TRUTH: Wind turbines are actually quiet, especially when compared to other industrial facilities! An operating modern wind farm at a distance of 750 to 1000 feet is not any louder than a kitchen refrigerator or a moderately quiet room. The sound turbines produce is similar to a minor whooshing or swishing sound, and is much quieter than other types of modern day equipment and industrial facilities. This sound, called broadband noise, is created as the wind passes by the rotor blades. The whooshing sound made by turbines is generally masked by the noise of the wind.

Turbines are generally quiet, except under two instances. Older wind turbines manufactured in the 1980s, are associated with tonal sounds, or a steady hum from the generator. Twenty-first century wind turbines, however, are designed to drastically reduce the noise from a turbine’s mechanical components. The most audible noise of today’s turbines is the wind interacting with the rotor blades.

Modern turbines placed on hilly terrain where residences are located in sheltered dips or hollows downwind from the turbines may also produce higher than average noise levels. Due to geographic features, sounds may carry further and be more audible. This effect is generally anticipated and avoided in the development process through adequate setbacks from homes. National Wind, for instance, takes great care to work closely with landowners to ensure that wind turbines are placed at appropriate distances from their homes. This distance is generally at least 1500 feet.

Furthermore, wind turbine manufacturers have significantly reduced noise with each new design. The most common turbines have upwind rotors, which face into the wind, eliminating the thumping noise associated with downwind rotors. The streamlined design of towers and nacelles help reduce noise associated with wind passing through these structures. Also, engineers have soundproofed nacelles and gearboxes using buffer pads to dampen the mechanical noise produced by the generators and gears. These advancements in wind technology that help eliminate noise also make the turbines more efficient. So, as innovation continues, we can expect the whooshing sound associated with wind turbines to be further reduced.