Thanks for the sharing your thoughts Brian! I live in IL and wondering if the numbers would make more sense if I installed a system with a small battery backup like you suggest. Would you mind sharing a typical system that you would install for a 1000 sq ft ranch house.. maybe with the with/without option to charge a Chevy Volt at night? Also, what is the typical payback that you have seen with this style of setup?
What is the Best Solar Panel to Choose? The output power, voltage and current profile of the solar panels will dictate the number of panels needed and what inverters or charge controllers can be used. Small off-grid home or cabin kits often require 12 VDC output panels to directly charge batteries and/or operate DC loads. Larger solar panels with output voltages ranging from 24 to 50 VDC are more commonly used in grid-tie home systems where a high DC voltage is required to operate the inverter. If you have the roof or ground space with limited shading issues on your property, the larger solar panels may provide a better investment since the cost per watt is cheaper than smaller PV (Photovoltaic) panels.
Another important part of a solar installation is meeting all of the necessary regulations. A professional installer can help you navigate the complicated details of ensuring that your equipment and install complies with all local, state, and national building and safety standards. You may need to get approval from a local electrical inspector, and your installer will also make sure you’re meeting all applicable electrical codes. You may need approvals from city planning departments. Your installer will also help you work with your insurance company to meet any special requirements they may have. Your power company will also have specific requirements, and working with a solar installer will help you get everything set up correctly. Although it’s not a regulation, you’ll also want to follow all of the requirements that your solar panel manufacturer has laid out in their warranty, so that if you ever need to replace a panel you know that you’ve met all of their guidelines for installation.

You have read this far, and still want to install a wind turbine? Then it is time for a reality check: Most (some would say all) installed small wind turbines do abysmally poor in comparison with their energy production numbers as calculated above. That is the message from a number of studies, usually on behalf of governments that subsidize wind turbines. Do not just take our word for this, read it for yourself:


Your solar energy system should continue to generate electricity for 20 to 30 years, so it’s crucial that you consider both the upfront costs and the relative financial benefits for all of your solar options. If you buy a home solar kit like the ones for sale at Costco or Home Depot, it may be less expensive per watt, but you aren’t getting the same quality equipment that solar installers are able to offer you. For the most part, solar installers buy from equipment distributors that don’t sell to the general public – and they’re often getting lower prices because they’re able to buy in bulk.
The new HO series system can run on the grid as a "Grid-Tie" or it can run in a rural setting with no grid power at all. The system is very versatile to be able to run as a Grid-Tie or an Off-Grid system. So, if you are interested in the new HO Series turbine here are some links to videos of the system in action, this is a grid tied system and we can still sell you any size that fits your budget in time to take that tax credit.
Rated power of a wind turbine may not be quite as meaningless as cut-in wind speed, though its use is limited. It could have some utility to quickly compare, or get a feel for, the size of the wind turbine, but only if those rated power numbers were taken at the same rated wind speed, and if the manufacturer is giving you a realistic number (many inflate rated power). A much better measure of turbine size is, simply, their diameter. As shown above it is by far the best predictor for power output.
A typical house usually requires a home wind turbine with a 5 kW generating capacity to meet all its energy requirements. A turbine that offers this much power would have to be around 13 to 18 feet in diameter and positioned in an area where strong winds often pass through. There are also plenty of smaller, cheaper turbines, but these variants produce less power and are less reliable than their more expensive counterparts.

This is a wind map of the lands south of the border (the US) for 30 meters (100′) height, a very common height for small wind turbine installations. Anything green or yellow is not a good wind resource location. Here in Canada the distribution is similar, in that the good places are in the mid-west and very close to the shores of the great lakes and oceans.


Cities and suburbs had failed to keep pace with advances in alternative energy because they came of age in the sixties when everyone believed fossil fuel would last until nuclear power satisfied all our electrical needs. Now, as eagerness for the wind and solar power drives engineers and planners, preliminary studies suggest just about every North American community has geographic and weather conditions conducive to hybrid wind and solar power installations. We still can use our fingers to count the number of communities seriously considering investment in wind turbines.


I have spent my entire morning calculating and re-calculating wind turbines’ kW—their capacities and limits for generating electricity and energy in kilowatts per hour.  I consider this morning-long math marathon a mark of my emerging sophistication as a windophile, a crucial step in my apprenticeship as a “windsmith.”  Yes, Paul Gipe, author of the seminal text on wind power, dubbed the experts in all things windy “windsmiths.”  I like it; I want to become one; hence the protracted math homework on wind turbines’ “kW.”
I’ve often wondered whether it would make sense to “shade” all parking lots with solar panels. Drive to the mall (I know you don’t, but others do) and there’s acres and acres of cars baking in the sun. Mount the solar panels just high enough to comfortably walk, drive, and park beneath then rake in the free solar. In fact, if it’s it’s a commercial parking lot, you can charge customers a premium for the shade and the warm fuzzy feeling that they’re part of saving the planet. Same goes for parks in need of a little shade.
Going forward, there is hope for the small wind future! Certification programs are under way in various places to provide real turbine performance data. In North America this is being spearheaded by the Small Wind Certification Council, which requires third-party certification of turbine performance in a standardized fashion. Manufacturers will no longer be able to fudge power curves, or specify ‘rated power’ at hurricane-force wind speeds. This will allow you, the consumer, to compare turbines on a much more even footing.
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