Build your own wind turbine

Build your own wind turbine

If you’re looking to save money each month by reducing your energy expenses or wanting to generate additional power to make a profit by selling it back to the power company, then building your own wind turbine at home can be an excellent way to do so. This guide will help you in developing your own wind turbine from home using readily available materials that can both be purchased in local shops or online at places like eBay and using simple tools/materials that have been sitting around your house.

Before you begin make sure you read this guide fully. You will then need to make sure you have a few basic items ready for the process, and these include:

1. A generator (electric DC, low RPM, 30 Volt minimum output)
2. Blades (prefabricated or personally produced)
3. A mounting that allows the generator and blades to always be turned into the wind (prefabricated frame or personally constructed)
4. A tower or some other support to put the mounting on in order to raise the turbine high enough to receive adequate airflow (short mounting if turbine is to be set on house, large pole for tower if set away from structure)
5. Electric control system to regulate the electricity being produced by your wind turbine (manufactured of personally produced if you are experienced with electronics)
6. Finally, the batteries to deposit the generated electricity into to use as you see fit.

To make sure you are prepared and progressing smoothly, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Locate a suitable generator

You can purchase most generators that are are able to be used for basic wind turbine projects in various shops both locally and online and one of the best sources for cheap and effective products for your turbine is eBay. By searching eBay for an electric DC motor that can provide a steady charge at low RPMs, you can find a number of useful options to help you with your wind turbine project. The key in selecting a good motor is to make sure that you have one that can operate at low RPMs for your energy production while still producing adequate electricity (a good example would be a motor with the ability to produce 30 Volts and 300-350 RPMs as this would allow you to achieve a stable 12 Volt current in lower wind speeds).

The reason for the low RPM requirement is so that your wind turbine can remain productive at varying speeds and be able to produce electricity for you regularly. Using a motor that would produce the same amount of electricity at, say, 5000+ RPMs would not give any real value to your project. A quick eBay search for motors that would be suitable for a home wind turbine project would help point you in the right direction and get you started on the right path.

Step 2 – Locate suitable blades

Here you have two choices: to either purchase prefabricated blades specially designed for windmills or to make your own using pvc pipe you can buy at the local home development store and save lots of money. If you are like most people and prefer the second option visit http://www.yourgreendream.com/diy_pvc_blades.php for specific instructions and picture guides on how to cut out enough blades in no time.

Step 3 – Find a suitable electric control system

If you’re good with your hands and experienced in developing electronics consider visiting http://www.fieldlines.com/story/2004/9/20/0406/27488 for an in-depth discussion, analysis and construction guidelines on how to build your own electric flow controller. If you don’t feel comfortable in doing this yourself then simply do as most people do and purchase one online from eBay (you may even be able to pick one up from the same seller when you purchase your motor if the eBay seller specializes in wind turbine products).

Step 4 – Collect all materials

Once you have found and purchased or produced all of the necessary products that are the core of the wind turbine (the generator, the control system and the blades), it’s time to gather all of the remaining resources you’ll need to use in this project. These have been grouped as “remaining materials” as they are generally easier to find, more readily available, and a number of different variations can be done upon these. What you’ll need is:

– Tools for drilling, cutting, bolting and possibly screw drivers/screws (your choice if you wish to use these in some areas over bolts)
– Small lead weights (for counter-balances)
– Pipe (metal, 1/4” ID or different depending on your specific preferences, long enough to act as a tower or base support)
– Pipe (metal, 1/4” OD or matching to your primary stand pipe)
– Mounting brackets for pipe/rod and motor (to attach blades)
– Plywood or corrugated strand board for stand (optional other material can be used)
– 2×4 (for mount)
– Sheet metal and mounting bracket (for tail fin)
– Battery for power storage (a common car battery should work fine)

Step 5 – Attached the blades to the motor

The blades you either purchased or produced earlier in Step 2 will need to first be attached to a bracket that can be mounted to the electric motor. If your motor does not already have one that’ll fit visit your local hardware store to try and find one that will and still provide enough area for blades to be bolted on to.

Once you have located an appropriate bracket select three of the blades (only 3 are necessary in order to ensure proper balance of the fan) and drill two holes in their base as necessary. Then on the mounting bracket divide it into three equal quadrants and drill matching holes for the blades to bolt onto. It is important to make sure at this stage that you have measured all segments equally as any imbalance will throw off the productivity of your wind turbine. Once you have successfully bolted your blades in place attach the bracket to the motor to ensure that it can spin freely. If all is well set this aside for now and move to the next step of the project.

Step 6 – Assemble the mount

Using the 2×4 now cut out a 33 to 36 inch long section to act as the primary mount for both the electric motor and the tail fin. This piece is important as it will help allow your wind turbine to turn and adjust itself to constantly draw energy from the wind regardless of the direction it is blowing from. After you have the long base cut another section that is approximately 14-16 inches long to act as an additional base support for the tail fin and another shorter section that can help support the motor. Attach the motor to one end of the long section on top of the short piece you just cut (pipe clamps should work fine for this) and the 14-16 inch section on the opposite end. Then drill a 1/4” hole approximately 8 inches back from the end your motor is mounted on – this is where you will feed the power lines that will transfer the energy your motor produces to your power converter in order to ensure that the power cable does not twist around the frame as it rotates.

Finally, cut out a section of sheet metal that is roughly the same length of your tail-fin support piece and 9 inches tall and attached this to the rear of your frame with a sheet metal mounting bracket that can be purchased from a local hardware store. This will act as the fin to catch the wind and turn your turbine appropriately.

Once this is done attach a pipe mount to bottom of your frame that the 1/4” OD (or other pipe you are using) directly beneath the power line hole you drilled earlier and then attach a short piece of your selected 1/4” OD pipe (or, again, other size as you have chosen) into the pipe mount. It’s important to ensure that this pipe is 1/4” OD and NOT 1/4” ID as it must be able to insert into your 1/4” ID stand pipe and act as a pivot point for the frame.

Once this is done your mounting frame should be completed, though you may wish to paint the wood with a few layers of paint in order to help increase its resistance to elemental damage (rain, wind, etc.).

Step 7 – Assemble the base

Once your top turbine mount has been completed cut out a reasonable section of plywood or corrugated strand board to use as a base and attach a pipe mount to it that the primary stand pipe can attach to. In order to better distribute the weight of the top turbine mount and allow for the power cables to be easily accessed it is generally best to use a Y-style setup (where two mounts attached to the wooden base meet in a central point above the base that the pole will then attach to) so that the power cable can exit the mounting pole and be easily accessible to attach to the power conversion unit for use, however whether or not to use this particular setup is up to you. After you have successfully attached the mounts the base should be complete and you’re ready to begin putting it together.

Step 8 – Attach the power lines

Now that both the base and turbine mount have been completed it’s time to attached the power feed lines to the motor and ensure that they can all successfully be run through the pipes and to the power conversion unit you acquired in Step 3. First and foremost make a note of which line will attached to the positive end of the motor and which to the negative as it may become difficult to tell which is which after you thread it through the support pipe. Once marking both ends of your feed lines in some way attached them to your motor and then feed the opposite end through the drilled hole and attached pipe in your mounting base you created earlier. Then thread the lines through the primary stand pipe that the turbine mount will slide into. It is generally easier to do this BEFORE attaching the stand pipe to anything (such as the base support) so try to make sure you lay the wiring before setting anything up. Finally, thread the wire through the last port in the base you created in Step 7 and attach it to the power conversion unit.

Step 9 – Assemble the pieces

Now that each individual section of your wind turbine has been completed it’s time to put them together. First slide your turbine mount into the top of the support pipe and ensure that it can rotate smoothly – this is key to ensuring that the mount can adjust to meet oncoming air current and generate electricity for you efficiently. Also make sure that all power lines are able to spin freely within the pipe and not cause any snags that can cut your power draw.

Then attach the support pipe (with turbine mount) to the base. It will also be important at this time to secure the support pipe with support wires (4 should be enough) and stake them into the ground around the turbine in order to distribute any pull that might be generated during the turbine’s operations. As a general rule of thumb support lines should run from towards the top of the support pipe and be placed approximately ½ to ¾ of the height of the pipe away from the central structure.

Finally, connect the devices that you wish to utilize the electric current to be generated and the power storage batteries to the power converter and let the process begin.

Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a home-built eco-friendly power generator that can save you money and, if you do this enough to produce enough electricity, may even be a profitable business venture for your future.

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