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10-14-2009

How I Built a Wind Generator in My Backyard for $150. Part 1

Kevin Harris, Oklahoma

Lately I've been spending a great deal of time working on ways to generate my own electricity. It isn't a necessity for me yet, but someday being electrically self-sufficient could really come in handy. My interest started a while back when I stumbled upon a how-to article on building wind generators from treadmill motors and PVC pipe. It sounded easy enough, so I decided to try and design my own. This particular design can be built for $100-$150 if you are thrifty and can regularly generate 50-250 watts (considerably cheaper than a solar panel of similar power output). Here's how I built it for those of you who are interested...

Videos

Before we get into the details of how to build one of these, here are some videos of it in action. Each one demonstrates the behavior of the generator in a different blade configuration.

 Long, thin-bladed design (best overall)

 Six-bladed design (low startup speed and lots of torque, but slowest)

 Wide-bladed design (good startup speed, but also very slow)

How does my wind generator work?

Every wind generator, whether they produce enough energy to power a city or to power a small radio, works on these same basic principles...

  1. The wind blows
  2. The generator's vane (tail) causes it to turn into the wind
  3. Blades attached to an alternator/generator experience the force of lift and begin to spin
  4. The spinning creates electricity for us to use directly or to charge batteries

Sounds pretty simple eh? Well, then how the heck do I build one? Read on...

To be continued ...

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