Support Frequently Asked Questions
A: Yes, there are incentives. The U.S. government currently offers a 30% tax credit. In addition, some states, local governments and utilities may offer incentives of their own. Our certified dealer/installers can help you identify the incentives you qualify for.
Q: What is the difference between on-grid and off-grid turbines? How do I know which one is right for me?
A: If your home currently gets its energy from a utility company, you will need an on-grid turbine, Skystream, which helps decrease your monthly utility bill by generating energy your home draws on before it turns to your utility company for energy. If you currently don't have the option of buying energy from a utility company, you have what is known as an off-grid need. Homeowners with off-grid needs often create what is known as a hybrid system, which employs both wind energy and energy generated by solar photovoltaic cells to keep their batteries charged.
Q: Do I have a good site?
A:Siting a wind generator is extremely important to the performance of the machine. The ideal location for a wind turbine is 20 feet (6 m) above any surrounding object within a 250-foot (76 m) radius. This generally means your property should be at least a half acre in size.
Q: Do I have enough wind?
A: You can find out using our free wind energy assessment.
Q: What are my local laws?
A:Determine if you have any local restrictions from a homeowners' association or city or county that prohibit the use of towers.
- If you have a homeowners' association (HOA), check the guidelines relating to towers or tall structures.
Ask your local county planning and zoning authority whether you can place a tower on your property. The tower must place the turbine at least 20 feet (6 m) above any surrounding object.
Q: How does Skystream work?
A: Skystream is a wind generator installed on top of a tower that converts the kinetic energy in the wind into electricity to be used in a home's electrical system. In a typical residential application, the Skystream and a local utility serve a home simultaneously. If the wind speeds are below cut-in speed (8 mph), there will be no output from the generator and all of the needed power is purchased from the utility. As wind speeds increase, the Skystream's output increases and the amount of power purchased from the utility is proportionately decreased. When the Skystream produces more power than the house needs, the meter spins backward, creating a credit that can be used later. All of this is done automatically without any interaction by the homeowner. Batteries are not required with Skystream.
Q: Will Skystream save me money?
A: Skystream can help reduce your electric bills. The amount of money a Skystream saves you in the long run will depend on its installed cost, the amount of electricity you use, cost of electricity, the average wind speed at your site and other factors. Costs vary with local conditions and tower height. The U.S. federal tax credit (30% of installed cost) can decrease this cost significantly. In some areas, state incentives can offer further reductions.
Q: Will it help the environment if I install a Skystream at my home?
A: Because Skystream is a renewable energy source, produces no pollution and uses wind power; you will be offsetting pollution that would have been generated by your utility company. Over its life, the Skystream can offset more than 6000 pounds of global warming pollutants (carbon dioxide and other gases that are associated with global warming) every year.
Q: Does Skystream create any sound or interfere with TV reception?
A: Skystream is extremely quiet and makes a small amount of operating sound similar to the level of a small office. It generally cannot be heard over typical background noise such as the sound of the wind. Skystream does not interfere with TV reception.
Q: Should my neighbors be concerned about safety if I get a Skystream?
A: No. Skystream's design was done in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratories. As part of this project, extensive computer modeling and field testing was done to ensure a safe design. All of Skystream's testing was done to internationally accepted standards for small wind safety and reliability. Your neighbors who may have some concerns about safety may appreciate the following information: Tower stability: Thousands of small wind generators are installed in the U.S. every year, and their safety track record is excellent. Trees are much more likely to fall than a properly installed Skystream, yet no setbacks or minimum property sizes are required for trees. Safety of utility repair personnel during a power outage: In accordance with IEEE and UL, Skystream will automatically shut down in the event of a power outage, and will not energize a dead power line. This is necessary to protect the utility line repairperson. Ice shed from rotor blades: Ice buildup makes Skystream blades less aerodynamic, so that they turn more slowly. Typically, ice will drop to the base of the generator tower and is not dangerous. Children and towers: In terms of educating children about not climbing structures, a small wind generator should be treated no differently than other climbable structures such as water towers or amateur radio antennas.
Q: Will a Skystream damage neighboring property values?
A: No. With thousands of small wind generators installed today in the U.S., there has never been any evidence to support this claim. Actually, there are several survey sources that indicate otherwise.
Q: Will my utility allow me to hook up a Skystream?
A: Yes. Federal regulations (specifically, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA) require utilities to connect with and purchase power from small wind energy systems. Your dealer should be able to help arrange the required utility company approvals.
Q: Will my local government allow me to install a Skystream?
A: A Skystream is a structure that normally requires a building permit. Zoning regulations often limit the height, placement, and other characteristics of appurtenant structures, so a conditional (special) use permit or variance may be necessary.
Q: Will I have to change any of the wiring in my house?
A: No. A Skystream can easily be installed at any existing home without the need to change any wiring or appliances. In most cases, the utility will install a second utility meter to measure how much surplus electricity it is receiving from the generator owner.
Q: What about towers? A: Towers as short as 35 feet tall are available for Skystream. However in some circumstances, a taller tower may be necessary to raise the generator above turbulence created by obstacles on the ground and/or trees. Wind speed increases with height above ground, and increasing speed increases the amount of energy your generator will produce. Relatively small investments in increased tower height can yield high rates of return in energy production. A rule of thumb for proper and efficient operation of a Skystream suggests that the generator should be 20 feet (6 meters) above the top of anything within 250 feet (about 76 meters).