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Residential wind turbines usually require more space than solar energy systems. But, some wind turbines are small enough to install on top of a roof or on the outer side of a brick or concrete wall of a house.

A wind turbine assembly is usually attached at the top of a mast or pole that is at least 30 feet long. For a 30-foot freestanding framework (mast) or pole that does not use guy wires, the support base could have an area as small as 7 feet by 10 feet square (and 3 feet deep). At the minimum, the tip of the turbine blades must be 30 feet above any object or structure that is situated within 300 feet of the tower base. For towers that rely on guy wires for support, the required clearing area includes all of the area under the guy wires as well and up to the footing slabs where the guy wires are anchored. Some wind turbine experts suggest that the guy wires must be angled at least 45 degrees from the points on the mast or pole where they are attached. A good idea would be to consult a civilian-radio mast rigger or builder. The measurements and specifications of the base and guy-wire foundations, guy-wire thicknesses and lengths, pipe or tubing diameter (for pole-type towers), angle of attachment of the guy wires, etc. need to have some degree of over-engineering in order to account for the effects of severe weather or other unforeseen natural and man-made emergencies. Even larger clearings are necessary for tilt-towers. Tilt-towers require four anchor footings instead of the three required for regular guy-wired towers. The American Wind Energy Association lists five structurally important criteria for designing wind turbine foundations: stiffness, strength, stability, differential settlement, and durability.

Wind turbines are ideally suited for windy areas with wide open spaces. They are not ideal on urban or suburban areas with residential lot areas that measure less than one acre. For rural or suburban use, only the smallest roof- or wall-attached wind turbine installations are practical. The smallest wind turbines are of course the least expensive. The only caveat would be whether they work or not and, if so, for how long. Needless to say, the smallest residential wind turbine can supply a charge that is sufficient to operate only one or two small appliances at a time, for only a short time. These mini or “micro” turbines are suitable for charging a battery that powers a single laptop, for example.

Numerous US and Canadian companies already manufacture residential wind turbines and/or the parts for wind turbines. A quick search on the Internet will bring up a substantial list of names of these companies.

The most common residential wind turbine design is the three-bladed horizontal-axis type, which is also the most common design for the large-scale wind turbines. A small family-owned company in Denmark offers a 6- to 12-bladed horizontal-axis type wind turbine that has a 1 kilowatt power output.

There are also, vertical-axis type residential wind turbines, but the data on the efficiency and on the durability of these designs are still limited.

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