Simple Backyard Wind Turbine




About: The name Cat’s Science Club comes from my daughter Aly, whom I call Aly Cat. She inspired me to take my love of science, and the fun I have with my students, to as many people as I can. Both my daughters hel...

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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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.

Green Design Contest

Runner Up in the
Green Design Contest

Outdoor Workshop Contest

Second Prize in the
Outdoor Workshop Contest

Great Outdoors Contest

Participated in the
Great Outdoors Contest

Glue Contest

Participated in the
Glue Contest

1 Person Made This Project!


  • Furniture Contest

    Furniture Contest
  • Reuse Contest

    Reuse Contest
  • Made with Math Contest

    Made with Math Contest

51 Discussions


5 years ago on Introduction

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.

2 replies
Lazy Glensteve8428

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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!


2 years ago

can you use a pc fan at 12 volts?


3 years ago

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


5 years ago on Introduction


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.

Generador Eólico y Veleta 1.JPGGenerador Eólico y Veleta 2.JPGP6180846.JPGP6180879.JPG
3 replies

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.


5 years ago on Introduction

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


5 years ago on Introduction

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.

1 reply

5 years ago on Step 6

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


5 years ago on Introduction

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!