How to Make a Wind Turbine at Home
Looking to make a wind turbine at home? Great? My goal here is to give you “information overload.” Before jumping into it, though, if you’ve got time, please head over to my about page and allow me to introduce myself (if you haven’t been there already).
Okay, let’s dive right in! The first thing you need to know about making a wind turbine at home is that you have two main choices.
You can make a wind turbine with a kit, or you can make a wind turbine on your own (totally solo or using a set of wind turbine plans).
The information here is for those who want to make a wind turbine on their own. If you buy a kit, just purchase and assemble.
Here are some good kits if that’s what you are looking for.
A note about choosing between buying a kit or making a wind turbine on your own. This decision, as with many DIY projects comes down to one question, “Why do you want to make a wind turbine in the first place?” Is your primary goal to have a fun project to work on? If so, I recommend building a wind turbine on your own.
If you’re not really excited about the idea of fabricating parts or searching the Internet and the local junk yard for used motors, and if your primary goal is to have the most efficient, reliable wind turbine possible, just get a kit. You’ll still get to do a bit of building, but there is no trial and error or fabrication of parts, and you’ll save money compared to buying an assembled turbine.
Okay, if you’re still with me, then I assume you’re interested in jumping in and getting your hands dirty! So let’s get on with it! First of all, while I provide as much information as I can, I don’t have time to make detailed videos and blueprints. If you are looking for that, check out these wind generator plans.
When thinking about making a wind turbine at home, you should be thinking about three things, making a set of turbine blades, making a tail assembly, and making a tower with a base. Let’s start out by looking at how to make wind turbine blades.
Wood Turbine Blades
The blade you see in the picture to the left was hand made from spruce with a chisel, after the guy had taken a fallen tree and used his own saw mill and planer to prepare the wood. If you want to see a few more pictures, here is a link to the guy’s site.
Confession: I went out and researched how to make wooden turbine blades, with the intention of presenting detailed plans for you.
…but after hours of research, I was more confused than when I had started. It seems that there are quite a few mathematician/aerodynamic/aerospace kinds of people out there who come up with crazy formulas that calculate design efficiencies for turbine blades and airplane wings. Here is an example of the kind of stuff I labored through.
“The force diagrams alongside the blade show the resultant of the blade lift and drag vectors. The resultant is decomposed into the propeller thrust vector (parallel to the axis) and the turbine power output vector (parallel to the turbine rotation).”
Reading that sentence just gave me a headache, but if you liked it, here is the article in full.
If I really wanted wooded blades, I would just design blades that look like the ones in the picture on the right–really, how exact do they have to be?
Of course, after making the blades, you’ll have to fabricate an assembly to hold them together and attach them to your motor. The simple design used in this picture just uses two pieces of round plywood and a metal attachment that lines up with the motor being used (yours will look slightly different depending on which motor you use). Notice that there are 9 screws on on each side of each blade–54 in total (there is a lot of force on those blades.)
Or, if you are like the vast majority of people out there who want to make a wind turbine at home, you will go for something a little bit easier. You’ll make your DIY wind turbine blades out of one of the most versatile objects ever created–the PVC pipe! To learn how, just watch the video below (it’s much more fun than reading about drag coefficients).
People come up with all sorts of designs to make tail assemblies. I think this one is pretty good. Please note that I am not giving exact specifications, as everyone will have different needs based on the size and scope of their individual projects (if you’ve made 6 foot long wooden blades, you’ll need a much stronger tail assembly than someone who has 2 foot PVC pipe blades). If you want wind turbine plans that give exact specifications for all parts made, check out these wind turbine plans.
Okay, first get your hands on a piece of square pipe. Cut it to the length that you have determined is proper for your overall system. Then, on the back end, use a jig saw (or a hack saw if you want to punish yourself) to cut a straight line right down the center. The length of this cut, of course, will depend on how long you have made your tail assembly. Now put the pipe aside and make your tail.
Again, there are many different ways to make the tail. One good way to do it is to take a piece of sheet metal and cut off the front corners, as you see in the picture. Later, you’ll slide the tail into the slot you cut in the square pipe, drill a hole through the side of square tubing and the sheet metal, and ,finally, bolt the fin to the square tubing.
First, though, we want to attach a flange to the bottom of the square tubing. It will look something like this. Note the threads on the bottom. You will be attaching a metal pipe there, so make sure the threads match up.
You want to attach your floor flange to the bottom of your square tubing, just behind your motor (don’t put it in the center, as the motor is much heavier than the tail). lay your flange on your square tubing and mark where two of the hole line up on the tubing.
Then use the appropriate sized drill bit to drill two holes. Finally, use sheet metal screws to attach the flange to the bottom of the tubing.
The most common way to attach the motor to the square tubing is to use simple screw clamps, as you can see in the picture of the finished product above. Also not that the motor on this particular unit has a PVC housing to protect it from the elements.
That’s a nice touch. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the bottom of the PVC pipe is cut out and the motor is sitting on the tubing, allowing for extra stability.
The final piece of the tail assembly is the metal pipe that screws into the floor flange. To attach it, simply screw it into the floor flange.
Tower and Base
As you see in the picture of the tail assembly above, there is a black pipe which has been is inserted into the larger pipe that was screwed into the floor flange. The purpose of this design is to let the tail assembly, along with the blades, spin back and forth as the wind changes directions. …so don’t make it a tight fit!
Again, I’m not going to list any exact specifications for towers because when different people make different wind turbines at home, they invariably end up with systems that have different support requirements (and it would be quite dangerous if a spinning turbine fell down). I will give you some good general information and some good ideas, though.
First of all, you should know that the higher a wind turbine is mounted the more stable, consistent winds it will get. …so build a tower and base for yours that is as high as possible–but still safe!
Also, sometimes it is nice, or necessary, to pull your turbine down, so I recommend a swivel base like the one in the picture on the right.
While this one is nice, it does require you to have some welding skills. If you’ve built a rather large turbine, you should probably go with something like that.
Most of you, though, if you are reading this site, and have made it this far down the page, are probably building your first turbine, so you will likely be able to go with something a bit less sturdy.
If you remember, I mentioned above that you can buy wind turbine plans that give you detailed videos, specifications, diagrams. The base to the left is one that was made following those plans.
As you can see, it was made with a small piece of plywood cut into a circle and simple plumbing parts that you can get from any hardware store. It requires no welding and can be built by anyone using common tools.
The next part of the base and tower is the support system, which, if you have ever been camping, and I have a funny feeling that you have, is similar to that of support system for a tent, although a bit stronger.
Basically, you just drive some sort of earth anchors into the ground and then attach them to your tower. The diagram above is a nice system built for a 30-foot tower. If you are building a smaller tower, you don’t need upper and lower sets of cables like this one has (you can do without the lower set).
While that tower is very nice, it costs $378 at Amazon. Building one using the specifications from one of the sets of DIY wind turbine plans mentioned (and pictured) earlier, you can make your own for far less.
If you’re learning how to make a wind turbine at home just for fun, then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The project is fun, useful and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
If you are here learning about how to make a wind turbine at home because you are serious about converting to alternative energy, I have some more articles here that you should read. The first article I recommend is Completing a Home Energy Audit. Another article you might find useful is called Getting Off the Grid.
And don’t forget about solar panels–they are fun to build and produce lots of energy! Head over to my how to build your own solar panel to learn more.
Finally, thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you are finding everything you need here!
Oh, yeah, one more thing. If you do build a wind turbine or a solar panel, I would love to showcase your handy work here. So, be sure to take lots of pictures and videos. If you send them to me, I’ll make a special page just for you!
Just head over to the contact page to send me pictures!
Thanks, and bye for now!