Steps 4-10: Planning a small wind turbine installation
If small wind seems both affordable and possible for your situation, here are some things you still need to consider in sizing, purchasing, and installing a small wind system. Make sure you have completed Steps 1-3 under The Crucial Stuff before proceeding below! You can either go through these steps yourself or contact a dealer who can provide you with guidance.
Please note that if you’re interested in a turbine under 500 W in power, a number of the steps below will be of less concern.
Step 4: Measuring and reducing your electricity use
How much electricity do you consume, and how much can you reduce it by?
Saving a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity is always cheaper than producing one! Make sure that you have taken steps to reduce your energy use before looking into a small wind turbine. This will save you money and likely reduce the size of turbine you would require! (For more information, see Energy Efficiency First)
Step 5: Electrical Requirements & Turbine Sizing
What are your electrical requirements and what size of turbine will you need to satisfy them?
Now that you’ve identified where you can save energy, you will need to determine with greater precision the turbine size that meets your annual electricity use and peak power requirements. (For more information, see Sizing Your Turbine)
Step 6: Net Metering (optional) and/or Financial Incentives
If you're going on-grid, how do you interface with the utility? (optional)
You’ll need to research how grid interconnection is done for your electrical utility and whether they have a ‘net metering’ program in place to track and bill the electricity you use from the grid and the electricity you store in the grid, and whether there are any incentives that could help make your small wind system more affordable. (For more information, see On- or Off-Grid? and Connecting to the Grid, Incentives and Support)
Step 8: Wind Resource, siting and Feasibility Assessment with RETScreen
What is the exact wind resource at your site and how do you figure out exactly where to put the turbine on your property? How can you get a better estimate of a turbine’s technical and financial feasibility?
Measuring your wind resource or having your site assessed will help you get a better idea of how much electricity your turbine will produce, since wind is affected by subtle variations in landscape and tree growth. You need to be sure you are able to site your turbine in a high-wind area of your property that is far enough from buildings, fences, animals, roads, and on a tall enough tower to be well above buildings, treetops, and any other wind obstructions. A more detailed feasibility study is highly recommended before investing in a small wind system. Download the free RETScreen tool to do this assessment. (For more information, see Your Turbine Site, Measuring Wind, Using RETScreen and Sizing Your Turbine)
Step 9: Legal Stuff, Social and Environmental Considerations
What other legal issues will you need to deal with? Is there anything else you should consider before shopping for a turbine?
You will need to investigate the legal and regulatory issues that apply to your site. This includes zoning ordinances, building codes, land use regulations, and possibly insurance. Aspects relating to noise, neighbours and potential bird impacts should also be considered, explored and understood to minimize surprises and problems when installing the small wind website (For more information, see Legal & Regulatory Issues and Other Considerations and Benefits and Issues)
Step 10: Buying & Installing
How and where should you buy a system and how should it be installed?
You can buy a turbine and accessories/electronics either direct-from-manufacturer or from a dealer. If you are having somebody professionally install the system (recommended for turbines larger than 1 kW), you need to ensure that the dealer/installer is qualified and that they can provide an appropriate service plan. (For more information, see Purchasing Tips and Installation & Maintenance)
And that's it! You're well on your way to using small wind to generate electricity from a clean, renewable resource!