Installing a wind turbine Home wind turbines

Choosing a home wind turbine

A domestic wind turbine

It's important to check if a domestic wind turbine is suitable for where you live

There are two types home wind turbines: roof-mounted and free-standing mast-mounted. Home wind turbines can either be connected to the national grid or stand alone, storing the energy they produce in a battery. 

Home wind turbines come in a range of sizes, prices and powers, generating from under 100W to around 50kW. Smaller micro-turbines are often used to charge batteries, while those of 0.6kW upwards can also be used to generate electricity for houses and businesses. Rooftop models vary from 0.5kW to 2.5kW in size.

Choosing the right turbine design and size to suit your home is very dependent on individual circumstances.

Earn cash from home wind power

Renewable energy has become more attractive since April 2010, when the government launched its Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme. Under this scheme, if you generate your own electricity through a wind turbine, energy suppliers must pay you for it, whether you use it to power your home or export it to the grid. 

The scheme guarantees a minimum payment for all electricity generated, plus a separate extra payment for electricity you export to the grid. This is in addition to the fact that you'll be saving money on your energy bills by importing less from the grid.

Terms and conditions apply to the scheme. For example, the wind turbine must have been installed after 1 April 2010 by a certified Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approved installer – but it's definitely worth looking into this before you get a wind turbine installed. To find out more, see our Feed-in Tariff explained guide.

You can get a good estimate of how much you may be able to earn through a feed-in tariff by using the Energy Saving Trust's Solar Energy Calculator

Is wind power right for you?

Checklist

Installing a wind turbine:

  • Choose your site

    Choose a site where the turbine can be mounted as high as possible. You’ll need somewhere where there are few surrounding obstructions such as trees and tall buildings.

  • Wind speed

    Get a reliable estimate of the wind speed at the site of your turbine. A professional measurement is preferable, but an estimate of the annual mean wind speed for a given OS grid reference can be found using the UK wind speed database. The Carbon Trust wind yield estimation tool can also be used to help estimate wind speed and energy yields of small-scale wind turbines.

  • Planning permission

    Since December 2011, as long as some limits and conditions are respected, most domestic wind turbines should not require planning permission. See the planning portal for more information. But always check with your local council if planning permission is needed. It’s also good practice to speak to your neighbours at an early stage to smooth over any initial objections.

  • Additional costs

    Factor in additional costs such as planning permission fees, cabling and installation. Ask your turbine supplier for an estimate of these and any potential additional costs.

  • Feed-in Tariff scheme

    This is definitely worth researching if you are considering installing a wind turbine, as it could allow you to get paid for every kWh of electricity you generate.

  • Insurance

    Speak to your home insurance provider to see if it's able to cover your turbine for repair, replacement and theft.

The amount of electricity generated by a small-scale wind turbine depends on the speed and direction of the wind in your area and other nearby obstructions such as buildings, trees or hills that could reduce wind speed or increase turbulence.

The Energy Saving Trust's (EST) wind turbines study concluded that fewer sites than previously predicted were suitable for the technology, and homeowners should first install an anemometer (wind gauge) for at least three months to determine the average wind speed for the location before investing in a wind turbine. You could also consider using the Power Predictor, which promises to tell you how much wind and solar potential you have. 

Many wind turbine manufacturers, and the Energy Saving Trust, recommend installing at sites with a local average wind speed of 5m/s or more. The vast majority of UK households have an average wind speed of less than this.

Energy production increases with wind speed, up to a maximum level, and a minimum wind speed is usually necessary for turbines to start generating electricity. You should ask manufacturers for the specifications of their products when choosing a turbine, including the rated wind speed and energy generated.

Where to install your home wind turbine

Small-scale wind power is more suitable for remote off-grid locations where conventional methods of supply are expensive or impractical.

Building-integrated wind turbines can be suitable for urban locations – but findings from the EST field trial of 38 building-mounted turbines showed that performance was generally lower thanexpected, usually because of low wind speeds and poor positioning.

Freestanding or pole-mounted wind turbines could also be an option. The EST trials also looked at 19 free-standing turbines and found this type of turbine, when properly installed, to perform well.

The best place for a wind turbine is a smooth-topped hill with clear exposure, free from excessive turbulence and obstructions such as trees, houses or other buildings. However, other areas may have a sufficient wind resource to make a wind turbine worthwhile.

Wind speed increases with height, so it’s best to have the turbine high on a mast or tower.

Planning permission for home wind turbines

Since December 2011, as long as some limits and conditions are respected, most domestic wind turbines should not require planning permission under new permitted development rights. See the planning portal website for more details and contact your local authority.

If planning permission is required, your neighbours will be consulted to voice any objections they have to the wind turbine. For this reason it's good practice to speak to your neighbours before investing time and money in the planning process.

More on this...

  • Find out how much money you could earn from the feed-in tariff
  • Read our guide to buying solar panels
  • Find out how to create a sustainable home