Installation costs vary greatly depending on local zoning, permitting, and utility interconnection costs. A small turbine can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 installed, depending on size, application, and service agreements with the manufacturer. (The American Wind Energy Association [AWEA] says a typical home wind system costs approximately $32,000 (10 kW); a comparable photovoltaic [PV] solar system would cost over $80,000.
A general rule of thumb for estimating the cost of a residential turbine is $1,000 to $5,000 per kilowatt. Wind energy becomes more cost effective as the size of the turbine's rotor increases. Although small turbines cost less in initial outlay, they are proportionally more expensive. The cost of an installed residential wind energy system with an 80-foot tower, batteries, and inverter typically ranges from $15,000 to $50,000 for a 3— to 10—Kw wind turbine.
Although wind energy systems involve a significant initial investment, they can be competitive with conventional energy sources when you account for a lifetime of reduced or avoided utility costs. The length of the payback period—the time before the savings resulting from your system equal the cost of the system itself—depends on the system you choose, the wind resource on your site, electricity costs in your area, and how you use your wind system. For example, if you live in California and have received the 50% buydown of your small wind system, have net metering, and an average annual wind speed of 15 miles per hour (mph) (6.7 meters per second [m/s]), your simple payback would be approximately 6 years.