Wind turbines are not cheap. Even the smaller ones designed for use around the home can easily creep into the tens of thousands of dollars.
This is before you even factor in the installation.
As a result, a lot of people wonder whether wind turbines really are worth the cost.
We are going to try and answer that question on this page.
How much does a wind turbine cost?
We are going to assume that the people reading this page are interested in small wind turbines.
So, ones for rural properties including farms.
If you are planning on installing one of those multi-million dollar wind turbines, then we are positive that the information on this page probably isn’t going to help you all that much!
An average small wind turbine can cost between $15,000 and $30,000.
A wind turbine of this size is expected to last between 20 and 25 years, with regular maintenance.
If you purchase a $30,000 wind turbine, then the average cost per year, still exclusive of maintenance, is going to be $1,200.
This doesn’t really seem that high, does it?
Ongoing maintenance costs are a bit tougher to predict.
This is because it will depend on the wind turbine manufacturer, the winds that it is exposed to, etc.
For a ballpark figure, expect to be paying about 3-4% of the initial purchase price of the wind turbine per year in maintenance fees.
Are wind turbines worth the cost?
If the average wind in the area you live in is below 5 meters per second, or you live in an urban area, then wind turbines are not going to be worth the cost.
At this sort of wind speed, the wind turbine wouldn’t really be able to generate any sort of viable power.
In fact, you would probably end up having to pull a ton of power from the power grid.
This is probably the main thing that you want to be avoiding.
There are a few other things that you may want to consider to determine whether the wind turbine will be worth the cost, though.
How high is the wind turbine?
One of the main reasons you can’t really install wind turbines in a residential location is how high they need to be to generate viable power.
Most places will have planning restrictions in place.
To really start to see any viability from the wind turbine, it would have to be at least 40-meters high.
Preferably, it would be as high as 80-meters. At 80-meters, energy production could be up to 10x higher than 10-meter high wind turbines.
The size of the wind turbine
This is where you can really start to work out whether it is worth the price of getting a wind turbine.
You need to know what the total energy output of the wind turbine is.
For example, you may have a wind turbine that is quoted 25 kW. It won’t generate anywhere close to this amount, though.
For the most ideally positioned wind turbines, you can expect the wind turbine to generate about 33% of the quoted power.
Well, at least on average.
So, in this case, you are going to be getting 8.25 kW.
This could result in an average power production of 198 kW per day, or 72,270 kW a year.
So, how can we work out whether a wind turbine is going to be cost-effective for you? Well, you will need to know the following information:
- The yearly cost of the wind turbine, including maintenance.
- The number of kW generated per year, assuming that the wind turbine operates at 33% capacity, on average.
Let’s take this example.
Let’s assume your 25 kW wind turbine costs $60,000. Is expected to last 25-years and has maintenance fees of 4% per year.
This would mean that the wind turbine would cost $4,800 per year of operation.
This turbine would generate 722-watts per year.
The price that you would be paying per watt of energy would be $3.00.
This is about where you want to be.
Compared to the cost of buying energy from the grid, it is likely that you would have made your money back in 5-10 years.
This means that running anything smaller than a 25kW wind turbine may not be worth it in most cases.
Are there any incentives in your area for installing a wind turbine?
There are a lot of areas that are now providing incentives for people switching to renewable power.
Although, to be honest with you, the bulk of these incentives apply to residential areas where it probably isn’t going to be worth having a solar panel installed in the first place.
Can you sell the power back to the grid?
Chances are that you are not going to be using all of the power that your wind turbine produces.
You don’t just want that power to disappear into the abyss, though.
There are some areas where you are able to sell the excess power back to the grid.
You won’t be able to command a huge price for it, but it will go some way toward making the wind turbine a whole lot more cost-effective.
Are wind turbines worth it if you live in an urban area?
On the off-chance that you do get enough wind to power the wind turbine, the surrounding buildings will cause wind turbulence.
This is going to be devastating to the wind turbine.
It is going to be pushing the maintenance fees for that wind turbine through the roof.
If you are looking to power your home with renewable power in an urban area, then you will need to look into alternative methods to wind power.
The most common substitution is going to be a solar panel.
If you live in a rural area with a decent amount of wind (average higher than 5-meters per second), it will be worth buying a wind turbine.
The high upfront cost is covered within just a few years.
Smaller wind turbines tend not to be worth it.
They are far too expensive for the power that they can generate.