Can You Have A Wind Turbine On Your House?

Can you have a wind turbine on your house?

Small wind turbines designed for residential use have emerged in recent years as an alternative energy source for homes. These turbines, usually roof-mounted, can harness wind to generate electricity and reduce reliance on the grid. With proper siting and installation, small wind turbines can potentially provide over 50% of a household’s electricity needs.

Residential wind turbines rated from 1 to 100 kilowatts can power homes, farms, schools and small businesses. According to the American Wind Energy Association, small wind turbine capacity increased by nearly 14% in 2021 in the U.S. alone as homeowners sought to increase energy independence and sustainability.

While large commercial wind farms require substantial land and investment, smaller turbines allow homeowners to generate their own clean electricity. Advancements in technology have made small wind turbines quieter, more efficient, durable and cost-effective. With federal and state incentives, a residential wind turbine can potentially pay for itself within 10 years or less while reducing one’s carbon footprint.

How Small Wind Turbines Work

Small wind turbines operate on the same principle as large utility-scale wind turbines, just on a smaller scale. They use blades to capture the wind’s kinetic energy, which causes the blades and rotor to spin. This rotational energy turns a shaft connected to a generator to produce electricity. The generator uses magnets and copper wire coils to convert the rotational energy into electrical energy through electromagnetic induction (

The amount of power generated depends on the turbine’s swept area (the diameter of the rotor blades), wind speed, and efficiency of the system. Small wind turbines with rotor diameters between 8-25 feet are well-suited for residential and small business applications. At strong wind sites with average speeds above 15 mph, small turbines can produce 400-1500 kWh per month, helping offset electricity usage (

Most small wind turbines are horizontal axis turbines, with 2-3 propeller-like blades that face into the wind. The turbine is mounted on a tower to access stronger winds at higher altitudes. Generators can be induction type, permanent magnet, or direct drive designs. Sophisticated power electronics help convert the wild AC from the generator into usable grid-compatible AC electricity for the building (

Siting Considerations

When considering installing a wind turbine on your property, you’ll need to evaluate if your home site provides adequate wind resources. Small wind turbines require consistent annual wind speeds of at least 9 mph to generate a reasonable amount of electricity. The turbine should be sited upwind of buildings and trees that could potentially block the wind. Zoning laws may also prohibit wind turbines in residential areas, so check with your local zoning board. You’ll also want to consider your neighbor’s views – a wind turbine may be considered an eyesore. Proper siting is critical to maximize power production and avoid potential issues.

According to one source, “Unless properly siting strategies are followed, even the best home wind turbine won’t generate any power…”

Turbine Size and Power Output

The size of a wind turbine suitable for residential use typically ranges from 1 to 10 kW. The electricity generation potential depends on the swept area of the turbine blades and wind speeds in the area. As a general guideline, a 10 kW wind turbine can produce 10,000-15,000 kWh per year at a site with average annual wind speeds around 12 mph. A 1 kW turbine produces around 900-1,100 kWh annually at the same wind speed. At lower average wind speeds around 9 mph, a 10 kW turbine may generate 6,000-8,000 kWh per year. The power output increases exponentially with wind speed, so a slight difference in annual average wind speed can have a major impact. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can estimate your wind turbine’s annual kWh production by taking the rotor swept area in square meters multiplied by the average annual wind speed cubed multiplied by 0.5. This provides a rough estimate to help size an appropriate turbine.

Larger turbines can harness more wind energy, but also cost more upfront. Small wind turbines for residential use range from 400 Watts up to around 20 kW in size. The most common sizes are 1-10 kW. Micro turbines under 1 kW are also available, but produce less electricity. When sizing a wind turbine, it’s important to balance the upfront system cost with the electricity generation potential at your site.

Upfront Costs

The upfront cost of purchasing and installing a small wind turbine for a residential home can range from $3,000 to $5,000 per kilowatt (kW) of energy capacity (1). This means a typical 5 kW turbine could cost between $15,000 and $25,000 just for the equipment (2). Installation costs are additional, and can range from $2000 to $5000 for a residential small wind turbine (3). Total installed costs for a 5 kW turbine may be $20,000 to $30,000.

Some other upfront costs to consider include:

  • Site assessment – $500 to $1000 to evaluate wind resource and identify optimal turbine location
  • Permitting fees – Varies by location, can be $100 to $500+
  • Grid connection equipment – $1000 to $5000+ for equipment like inverters and transformers to connect to utility grid
  • Batteries for off-grid systems – $5000+ for battery bank

In summary, a total upfront investment of $25,000 to $40,000+ can be expected for a small 5 kW residential wind turbine system. This is a significant investment, but costs can be recouped over time through electricity bill savings.


Ongoing maintenance is crucial for residential wind turbines to operate safely and efficiently. Routine maintenance includes inspecting components like blades, bolts, and electrical parts for any signs of wear or damage. The wind turbine should be checked at least annually, with more frequent inspections after major storms. Many manufacturers recommend professional maintenance every 3-5 years.

For a residential wind turbine, maintenance costs can range from $500 to $1,000+ per year, depending on the turbine size and complexity. Larger turbines generally have higher maintenance needs and expenses. Preventative maintenance helps minimize costly repairs down the road. It’s recommended to budget around 10% of the initial turbine cost annually for maintenance and repairs.

Financial Incentives

There are often financial incentives available to homeowners who install wind turbines. These can help offset the upfront costs of purchasing and installing a residential wind turbine. Some common financial incentives include:

  • Federal tax credits – There is a federal tax credit that covers 30% of the cost of installing a small wind turbine. This can save homeowners thousands of dollars. (
  • State/local rebates and incentives – Many states and utilities offer rebates, grants, or production incentives for installing residential wind turbines. These can cover 25-50% of the system costs. The incentives available vary by location.
  • Property tax exemptions – Some areas provide property tax exemptions for the added value of a wind turbine system. This lowers ongoing costs.
  • Net metering – Most utilities allow net metering, which credits homeowners for excess power produced. This can offset electricity costs.

Researching the federal, state, local, and utility incentives available in your area is important to maximize savings on a wind turbine installation. The incentives and tax breaks can make these systems much more affordable.

Payback Period

The payback period for a small wind turbine refers to the length of time required for the turbine to generate enough electricity to cover its initial costs. This is an important factor when assessing the return on investment (ROI) for installing a wind turbine. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy, payback periods for small wind turbines are highly variable, but often range from 6 to over 20 years (

The payback period depends on several factors, including the size and cost of the turbine system, average wind speeds at the site, energy costs in the area, and available financial incentives. Larger turbines with higher power outputs generally have faster payback periods. Areas with stronger and more consistent winds will also shorten the payback timeframe. Places with high retail electricity rates provide greater savings and return on investment. Tax credits, rebates, and other incentives can reduce the installed cost and improve payback.

According to industry experts, most small wind turbines today have a payback period between 8-12 years under average conditions ( With optimal siting and incentives, some projects see payback in 6 years or less. Ongoing maintenance costs may also impact long-term profitability. Overall, small wind turbines can provide an eco-friendly return on investment for many homeowners, businesses, and farms.


Installing a residential wind turbine requires obtaining the proper permits and approvals from local zoning and permitting authorities. The permitting requirements will vary based on the location and local regulations, but generally the homeowner will need to obtain approval for the turbine height, setbacks from property lines, sound emissions, visual impacts, and electrical connections.

Most areas have zoning laws that restrict the height of structures to 35 feet or less. However, small wind turbines require tower heights of at least 30 feet to reach wind speeds of 10-15 mph. Residential wind turbines are available in tower heights up to 120 feet. To install a wind turbine, the homeowner will likely need to apply for a variance or special use permit for the increased height allowance (

Setback requirements regulate the distance between a turbine tower and the property lines, dwelling, public roads, and power lines. Many jurisdictions require setbacks of 1.1 to 1.5 times the total turbine height. Other common permitting requirements include notifying neighbors, noise emission limits, electrical inspections, and aesthetic considerations.

It’s recommended to consult with local zoning and permitting agencies early in the process to identify potential obstacles and requirements. The permitting process for residential wind turbines typically takes 4-6 months. Hiring a certified installer who is familiar with the local regulations can also help streamline the permitting process.


In summary, installing a small wind turbine at your home is possible but involves careful planning and consideration. The turbine needs to be properly sited and sized to match your energy needs and local wind speeds. Upfront costs can be high, anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 depending on the size, but financial incentives like tax credits can help offset the initial investment. Ongoing maintenance is required to keep the turbine running efficiently. Most small residential turbines have a payback period of 10-20 years. Permits are usually required and involve inspections and engineering approvals.

For the right homeowner who has good wind resources, sufficient space, upfront capital, and long-term commitment, a residential wind turbine can provide clean energy and electric bill savings after the system pays for itself. But turbines may not make practical or financial sense for every household. By weighing all the key factors carefully, homeowners can determine if having a wind turbine of their own is a good fit or not.

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