A small wind turbine system is a wind turbine used for microgeneration, as opposed to large commercial wind turbines, such as those found in wind farms, with greater individual power output.
They are usually approximately 7 to 25 feet (2.1–7.6 m) in diameter and produce electricity at a rate of 300 to 10,000 watts at their tested wind speed. Some units have been designed to be very lightweight in their construction, e.g. 16 kilograms (35 lb), allowing sensitivity to minor wind movements and a rapid response to wind gusts typically found in urban settings and easy mounting much like a television antenna. It is claimed, and a few are certified, as being inaudible even a few feet (about a metre) under the turbine.
The majority of small wind turbines are traditional horizontal axis wind turbines, but vertical axis wind turbines are a growing type of wind turbine in the small-wind market. Makers of vertical axis wind turbines have reported increasing sales over the previous years.
The generators for small wind turbines usually are three-phase alternating current generators and the trend is to use the induction type. They are options for direct current output for battery charging and power inverters to convert the power back to AC but at constant frequency for grid connectivity. Some models utilize single-phase generators.
Dynamic braking regulates the speed by dumping excess energy, so that the turbine continues to produce electricity even in high winds. The dynamic braking resistor may be installed inside the building to provide heat (during high winds when more heat is lost by the building, while more heat is also produced by the braking resistor). The location makes low voltage (around 12 volt) distribution practical.
Small wind turbine system often have direct drive generators, direct current output, lifetime bearings and use a vane to point into the wind. Larger, more costly turbines generally have geared power trains, alternating current output and are actively pointed into the wind. Direct drive generators are also used on some large wind turbines.