Wind Powered Yard Light





Introduction: Wind Powered Yard Light

About: Whoever first said "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me" obviously never attended a ninja poetry slam.

I live in a pretty windy area and decided this might be a fun little project to throw together. It's pretty simple to do, and could easily be improved to make it more permanent and efficient. It would also make a good school project if you have appropriately aged school children.

Step 1: Prepare the Old Fixture to Start

In my yard I have an old gas lamp that had long been disconnected and which I thought could easily be updated to modern lighting. I removed the top, and dismantled the guts of the old lighting system to make way for the new stuff. Obviously, if you're doing anything with a gas line make sure it is disconnected before you start.

I removed the glass first and placed it inside to prevent it from getting broke. It was also the last thing I put back in place. I also saved the eagle off the top to replace later after I took down the lamp. Then it was simply taking stuff apart, which is far easier than putting it back together.

Step 2: Add the New Lighting Elements

I'm not going into extreme detail, the ideas are fairly simple and most already have their own instructables. The electric motor was salvaged from a VCR or disk drive or something (don't even really remember) and I left the gearing intact as well. It's attached directly to a savonius turbine (already well-documented here) which was made out of CDs, sides and caps of 2-liter pop bottles, reinforced with cocktail straws. And I used a super-bright blue LED as the light (I prefer the blue to white) which was $3 at Radio Shack and the only thing I spent to make this project. I put it on an old DVD which was a concept borrowed from the fantastic USB powered CD LED Light which is also entered into the Let it Glow contest.

Step 3: Beat the Storm

Oh Noes! A thunderstorm was rolling in, which is the perfect chance to test it. Unfortunetely, after the leading edge passes, the winds may calm considerably making me wait a couple of days to test further. I also included this information, because it played into the steps later on.

Step 4: The Finishing Touches

I finished up soldering the line from the motor to the light and dressed all the parts a little bit. I then ran outside and put the light back in place, seconds before the storm was going to hit!

Step 5: Some Revisions...

So in my rush to complete the light, I soldered it incorrectly. I ran out into the rain and collected the top part of the light. Reversing the power feed to it, I then took it back out to try again and it worked like a charm in the high winds... until it suddenly didn't.

I learned that it would be good to also put a resistor on it, as it blew hard enough to destroy my single LED that was attached. Another run to Radio Shack, another $3 for a LED (part 276-0006 by the way) and try it again, but a couple of days later when the wind returned but wasn't as high. It was hard to document this though, in the daylight or with flash, the blue light doesn't show, and without flash or daylight, you can't really see anything except a small blue glow. Add on top of that, as wind speeds shift, it glows brighter and darker, and sometimes not at all.

Anyway, I think this would work really well if someone living in a similar area took the time to attach a light sensing diode, 9V rechargable battery, and resistor to keep it from burning out. You would also have to mount it better than I did, it only lasted about 4-5 days before toppling over.

One other note- my first turbine was from a Chunky soup can, and it was too heavy to turn consistently for what I was trying to do. The reinforced plastic turbine held up very well, even in the high winds of the storm. It was just the mount itself for the electric motor and stuff that needed a better design. Hope you enjoyed instructable number two.

Let It Glow!

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    15 Discussions

    Hi well done thats a very nice wind turbine how many volts does that wind turbine produce? Very nice clap clap! (:

    1 reply

    It's been a while now, but if I remember correctly turning it by hand as fast as I could produced around a half a volt... outside during the storm was enough to blow the LED, whatever that would take? Volts, amps, don't really know for sure.

    true. It really needed a recharger, rechargable battery, and a photoresistor circut to come on anly at night.

    Wow! Great instructable, now I got to build this, unfortunately I don't live in a windy area, oh well... 5 star rating!

    I like It. Great outdoor Savonius night light. keep up the good work.

    I featured this instructable even though in depth detail was not provided and the overall end pictures are not very good and he blew his LED. Here is why I featured it... the concept, use of raw materials, and effort that went into trying to get it accomplished on a time crunch were major factors and the fact he had the courage to inform his readers of the problems that he had. he also added a lot of photos, although some are not that clear, but we have all been in that situation before. Yokozuna, I think you should try it again, the first time is always the hardest and the steepest learning curve. Next thing you know you will be powering your house with it. Good job with your instructable. :-)

    3 replies

    Thanks... I know some of the pictures suck, it's because I'm trying to take pictures in the dark with a camera that's not really capable of doing so. Even though I didn't really say it, I have redesigned each part of this instructable several times to kind of get it to this point. Basically, I don't think this or anything similar would work for about 99% of people because they don't get the constant wind stream needed to keep it lit up. Even in an area like mine, it only lights up around half the time. My first turbines were all laid flat, and didn't really seem to catch the wind that well unless it was directly from the east or west. Modifications I've made since I took these picture about a month ago include adding another "layer" to the turbine (two sets directly on top of each other, and turned 90 degrees), changing to a bigger electric motor (I hope to eventually light 4 or 5 LEDS), and adding the bottom half of a pop can to help stabilize the mount. If I ever get a version that works as well as I hope, I will try to update this instructable at that time. Thanks for all your input and for featuring my instructable!

    Don't the ever-present solar yard lights, because of their nature, contain a battery and a simple charger circuit? Presumably you could replace the solar panel with your wind turbine and so keep the light on when there was no wind? The only problem might be that an input from the "solar panel" would make it assume it was daytime and turn the light off, I'm not sure how they work that part out. Great Instructable, anyway!

    Yeah, that's the idea... the actual part is called a light sensing diode, which tells it when to start shining the LEDs so that wouldn't be a problem. I made reference to this but didn't go into a lot of detail, but it's pretty much based on the solar yard lights and just replacing the photovoltaic portion with a wind turbine and electric motor. When I get a model that has a nice balance between function and longevity, I'll probably start adding some of those components.

    Good Idea ,I like this .most attempts with wind power with kids at sons school have failed ...most due to the lack of strength in the turbine (gusts to 40 that day)will have to show this to the kids and have them try again ....I also like that you show that when it failed you went on to try again

    Nice idea using wind power, will have to try something like this