Wind can be relied upon for electricity in much of the country and be part of an integrated plan to produce energy.
During the winter months a small solar installation will not provide enough power due to the low angle of the sun and the length of day. In a reasonably windy area adding a small wind turbine may meet your power requirements.
A wind turbine will provide charging power for the batteries in the winter months; night or day, when solar power will be at its lowest ebb but during the windiest part of the year. Normally, a wind turbine needs to be positioned above surrounding objects. However, if the objects are trees, then during fall and winter months the trees shed their leaves thus minimizing wind blockage. A tower that is at, or slightly above tree top level will suffice.
A 50 foot plus tilt/tower was chosen because it was standalone (no guy wires), it could be lowered to a horizontal position to service the wind turbine, and upright it could be as low as 30 feet and fully extended it could reach more than 50 feet. Finally it could be constructed yourself or subcontracted to a local fabricator for a reasonable fee.
Plans for a 54 foot high tilt tower cost $30. A local contractor provided a bid for $1,900. Since a garage was being built, the necessary 4 x 4 x 4 foot concrete pad needed for the tilt tower foundation was poured during garage construction for an extra $200. The wind turbine itself was $2,000 and produces 40 kW/month with a 12v output. It can directly charge the batteries by wiring it in parallel with the solar charger.
This approach has the advantage of minimizing solar costs because the system size can be calculated for optimum sunlight instead of being over-sized to make up for lack of sun during the winter months. The wind turbine tower costs are much less (the tower makes up the major cost of installation) because the leaves are down and there are better winds during the winter.
The wind turbine’s maximum acceptable wind speed is 95mph. The brake kicks in at 75mph. If it looks like it will be more than 75mph there are two options. Lower the tower from 55ft to 30ft which is well below the tree line or, keep going and lay it all the way over. By retracting the upper extension below the tree line it can partially protect it and keep generating power.