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How Fast Do Wind Turbines Spin? Facts & FAQs

Regular wind turbines often reach speeds of 100 miles per hour (mph), though larger wind turbines can reach speeds as high as 180 mph. The exact speed of turbines depends on several factors, such as the size of the turbine and wind speeds.

If you are interested in learning more about how fast wind turbines spin, keep reading.

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How Fast Do Wind Turbines Spin?

How fast wind turbines spin ultimately depends on the individual turbine in question. As a rule of thumb, the larger the turbine is, the faster it spins.

The average turbine rotates at a speed of 10 to 20 revolutions per minute¹, or RPMs. Whenever you convert RPMs to mph, you will find that most wind turbines can spin as fast as 100 mph. This speed is typically generated whenever the wind speed is about 12–14 kilometers per hour.

If you are dealing with an extra-large wind turbine, the speed is faster because the heaviness of the blades allows the turbine to spin faster. These wind turbines can sometimes reach 180 mph. These fast speeds are normally only reached with strong winds ranging from 50–60 kilometers per hour.

wind turbines
Image By: Suwit_Luangpipatsorn, Pixabay

Can Wind Turbines Spin Too Fast?

On paper, you might think that the faster the wind turbine spins, the better. Although it’s true that you want the wind turbine to spin fast so it generates electricity, wind turbines can spin too fast.

Most wind turbines come with a maximum speed. This speed promises effective results and energy production. If the wind turbine spins too fast, it causes mechanical damage to the turbine¹. This mechanical damage may not be damaging at first, but it can break the turbine over time.

The good news is that wind turbines have safety precautions in place to ensure that they do not spin too fast or cause any structural damage or harm to the area.

How Do Wind Turbines Spin?

There are three main components of a wind turbine:

  • Blades
  • Rotor
  • Turbine

The turbines are used to extract energy from the wind. The turbine is at the top of the tower so that it gets the most wind.

Whenever the wind passes the turbine, the blades spin at the same time. Winds are required to make the blades move. The minimum wind strength required by most turbines is 6–10 mph.

The blades are attached to the rotor. The rotor spins the shaft so that the turning velocity is increased. In other words, the rotor allows for the turbines to spin faster, even in minimum wind conditions.

a wind turbine in canada
Image Credit: Emotive8, Pixabay

How Is Wind Turbine Speed Calculated?

Whenever you look at wind turbines from a distance, they often look slow and cumbersome due to their large size. However, experts know that wind turbines spin very quickly.

Experts often calculate wind turbine speeds by using the area of a circle formula. You can use the formula “2∏r”¹ to figure out how fast any wind turbine is spinning. In this formula, “r” stands for the radius of the circle, which is the same as the length of the blade.

This formula actually explains why bigger wind turbines spin faster than smaller ones. The bigger “r” is, the bigger the final number will be, and this final number is the maximum speed of the turbine.

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Final Thoughts

Once again, wind turbines can spin anywhere from 100–180 mph. The exact speed will depend on a number of factors, though. Most notably, the size of the wind turbine determines its speed, as you can prove from the formula above.

Featured Image Credit: Thomas Reaubourg, Unsplash


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