The Complete Guide to Small Wind Turbines For Your Home

The Eco Experts

Small wind turbines can lower your electricity bills by 50%

Rural homes can avoid the costs of having utility power lines extended

You can reduce your carbon emissions by creating clean electricity


Wind turbines are towering structures that generate clean energy from the power of air.

There's a good chance some of the electricity powering your home already comes from wind turbines.

But what about wind turbines for your home? They're real, believe it or not, and they're an exciting prospect.

This guide on wind turbines for your home will tell you everything you need to know.

Standalone residential wind turbine with a blue sky background and scattered clouds

What is a small wind turbine?

Residential wind turbines are scaled-down versions of the turbines we're familiar with.

They're much more compact though — small enough to install either on your roof or in your garden – and some have curved blades, not unlike a whisk.

Small wind turbines still function like their bigger counterparts — you'll get clean electricity generated entirely by the power of wind.

Can you put a small wind turbine on your property?

You can install wind turbines on your property, but there are rules.

Wind turbines work best when they're higher up, which doesn't present problems for rural properties far away from other homes.

Complications arise when you're living in a semi-detached house, for example. You’ll need to get planning permission in this case.

You can install a roof-mounted wind turbine on your home in England as long as you meet these rules:

  • Your installation meets Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) standards
  • You live in a detached home, surrounded by other detached homes
  • You only install a single turbine
  • You don’t have an air source heat pump installed
  • If you have an air source heat pump, you will need planning permission for a turbine
  • The turbine doesn’t rise more than three metres above the height of your chimney

For standalone residential wind turbines, you must stick to these rules:

  • The highest point of the wind turbine is no higher than 11.1m
  • You’re only installing one turbine
  • You don’t already have an air source heat pump installed

Types of small wind turbines

 

Roof-mounted wind turbines

Roof-mounted wind turbines are installed on top of your roof, much like solar panels. They have the advantage of height, which means they’ll get the most out of the wind blowing over your home.

It’s typically cheaper to install a roof-mounted turbine than a standalone one, although their size means they are less powerful. You can normally generate around 1–2 kilowatts (kW) of electricity.

The average UK home uses 8 kW per day, so a roof-mounted wind turbine would provide enough power to ensure you don’t always need to use electricity from the grid.

 

Standalone wind turbines

Standalone wind turbines are more powerful than roof-mounted turbines, because they’re bigger and can take better advantage of the wind.

It still depends where you place them though — a free-standing turbine flanked by trees or taller buildings isn’t going to be optimal.

They work most efficiently in open spaces, which means standalone wind turbines are best suited for rural properties with a lot of land. That makes them less than ideal for urban environments. They’re also more expensive, starting at around £7,000, going up to £70,000.

Standalone wind turbines typically generate between 3–15 kW per day, and some of the largest models can generate more than 25 kW.

How much does a small wind turbine cost?

A roof-mounted wind turbine will cost you about £2,000 for a system between 1–2 kW, but as this system won’t generate much power, it will take a while to recoup that cost.

Standalone turbines cost from £7,000 for a 1.5 kW system, which will generate around 2,600 kW per year.

It’ll cost you up to £70,000 for a 15 kW system, which will provide roughly 36,000 kW annually.

You’ll also need to pay for planning permission costs, installation, and connecting a standalone turbine to the grid. This can add a further £10,000–£20,000 to the total cost.

 

How long does it take to install a small wind turbine?

Installing a roof-mounted turbine can be done in a matter of hours by a professional. Standalone wind turbines can take longer — three to four days is the norm.

That’s because there is more work needed to prepare the turbine. Foundations need to be dug and filled with concrete, the turbine needs to be lifted into place with specialist machinery, and complicated wiring needs to be done properly.

It’s always best to get a trusted professional to install your wind turbine, especially with standalone systems.

 

How much electricity can a small wind turbine produce?

A roof-mounted wind turbine will generate between 0.5–2.5 kW, which will help reduce your grid reliance but won’t be enough power to completely replace mains electricity.

Standalone turbines normally reach up to 15 kW, which will be more than enough power for all but the very largest properties.

 

Can I make money from small wind turbines?

You can export any unused electricity that your turbine generates back to the grid via the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

Through the SEG, you’ll be paid for each kilowatt hour (kWh) you feed back into the grid, but the rates aren’t brilliant.

Unless you’re willing to buy a Tesla Powerwall, the best rate you can get with the SEG is 7.5p per kWh if you’re with Octopus Energy.

Can you build your own small wind turbine?

You can build your own small wind turbine to go on your roof. We still advise that you get a professional to survey your home, to check your roof can bear the weight of the turbine.

Keep in mind that even the smallest roof-mounted turbines are complicated pieces of machinery. It’s definitely not a machine you can ‘plug in and play’ — you’ll need to have an expert knowledge of electrical wiring.

If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of your wind turbine not generating electricity – or if the wiring work is carried out poorly, a power surge that could cause serious damage to your home.

The worst case scenario is you or your loved ones getting a severe electrical shock, which is why we will always recommend hiring a professional installer.

How popular are small wind turbines in the UK?

There are no stats available for the number of small wind turbines operating in UK properties, but it’s clear wind power is popular.

More than 80% of UK residents are in favour of the technology, and wind power now generates over 24,600 megawatts (mW) of electricity each year.

That’s 20% of all electricity generated in the UK, and 54% of all renewables.

Summary

If you can afford one, a small wind turbine is an excellent way to reduce your grid reliance and cut down your carbon emissions.

Neither roof-mounted nor standalone wind turbines will become the norm for UK homes, however. This is because roof-mounted turbines cannot generate enough electricity to power everything in an ordinary home, and standalone turbines are too big for most properties.

Tom Gill Writer

Tom is a big fan of all things eco and has a passionate interest in how technology and localised projects can work together to make the world greener.

Back to Top