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Thinking of Installing a Wind Turbine? Read This First

Last Updated Jan 4, 2016 · Written by Rob Schneider


You're looking for a renewable energy system. If you're thinking about installing a wind turbine, you're on the right track, but is a wind turbine the right choice for you? Before you make your decision, consider the pros and cons of wind turbines versus solar power.

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Wind Turbines versus Solar Power

A wind turbine can provide you with a source of renewable energy, but wind turbines only work effectively in areas where steady winds are blowing. On the other hand, a solar panel system does not generate electricity at night. If there is a breeze at night, your wind turbine will continue to generate energy.

Another advantage to a wind turbine is that it can produce more energy for a lower initial cost output. If you spend the same amount on a wind turbine system as you pay for solar panels, the turbine can produce up to twice as much energy as a solar system under optimal conditions.

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You also need to consider the disadvantages of wind turbines. A solar power system will reliably produce energy throughout the day in most weather conditions. If the air is still or a slight breeze is blowing, you will get little or no energy from a wind turbine. In addition:

  • Wind turbines have moving parts that wear out
  • The propeller of a wind turbine is noisy
  • A wind turbine can act as a lightning rod
  • The propellor can be a hazard to birds

Solar panels do need to be periodically cleaned, but because they don't have moving parts, they require no maintenance and shouldn't need repairing under normal circumstances. Because solar panels do not have moving parts, they generate energy silently and since they don't protrude from the roof or a tower, solar panels don't create the hazards of attracting lightning or posing a danger to birds.

A Wind Turbine or Solar Power: Which Should You Choose?

A wind turbine is less expensive than a solar power system. If winds regularly blow at speeds of 4.5 metres per second or more, a wind turbine might be a more economical choice. Check with your local council first, though. Your council may not allow them in your area and your neighbours may complain about the noise. As a rule, suppliers recommend wind turbines for properties of at least half an acre in size. They may not be appropriate for an urban or suburban home.

Solar panels will cost more to buy and install, but in most areas, they will generate enough energy to pay for themselves over time. The amount of time it takes for a solar power system to pay for itself will depend on the size of the system you choose; the efficiency of the solar panels; the weather in your area; and the positioning of the panels. Under optimal conditions, your system will pay for itself before the warranty expires and long before the system needs replacing.

Some solar power suppliers also sell wind turbines. If you're undecided, they may be able to sell or rent a roof-mounted energy estimator that will reliably measure how much energy the wind and sun will generate in your location. If not, they can give you objective information about both types of systems. To be sure the information you are receiving is objective, get quotes from several supplier/installers. Weigh the initial costs of both systems in the balance, but don't forget to consider maintenance and energy savings over time. Any renewable energy source should be able to pay for itself and continue saving you money after the system has paid for itself.

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