Thirty years ago Bergey pioneered the radically-simple “Bergey design” that has proven to provide some of the best reliability, performance, service life, and value of all of the hundreds of competitive products that have come and gone in that time. With only three moving parts and no scheduled maintenance necessary, the Bergey 10 kW has compiled a service record that no other wind turbine can match. They back it up with the longest warranty in the industry.
How do they work?
The wind turbine, which is installed on top of a tall tower, collects wind energy and converts it into electricity. The turbine output is then made electrically compatible with the utility and the output is fed into the household wiring at the breaker panel.
The home is served simultaneously by the wind turbine and the utility. If the wind speed is below 7 mph there will be no output from the wind turbine and all of the needed power is bought from the utility. As the wind speed increases the turbine output increases and the amount of power purchased from the utility is proportionately decreased. When the turbine output is more than the house needs, the extra electricity is sold to the utility. All of this is done automatically. There are no batteries in a modern residential wind system.
The wind turbine typically lowers your utility bill by 50-90%. It is not uncommon for homeowners with total electric homes and Bergey turbines to have monthly utility bills of $8-$15 for part of the year. In northern parts of the country, where less air conditioning is used, the bills can be very low year round.
What size would I need for my home?
Homes typically use 1,000-2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. Depending upon the average wind speed in the area this will require a wind turbine rated in the range 5-15 kilowatts. Bergey’s 10 kW unit, the BWC EXCEL-S, is the best selling residential unit in the U.S. It has a rotor diameter of 23 feet and is typically installed on 80 or 100-foot towers.
Who should consider buying one?
A wind turbine is a relatively large device and it is not suitable for urban or small-lot suburban homes. They recommend a property size of one acre or more. The economics of a wind system are determined by the average wind speed in the area, the availability of rebates or tax credits, and the cost of electricity. As a general rule-of-thumb, Bergey recommends that you have at least a 10 mph average wind speed and be paying 10¢/kilowatt-hour or more for electricity. They have wind resource maps for the entire U.S. and they can provide you with information on your wind resource. Residential wind turbines have been installed in all 50 states.
Will it help the environment if I install a wind turbine at my home? Wind turbines produce no pollution and by using wind power you will be offsetting pollution that would have been generated by your utility company. Over its nominal 30 year life a BWC EXCEL will offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 200 tons of greenhouse gasses.
How much do they cost?
A 10 kW wind turbine costs approximately $48,000 – 65,000 to install. The equipment cost is about $40,000 (see 10 kW GridTek System ) and the rest is shipping and installation. Towers without guy wires are more expensive than guyed towers.
How are they as an investment?
That depends on your cost of electricity and average wind speed. The wind system will usually recoup its investment through utility savings within 6-30 years and after that the electricity it produces will be virtually free. Compared to purchasing utility power, a wind system can be a good investment because your money goes to increasing the value of your home rather than just paying for a service. Many people buy wind systems for their retirement because they are concerned about utility rate increases.
How would I proceed to have a wind turbine installed at my home?
There are two routes: you can work with an authorized Bergey dealer for a complete turnkey installation or you can purchase directly from the factory and have the unit installed yourself. The first route requires less work on your part and offers a higher level of after-sales support. The self-installation route offers meaningful savings.
For information on subsidies and regulations for your state visit: www.dsireusa.org
For a detailed reference book on small wind, they recommend Paul Gipe’s book “Wind Power for Home and Business”, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.