Off Grid Wind Power Starter’s Guide
Turning tall and proud in the breeze, wind turbines are one of the most recognizable symbols of the off-grid wind power revolution.
Newcomers to renewable energy are often intrigued by the possibilities of wind power—with good reason. Harnessing the power of windmill technology that humanity has used for centuries to make yourself energy independent is a goal for more people every year.
How do you set up your own wind power system? How do you move yourself off grid? The answers to these questions require looking at a lot of different factors, which can feel quite overwhelming to anyone trying to get on board.
Fortunately, our experienced team is here to guide you through the basic information you need to know if wind power is your key to energy independence, getting off the grid, and generating your own clean power.
Here we’re going to help you build a strong foundation of knowledge regarding off grid wind power systems, so you are empowered to make the best choices to meet your energy goals.
To do this, we’re going to divide this guide into three parts: the basics of wind power, the basics of off-grid power, and introduction to some sample packages that might be a good fit for you and your set up.
Is Wind Power Right for You?
The one crucial ingredient to make off grid wind power work no matter who you are, where you live, or how much power you need is…wind.
Of course, there are other factors from your turbine to your generator to your batteries, but if the wind doesn’t blow where you live, your wind turbine becomes more of a sculpture than anything else.
Just how much wind do you need to make wind power effective? Most units can start generating power at wind speeds of about 6.7 miles per hour (mph).
But the bare minimum wind speed isn’t going to cut it when it comes to providing you real, dependable power. If you are consistently getting weak output from your turbine, you likely need to seek a windier spot for it.
Your turbine and generator are rated for a particular level of power output and most every type on the market will hit that output at wind speeds between 26 and 30 mph.
There is a cutoff at significantly higher speeds to prevent dangerous overloads, but outside of stormy weather, this usually isn’t an issue. And if wind near you consistently blows at 60 mph, you may have bigger problems than your turbine.
If you don’t know the average wind speed where you intend to install your turbine, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides a map that is, if nothing else, a good start.
There are issues with the NOAA map, however. First is that it only gives speeds at 10 meters (just under 11 yards) above the surface. Wind speed increases with altitude, so the higher you mount your turbine, the better performance you’ll get.
You may not be able or willing to put up an 80-foot pole for your turbine, and that’s absolutely fine. But just know that the higher you can go, the better.
The other major shortcoming of the NOAA map is that it’s very generalized. Wind is both a macro and micro phenomenon, governed by regional tendencies, but also by hyperlocal anomalies.
If your property is on an open plain, it’s practically a no-brainer setting up your turbine to catch the wind that comes whipping along.
But for everyone else, geographic features like mountains, trees, and water can all impact the actual wind your turbine can collect. Some features dampen wind and some channel it, creating narrow passages which can accelerate wind and give you more bang for your buck.
Talk with one of our expert team members about your property to figure out what specific features can give your turbines a boost.
Supplementing Your Off Grid Wind Power
Once you’ve gotten a good idea of the amount of wind you can expect your turbines to catch, it’s time to take a hard look at your typical electricity use to see what you can realistically expect to power using wind.
Typically, HVAC systems are the biggest drain on your energy and we usually advise customers to use gas for heating in the winter months. Water heaters also end up being a major energy sink, especially when large livestock tanks need warming.
For this reason, we strongly recommend that customers don’t switch wholesale to one form of renewable energy all at once. Whether you choose to supplement with solar, gas, a grid-tie system, or some combination of these, you’ll risk less downtime and sacrifice fewer amenities.
As an additional bonus, lulls in wind speed often coincide with increases in solar power output, so your solar panels can frequently pick up some slack on an off day.
There will always be times when the wind doesn’t blow, so going for a broader approach that incorporates solar panels and other tools will generally improve your experience—especially if you’re trying to power your entire property.
Off-Grid Power Basics
To rely solely on your off-grid wind power system, whether supplemented with solar or gas, can often mean making certain choices about your lifestyle.
This is not usually a question we can answer. Instead, it’s a matter of your priorities. For some people, living disconnected from the national power system is more important than some of the conveniences that others among us depend on.
To power a fully-stocked home with heat, air conditioning, and other amenities takes a lot of energy. A lightweight system intended for regular appliances or supplemental power is not going to cut it on its own.
For those looking to go fully off-grid, there are a few options.
We usually recommend that our customers wishing to be entirely self-reliant for power use gas for furnaces and water heaters, which are essential appliances that can be huge drains on your electricity.
Taking this burden off your system is a huge boost for your wind power system. We don’t just want you to switch to wind and solar power generation, we want you to thrive with it. Going with off grid wind power supplemented by gas heating helps do just that.
You could also consider a more robust wind power system than you might otherwise. More turbines and generators feeding more batteries can help overcome power deficits that would otherwise lead to downtime. Or combine wind power with solar with a battery bank.
The downside here is that the up-front investment is larger, so your wind power system takes longer to pay for itself. Plus more parts means more maintenance and more of your time.
Still other off grid wind power enthusiasts prefer to make up power deficits by reducing demand instead of increasing supply. For some, the appeal of off-grid living is in reducing creature comforts and finding a lifestyle that’s closer to nature.
Those looking to go truly off-grid usually employ some combination of all three of these solutions to truly achieve what they’ve envisioned.
There are other ways to generate your own electricity without the risk and hassle of being fully off the grid.
A grid-tied system, which is primarily driven by your renewables but uses the established grid as a backup is what we typically recommend to most users. More often than not, you’ll be sending power to the grid, rather than drawing it off, but you’re still covered when you need it.
Whatever you choose, we ask you to consult with our team to make sure your system can deliver the power load you need to thrive in your renewable-powered place.
Wind Power Kits
If you feel ready to take the plunge into the world of wind power, try starting by examining our Wind Turbine Kits. These contain the main components you need to switch from the grid to wind power. Our all-in-one bundles also feature solar panels for a more complete system.
Once you have your feet under you, you can expand and customize your system to fit your needs with our range of accessories and tools.
On the other hand, if you feel like you need more personal guidance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team! For years we’ve built and improved systems to meet all sorts of needs, and we’re here to empower you to achieve your energy independence goals.