There are a variety of ways to harness the power of wind to do work for you. From ancient times, we have used it to propel ships. From medieval times we have used it to grind flour and haul water. Nearly from the inception of electricity we have tried to utilize wind to produce it. The means haven't changed all that much in the century and a half since we started playing around with the idea.
What has changed is the scale of our endeavors. On land, we have created wind turbines just about as big as we can fit on the roads. The propellers have become so large that they have to close highways to transport them. In offshore turbines, the scale has risen even more, with turbines capable of producing 5 megawatts or more in operation, and larger ones in the works. On the opposite end of the spectrum are home wind power kits.
Home wind power kits are designed to bring the power of the wind into your life in a personally applicable way. Since operating a single 2 megawatt tower is beyond the means of the average person, it can be hard to see how wind power benefits us as individuals. When we think of personally implementable clean energy, the nod usually goes to solar power. It has a comprehensive federal and state subsidy structure in place to help defray the cost. It is silent, can be very unobtrusive, and lasts for years with little maintenance.
What most people fail to realize is that solar panels require the subsidy programs just to make them economically viable, they have just barely reached the point where they can produce enough power to compensate for the cost of installation and manufacture. Home wind power kits on the other hand have a much better rate of return. Wind power is second only to hydroelectric power in efficiency, and most people stand a better chance of operating a wind farm than obtaining permission to dam up a river to make a hydroelectric plant.
There's no denying that there is a maintenance component to home wind power kits that you don't find in solar power. But the fact is that even considering maintenance costs like bearing replacement, lubrication, and gearbox maintenance; wind power is cheaper watt for watt than solar.
While it is impossible for home wind power kits, or any type of wind turbine for that matter, to harness 100% of the wind passing through the area, the fact is that they're much cheaper to manufacture, since you can make them of ordinary metals rather than the more expensive silicone that solar panels require. They're also cheaper to install since you won't be required to go through a state licensed solar installer, like you must do to qualify for most rebate programs. In fact, you can install most home wind power kits yourself, provided you have basic tools and some construction know-how. Of course, the larger kits will require laying a foundation instead of just using guy wires to anchor the structure.