Mini wind turbine for your home

Rutland 504 mini turbine

Rutland 504 mini turbine

A mini wind turbine is a very attractive option where power requirements are low, space is tight, noise needs to be minimal and portability is important. They are simple to set up and install, and represent an ideal way for the newcomer to wind energy to get familiar with it, and its uses.

Examples of their useful applications include:

  • trickle chargers for battery top-up and maintenance
  • home stand-by lighting
  • small water pump operation
  • low energy garden lights
  • boat battery charging
  • Caravans lighting              etc.

They are highly effective in such applications and if ever the term ‘small is beautiful’ applied, it applies well to a mini wind turbine!

The little Rutland 504 mini turbine is a fine example. With its low start-up wind speed of 5 mph, it will generate 25 watt of power in a 22 mph wind. What at does this mean in terms of average power output and, more importantly, amps going into a battery? Well, if we allow for an average daily wind speed of around 10 mph over a 10 hour period, we would have a 6 watt output, trickling half an amp per hour into a 12 volt battery. Thus over the 10 hour period (10 x 0.5 amps) we would harvest 5 ampere hours on such a day;  a very useful amount of current for all the above applications – and more!

I would be prepared to install such a mini wind turbine on the roof or at the gable end of the house, for as regards noise, they emit a mere faint purring sound. At around a mere 8-10 pounds in weight, installation is simple. These turbines are very suitable for built-up areas, and on apartment terraces, particularly in locations exposed to adequate winds. Mini solar, of course will have the edge in locations where solar exposure is more favorable.

Planning problems are not an issue. It would be a hard and cold-hearted official (or neighbour) that would put in an objection. Indeed for official – and neighbour, such a mini turbine should be seen as an item to please, to educate, to make a small environmental statement – and be encouraged!

The modern commercially produced mini wind turbine is a big improvement on the old farm and hobbyist models, in terms of efficiency, size, weight, and output. My only reservation about them is that they tend to be over-priced. This (they say) is because their main target market is boat owners, to facilitate on-board battery charging – and so they are “marinised”!

The reader will have noted that in this series of articles on home wind power that I favour the viewpoint that for 90 per cent of those thinking wind power, self-building a highly efficient larger turbine power head is not for the untrained and unskilled in such work; remembering that the main purpose of the exercise is to provide long-term reliable power to the home.

However, for the mini wind turbine I would lean otherwise! With their small size and weight, their relatively inexpensive parts, minimal need for high tech casing etc. weighed against the high price of commercial models, I would say, yes, in this case ‘give it a go!

And so, in closing this article, I would like to pay homage to William Kamkwamba. From a small unknown poverty-stricken village in Malawi, William, who at 14 had been forced to drop out of school for lack of school fees, wondered in despair what he could do for his village. With nothing else to do, he spent his days browsing in a local bush library, where he discovered a tattered book on wind energy. The account of his subsequent achievements using junk is a joy to read; the story of a young teenager determined to succeed ‘against all odds’ has charmed millions and powerfully illustrates the value of the mini wind turbine!