Costs, savings and maintenance
If placed correctly, the benefits that can be gained by installing a small wind system dwarf the costs associated with it. Because wind turbines are suitable for a relatively small proportion of householders, not many installations have been carried out compared to more common technologies such as solar PV. This means that the Feed-In Tariff provides a very good return on your investment.
It is even possible to choose from a range of financing options to cover the upfront cost of systems and their installation. The government is leading the way on this with their new Green Deal initiative.
Costs for a roof mounted 1kW micro-wind system are around £2,000. Mast mounted systems have a larger capacity and cost between £15,000 and £23,000 including VAT at 5% and installation. The larger a system’s capacity is, the more expensive it is, but the more electricity it can generate, earning you more in FIT payments. Find out which size system is best for your home using our free home assessment. Where you put your turbine matters just as much as your turbine’s capacity when it comes to how much electricity you will generate – see our guide to the Installation of Wind Turbines for more information on this.
If you cannot afford the upfront costs of installing a micro-wind turbine, a loan provided by the Government’s Green Deal Scheme could fund the installation for you. This makes the installation in effect free to you, as the savings you make on your monthly energy bill with the turbine are used to repay the loan. These repayments should never exceed your savings. However, these payments do include 7% interest, and so you will make more of a saving over the life of the system if you pay for the installation yourself. Our Green Deal page has more information on the Green Deal scheme.
A typical, mast mounted system on a site with an average wind speed of 5m/s can give you a saving of approximately £350 on your energy bills. You will receive around £160 a year in Export Tariff payments at current tariff rates and around £2,700 a year in Generation Tariff payments. These payments will be paid from when you apply to the FIT scheme for twenty years, with the tariff rates fixed and linked to inflation throughout the period. Under these tariff rates your turbine is likely to pay for itself in 7 years or less. After the system has paid for itself, you will continue to make savings on your bills and receive FIT payments for another 13 years. For more information on the FIT scheme please visit our visit our FIT guide.
A well-maintained turbine system should last for over 20 years, and most turbines will be guaranteed for that time. During the system’s lifetime you may need to replace the inverter at a cost of around £1000-£2000. For off-grid systems, battery life is typically between 6 and 10 years. Your supplier will be able to let you know if you will need to carry out any maintenance checks on your system. It is usually recommended that you get your system checked by a professional every year at a cost of £100-£200.
Estimate the income you could earn from your home using a turbine with our Energy Assessment.
- What is the best wind turbine type and height for me?
- Factors such as whether you want a roof mounted or freestanding system, planning permission and any limitations to foundations may dictate the type and maximum tower height to be considered, but in general, the higher the tower, the higher the average wind speed that the turbine will experience. A taller tower should generate sufficient extra energy to justify any additional cost, especially if there is turbulence created by nearby trees or buildings that can be avoided with extra height.
- What maintenance or servicing is required for a wind turbine?
- You should get your turbine checked by your installer or another accredited technician every year, which should cost between £100 and £200. Your inverter may need to be replaced once during the turbine's 20 year lifetime - this costs between £1000-£2000 for a large freestanding system. Turbines with batteries (off-grid systems) will need their batteries replaced every 6-10 years.
- How tall are domestic wind turbines?
- The height of a domestic turbine will vary according to manufacturer and model, but generally it varies from 6 to 15 meters (for a roof mounted system) up to 24 meters for a freestanding turbine. In general, the higher up the blades are, the higher the average wind speed that the turbine will experience, giving you a more efficient system. The rotor diameter of domestic wind turbines ranges from 2 meters for a roof mounted turbine, up to around 7 meters for a freestanding turbine, again depending on the model.
- Can I connect my wind turbine to the grid?
- Most areas of the UK are connected to the Grid, and if you are, you can connect your turbine to it too. This will allow you to qualify for the Export Tariff as part of the Feed-in-Tariff scheme, which pays you acsecond payment on top of the Generation Tariff for any electricity that you generate but don't use. The surplus electricity is automatically exported to Grid.
- How much of the time do wind turbines produce electricity?
- Wind turbines produce electricity 70-85% of the time, but they generate different outputs dependent on the local wind speed. Over the course of a year, a small wind turbine in the UK will generate about 7.5% (for roof mounted turbines) to 30% (for larger turbines) of the amount it would generate in a constant strong wind. This is known as its 'load factor' (or 'capacity factor').
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