Apartment Wind Turbine ideas

Hey all. I would like to gather opinions on 2 small wind turbines I'm thinking of constructing. Difficulty: I live in a third floor apartment (it's also the top floor). My first idea was to modify an old box fan and mount it outside my window. Then I walked into my bathroom, which has a noisy exhaust fan in it. I accidentally turned it on and realized that I could build a collapsable darrieus turbine that would fit up the exhaust vent, expand when outside, and hook that up to the exhaust fan motor already in the vent. Does this sound feasable? My goal is to see if I could charge a cell phone from the power generated by one of these two options. apologies for the quick-n-dirty sketch below.

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gmyers21129 years ago
the vent tube has a cap on it to keep the rain from coming in while allowing the air to vent when the bathroom fan is on. If you remove that cap in order to poke your Darius or Savonius turbine out into the air stream, your landloard will know and be upset. ALso, in order to do that, you'd need to go up on the roof, in which case, you could just mount the darius on a pole you stuck down through the tube. Either way, this is a bad idea in that you don't have legal rights to the roof space of the building. What you do have rights to, is your windows and balcony (if you have a balcony). ON the 3rd floor, you have better wind than the first two floors. Make a small savonius and put it on the porch or balcony (nail it down if you must) and hook it up to your recharger system for the phone. Put a car battery out there (not directly on the concrete... not sure why, but that's bad for car batteries) so that you can store power even while you're not rechargeing the phone (and maybe your iPod) and then you'll have power for recharging if the wind isn't blowing. You could even use your old box fan. Twist some leads to the plug tangs on the fan plug (the part you stick in the wall socket) and put the fan in the wind on your porch and see if you get any volts. Even a little is better than nothing and you can save it in a battery. A fan is a windmill generator going backwards. (there may be a diode the remove or swap, but if you've got the same cheap chinese made crap box fan the rest of us do, you probably won't have to worry about it.)
mikejedw10 years ago
I just posted up an instructable on building a Savonius turbine from a Pringles can and some CDs:


My goal is also to get it to charge a cell phone, maybe in conjunction with the mintyboost instructable.

Whether it could get up on your roof depends on the width of the pipe--my version can be about the diameter of a CD (a bit larger, actually, for the frame). Even it that doesn't work as a turbine, maybe the magnet/stator setup and circuitry could be useful for you if you get the Darrieus going.
Kiteman10 years ago
What's the ID of the tube? About 4 inches?

Try a variation of the Picoturbine. It's small and low-powered, but you could leave it up all night, or all the time your landlord is out of the area.


You could even fool them into thinking it's a feature of the roof - set it up projecting a couple of inches, then move it up an inch every few weeks. By the time they see it, it will have registered as "always been there".

I wouldn't use the fan motor to produce your current, though - find an old DC motor to produce DC current. Add a diode to stop the battery running the motor, and you won't have to bother with rectifying anything.
Greenline (author) 10 years ago
some of you may be wondering why I'm all about sticking this thing up a pipe: I live in a small apartment building, right next to the landlords office. They don't take to kindly to things being stuck to their buildings, so I'm trying to make it discreet. Sticking it up a rooftop pipe gives me a discreet location and height.
Greenline (author) 10 years ago
the topography of my area produces regular low to moderate wind speeds. Based on my research I need lightweight blades that react to low windspeeds. I was aware of the non self starting nature of darrieus turbines, unfortunately there's not much info out there for building your own darrieus. my other collapsable idea would resemble a traditional horizontal axis fan, but the blades would be able to unfold like a chinese handheld fan. In that manner it'd be able to be stuck up the pipe and then unfurled once it's outside.
trebuchet0310 years ago
From what I've read, which is not super duper comprehensive, Darrieus turbines are not self starting -- so you'll need something to get it going ;) How much wind do you get in your area?