There are 3 basic styles of wind turbine towers: guy wired, free standing lattice and monopole towers. Depending on the height and turbine height different towers may be used with the same turbine. Some towers may come with tilt-up options so that the turbine can be raised and lowered for installation and maintenance with a tractor or hoist while others must be installed using cranes with maintenance performed either by climbing the tower or using a man-bucket on a crane.
Depending on the type of turbine you purchase, there may be little to no need for maintenance or there may be annual or biannual maintenance required.
Guy wired towers are the least expensive and are designed around a center column pipe, box truss or triangular truss and then supported by guy wires reaching out in three or four directions. The reasons these towers are less expensive to install is the fact that they require less assembly, less concrete for the center pad and are oftentimes tilt-up style towers. However, because of the guy wires these towers also have the largest footprint with the guy wire foundations being placed 30 to 60 feet from the center of the tower.
Self supporting lattice towers are an affordable alternative to guy wired towers. These towers sit atop a large concrete pad measuring anywhere from 8′ x 8′ to 15′ x 15′ and secured into the ground as deep as 4′ or are anchored to deep pier type foundations, one for each leg of the tower. These towers require use of a crane to be installed but provide access for some maintenance should the tower need to be climbed.
Freestanding monopole towers are the sleekest looking towers and with smaller turbines (500W to 2kW) are oftentimes tilt-up type towers. The foundations are several feet deep, however, the surface area of the foundation is the smallest of all towers.