Wind turbines used to produce electricity have been around for the last 100 years or so and have seen a constant stream of improvements during that time. At the same time, wind turbine cost has steadily descreased. Modern wind turbines available today are more efficient and less expensive than ever before and can also produce more power from lower velocity winds. There are several classes of wind turbines and each of them is designed to serve a different purpose and all of them have a different cost structure to consider.
Large commercial wind turbines used to produce large amounts of power have been in use since about 1930 and have been improved every year since. These improvements include better blade design and materials as well as higher efficiencies and reliability. These larger turbines need to handle higher winds and as a result are built from stronger and heavier materials than units designed for residential use.
Commercial wind turbines are also usually located in remote areas like shorelines that receive consistent and strong winds. These remote locations make these wind turbines difficult and expensive to service so they have to be designed to operate for long periods of time without attention. Because of all of these factors, these larger commercial wind turbines are by far the most expensive of all modern turbines and their prices usually start at about $25,000 and can cost $100,000 plus for very large units.
The next class of wind turbine is designed to be used in a residential environment and in most cases is a scaled down version of the larger commercial models. These have been available for about 30 years and this class of wind turbine has seen a large amount of innovation in recent years.
These initially started as a smaller version of the commercial turbines and required that the homeowner have a big enough lot to mount these high up in the air on a tower. This tower was required to position the turbine high enough to catch a consistent and strong wind. It had to be located above any buildings and trees to ensure it could spin consistently.
The drawback to these early models was that they had to adjust to face the wind and if the wind was constantly shifting, as it often does around obstacles found in a residential setting, the wind turbine would spend most of its time adjusting and not spinning.
The other concern was their weight. Since they were primarily based on commercial models, they tended to be heavy and required a strong tower to support them and a strong wind to spin them. This could add substantial cost to these early residential models and actually made the project too expensive for many homeowners. The cost of these larger residential turbines can vary between $2,000 and $15,000 not including tower costs.
The most recent classes of wind turbines are called mico turbines and they are the most radical and advanced models available. These versions are designed to handle lower wind speeds and as a result allow many homeowners to avoid the cost of a tower. Some of these models also allow a homeowner to mount them directly on their roof.
These smaller units don’t produce as much power as their larger relatives, but since they turn more consistently, they can make up for this shortfall over time. They are also less expensive than the larger residential models and can enable a homeowner to pay for the micro turbine from the savings in their electrical bills in a much shorter period of time. These models usually range in price from about $600 to $5,000 depending on the model and power output produced.
As you can see, wind turbine cost can vary greatly depending on the type of wind turbine and the amount of power produced. One great way to reduce the cost of a wind turbine is to build it yourself. With good instructions and some common tools, just about anyone can build a wind turbine, save a lot of money and get free electricity for life.