In order to work effectively, a home wind turbine must be placed in an appropriate site. There are several factors to consider when choosing the site where the wind turbine will be placed, including the surrounding landscape and any obstacles that might obstruct the flow of air towards the turbine. Placing a wind turbine in an unsuitable occasion can lead to disappointing results, and moving it can be very expensive, so it is important to do your homework in order to get it right first time.
Here are a few steps that you will need to take to ensure that your wind turbine is sited in the best possible location.
1. Check Local Wind Speeds
The amount of electricity that you can generate domestically using wind power depends hugely on the typical wind speeds in your area. According to the Energy Saving Trust, wind speeds in your area need to be at least 5 metres per second (11 mph) to make installing a turbine worthwhile. A wind speed prediction tool is available on the Energy Saving Trust website.
You can get an accurate measurement of wind speed by using an anemometer, which is a device for measuring wind speeds. You should install an anemometer and data logger in the place where you plan to put your turbine, and collect the data for at least three months to get an accurate picture of wind speeds in this location. If you can spare the time, collecting data for a year will give you an even more accurate estimation of how well your turbine will perform in all four seasons.
2. Avoid Obstacles
Trees, buildings, sharp cliffs, and other obstacles can block the wind or cause the air flow to become turbulent. Try to avoid placing your turbine downwind of these objects. The ideal location for a turbine is at the top of a smooth slope, as the curve of the ground will funnel the air smoothly up towards the blades, causing them to turn quickly and without turbulence.
Rural locations are usually much better sites for domestic wind power than sites in built-up areas, as there are fewer buildings to disrupt the flow of air. Coastal locations are particularly good sites, as the wind blows straight in from the sea without any obstructions.
3. Consider a Building-Mounted Turbine
If you have no suitable site on which to erect a free-standing turbine, you could consider installing one on the roof of your home. However, be aware that roof-mounted turbines only produce a fraction of the amount of power that a suitably sited free-standing turbine can generate: the typical building-mounted output is 1-2 kW in comparison to a free-standing output of 5-6 kW.
On the other hand, building-mounted systems are often much cheaper. This type of system could work well for you if you only want to make a small investment, as long as you accept that the amount of power you will generate is likely to be small.
4. Get Planning Permission
Not all home wind turbines require planning permission. Systems that are mounted on detached properties in England (but not Scotland) are exempt, as long as they meet certain conditions. Some free-standing turbines are also exempt from the need for planning permission.
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