Recommendation:

Solar is usually more bang for the buck, but if you live in a high wind area, outside the range of zoning laws, and simply must try it. Go right ahead.

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All the Facts:

The further you get into reviewing the possibility of self generating energy via wind, the more obstacles you will need to dodge. First, zoning and local building codes in many areas make installation of even a small scale turbine illegal. Second, the height of residential wind turbines sized appropriately for single residences is relatively close to the ground compared to utility scale turbines. Wind speeds slow dramatically as you approach ground level making wind power less practical.

Before committing to a wind turbine, check out the map below by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It will tell you where you are likely to see the best wind resources. If you live in an orange, red, or purple area shown on the map, it will be worthwhile checking into wind energy. If you live in an area of lower wind speeds, you can probably skip on to solar.

Even if you are in an area containing high average wind speeds, residential height wind turbines tend to be highly affected by the micro-environment not macro conditions. Just because you live in an area that shows high average wind speeds does not mean you will get the same results for every point in that area. It is prudent to check wind speeds at your proposed turbine location before installing a turbine. For more information on wind energy refer to the the Department of Energy’s page on small wind systems. It’s a great resource for additional information.