Build This DIY Wind Generator For $150
When the wind blows hard you could harness power from this mini wind generator and store the power in your battery banks.
Build This Wind Generator For $150
Lately I’ve been spending a great deal of time working on ways to generate my own electricity. It isn’t a necessity for me yet, but someday being electrically self-sufficient could really come in handy. My interest started a while back when I stumbled upon a how-to article on building wind generators from treadmill motors and PVC pipe. It sounded easy enough, so I decided to try and design my own. This particular design can be built for $100-$150 if you are thrifty and can regularly generate 50-250 watts (considerably cheaper than a solar panel of similar power output). Here’s how I built it for those of you who are interested.
How much power will your wind generator produce?
Typically I can get from 150-200 watts from my wind generator at any given time. What does that mean? With this setup, you should be able to power 6 or 7 compact flourescent light bulbs with no problem (as long as the wind is blowing). In addition, most laptops consume on the order of 100 watts, so that would be a suitable application too. However, do not expect to power your hot water heater, refrigerator, or stove with this type of small wind turbine. Those devices consume kilowatts of electricity! Additionally, The power output is heavily based on the location. You need a location that gets a decent yearly average wind speed to really get much use out of it. It would be best to put it in a place without many trees and higher than 5 meters (15 ft) off of the ground.
How much will this wind generator lower my monthly bills?
That depends on how much electricty you are consuming, but likely not by much. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American household pays 12 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity. With a constant wind and assuming production of 200 watts, my wind generator will be able to produce about 4.8 kWh of electricity in a day. So, you can potentially save about 58 cents a day or about $17 a month. However, it is unlikely that the generator will be able to produce a constant 200 watts around the clock.
Video: watch it work…
How does the wind generator work?
Every wind generator, whether they produce enough energy to power a city or to power a small radio, works on these same basic principles…
- 1. The wind blows
- 2. The generator’s vane (tail) causes it to turn into the wind
- 3. Blades attached to an alternator/generator experience the force of lift and begin to spin
- 4. The spinning creates electricity for us to use directly or to charge batteries
Sounds pretty simple eh? Well, then how the heck do I build one? Read on…
Surprisingly, building a simple wind generator only requires very basic hand tools, and if you are desperate you won’t necessarily need all of them. I used…
- Jigsaw (or a hacksaw and a lot of determination)
- (2) Drill Bits (1/2″, 7/32″)
- Tape Measure
- Crescent Wrench
- Pipe Wrench
- Protractor (to measure angles for the hub)
- Sandpaper (various grits)
I wanted to be as minimal as possible with my design (I’m poor), so I took the already simple designs from around the web and made them even simpler. All of the parts are available at any local home improvement or hardware store, and the entire setup can be constructed in as little as a weekend. Many of the parts you may already have lying around, and lots of substitutions can be made (instead of 1″ steel pipe for the tower, you could use an antenna pole for instance). Here are the parts I used to build my generator…
- 10″ x 14″ Steel Sheet
- 10″ x 1/4″ Steel Nipple
- 1-1/4″ Floor Flange
- 36″ x 1″ Square Tubing
- 1/2″ Bore Circular Sawblade (for hub)
- 5/8″ x 1/2″ Arbor (to attach sawblade to motor shaft)
- (2) Hose Clamps
- 8″ x 4″ PVC Pipe
- 30″ x 8″ PVC Pipe (6″ pipe works well too)
- A DC Permanent Magnet Motor (preferably Ametek 30V or 260V 5A treadmill motor)
- (8) 1/4″ Bolts (with washers and nuts)
- (2) 1/4″ Sheet Metal Screws
- 10-40 Amp Diode (the bigger the better)
All of the above parts (with the exception of the motor), can be picked up in a single stop to any large hardware or home improvement store. I’ve made an Amazon shopping list below for some of the more-difficult-to-find parts (note, I have not personally tested the quality or suitability of these, I’ve selected them based on their description). For the motor, the most popular types are old tape drive motors manufactured by a company called Ametek. The key is to finding a motor that puts out the highest voltage per RPM. For instance, the Ametek I’m using is rated for 30V at 325 RPM, making it excellent as an electricity generator (for a nice output comparison of the Ametek motors commonly found on eBay and other sites see TLG Windpower). However, pretty much any permanent magnet motor with a good volt/RPM ratio will do. Keep in mind that if you want to generate useful electricity, you will need to produce at least 12V to charge deep cycle batteries or run an inverter. My setup can easily achieve 300-400 RPM in a pretty average wind (for Oklahoma). These instructions assume an Ametek motor with a 5/8″ shaft, but can easily be adapted to other motors (search ebay for “wind generator” and you will get a listing of lots of good motors).
Read more at TheKevDog