Introduction: Simple Backyard Wind Turbine

Picture of Simple Backyard Wind Turbine

Want to generate your own power? Want to do it easily? Tired of "how to" wind turbine searches that end up not showing you how to actually build one? We are!!!

Here is a simple wind turbine that generates over 12 volts. Most of the parts can be bought at a local home improvement store and the other parts are easy to come by or made.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials


Motor - Taken out of an old VCR player, old printer, old scanner, or bought on e-bay. We have found good ones from each place.

PVC Cutter - Use to cut 5' 3/4 and 5' 1" PVC pipe down to size

3/4" PVC Pipe - 1' long or cut to your desired size

3/4" PVC Pipe - 3" long or cut to your desired size

1" PVC Pipe - 1' long or cut to your desired size

1" to 3/4" PVC Pipe Fitting Reducing Tee

3/4" PVC Pipe Union

Plastic - We used an old CD case

Stand - We used a flange

Wire - We are using 22AWG

Wire Stripper

Make or Buy


We bought some quick propeller blades from Amazon - Link

There are amazing ideas all over that will be better, just look around.

Our best ones we made ourselves but blew away in a storm. We used a pop bottle lid and a McDonalds large drink cup. Cut it, bend it, glued it and sprayed it.

Step 2: Prepare the Pieces

Picture of Prepare the Pieces

Cut all the PVC pipe to size.

Remove o-ring from union. The o-ring will prevent the union from swiveling easily.

Wrap the motor in electrical tape till it fits snugly into the 1" to 3/4" PVC pipe fitting reducing tee.

Cut and strip both ends of the wire. Make sure you have plenty of extra wire as it does get wrapped up. Not to worry as it unwraps too.

Split CD case and snap off any pieces sticking out. You could use just about anything flat and thin.

Cut along one side of the 1" x 1' PVC pipe to make a spot for the CD case. We asked Fat Cat for help with this. He used a miter saw, but a hacksaw would work and is less dangerous. Maybe the PVC cutter would work too?

Step 3: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

Solder the wire to your motor. We soldered and marked the positive motor as negative and negative motor as positive. We did this because we will be getting the energy from the motor and not giving to the motor. The way your blades turn may affect your output differently.

Once soldered, "fish" your wire through the tee, the short 3/4" x 3" PVC pipe, the union, and the 3/4" x 1' PVC pipe.

Drill a small hole through the 3/4" x 1' PVC pipe and fish the wire through that. We used an LED holder over the hole to make it a bit nicer.

Connect all pieces together.

Do Not tighten the union all the way down. It will not allow the turbine to swivel.

Set into flange.

Step 4: Tail Fin

Picture of Tail Fin

Connect the CD case to the 1" x 1' pipe. Slide into the cut slat.

Connect the 1" x 1' PVC pipe to the 1" to 3/4" PVC Pipe fitting reducing tee.

Step 5: Test and Glue

Picture of Test and Glue

Test everything and glue together.

Do Not tighten the union all the way down and glue. It will not allow the turbine to swivel.

Step 6: Video

First time trying to get a video to work. Always learning lol

Step 7: Options / Ideas

Picture of Options / Ideas

The first picture shows a tee with all sides the same width.

In the second and third pictures we added the clear side of the CD case to this mini motor wind turbine and a small solar panel. The motor was to weak to do much but the solar panel collected plenty of light and stored energy in our batteries.

Fourth picture is a blade from an old plastic water bottle. Worked pretty good but there are better out there.

Fifth picture is two of the purchased blades combined together. Works pretty good at low wind speeds and spins very fast.

Sixth picture is a film canister cut and glued. Works well at low speed but does not get the voltage/speed.

Last picture is on the beach. Several people stopped to take a look and learned about :-)

Step 8: Best Advice We Could Find

The best advice on how to build a wind turbine came from John Park - Maker Workshop. Everything else was not nearly as good.


steve8428 (author)2014-06-17

Hello, great wind turbine. I understand the output voltage can be over 12 v. Do you know what the power output from the motor would be at 12 v.

Lazy Glen (author)steve84282014-06-17

1.21 Jigga%'s

The output power will be directly related to the motor that you use, the size of the propeller and the wind speed. When you scrounge or buy your motor, check it for identifying information. It should have at least a part number, and possibly a rated voltage and/or current. Or you can connect it to a battery of the voltage that you want to charge (AA, 9v, 12v) and measure both the current and the speed at which it is turning. In order to charge a battery of that size, you need to get the wind to turn the propeller slightly faster than that. (You need to put more voltage into the battery to get it to charge, plus what you lose to the diodes, plus inefficiencies.)

How long it will take to charge your battery is a function of how depleted and how big the battery is and how much current the turbine is producing.

Given the size of the motor in the pictures the short answer is "not much".

Cats Science Club - Very cool project!! It would be very interesting for you to add a data-logger of some sort (like an Arduino) and record wind speeds over time. What does the voltage do as wind speed changes? What effect do different size load currents (like an old fashioned incandescent flashlight bulb vs an LED) have on the speed? This little turbine could be a several week project for a science class!

Thank you for explaining this so well!!!!!!

JakeD63 (author)2017-03-31

can you use a pc fan at 12 volts?

XTL (author)2016-07-31

in some other countries - the Pipe union is called a PVC Barrel union. 3/4in equivalent to 20mm in metric pipe sizing

ppsailor (author)2014-06-18


Annex photographs my WIND Generator built with recycled materials and PVC -. So you can orient the prevailing wind, you need to turn all the mass in the rotor shaft. - I use a plug for electric guitar -. Course is a toy. - For the generator to produce a large current to charge a battery, you need to build larger, using DYNAMO, or a stepper motor, with blades longuitud 2 feet minimum.

slarti.fartfast (author)ppsailor2015-06-20

ppsailor's point about power being directly proportional to the propeller area and diameter is a very valid one; It would also overcome the initial motor resistance to turning earlier (ie generate power with less wind); his propeller will work a lot better than smaller ones designed to be turned at thousands of rpm.

Misac-kun (author)ppsailor2014-07-04

A Guitar plug, nice!

Thanks for sharing! Very Cool!

Errol1951 (author)2015-05-11

very clever idea for the rotary joint

michaelgc (author)2014-09-23

Thanks, a small version of what I will need to get off of the grid...

BigMike1998 (author)2014-07-01

How did you hook up the solar panel/wind generator to the battery box? I keep reading i need either a blocking diode or a charge controler.

Try to get a charge controller. Below is a link to how we have a charge controller hooked up to 2 AA batteries.

Raphango (author)2014-07-24

Congratulations again!

scottdave (author)2014-07-06

Do you have information on what kind of load it can drive - Like how many watts it is capable of?

Cats Science Club (author)2014-07-06

Amazing on the beach!

mattrweaver (author)2014-07-03

I would like to build this to power a raspberry pi or another electronics project with similar power requirements for a maker event at my library. Any idea what battery I could use to charge with the turbine? Thanks! I'm off to the hardware store!

karatedragon6 (author)2014-06-17


check out my first instructable how to take apart a laptop

please comment if you see it!!!


Maybe you could leave a link to your instructable?

i dont know how but hers what the picture is on it

the link is

dackermans84 (author)2014-06-28

GOOD IDEA! nice work with the turbine. i love the idea of using an old motor and turning it into a turbine!

Thank you so much! Please let us know if you do try this.

Misac-kun (author)2014-07-01

Will do one of these, just need some spare parts.

Oh please do! And show us!! :-)

shwp (author)2014-06-19

Good design!

Cats Science Club (author)shwp2014-06-20

Thank you!

ASCAS (author)2014-06-18

Nice! BTW, try stepper motors, they produce more current & voltage even on lower RPMs.

Cats Science Club (author)ASCAS2014-06-20

Yes, thank you!

Silence (author)2014-06-17

Nice work... How many watts does it kick out ? Volts x Amps

Thanks. Watts will vary on motor and wind speed. Also the blades will greatly affect the outcome. We will have to test the motor we have when we get back from vacation.

mcencinitas (author)2014-06-17

Pretty cool, but what are you using it for? Seems like this wont give you much current and it would be pretty unregulated based on wind speed.

You could use other electronics to regulate the output voltage, which would be necessary for charging small batteries without blowing them up. Any regulators take some of the current you would need for your load and reduce your efficiency.

We are lighting up an LED. We also have used it to store energy in AA batteries then turn on an LED with a switch. The ideas are up to everyone else as to how they want to use this info. Teachers can use this info to demonstrate alternative energy. Others will build on this and build larger better turbines. This is a stepping stone not an end all. Thanks for the comment. We hope you experiment with your own.

Greasetattoo (author)2014-06-18

I have a few tread mill motors, that I am going to use..
They generate electricity, too!

They will produce a lot of electricity. We wish we had one lol. Good luck and remember to show us what you made ;-)

XoneDaGnome (author)2014-06-18

nice simple project... must .. find .. parts ..

Thank you. If you are having trouble finding parts, let us know. We can point you in the right direction.

ppsailor made it! (author)2014-06-18


Annex photographs my WIND Generator built with recycled materials and PVC -. So you can orient the prevailing wind, you need to turn all the mass in the rotor shaft. - I use a plug for electric guitar -. Course is a toy. - For the generator to produce a large current to charge a battery, you need to build larger, using DYNAMO, or a stepper motor, with blades longuitud 2 feet minimum.

rdunkel1 (author)2014-06-17

I remember coming across an article at some point in the nineties, on using a semi-tractor 24 volt alternator, and a cvt to build a wind turbine for survival or off grid camp cabin.

We heard about (a specific year and model that we are unable to remember) car alternators, a ceiling fan motor, and treadmill motors. We have not tried any of those. The one that seems to be the best to use is the treadmill motor. See second video from John Park.

billbillt (author)2014-06-17

double plus good.....

Thank you x2 ;-)

Ronald Joseph (author)2014-06-16

Love the ease of this.

Thank you!

Sailing_Nut (author)2014-06-17

Very good ideas on building a turbine. However, the motor makes a LOT of difference and you did not give any specifics on what type of motor to use.

The motor we used were pulled out of an old VCR. We also had one out of a printer and another motor out of a scanner.

Here is the one you can get off e-bay - Link

caruncles (author)2014-06-17

So, where is the energy going? How much energy (Volts, amps) does it produce? Will it charge a car or trolling motor battery?

This is a small motor. It would not charge a car battery very well. It does charge AA and AAA batteries. Please view this instructable as a learning tool to build a larger turbine. Same basic idea but bigger!

We have the power going to an LED for now. One of the originals was hooked to a battery pack we made with rechargeable AA batteries.

fixfireleo (author)2014-06-17

maybe you could use a 2 liter bottle instead of the mcdonalds cup and it might last longer?? cool idea. can you use this as a fan also? (if the wind is blowing the right direction i guess)

Yes, this could be used as a fan if you hook a battery to the wires. So instead of getting power from the motor, you are giving power. It will spin and fan you ;-)

About This Instructable



Bio: Science Geek! Been to Space Camp 3 times and want to go again!!
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