When extracting energy from the wind using horizontal axis wind turbines, the ability to align the rotor axis with the mean wind direction is crucial. In previous work, a method for estimating the yaw error based on measurements from a spinner mounted light detection and ranging (LIDAR) device was developed and tested. In this study, the simulation parameter space is extended to include higher levels of turbulence intensity. Furthermore, the method is applied to experimental data and compared with met-mast data corrected for a calibration error that was not discovered during previous work. Finally, the shortcomings of using a spinner mounted LIDAR for yaw error estimation are discussed. The extended simulation study shows that with the applied method, the yaw error can be estimated with a precision of a few degrees, even in highly turbulent flows. Applying the method to experimental data reveals an average yaw error of approximately 9° during a period of 2 h, and good correlation is seen between LIDAR-based estimates and met-mast data. The final discussion suggests a number of challenges of the method when applied to measurements in complex flow. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.