We’ve recently written articles covering everything you need to know about wind turbines for your home. But did you know you can also get wind turbines for farms?
As wind power becomes more accessible to everyone, farms are getting upgrades from their old windmills.
Traditionally, farms harnessed the power of the wind to pump water or mill wheat. Now they can use the wind to generate electricity.
Below, we discuss what farm wind turbines are, their benefits and if you can install one.
Table of Contents
What Is A Farm Wind Turbine?
Wind turbines for farms can refer to a domestic turbine that the farmer has installed or a commercial turbine installed on their land.
Both types of turbines can help farmers save money and assign funds to other matters like new equipment.
Domestic Wind Turbines For Farms
Installation-wise, you can either use a manufacturer or do it yourself. Whatever the case, these turbines produce between 500w to 2.5kW, depending on a homeowner’s needs.
Domestic wind turbines for farms cost an average of $1,020, but they can be as cheap as $220 — this all depends on the turbine size and how much energy you’d like it to produce.
In terms of ROI, it’s not always economically viable to install a domestic turbine. The ROI of a domestic turbine heavily depends on the wind resources available. Because these turbines are much shorter, they might not catch enough wind to generate the desired amount of power.
Commercial Wind Turbines For Farms
Wind companies install commercial wind turbines. They offer farmers a decent cheque for using their land, often helping farmers make ends meet during challenging times.
Commercial wind turbines are highly controversial across the midwest of America — this is the area where America’s wind belt is situated.
Many farmers in this area believe that commercial wind turbines are noisy and an eye-sore. As such, there’s pressure from local farmers not to install turbines on their land.
While these tall towers may affect the landscape, they’re no louder than an average irrigation system on a farm. Moreover, with farm bankruptcy rates increasing by 20% between 2018 and 2019, a commercial turbine can be a cash relief option.
Can I Put A Wind Turbine On My Farm?
Wind turbines can be installed on almost any farm, with only a few limiting factors. Things to watch out for when installing a wind turbine on your farm are:
- Available wind resource
- Zoning Regulations
- Aesthetic Issues
Available Wind Resource
To determine if a wind turbine is viable, you have to know the available wind resource on your site. The cut-in speed of most turbines is 9 miles per hour. However, the turbine will need 14 mph winds to be efficient.
Here’s a wind resources map of the U.S. that’ll help you determine the amount of wind your farm experiences. Although, you may have a more accurate idea if you use your own devices.
Other local information sources include:
- Airport wind speed data
- Data from an existing local wind system
Luckily, since farms are often flat, wind can blow freely without obstacles. This makes farms ideal for wind turbines, as wind speeds are generally higher.
According to Popular Science, wind turbines can decrease the speed of the wind by absorbing kinetic energy. So, a commercial wind turbine will make you money, but it can also improve your farm’s efficiency.
You need to meet zoning requirements to install a wind turbine on a farm.
Zoning refers to regulations applied to your specific area. For example, the maximum residential building height in America is 35 ft. Luckily, most farms are in rural areas and aren’t restricted to a height level.
You can also check with your local municipality to determine if a height restriction is applied. Be sure to specify that the wind turbine is a tower-like structure. Buildings may be subject to a different height limit than structures like water towers or wind turbines.
The final issue is a wind turbine’s effect on an area’s aesthetic. While this might sound trivial, there are laws in place to preserve the aesthetic of a space.
For example, neighbors or community members can object to your wind turbine if it decreases their property value or the landscape view. You should always speak to your neighbors or contact your homeowner’s board to ensure you’re not infringing on this law.
Neighbors might be concerned about noise levels, especially if the turbine is near them or if it’s commercial.
Fortunately, your average small wind turbine for domestic will operate at 45db. And commercial wind turbines are usually 55db at 300 feet away.
How Much Do Wind Turbines For Farms Cost?
In 2022 the average domestic wind turbine will cost $1,000 per kilowatt. So the total price of a wind turbine for a farm will depend on its size and wattage.
After a quick consumer market analysis, we determined that an efficient wind turbine is 1.5kW. These turbines cost an average of $1,020 but range from $260 to $2,000. This works out to $1.47 per watt.
According to checktrade.com, you can buy a 2.5kW small wind turbine for $2000. However, that same 2.5kW turbine will cost $7000 if it is freestanding due to the structure needed.
On the other hand, commercial wind turbines for farms are extremely expensive. The average price of these turbines is around $1,300,000 per megawatt! So it’s simply not economically viable; however, many wind turbine companies will want to install a turbine on your farm. So you won’t have to worry about the cost, and it’ll put extra cash in your pocket each month.
What Size Wind Turbine Do I Need For My Farm?
Installing a wind turbine for your farm can decrease your electrical bill by 50% – 90%. However, this all depends on how much power your farm uses.
If you have a simple farmhouse, you can use a 1.5kW turbine to power most of your home.
However, you’ll have a much higher power demand if you have additional farming equipment that one turbine won’t meet. For example, grain elevators use 4kWh per 1000 bushels of grain. In addition, the ventilation system of a barn with 20 cows uses 50kWh a month.
The best way to calculate what size wind turbine you need is to determine how much electricity you need.
Calculating The Size Of Your Wind Turbine
Calculating the power output and determining how much power your home uses is complicated. However, we’re here to break it down for you.
First, you’ll need to determine each appliance’s power demand. The sum total of these demand figures will be how much power your home needs.
Power (W) = Voltage (V) x Current (A)
What we’re trying to find is the wattage of each appliance. This can be determined by multiplying the voltage by the device’s current.
Now it’s time to calculate the runtime of each appliance. For example, your fridge may be running 24/7 while you only use a microwave for less than an hour per day.
We’ve just determined the wattage; now, we need to multiply it by how many hours the device runs per day. This will give us the watt-hours that the appliance uses. Ultimately, this will tell us what size turbine we need and how many hours it needs to run to power your home.
So, for example, an appliance rated 200 W will use 200 Wh of energy in an hour. The same device will use 400 Wh in two hours.
Calculating The kWh Of A Barn
Let’s work out what size turbine you’d need for the ventilation system of your barn.
Say you have a barn with 20 cows inside, and the ventilation system uses 70 watts per hour.
Since the ventilation system would run for 24hrs, you’ll multiply 70 watts by 24.
70 x 24 = 1680 Wh
Therefore, the ventilation system will use 1.6kWh per day and 50kWh per month.
Now let’s get back to what size turbine you’ll need. A 1.5kW wind turbine would generate 1.5kW per hour. That would work out to be 1080 kWh (1.8 MWh) per month. That’s a lot of power!
Unfortunately, the wind doesn’t blow for 24hrs every day for a month. Additionally, we also need to take note of something called the Betz limit.
The Betz limit is the maximum efficiency of a wind turbine. No wind turbine will ever harness 100% of the kinetic energy from wind. Instead, turbines harness around 59.3% of the available power.
Let’s say that the ideal wind speed blows for 6hrs per day. That decreases the output to 270kWh per month.
Then we mulitple 270kWh by the Betz limit of 0.593.
270kWh x 0.593 = 160kWh
We now see that a 1.5kW turbine is more likely to produce 160kWh of power a month. Luckily, that is still powerful enough to meet the energy demand of our 50kWh barn.
Should My Farm Use Solar Panels Or Wind Turbines?
Both wind turbines and solar panels can be a great way to reduce your farm’s utility bill. But which one is better for farms? The price and efficiency will determine this.
The Cost Comparisons
To determine which solution is the cheapest, you need to know how much energy your farm needs. Luckily, we just had a look at how to calculate that. For some, a simple turbine might be the cheapest solution.
However, solar panels would be better for farms with more significant energy demands.
Solar Panels cost anywhere between $400 and $1200. On the other hand, wind turbines generally cost around $1,100 or higher.
It’s also important to note that most states offer incentives and rebates for solar panels and wind turbines.
The Efficiency Comparison
There are a couple of significant differences between the efficiency of solar panels and wind turbines.
The first difference is that solar panels don’t generate power during the night. In addition, their power output rate is greatly affected by cloudy weather.
However, wind turbines can generate power as long as there is wind. Domestic wind turbines have low cut-in speeds, allowing them to generate power in slow winds like 6 mph.
Another difference is that solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years, while wind turbines for farms only last 20 years.
The longevity of the product plays an integral part in its efficiency. The longer the product lasts, the more value you get for your money.
Not only do solar panels last longer, but they also require less maintenance and are easier to install.
In conclusion, you might prefer solar panels to wind turbines or vice versa for your farm. So at the end of the day, the choice is yours.
Do Farmers Get Paid To Have Commercial Wind Turbines On Their Land?
Many wind turbine manufacturers pay farmers to erect a wind turbine on their land. This extra income can help farmers make ends meet or invest in farming equipment.
Farmers can get paid between $4000 and $8000 per wind turbine annually. Alternatively, the turbine manufacturer could offer $3000 or $4000 per Megawatt capacity.
In addition to getting paid for hosting a turbine, farmers can expect their property value to increase. Prospective buyers will be interested in knowing that the property has lower utility bills or an extra stream of income.
And there you have it! Wind turbines for farms are a great way to decrease your utility bill and make your farm more sustainable.
Many farms will meet the wind requirements mentioned above, making them the perfect place for turbines. In addition, there aren’t many height restrictions, meaning that you can take advantage of faster winds. However, it’s always best to check with your municipality before starting your project.
Many manufacturers also pay farmers to host turbines on their lands. That can mean an extra income of $8000 per year.
We hope this article has answered any questions you might have had about farm wind turbines. Also, if there’s anything else you’d like to know, feel free to join our community!