Instructables
This Instructable will enable you to build a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine out of mostly recycled materials.

I was inspired to build a Savonius turbine from 55 gallon drums after reading an article from a 1970s copy of Mother Earth News. The Savonius Turbine, often referred to as the S-Rotor, has been around since the 1920's.

The main wind catchers are made from 55 Gallon PVC drums, and the generator is made from a recycled automotive alternator (do it yourself or purchase one off ebay).

This design will withstand over 70MPH winds without harm and will survive outside in rugged winter weather.

Here is a video which covers the part one of the installation process.


 
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Step 1: Materials Needed

2 55 gallon plastic drums (You can buy them at a recycling place or often find them for free at farms and restaurants. Clean any labels off with a pressure washer or solvent. Make sure they stored food and not dangerous chemicals--referred to as "food grade barrels")

The following parts can be purchased from Lowes or Home Depot

1 10 foot section of 3" inside diameter PVC pipe (make sure it has a thick wall as this is a structural component)

4 3" closet flanges (the above pipe should fit within this flange tightly)

4 closet flange spacers

16 1/4"-20 Screws 2.5" long *

32 1/4" washers *

16 1/4"-20 Nuts or Nylock nuts *

4 sheet metal screws about 3/4" long *

2 "Lazy Susan" Bearings (Lowes)

  • These fasteners will live outdoors so they should be rust resistant. Go with galvanized or even stainless hardware if you can afford it. Otherwise, use a spray varnish to protect the screws after they are fastened.

A plank of 1" x 8" by 6 foot

Optional: PVC cleaner and glue for a super solid joint where any flanges meet the PVC pipe

Non-hardware store parts:

1 Generator (buy or convert gm style or buy on ebay from qaz661 use 24v model)

You will need a chain or belt drive for the generator or you can buy a pair of gears to connect it here.
xmarlow5 months ago

Hi

I'm just wondering what the output is like? AC right, you don't convert to DC to store?

buenhombre266 months ago

What was your gear ratio?

yammer3 years ago
I would think over time the ball bearings would be damaged due to heat caused by friction. I would suggest a small grease gun with high temp wheel bearing grease would solve the problem and make it quieter. Someone may have already suggested that though. Great Job!
wallermark yammer11 months ago
i saw a scrapped hard drive used as a bearing
or a harbor freight magnetic nut and bolt holder two for the bottom and two for the top
north and south magnet repel each other thats your frictionless bearing

nwheel yammer2 years ago
One option might be to not use a lazy susan at all (they're not designed for a heavy duty cycle, really) but to recycle an automobile brake disk or drum as the load bearing device. They're extremely strong, have low-friction tapered roller bearings, very strong mounting studs, are quiet, last virtually forever, and are dirt cheap at any auto wrecking yard. They're also very well balanced and, due to the mass of the disk or the drum, add a bit of a flywheel effect to the rotating turbine. Only drawback I can think of would be that you'd need a bit of welding to anchor it to a bit of steel plate. You could also include an engine's countershaft pully to allow connection to the alternator via an old fan belt. Reuse, recycle :)
l8nite5 years ago
I found Mother Earth News thru a friend back in the early 80's and am always on the lookout for the older issues, the newer glossy paper style just isnt the same and seems more corporate than geared to to earthers, but thats just me so... Really nice ible but Id like to see more info on the alternator/generator, how is it hooked up, how many batteries does it keep charged
18 nite you can buy the entire archive of Mother Earth News on CD for a very reasonable rate from Mother . just go to their website Cos
embeddedprogrammer (author)  l8nite5 years ago
I'm just charging one marine battery at the moment using a sunforce charge controller which is designed for solar panels, not wind turbines. I am going to grid tie this before winter hits along with several other barrel turbines to help offset my electrical bill. At that point I will make another instructable for the DIY grid tie.
Did you ever tie into the grid using these barrel turbines?
vlaskop4 years ago
Don't the "Lazy Suzans" keep you awake at night? And couldn't you drive the generator with a v-belt?A fair sized pulley for mounting on the turbine can be had at the hardware store for a lot less than the cost of the gears.
embeddedprogrammer (author)  vlaskop3 years ago
No, the sound lulls me to sleep.
Berserk875 years ago
how much power does this generate at various wind speeds?
embeddedprogrammer (author)  Berserk875 years ago
That depends on the generator type. I get typically 60-100 Watts but don't have data correlated with wind speed.
When you say you typically get 60-100 watts, on what time frame are you measuring that?
embeddedprogrammer (author)  bigmac173503 years ago
instantaneously
Watts is independent of time; what the figures show is that , if he gets 12 volt, he measures 5-8 amps. Time does not enter into it.
Watts converts strait to kilowatt hours. a 100W device on for one hour its 0.1kilowatt hours.
For the price of materials and amount of time it took to build that, that's pretty impresive. The solar panels I'm considering building would end up being something around $40 for 14 watts I think it was.
TheKyQ3 years ago
cuanto te costo el lazy susan y las bridas???
embeddedprogrammer (author)  TheKyQ3 years ago
cuestan cinco dolares por el lazy susan
juanjomf3 years ago
Hi Jeff, forgive my English use the translator.
I would buy just to a CNC machine, as you use your on the videos, but not to make wind turbines, but some work on my aluminum window frames. http://sdlaluminios.com.uy
I'm from Uruguay as passionate about the topic of energy and I created a Savonius and plucked one of the propeller.
http://migreenplanet.blogspot.com
I'll see how I buy, I would advise to me is what comes in the box for $ 1395. And brings the software and adapter between PC and machine or not.

Thank you very much. Juan Jose Molina
I'm on facebook-Bye
embeddedprogrammer (author)  juanjomf3 years ago
go check out imsrv.com
Thank you for showing how you built your turbine. I think this was what i was looking for my project. I have 3 old military generators and wanted to make them into wind generators. But didn't know how to do it so it won't need something like a thing for the wires when it rotated.Your idea is amazing.Now I can see how it will work.And cheap too. How much would you charge to make the gears you showed. I don't have the setup you have to make them. My email is steveneelliott1872@yahoo.com. When you have time please email me. I very Interested in talking to you further. Thank you.
I tried to email you but that address didn't work.   The gears are available for $99 at Berezin Technologies.
I am very interested on your project sir. Can I get some information about your wind turbine? I would like to know the right turbine to use to power the lights in my farm. Thank you very much.
embeddedprogrammer (author)  rumarch3 years ago
How much wattage do you have? Where is your farm located and do you have a wind map for your county or area?
sci54 years ago
Your overall idea was superb. My partner and I built this for a school Physics project. The only factors we change was that instead of an altenator, we used a bicylce light generator. We built a frame and ontop mounted a round piece of wood, we cut it out using our skill saw. This was to make the light generator pick up and light the light brighter. The wire that came with it was a little too long and caused too much resistance, so therefore we had to get a shorter wire and hook that up to it. DO NOT use motor oil on the lazy susans, instead use white lithium grease or silicon grease, because the motor oil is way too sticky. These are just our modifications.
Adam Plyer4 years ago
 Just a couple of things I and my friend noticed while building this for a school project:  We used a alternator out of a vehicle setup to a voltmeter to see how many volts we could get out of the turbine and we noticed that the smaller the battery we used for the field the smaller the amount of drag on the turbine would be, and that the 1x8 planks of wood tend to bend and twist under the bearings, and that the barrels can be spaced out a little more than half and half to get a better intake of air.  These are things that we just thought may come in handy for anyone who might be building one of these turbines the way we did. 
jgz4 years ago

Did you build your own CNC Router to cut the gears?  If so, where can I get plans?

tel19584 years ago
A Compass?
That is for finding North..... I think you mean a pair of 'compasses'. Even so, I still can't work out why you need these??????
embeddedprogrammer (author)  tel19584 years ago
No, I use a compass (an articulated drawing tool) to find the center of the barrel and draw a line through it.  You don't want to cut on the seam of the barrel because that is the thickest part so it is better to cut at a right angle from the seam.
macaroni5555 years ago
I agree there are a few things further I'd like to see on the instructable. Non the less, I enjoyed it. Good work!
embeddedprogrammer (author)  macaroni5555 years ago
Thanks. I will be adding more details on this Instructable shortly to address some of the comments.