In this round-up of the best garden windmills, we’ve ranked our favorite ornamental windmills based on their durability, aesthetics, performance, and price. Our top pick for the best backyard windmill is the VINGLI Ornamental Backyard Windmill, though we also love the Panacea Windmill Obelisk and the Winguard Aluminum Garden Windmill for a premium option.
Best garden windmills for your backyard
A garden windmill can make an excellent addition to any backyard, and more and more people are adding one to their landscaping design. In fact, they’ve become so popular in recent years that there is a range of different ornamental windmills available on the market.
To help you choose the best one for you, we’ve pulled together the best-designed, most aesthetically pleasing, and the windmills that offer the best value for money.
1. Best overall: VINGLI Ornamental Backyard Windmill
This VINGLI garden windmill stands at eight feet tall, with a heavy-duty solid steel frame on four stable legs. Being rust-proof and sturdy, you can be confident that it will stand up to strong winds and other weather conditions without breaking or deteriorating.
Online reviewers report that this windmill stands up to wind gusts of 50 mph without any problems.
With the comparatively large dimensions of 26 by 26 inch base and 96 inches high, you’ll need to make sure you have enough space in your yard. The VINGLI garden windmill operates smoothly and quietly, so it won’t disturb the peace and quiet of your yard.
On the downside, online reviewers report that this windmill is pretty tricky to install, and that the instructions are not very helpful, and that it helps to have an extra pair of hands. However, once you get it set up you shouldn’t have any issues with this durable and reliable model.
As well as being practical and functional, this windmill is decorative too, with a modern, brightly-colored design and with cheerful accents on the blades. There is also a wind vane that adds to the aesthetic charm as well as indicating wind speed and direction.
Overall, this is a well-designed, sturdy, and beautiful windmill that runs nice and quietly.
2. Runner up: Panacea Windmill Obelisk
Our next pick for the best garden windmill is this stylish backyard windmill obelisk from Panacea. This windmill is specifically designed to provide the perfect trellis for climbing plants, adding an extra dimension to your backyard.
We also love the rustic aesthetic of this four-paneled frame and windmill, all coated in stylish black. The panels have two long and two short sides or an extra design dimension.
These panels also feature intersecting vertical and horizontal bars to give climbers more support, and also add to the overall sturdiness of the structure. The windmill also comes with ground stakes to secure it to the ground and keep it anchored.
However, some online reviewers say that these ground stakes are not strong enough to secure the Panacea windmill to the ground so that it will withstand heavy winds and other tough weather conditions. This can easily be remedied by adding some 12-inch landscaping pins.
This is a well-made, quality, and aesthetically pleasing garden windmill that will add some extra decoration to your yard.
3. Most stylish: Outdoor Water Solutions Wooden Backyard Windmill
This wooden garden windmill from Outdoor Water Solutions offers something a little different and an extra level of style. It has a high-quality cedar-stained pine frame with metal blades and weather vane, for an antique finish.
It stands 10 feet tall, taller than most ornamental windmills, so makes an impressive statement in even a large yard.
This windmill is pretty easy to put together: you will be able to assemble yourself in a short amount of time. Some users note that the instructions could be clearer and more extensive, but even still it is not difficult to figure things out.
It also comes with ground stakes to anchor it and keep it in place and online reviewers praise its sturdy construction, reporting that it hold up even in strong winds. Some users also report that the top pivot may need to be greased in order to spin smoothly, which will need to be purchased separately.
This ornamental windmill comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, so if you do encounter any issues, you’ll be covered for the first year at least.
4. Budget pick: MORCOE Heavy-Duty Metal Ornamental Windmill
This wallet-friendly backyard windmill allows you to have a lovely yard decoration for a very reasonable cost. The versatile ornamental windmill can be used support vines or climbing plants, and features a weather vane to show wind speed and direction.
Although a budget option, this garden windmill is not cheaply made. It is constructed from solid steel, and the components are screwed together, with a sleek, modern aesthetic.
Furthermore, it has bolted and reinforced legs to keep the structure stable even in strong winds. However, the manufacturer does advise that this model is not suitable for extreme weather conditions, and the base will need to be reinforced to stand up to storms and high winds.
On the downside, some online reviewers note that it is a little tricky to put together, and it is important to line up all parts properly in order to screw them together correctly. Unfortunately, the poor assembly instructions don’t help matters.
However, for the cost, this sturdy and well-designed garden windmill offers excellent value for money.
5. Premium pick: Winguard Aluminum Garden Windmill
If you want to invest a little more for a next-level decorative windmill, this model from Winguard is a good option. This modern and stable decorative windmill runs smoothly and soundlessly.
Its strong and sturdy aluminum frame holds a hand-welded, 24-inch aluminum fan. The fan’s ball bearings can be greased for smooth and soundless running.
We love the sleek and classic design, especially the bright red vinyl trim on the tail and blade tips. Unlike the painted-on accents on most ornamental windmills, this vinyl trim won’t flake or peel.
The windmill is made in the USA, helping to guarantee a high quality of production. This also makes it more eco-friendly as it doesn’t need to be shipped from overseas, generating carbon emissions.
Although not the cheapest garden windmill on the list, this backyard windmill is extremely sturdy and durable, with a stunning design.
Should you buy a garden windmill?
It is important to be clear on whether you want the garden windmill for ornamental reasons, functional reasons, or a combination of both. Backyard windmills make an aesthetically pleasing addition to your outdoor space, as well as providing a small amount of renewable energy.
With more and more people looking to reduce their carbon footprint by setting up renewable energy at home, a backyard windmill is a great step in relying less on fossil fuels to power your home, as it operates purely on the natural power of the wind. However, there are limitations on the amount of energy a small garden windmill will produce, as we will discuss later in this article.
Many people buy garden windmills for their purely ornamental value, with a wide range of highly decorative models now available. You can even put some of the smaller ornamental windmills on your fence or mount on your roof to add something different to your property.
Here are the key factors to consider before buying a garden windmill.
How much space do you have in your backyard?
Ornamental windmills can be as small as nine feet tall and blades spanning six feet, but if you want a windmill to generate power, you’ll probably need a windmill with up to 10-foot blades.
Additionally, the space you’ll need for a garden windmill needs to take into account not only the size of the windmill itself, but also the space you need around it in order for it to work optimally.
Experts tell us that, ideally, a wind turbine should be placed 20 feet above a surrounding object, and without any objects within a 250-foot radius.
Further to this, the Department of Energy (DOE) recommends that towers with wind turbines are placed on at least one acre of land, which means you’ll need a very large block or a rural property.
However, this is not necessary if you chose a small, decorative backyard windmill.
If you are buying a backyard windmill for power generation purposes, there are a few additional things you should ask yourself.
Is there enough wind?
For an effective home windmill, you need to have an average wind speed of at least nine miles per hour. In the US, the areas with the most wind are the coasts, mountaintops, and the Great Plains – you can check the average wind speeds in your area on the DOE’s site.
Of course, your individual backyard is subject to its own unique conditions, so for the most accurate assessment, use an anemometer to measure the wind speed in your garden. Be sure to take multiple readings over a period of time to get an accurate average wind speed.
How much energy will the garden windmill produce?
If you want your backyard windmill to be able to cover some of all of your home’s power needs, how much power the windmill will produce will be one of the key factors to consider. It is important to remember that most small ornamental windmills will only generate enough power to meet a fraction of the average home’s electricity needs.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that a garden windmill is not a good investment, but you may need to consider investing in a large windmill if you have the space for it. You may also see your backyard windmill as part of a larger strategy that uses multiple energy sources such as solar to meet your home’s energy needs.
A garden windmill could also be used to power a specific electrical item, such as garden lights without using mains electricity.
Therefore, it is important to weigh up the amount of energy the windmill produces against other factors such as its size, as well as what you’re planning on using it for.
How big is the backyard windmill?
The garden windmill’s size is also relevant, because the size of the blades together with the wind speed determines the electrical output the windmill generates. Compared to the smaller examples mentioned above, a large, five-megawatt windmill will produce 15,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually – or 150 US households.
These mega-windmills are around 400 feet tall – 100 feet more than the Statue of Liberty – so this obviously isn’t an option for anyone’s backyard. However, this does show how much of a difference the size of the windmill can make.
This is not only due to the increased blade size, but also because of an economy of scale which allows windmills to produce increasingly more energy with stronger winds. In other words, double the wind speed will not generate double, but rather eight times more power through the wind generator.
Are towers allowed in your area?
Before you go ahead and buy a backyard windmill, particularly a larger one, it is also important to check if there are any restrictions on towers in your area so that you can be sure that you don’t exceed these limitations. There are a range of local laws setting guidelines for building towers or other structures in their backyard, and these can vary greatly depending on the area you live in.
These laws may forbid towers that exceed a certain height, say 45 feet for example, or may place restrictions on how close they can be to the edge of the property, as well as the amount of sound they produce.
Always check the relevant laws and regulations in your local area and ensure that the garden windmill you choose complies with these, to avoid running into any problems with the local authorities and/or your neighbors.
Other benefits of garden windmills
Garden windmills may not replace your reliance on the grid, but they do have a range of other benefits. Besides their decorative value, ornamental windmills may deter pests, can be used to aerate ponds, and often indicate wind speed and direction.
Ornamental windmills are very decorative
Garden windmills available these days can range from purely functional to highly decorative, adding a pleasing element to your outdoor aesthetic.
It’s easy to see why garden windmills have become a popular trend in landscaping, with a range of designs from the classic and stylish, like the Outdoor Water Solutions Wooden Backyard Windmill, to bright and colorful ones like the Winguard Aluminum Garden Windmill.
They can be used to determine wind speed and direction
Another benefit of a garden windmill is that it shows the wind speed and direction. By quickly glancing at your backyard windmill, you’ll be able to see whether the wind is blowing and approximately how fast the wind speed is.
Most decorative windmills feature bright colors or other elements to make the movement more obvious, so that you can easily get an indication of wind speed. Many backyard windmills also have a wind vane that swings from side to side as the wind changes direction, showing you which way the wind is gusting.
They may can act as a pest deterrent
Moles are highly sensitive to vibration in the ground. As the blades of the windmill turn, this generates vibrations that are transmitted through the supporting rod to the ground, and then out from there.
Many people believe that these vibrations act as an effective deterrent for moles, voles, and other burrowing animals, therefore protecting your garden from these pests. However, scientific studies are yet to find any evidence that windmills can act as an effective pest deterrent.
They can be used to aerate ponds
Some garden windmills are also designed to aerate outdoor ponds. This is important for creating a healthy environment for your fish by adding oxygen to the water and avoiding pond stratification.
Windmills are an effective way to aerate outdoor ponds from the bottom up, which eliminates algae, bacteria, and foul odors, making this a better environment to keep fish and plants.
Buying any kind of renewable-energy device for your home can be complex. To help allay your concerns, we’ve answered some of the most common questions about backyard windmills below.
What’s the difference between a garden windmill and a turbine?
Home wind turbines are wind turbine kits that are essentially a smaller version of the large wind farms that are used to power towns and communities with renewable energy. These are used to meet all or some of a home’s energy needs using wind energy by acting as a generator that converts the kinetic energy from wind to electricity.
A home wind turbine will not generate enough energy to power your home, but are a great supplement to a solar system, and are most effective for houses located in areas with strong winds.
On the other hand, garden windmills are largely decorative items designed to add an interesting element to your yard. They are usually a freestanding structure of around eight to ten feet tall, made from metal or sometimes wood, and stylish spinning blades, often with colored tips for aesthetic purposes.
They are also often fitted with other decorative and practical elements such as weather vanes, and can supply a base for climbing plants.
Although you could connect some backyard windmills to a battery and use them as a power source, the vast majority are designed to be ornamental.
Are garden windmills worth it?
If you want to buy a garden windmill to reduce your reliance on the electricity grid and lower your carbon footprint, you will likely be disappointed. If you’re able to connect your backyard windmill to a battery, it will likely produce enough energy to power a specific appliance or device.
Therefore, more viable renewable energy solutions for homes are solar panels and wind turbines.
On the other hand, if you’re seeking an ornamental windmill for aesthetic purposes, you’ll find a well-designed garden windmill like the Outdoor Water Solutions Wooden Backyard Windmill or the VINGLI Ornamental Backyard Windmill will add something special to your yard.
You’ll also find backyard windmills have other benefits such as determining wind direction, aerating ponds, and they may even deter moles and other pests. Therefore, if you’re looking for something decorative with these extra benefits, you’ll certainly find a garden windmill worth it, especially a budget option like the MORCOE Heavy-Duty Metal Ornamental Windmill.
Can a garden windmill power a home?
No – the average garden windmill will not come close to producing enough energy to power your entire home.
Most backyard windmills have a capacity of around one kilowatt. This would produce around 200 kilowatt-hours of electricity with a reasonable average wind speed of nine mph, or if you’re lucky enough to have gusty wind speeds of an average of 14 mph you could produce 600 kilowatt hours per year.
Compare this to the average household electricity in the US which is around 10,000 kilowatt hours per year, or more than 16 times more than the yearly output of a one-kilowatt turbine in very windy conditions.
If you’re looking for other renewable, wind-powered options to power your home, check out our guide to the best home wind turbines.
Although not really a source of renewable energy for your home, a garden windmill has real decorative value that can be a valuable addition to your yard. When buying a backyard windmill, it is important to consider aesthetic as well as practical concerns, durability, and how well the windmill will stand up to the elements.
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