I have existing solar panels but want an even more efficient renewable energy installation. So, can I add a wind turbine to my solar system?
The potential to generate free electricity when it’s cloudy and at night with wind power, supplementing solar generation during the day, would make me virtually energy self-sufficient.
If I install batteries to store energy, they will tie me over periods when there isn’t any wind or sun. I might even disconnect from the electricity grid altogether, leaving me without an electricity bill to pay.
But what are the practicalities of making this happen? Is it even possible?
Can I Add A Wind Turbine To My Solar System?
“There isn’t a technical reason why you can’t add a wind turbine to your solar system. Your biggest roadblock might turn out to be State law, local Zoning Laws, or local building department regulations. Because you may require a permit or be subject to fees, taxes, and other restrictions, failure to comply with the rules could lead to prosecutions or fines.”
Check If You Need A Permit To Add A Wind Turbine.
Before finding a reputable installer or taking the installation on as a DIY project, you should consider prohibitions and restrictions because the rules vary in different States. It might also be worth checking Federal Law as well.
Initially, you can use the web by checking out the DSIRE database of federal and state renewable energy policies and incentives.
You can check State, County, and City regulatory policies and financial incentives using the necessary filters to find your local area. There is also a link for Federal Law.
For instance, I initiated a search for California, which presented several solar/wind policy documents for cities and counties shown in the example below.
If you can’t find the information you need, visit your local public law library at City Hall or County Court House.
You still might be left feeling you need further clarity. Approaching your local building department should give you the definitive answer. A simple internet search should point you in the direction of the correct department.
I searched San Diego Building Department, which had a contact page and several valuable links like; view Zoning Information and apply for a permit online.
However, bear in mind that the regulatory authority will look at local concerns to have the permit granted.
The zoning and permitting processes for wind energy installations seek to address safety, aesthetics, and community interests and concerns. Some of these concerns might include sound level, visual impact, wildlife impact, TV/radio interference, ice shedding, or broken equipment. (Source; windexchange.energy.gov/small-wind-guidebook)
Installing A Wind Turbine And Solar Hybrid System In The Suburbs Or City
For a wind turbine to be effective at catching the wind, it needs to be obstruction-free. This means it should be higher than the surrounding buildings and situated on a piece of land at least an acre or more.
Below is a video showing a wind and solar hybrid system;
But because of Zoning Laws in a city or densely populated area, adding a wind turbine to your solar system may prove challenging. Most neighborhoods have height restrictions that may prevent you from erecting the tower carrying the turbine.
If your proposed installation falls within height restriction parameters, it is more likely that the permit will be approved, subject to the other concerns I mentioned earlier. However, if your proposal falls outside the guidelines, it will go to a public hearing.
Rooftop Wind Turbines
You might be thinking I haven’t got the space for a wind turbine tower, but I still want to add one to my solar panel installation. So I’ll install a smaller rooftop turbine, and it does sound like a great plan. But you still may need a permit, so better check first.
I asked a similar wind turbine question about permits on Quora, and this is one of the replies;
Also, for a wind turbine to generate the maximum amount of electricity, it needs to be mounted 30 feet higher than the tallest building, within a 300 feet radius of your property. You might even encounter problems with your neighbors because wind turbines can be noisy.
Installing A Wind Turbine And Solar Hybrid System In Rural Locations
You might be thinking I don’t live in the city or the suburbs; there isn’t anybody living anywhere near me. So fitting a wind turbine and solar hybrid system will be easy when it comes to being issued with a permit.
You might have to rethink that because, as I mentioned earlier, the inspectors also consider visual impact, wildlife impact, and safety. The safety aspect shouldn’t be a problem if you have the system professionally installed.
But if you’re going to do it yourself and you are not qualified, the installation will have to pass a safety inspection for a permit to be issued.
If you live in an area of natural beauty, conservation, or lots of wildlife, you may have a battle on your hands. But you shouldn’t have a problem with height, space, or noise restrictions if your property isn’t close to anybody else.
After all, the government wants you to become more energy self-sufficient, doesn’t it?
My Closing Thoughts
It isn’t impossible to install a wind turbine and solar hybrid system in the city or suburbs, but you may have to jump through some hoops to get there. You will need at least an acre of ground to consider erecting a tower, but it is rare to find a home with that kind of open space in the city.
The same goes for the average house in the suburbs, so it would be better to consider a rooftop installation to compliment your solar system.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to add a wind turbine in a rural location to a solar system. If you have a farm or stand-alone property with some land, it would just be a case of finding the right place to site the windmill. In most cases, being granted a permit should be straightforward as well.
It is practical and possible to have wind and solar in the same installation. Owning a system like this might tempt you to become completely energy self-sufficient, altogether cutting ties with your electricity company.
WINDExchange offers a free PDF called Small Wind Guidebook. It has loads of helpful information about wind turbines and includes a State by State information guide.
I hope you enjoyed this article and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about hybrid wind and solar systems. Or want to leave your own personal review, please feel free to leave a comment below.