The first thing to look at, before you ever consider converting to wind power, is the area where you live. A windmill solution obviously requires wind. More specifically you want wind speeds that exceed 8MPH on average. Even 8MPH is considered a low-wind-speed area for wind turbines. 12MPH average is ideal.
To start, take the time to look at the wind speed charts that fit your area:
If You Live in the USA:
If You Live in Canada:
If You Live in the UK or Europe:
If you live in Australia:
Assuming that the average wind speed in your area is above 8MPH, then continue on to the other considerations listed below. If you don’t live in a suitable area, then you should consider a solar power conversion instead.
Wind Turbine Considerations
Once you’ve determined that wind power is suitable for your area there are a few other things you need to consider. Really this is just about asking some questions and then answering them. Taking the time to do so will ensure you choose a wind power system that fits. Especially if you are planning to live off the grid, you should take the time to answer these questions before you start.
Your Power Needs
The first thing that needs to be considered is your power needs. Are you simply looking to reduce your power bill with a single small windmill? Or, will you want to power your entire home?
If you’re looking to power your whole home, you should take the time to calculate your actual power requirements. If you take the time to download Earth 4 Energy, their guide comes with a calculator and instructions on how to do this (you’ll need this guide anyway).
Storing Power from Wind Turbines
From the answer to your first question you then need to consider building a storage system for your wind turbine. A simple array of batteries can be designed to store as little or as much power as needed.
If you’re only building a small wind power solution to reduce your power bills then this is likely less of a concern.
On the other hand if you’re looking to live off the grid, you will need to consider energy storage. You should use your calculation for your power needs to design this part of your system. Take into consideration how much power you will need to store and for how long.
If you have weeks where there is less wind than usual, ensure that you have a large enough battery array to compensate (or better yet work to reduce you energy needs by using high efficiency bulbs and appliances).
Having a Backup Plan
Finally, for those who plan to live entirely off the grid, you should consider your backup plan. For most of us consistent power is a requirement. Ensure that you design your wind turbine solution with a backup plan. Generally a small gas generator is enough to ensure you have power if something goes wrong.