which it should recoup any investment with energy bill savings.

In the box:

  • Generator
  • 5 blades
  • Hub
  • Cover
  • Fastening pieces
  • Controller

maxwolf-300w Maxwolf 300W

The Maxwolf has the smallest power rating of the turbines we have reviewed. It is rated at 300W, but that doesn’t mean to say it can’t produce a decent amount of clean energy. It is a small wind turbine for homes that don’t need to power really thirsty appliances.

It has smaller blades than the other home wind turbines kits we have looked at, and that means it has a higher cut in speed too. The cut in speed of 8.9mph means this model will only benefit those who get a steady supply of high speed wind. The 6-blade design means that once it is up and running it will rotate with quite some momentum.

As it was originally designed for marine use, it is built to last harsh weather and features a very durable build. It will actually withstand temperatures as low as -45°C. The robust nature of this model means that it should go years without needing repairs. A further feature is the aerodynamic braking which will protect the unit in really high wind speeds.

Check Price


 

How Do Small Wind Turbines Work?

Wind turbines harness the natural kinetic energy that the Earth’s wind provides and convert it into clean electric energy for our homes. As the rotor blades are spun around by the wind, they drive a generator which harnesses the power.

The wind turbine will create energy whenever the wind speed reaches the cut-in speed for the model. For example, a turbine rated with a cut-in speed of 7mph will only start producing electricity when the wind speed reaches this threshold.

The turbine will produce energy anytime the wind blows fast enough. The energy is stored in deep cycle batteries, consumed, or fed back into the grid.

Wind turbine generators can lower electricity bills by up to 90% if employed in the right circumstances. They’re not an ideal fit for most people though. You can find out if they’re right for you in the next section.

wind-turbine-in-action

There are two kinds of small wind turbine system that are available. Each has their own merits. Let’s take a look at each of them.

  1. The grid tied system – this system is connected to the national electricity grid. This type of turbine system will help reduce your consumption of utility supplied electricity. If the wind turbine doesn’t deliver enough energy then the grid makes up the difference. If the wind turbine makes too much energy then the excess can be sold to the utility. These systems make sense if your energy supplied by the utility is expensive, and their requirements for connecting your turbine to the grid are not too expensive.
  2. The stand alone system – this is the off-grid version which interests those who want to become self sufficient and produce clean energy. This version is usually used in conjunction with a solar electric system. In this instance, the wind turbine charges battery packs which store the electricity.

The generator will produce DC electricity in each case. This must be converted to AC electricity before it can be used by appliances in the home, or put back into the grid. This is done using an inverter. Some wind turbines will come as complete kits and include the inverter, but most are sold separately.

What’s Inside a Wind-Electric System?

Let’s break down the wind turbine into its component pieces. This should give a better understanding of how it operates. Knowing some of this terminology will help a lot when choosing the best home wind turbine.

small-wind-turbine-parts

Generator – this is the part that creates the electricity in the system. The motion of the rotors turning spins the generator which changes the kinetic energy into electrical energy. The generator is connected to the center piece of the blades and sits directly behind them.

Brakes – the best wind turbine design will include both manual and automatic braking systems. Automatic brakes can be used in some models for when the battery bank is fully charged. The manual brakes are needed for maintenance or even emergencies.

Batteries – an off-grid system will need a bank of batteries to store the electricity. The turbine will produce electricity whenever it spins above the cut-in speed. So you can stockpile this energy in the batteries for when it is needed. Lead acid batteries (deep-cycle) are the most common kinds to use. They can be wired in series or parallel to make a battery bank.

Controller – the charge controller is basically a safety feature that looks after the battery bank. It monitors the amount of energy stored in the batteries and protects the batteries from overheating when they are fully charged. When the batteries are fully charged the controller diverts the energy to the dump (see next component). We recommend MPPT charge controllers. They are a bit more expensive than PWM controllers, but they are much more efficient.

Dump – when the battery pack is fully charged, the turbine may continue to turn. Without a dump, the energy has nowhere to go and the system will run unloaded. This means it might spin extremely fast and may break. The dump protects the unit when the batteries are fully charged by ensuring there is still enough resistance in the circuit.

Inverter – the electrical energy made by the generator needs to be converted from DC to AC before it can be used.

Should I Get a Small Wind Turbine for My Home?

There are many good reasons to get involved with renewable energy sources like wind. People usually get involved with wind energy for environmental reasons, but other reasons include cheaper energy and a desire to be more independent.

It’s important that people remain realistic with their expectations about wind energy though. Despite being around for a long, long time there are reasons why wind energy is not all that popular. For a start, it is completely dependent on the consistency of wind. If you live in a place where average wind speeds are not high, then installing a wind turbine would be completely impractical and a total waste of money. Actually, that means wind energy is not a feasible energy source for most of us. Take a look at the map below that gives the average wind speeds across the entire country at 80m. If you live in a green area then you should forget about it right now (unless you live higher up). You can get all this information from the NOAA website.

average-wind-speeds-usa

For a home wind turbine kit to run efficiently and supply you with a decent amount of energy, the location is really important. The stronger and more consistent the wind, then the more energy you will have.

Wind turbines are very sensitive to even the slightest changes in wind speed. The amount of wind energy that you can harvest can be calculated very easily if you know the wind speed. The energy harvested by the wind increases with the cube of the wind speed. The relationship can be represented like this:

Energy harvested = (Wind speed) 3

This means that a 10 mph wind will yield 8 times as much power than a 5 mph wind. In fact, a wind speed increase of just 1.3 mph will create double the amount of energy. Furthermore, by choosing a place for your wind turbine that has 10% more wind, you will yield 33% more energy.

This relationship isn’t an exact scientific one, as there other other variables that will affect the amount of energy harvested. But, it gives a great indication of the amount of power you might produce in a given area.

The map above gives a great indication of general areas that receive a good amount of wind, but the immediate surroundings are vitally important too. A wind turbine must be able to function unimpeded from trees, hills, buildings or anything else that might affect the wind. Good sites for wind turbines would be hilltops, plains, fields, and ocean fronts. Anything close to a forest, city, or valley would run the risk of not getting a strong enough wind.

turbine-field

The easiest way to know for sure if your local weather is ideal for a turbine would be to measure it yourself. A digital handheld wind meter can be purchased on Amazon. To really get meaningful results you would have to monitor the wind speed regularly over a long period of time. Otherwise, information might be available from local meteorological sites. This data wouldn’t be as accurate as collecting your own “on-site” data, but would give a good indication. They might even keep historical wind speed data which would be a really useful resource.

If after all your research, you find that you live in an area with above average wind speed then you can start thinking about wind turbines. They are a great solution to off-grid energy headaches. Generally speaking, they work well in combination with solar panels, but can make sense on their own if your electricity rate is currently very high. Hot, sunny days don’t tend to be very windy, while those cloudy, sunless days are often much more windy. Wind turbines produce most of their energy in the winter, while solar panels do most of their work in the summer. A combination of the two is a great energy providing relationship for the environmentally conscious.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Renewable energy
  • Avoid the expense of extending utility power lines to a remote location
  • Much better for the environment
  • Can provide back-up power in a power outage
  • Save money in the long-term
  • Tax credit incentive from the government

Cons

  • Expensive to set-up
  • Relies on the weather
  • Not suitable for most locations

Installation & Maintenance

Installation Guide – Some things to consider before you install a wind turbine.

wind-turbine-installation-diagram

  1. Make sure you know the installation site inside out. Besides keeping the wind turbine clear of any physical wind obstructions like trees and buildings, make sure you know about the prevailing wind directions. The wind turbine needs to be situated upwind of any obstructions. It should be at least 30 feet higher than any obstacle within 300 feet.
  2. Plan for maintenance checks. Your wind turbine should last for at least 20 years, but it will require maintenance checks over the course of its life. Make sure that it can be easily lowered or reached for maintenance.
  3. Consider the amount of wiring used. Quite a lot of electricity can be lost due to the resistance of wire. Try and plan the installation site to keep the length of wire between turbine and batteries to a minimum. If you have to use a large length of wire then try to invert DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) as the losses will be less.
  4. How will the turbine be supported? – Most manufacturers don’t supply a pole to attach the wind turbine to. You will either have to buy one, make one, or attach it to a roof or other surface.
  5. Ensure the whole set-up matches. If you choose a 12V wind turbine then make sure you also choose a 12V inverter and controller to match it. Likewise, if you choose a 24V or 48V system make sure they are all the same voltage. The dump load must be exactly the same as the power rating of the turbine too. If you have 400W rated turbine, then the dump load must match it.

Before installing a grid-tied system you will of course have to get permission from your utility company.

An off-grid system will also require batteries to store the electricity. They use deep cycle batteries, which are typically lithium-ion or lead acid. Most small wind turbines will require 12V batteries. These can be combined to make battery banks. These offer more energy storage space.

Both styles will require an inverter to change the current from AC to DC before it can be used.

big-wind-turbines

Maintenance

Wind turbines have many moving parts and have maintenance checks performed on them every 6 months. With proper maintenance and care, a wind turbine should last 20 years or even longer.

A general maintenance check should include:

  • Check the blades and nose cone for any superficial damage.
    • Damaged blades decrease efficiency and can be dangerous.
  • Check the blades nose cone are balanced and secured tightly.
    • Check the nuts and bolts.
  • Clean any dirt or residue from the blades and cone.
  • Check that the electrical connections are secure and corrosion free.
  • Check the condition of the battery bank.
    • Use a multimeter to test the batteries.
    • Clean and inspect the connections.

Before You Buy: Checklist

  • Perform a local wind survey. This is an essential step, and will show whether a turbine is a feasible prospect or not. You can do this yourself using a wind meter. You would need to measure the wind at the prospective installation site on a daily basis for a long period of time (+1 year) to get worthwhile data. The other option is to use public information collected by meteorological agencies.
  • Estimate the energy output of a wind turbine. We mentioned a simple equation earlier that can give a rough idea of how much energy that can be produced. This equation is helpful at the early decision making stage, but if you are truly serious about getting a wind turbine then there is a more accurate way of estimating the performance of particular turbines. This equation will allow you to see if it is a viable proposition. The equation is:

AEO= 0.01328 D2 V3

AEO = The annual energy output of a turbine (kilowatt-hours/year)

D = The blade/rotor diameter in feet

V = Annual average wind speed, in miles per hour (mph)

  • Know the cut-in speed of the wind turbine. The cut-in speed is the minimum wind speed that is needed for the turbine to start producing electricity. If the wind speed is below the cut-in speed then the turbine will not produce any energy. It’s no good getting a model with a 9mph cut-in speed if your average wind speed is 8 mph.

That brings us to the end of our guide to best home wind turbines. Hopefully, you should be a step closer to finding the best residential wind turbine for your home.

We regularly post articles about the things that can make life in a tiny home easier. We’ve got some exciting features coming soon, so we hope we’ll see you soon. Happy turbine hunting!

Sources

Government Energy Website

Windmap image

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply