How I built an electricity producing wind turbine

Picture of How I built an electricity producing wind turbine
Several years ago I bought some remote property in Arizona. I am an astronomer and wanted a place to practice my hobby far away from the terrible light pollution found near cities of any real size. I found a great piece of property. The problem is, it's so remote that there is no electric service available. That's not really a problem. No electricity equals no light pollution. However, it would be nice to have at least a little electricity, since so much of life in the 21st century is dependent on it.

One thing I noticed right away about my property is that most of the time, the wind is blowing. Almost from the moment I bought it, I had the idea of putting up a wind turbine and making some electricity, and later adding some solar panels. This is the story of how I did it. Not with an expensive, store-bought turbine, but with a home-built one that cost hardly anything. If you have some fabricating skills and some electronic know-how, you can build one too.

More details on this project and my other alternative energy projects including my home-built solar panels, and my home-built biomass gasifier can be found on my web site.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 318Next »
ericinvent3 days ago

Hi Guy's I am on with building a wind Generator to power my Garage from a Battery Bank, I have a Permanent Magnet Motor which came from a exercise machine, it works from 100V & is Rated at 200W, when I turn it with my battery drill it is throwing out around 36 to 40 volts, will this do to charge my battery bank?? Cheers.

turbo man 1 month ago
can we upgrade a small capacity dc motor by by wounding more no. of turns to stator. please reply...
espdp28 months ago

Mr. Davis, I have a question about changing wind direction. How many times could your turbine twist around before it damages the wire going down the inside of the tower? Think of a flag that has been wrapped around a flagpole by changing wind direction. If this tower is set up and taken down with your campsite, then this may not be a major problem, but if it's a more permanent installation, then it could potentially start a fire, I think. Don't commercial turbines have some sort of swashplate arrangement that lets them rotate freely without this concern?

Nobody responded to your question, so ill help a bit. Research "Slip Ring" and you might be able to solve your problem. You might be able to engineer one out of conductive materials and insulate the exterior to keep from damage, short circuit, electrical shock...
aeszok2 years ago
Just a quick question, it didn't look to me like you had any sort of battery on there. I don't know a lot about this stuff, but as consistent as the wind is, wouldn't you have issues with not having any power being fed to your laptop and other stuff when the wind isn't blowing? Even with the controller, did it still make lights and things flicker and have periods of no power?
Fantastic instructable though, very in-depth and easy to understand.
mcogan aeszok2 months ago

i imagine a solution to the inconsistent power coming from the turbine would be vehicle batteries, they would receive the power from the turbine inconsistently, much like an alternator in a car, and then the power would be distributed with a steady flow from the batteries to the laptop or lights. if you want a higher voltage than the typical 12 volt car battery, you could simply join several batteries together and/or use a transformer to receive the desired voltage.

george172 months ago

at a 25 mph wind how many kilo watts per hour would this produce

DIY Dave made it!4 months ago

Thanks for the instructable! Here's mine

saadj5 months ago

can 12 volt DC motor produce at least 60 watt ?

evone1 year ago
wow thank you so much you just might be a genius lol. I need enough electricity to power a medium size lighting system, and pumps for a hydroponic garden do you think this will do the job and if not what do you think I will need to do to make it work?
AmateurGus1 year ago
Fisrt, I take my hat off, your project is amazing. I'm building one right now, i'm done with the main part of the charge controller. Have 2 questions for you.
1.- What total resistance and wattage should use for dummy load. whats a minimum safe, supposing i'm using a generator just like yours?
2.- i want to connect a wind turbine and 2 solar panels, how many amps should have the blocking diodes to be on the safe side?

Hope you have the the time to answer and i appreciate that you share these things, hopefully we can make this kind of energy affordable for more people (i live in a third world country, buying this stuff new costs a literally a fortune).

AnAnalyst1 year ago
While your charge controller will charge batteries, it has no topping charge circuitry. Because of that, your batteries will not last as long as they could. Given that they are a major expense, it may be worth while to buy a commercial one or add the necessary circuity.
robb915 years ago
can we buil the wind turbine without the charge controller
That depends. Can we destroy whatever we connecct the turbine to?
acicalla2 years ago
I have a question regarding the 99v ametek motor and charge controllers. So far I have only been able to find charge controllers that accept 12, 24 and 48v dc as input from either a wind turbine or solar panel. So what if anything needs to be done to step down the voltage from 99v to 48v dc to the charge controller? Or do I even need to change anything? Can I just wire the 99v ametek dc output to the 48v charge controller?
Unless you gear it up, your 99v Ametek will only be producing 30v MAX at wind turbine speeds. A 12v charge controller will handle this easily.,
I have a 180v 4000rpm dc motor from a treadmill.
will this work better?

Well if you were to do the math, 180/4000=12/266.

Yes. That will make a fantastic wind generator.

Seriously people, the algebra's not that hard.
Thanks, I was just in a rush.
jlund3 years ago
K so I'm just a kid with out a 1,000,000,000,000 dollars and what to run an old fan motor as a wind turbine attached to my roof with power cables coming through my window to power my clock and charg my iPad I have it drawn out in my head I just need some help of how I get it rotating and producing power I have no clue how to set this up to make power plz help
You really can't use a fan motor because it has no magnets in it.
does it now? (all electric motors require magnets to work)
 More accurately electric motors require "magnetic fields" to operate. Prior to the advent of modern Permanent Magnets ,DC motors used electromagnets to provide the stationary field. Light weight DC motors where an exception to that. There where AC motors of similar construction, you will still see those in corded power tools, often these are 'universal" motors, meaning the can operate off AC or DC of the same voltage, UNLESS they have a variable speed control, then using them with DC generally fries the speed control.
AC motors dont have magnets, pull apart an old box fan and see if it is magnetic, it isn't. What you could do kid, is go to radio shack and buy some magnet wire also called enameled wire and make your own DC motor, take apart an old 80mm computer fan and look inside, that is basically what you will be building. The only other thing is to get your parents to buy you some neodymium magnets off ebay. then look at this instructable on how to put it all together.

It's not as hard as it looks and you dont need all that resin to hold everything in place, especially if you get the counter sunk neodymium magnets that you and screw onto a piece of wood, obviously your not trying to power your house but this instructable will tell you how it works and how to build one from scratch. hope this helps
oanderson jlund3 years ago
Your just a kid who doesn't have 1000000000000 dollars, but you still have money to burn on an Ipad :)
resinpsa12 years ago
do it yourself -
mcronnie2 years ago
For an extra power source during calm weather, could you cover the blades/tail in solar panels?? :)
You probably could, but they wouldn't really be worth it. For one thing, most cheap solar panels are flat, which doesn't work for catching the wind. For another, if you put leads on the solar panels, they would become tangled and cut really fast. Also, when they are placed vertically (such as on a blade), they catch sunlight for only a short period of time. In fact, the extra weight on the blades would probably lessen the power produced. You would be much better off by putting them on a flat surface or in a panel.
TheGreatS2 years ago
Here is an easy yes or no question. Will the char controller work for any motor of any voltage rating? Mine is a 120 volt DC motor salvaged from a blender (If that helps any).
MOMJE92 years ago
i can used motro ca,?
LIS101143442 years ago
hi i can get hold of a pillar drill easily, it is rated 1420 rpm and 240 volts,
so 1420 divided by 240 =5.92 rpm - per volt
would this be a good motor/generator for a wind turbine?
LIS101143442 years ago
hi just wondering, if a motor is producing a DC current to charge a battery then is there any need for a rectifier/bridge rectifier to stop the charge from the battery reverting to powering the motor?
mdavis19 (author)  LIS101143442 years ago

If you look closely at the captions in the photo of the charge controller, there is a blocking diode to prevent the battery from back-feeding the motor. There are also rectifier diodes in the schematic of the charge controller.
Great idea, great project, great description, great everything.

Although, a little idea popped into my head, if you could make turbines with inbuilt solar panels, would that increase the power available.

Her`s a great `ible for DIY scrap solar panels.
harveylo2 years ago
The drive (propeller) is an important part of this project. I made a two bladed prop of mahogany, light and easily worked. I was on my sailboat at the time so shaping the airfoil was less than exact. I could balance it statically but not dynamically very well. The airfoil shape is a must if you want to have it work. The airfoil pulls the propellar around. The outer third of the blade produces 2/3rds of the power so I've read. Also there are companies that make blades but that's no fun. I have a car generator which if I don't decide to play some more will be available.
I used a diode to prevent the battery from driving the blade. Because of the inaccesability to reach it on the boat, I bypassed it to start the blade turning in light breezes and it would then continue to generate. When at anchor on a boat the boat usually heads into the wind unless you have strong tides.
hi! how are you want can get information this you build me hear or at or
shadow683 years ago
want know get more information on this hope help me OK?
nbwriter3 years ago
The Mdavis WindTubine Tutorial is by far the best practical build I've seen online. Thankyou for posting!

Finding a solution for blade propellers that's both durable and efficient amounts to a fascinating engineering challenge. From my research, PVC blades (while cheap and easy to make) do not have the basic strength necessary to survive high wind speeds. (As Mdavis discovered).

Curiously, commericially made blades (for HAWT turbines) do feature connecting "tabs" that are placed centrally, rather than at the sides. Two main differences are apparent:

1. Carbon fibre is favoured over PVC as the blade material
2. A lamination process is used during blade manufacture (possibly strengthening the finished blade propellers and tabs).

Aerodynamically, the blades need to bulge at one side, then taper at the other. (A basic aerofoil). This reduces drag, as does a cambered blade. Since lift is produced once your aerofoil blade is in operation, this must be a contributory factor leading to blade failure (because the turbine is literally trying to "take off"!)

Personally, I think this "take off" factor amounts to a design flaw in HAWT turbines, since the primary objective is to capture wind energy and transfer it to the DC motor. I'd like to do testing on VAWT systems (Savonius) to see if the "lift" problem is minimized.

It's unlikely any comparison data (between HAWT propeller and VAWT savonius efficiency) exists. But you never know, the Internet is a big place... Any feedback welcomed.

pantaz3 years ago
The charge controller has been redesigned by the original designer. Reduced part count, and easier to find components!

 He also has kits and assembled units available (see link on his website). 
sbob13 years ago
why not choose dynamo?
1-40 of 318Next »