Solar vs Wind Energy: Which is the Better Option?

why is wind energy better than solar energy

As solar panels and wind turbines spring up before your eyes, you can’t help but wonder: which one pays off faster and which one can produce more energy for the dollar you invest into it? The answer is: it depends. Your location, energy needs, and the reliability of the energy source all play a big role in what we deem as the best solution. As everyone’s needs are different, we should not take the matter lightly. For this reason, let’s dive in and see which of the two renewable energy sources works better for you. 

First things first, solar power and wind power are both renewable energy. Whichever solution you decide to go with, you will enjoy the same benefits. They include a reduction in your carbon footprint, less money spent on energy every single month, less dependence on fossil fuels, being able to power your home with clean, renewable energy, and finally, the ability to sell extra energy and Renewable Energy Certificates, also known as Renewable Energy Credits. 

Among the two renewable energy sources, solar panels seem to be more popular. They are devices that are usually placed on the roof and which use both direct and indirect sunlight to generate wind energy. Unlike wind turbines, they do not make much noise, take up less space, and are easier and faster to install. Solar panels are, in fact, a very popular means to generate power in the US, especially as they are small, scalable, and inexpensive. 

Wind energy, on the other hand, uses the kinetic energy of the wind (the energy of motion), to produce electricity. Wind energy can be produced by means of wind turbines installed in your backyard, or even on your rooftop. The first option seems much better, especially as small vibrations may damage the roof structure over many years of use. However, considering the size of many wind turbines, it is easy to see why they are usually installed on the utility-scale. 

Wind turbines in any useful setup are simply too big to place in your backyard. If you have a large farm and a lot of land, this is the way to go, but being able to do so in a densely populated area is simply unfeasible. After all, wind turbines have a lot of moving parts, are heavy, noisy, and are a threat to wildlife. 

Although both solutions can cut back on your energy costs, we simply have to side with less efficient solar panels. Although the energy harnessed is much lower (around three times lower than with wind turbines), their scalability, good use of space (especially with monocrystalline solar panels), and quiet operation mean that you can generate energy by using space that just sits there – your rooftop. Although in many cases it takes a minimum of a dozen panels to do the job of one large wind turbine, being able to set them up with little upfront work and low installation costs is what draws most people to them. 

Renewable Energy

And while solar panels produce clean energy for domestic use, wind turbines can generate more electricity than even the most efficient solar panels, and can even allow for large homes and farmsteads to be supplied with clean energy day and night. Of course, the energy is clean and renewable, so you are sure that your farm or business actually has a positive impact on the environment. 

Renewable energy is any form of energy that is naturally restored. The shorter the restoration time, the better. As sunlight and wind are almost ever-present, they are very likely to be a good replacement for fossil fuels in producing usable electrical energy for the upcoming generations. Both wind and solar are needed, as they both suffer from the same problems. Let’s read on and see how we can combine solar power and wind power for the best results. 

Solar Energy

Solar energy is one of the multiple renewable energy sources we have on our planet. These sources include: 

  • Solar, 
  • Wind, 
  • Hydro, 
  • Pumped hydro, 
  • The energy of waves and ocean currents, and 
  • Biomass. 

Among these, solar energy can generate electricity with very little upfront work. Biomass demands a lot of work to be done every year, while hydro and pumped hydro are simply not as feasible for a typical US household. With solar, the actual electrical energy is produced whenever the sun shines, and it does not depend on precipitation or biomass availability. 

As the sun shines both in the winter time and the summertime, you will have usable electricity year round, for as long as the solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. To ensure this happens at high efficiency and for long periods of day, all you need to do is to keep them clean if precipitation didn’t do it already


Once the panels are clean, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of going solar: highly predictable sunny hours and sunny days, more energy per square foot than with wind turbines, and being able to install solar panels in less time and for less money than a wind turbine are other advantages that you can expect. Bifocal, PERC solar panels, and hybrid solar panels *(producing both electricity and hot water) are just some of the many different types of panels that you can choose from to ensure your energy needs are met. 


Although inexpensive, your panels will still cost a lot of money. The initial investment into photovoltaic panels can be quite high, but thanks to communal solar farms, you, too, can have access to solar energy when you need it. Solar panels, however, are not very efficient (around 13-22%), so you will need more of them. This increases electricity costs and the payoff time on your investment. 

One of the biggest disadvantages of solar is its intermittency. Although not as intermittent as wind power, your solar panel array can only produce energy for as long as there is direct sunlight (and indirect, under some circumstances). However, the sun doesn’t shine when you need it the most – a typical US household uses most energy around 7 PM – when the sun is not up anymore. 

In addition to this intermittency, it can also be stated that the sun does not shine equally throughout the year. In most parts of the world, the sun only shines for several hours a day during winter. Dark, cloudy days are also periods when you will experience a significant drop in energy generated. Even the best panels are not resistant to these issues. 

Wind Energy

Wind power, on the other hand, can generate power whenever there is wind. Be careful not to invest before you check all the specs and your site. Wind turbines need a minimum wind speed of around 2.8 mph or 4.5 kph of wind speed to function. The more efficient power source, therefore, needs some special conditions to be able to produce green energy for your home. 

Needless to say, wind turbines do not come cheap. Still, a home wind turbine is smaller, lighter, cheaper, and takes less space than solar panels. The power generation with wind turbines is less predictable than that coming from solar, but even a single wind turbine can beat dozens of solar panels when it comes to the amount of energy that it can produce. 

To do so, the wind turbine converts mechanical power into electrical power. As they should spin as often as possible, to ensure a fast payback period, they are best placed in rural regions, where wind power is abundant, and where there are few obstacles to interfere with wind energy production. Both wind and solar, as we could see, can produce green energy for your home. Let’s now consider some advantages and disadvantages of wind systems. 


Wind energy is very cheap and easy to generate. Wind turbines capture up to 60% of the energy that passes over them, which is much higher than electricity generation in solar energy systems. Wind energy is also very well-suited for rural areas, and combining solar and wind is a breeze. However, there are some disadvantages to using wind power only as well. 


Some of the disadvantages of going with wind instead of solar include higher upfront costs, more noise, lower suitability for urban regions (where electricity is needed to most), the dangers to wildlife, especially birds, and the fact that turbines are not suited for every land type. Let’s break this down. 

Firstly, turbines cost more to build because they need foundations. The bigger the turbines, the more power they can produce, but the bigger the foundations and infrastructure needed to support that same turbine. This is also the reason why wind turbines are not suited for every land type – swampy and overly wetland, prone to mudslides will not suffice. 

Furthermore, as they spin and have a lot of moving parts, wind turbines are more prone to breakage. They are also more dangerous to wildlife, as the blades rotate and can kill birds flying in the area. The green energy you get comes with its own cost. Lastly, turbines are best suited for rural regions, both to avoid accidents and injuries, and to keep the noise levels down. 

One of the biggest disadvantages of wind power is its intermittency. Namely, the wind does not always blow, so you may not always have access to clean electricity. However, this issue can easily be overcome if you live in an area where net metering is available. This way, you can send excess electricity to the grid, and pull it back when you need it. 

So both wind and solar power have their own advantages and disadvantages. Among these is the high cost of installation, intermittency of energy sources, and the fact that wind and solar power simply do not offer the same energy density that fossil fuels do. For this reason, a single solar or wind power plant cannot make enough energy to power a city, for example. However, this can also be seen as an advantage, as decentralized systems (such as these), are less prone to complete failure. 

Solar vs Wind Energy

As both solar and wind are popular green energy alternatives, we should understand how they compare in terms of efficiency and energy production, as well as how costly they are. Although most solutions can be purchased by the average US household, solar vs wind energy is a question that needs thoughtful consideration, especially if you are in the position to purchase both. The energy compared is meaningless, because you will always purchase a system that suits your energy needs. 

Efficiency & Energy Production

So, when it comes to efficiency and energy production, you should know that turbines are much more efficient in converting energy into electricity. They are capable of converting as much as 60% of the energy that passes over the blades into electricity that you can immediately use. However, as wind systems require environments clear of vegetation and buildings, finding the right spot for them can be difficult. 

To add to the issue, the wind is not easy to predict. This is what makes wind turbines somewhat unreliable. A sunny summer day can have no sun at all, or it can feature a real wind storm. The same goes for winter days and nights. 

Solar panels, on the other hand, can produce energy for as long as there is a light source. They are highly dependent on the sun as the direct light source, but they can produce electricity even when there is very little light – such as on a dark and cloudy day, with heavily overcast skies. This is what makes solar panels a better option for most US households – they are simply able to produce more power compared to turbines for every $ you spend on them. 

Cost Comparison

Comparing the cost of solar vs wind is not as easy as it sounds. Let’s consider why: 

  • Solar is a one-time installation
  • Solar demands very little maintenance, 
  • Solar does not break as often, 
  • Wind demands regular maintenance, 
  • Wind demands more space, 
  • Wind demands more spare parts and is prone to breakage, 
  • Wind costs more initially and may only produce a lower amount of electricity compared to solar panels in a residential setting 
  • Solar and wind power are used differently – solar is better for a residential setting and wind is better for utility, industrial, or even grid-scale settings, 
  • Solar panel costs are lower than wind and overall maintenance is cheaper. 

An average home solar panel system can cost as little as $25,000, before subsidies, tax credits, and other incentives are taken into consideration. Based on the energy price in your area, it may take some 3-12 years for the system to pay off. In the meantime, solar will produce a substantial amount of energy with little input from the owner, little to no maintenance, and with a possible need to change the solar battery if you live in an off-grid setting. As your energy needs grow, you can easily add solar panels to the existing configuration. 

On the other hand, to get the same amount of energy from wind, you will need to cash out closer to $75,000. You will be able to recuperate the cost, but it will take much longer than solar panels. Both solar energy and wind energy qualify for Federal ITC and help generate RECs – Renewable Energy Credits, which you can sell later on to help recuperate a part of the costs. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Solar & Wind Energy

wind turbine vs solar panel

Now that we know the difference and the pricing of solar vs. wind energy, it is time to consider some other factors that can influence your decision on which renewable energy technology to go with. This way, you can be sure that you are making the right and informed decision that will not cost you thousands down the road. The factors to consider are: 

  • The location of the property where you would like to place your energy generation capacities, 
  • The consistency of the renewable energy source at your location, 
  • The efficiency that different renewable energy generators have (also in relation to the site and the climate), and 
  • The reliability or availability of the energy source. 


The location of the site where you will be placing your renewable energy generation capacity is of utmost importance. If you live in a cloudy, dark area with frequently overcast skies and a lot of rain, a solar farm may not be the best solution. However, if the area has strong and frequent winds as well, a wind farm may work perfectly well. 

Likewise, if the area is dry and sunny, close to the equator, or otherwise in a sunny location, solar panels may be the right bet. If there is no wind, wind farms make no sense. Make sure to check the average and detailed wind speeds at your location as well, as wind turbines will need a certain speed of the wind to start spinning their blades. 


The consistency of renewable energy sources is another thing to consider. As sun and wind are both very intermittent in nature, you should consider which one pays off the most. If you get winds every few days, this may not be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you get a lot of wind, such as in coastal regions or planes, wind turbines may be the best option. 

If you get a lot of sun, i.e… the sun is very consistent, you may want to consider installing a solar array. Sure, there will be changes in the production during summer and winter time, but being able to produce an average annual electricity consumption right on your site is a reward on its own. Never rely on your feelings and intuition – rather, look for certified professionals that can help you get the most out of your site. 


The efficiency of both wind and solar are very different. And while the wind is around 60% efficient, solar panels only feature efficiencies of around 13-22%. However, as sunlight is more readily available in most regions than wind, this may be a more sane choice. In addition to this, panels are more labor-efficient as well, as frequent hosing down may be all the maintenance there is for the upcoming 2-3 decades. 


The reliability of the energy source on your site is something to be considered as well. If you get cloudy spells in the middle of the summer and are left without any sunlight for a week or two, this can be catastrophic in terms of your annual energy generation. If, on the other hand, you have only seasonal and unreliable winds, you may want to reconsider purchasing a wind turbine. 


Which is More Profitable Wind or Solar Energy?

Wind energy may be more profitable, depending on the site. If you commonly experience wind in your area, you may as well place wind turbines on the site, as wind blows both during the day and the night. Solar panels, on the other hand, can only produce energy during the day, and only on bright days. So, wind energy is more profitable than solar. 

How many Solar Panels Does it Take to Equal a Wind Turbine?

How many solar panels it takes to equal a wind turbine depends on many factors, including the kind and efficiency of solar panels, as well as the size of the wind turbine. As residential solar panels have an average rated strength of 0.350 kW, it takes three solar panels to equate 1 kW of power coming from a turbine. In the case of industrial wind turbines, producing up to 14 MW of power, it can take up to 42,000 solar panels to equate that power output. 

How long Before a Wind Turbine Pays for Itself?

Wind turbines generally cost around $1 million per MW of generation capacity. Depending on the price of electricity in the grid in your area, it can take some 15-20 years for the wind turbine to pay off itself. In general, large wind turbine farms are built by large companies, as the payoff period may not be acceptable to individuals. 

Can a House Fully Run on Solar Power Alone?

Yes, a house can fully run on solar power alone. Different solar panels have different energy outputs, and when combined with net metering policies or a solar battery, they can provide enough power to run all your appliances. Smart solutions, such as running your dishwasher and washer during the sunniest parts of the day mean that you can utilize solar power better and that you need a smaller solar battery for nighttime. 


Both solar and wind can be great substitutes for fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and even natural gas. However, knowing which one to choose for your household and what to expect once the installation is up and running is another issue. For this reason, we’ve come up with this handy guide – to help you choose between a wind turbine and a solar panel array. 

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