How to Make a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine


Vertical-axis wind turbines use the same basic principles of horizontal wind power but with a long, curved, vertical blade arrangement and the prime driver mounted face-up on the ground. The "Darrieus" style of vertical windmill is simply two air-foils mounted opposite each other, turning the center shaft through equal pulling force. This design is the most effective and easiest to build. The average backyard mechanic can make a vertical wind turbine in about four hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Two Long, Slightly Flexible Propellers
  • Center Shaft
  • Welding Equipment
  • Socket Set
  • Pliers
  • Screwdrivers

Making a Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine

  • Shape the propellers from a soft wood or metal by curving one side with a sander, leaving the other side straight. The action of this "rounding off" of one side will act like a wing on an aircraft, pushing the blade in a circle. With the opposite blade counteracting weight forces, the turbine will rotate as long as there's wind. The propellers should be long, but relatively narrow. A 10-foot blade will be about eight inches wide and does not need to be tapered in width.

  • Attach the propellers to the central shaft by bolting them to hubs at each end. A central shaft can be engineered in several different ways, but the most common method is the "ball-bearing-propeller" type. This uses ball bearings where the propeller hub meets the central shaft, and a load attached at the lower hub will drive equipment. These hubs can be built from car parts such as CV axles or driveshafts (welded together into one long axle), or from bicycle parts (pipe at center of sprocket wheel) depending on size and function. The central shaft, like in the photo, should simply be a focal mount point for the propellers it serves to hold up the apparatus and focus the rotation. Attach the bearings to the hub with bolts or welds, and be sure the shaft is perpendicular to the ground for balance.

  • Connect the load equipment, either with a belt-and-pulley system or with direct drive. You can mount the equipment flat on the ground, and the rotation of the propeller hub can be directly connected to the input shaft of the equipment if no belts are used.

Tips & Warnings

  • Using a Savonius rotor can be less costly, but less efficient.
  • Use caution with moving wind turbines.

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