Harnessing free wind energy decreases electric bills, pollution, and fossil fuel dependence. Homemade windmills can generate enough electricity to support a modern home, with surplus to sell or store. Wind power is cost-effective, clean, and available even in remote areas. Windmill sizes vary based on energy needs. Building your own windmill may take as little as two days and bypasses manufactured windmill and professional installation costs. You should be able to purchase all needed tools and supplies from the Internet, your local junkyard, and hardware or home goods store for under $200.
Things You'll Need
- Step-by-step assembly instructions with parts lists
- A year's utility bills
Purchase detailed step-by-step assembly instructions with parts lists to save time, money, and frustration. Consider buying a DIY kit, watching instructional videos, and/or attending a windmill building workshop.
Calculate annual household energy requirements, using electric bills to help you determine motor size.
Use strong, light materials, such as wood, light-weight metals, Plexiglas, and/or PVC.
Understand components. A windmill generates power as blades mounted on a rotating shaft spin a motor. The body assembly/hub/shaft connects blades to a motor, allowing smooth rotation. The tail balances the windmill and keeps blades facing into the wind for maximum power production. Blade size, width, shape, balance, and material type affect windmill stability and energy output. Bigger, longer blades intercept more wind and create more energy but also require a larger tower and base. DC to AC inverters covert direct windmill current (DC) to household alternating current (AC), and connect the windmill to your utility meter (electric grid) so that storage batteries aren't needed.
Understand tower and base requirements. Taller windmills generate more power by catching faster, less turbulent winds over 30 feet above ground. The base and any support cables must be strong, wide, and heavy enough for stability. Hinged bases allow towers to be lowered for maintenance, repairs, or hazardous weather.
Select batteries to store surplus energy if the windmill is off-grid. A charge controller prevents batteries from overcharging. Use golf cart or other long-lasting deep-cycle rechargeable batteries. Don't use car batteries. Because batteries contain corrosive, explosive chemicals, store them safely in moderate temperatures, away from electronics and living areas.
Tips & Warnings
- Wind belts and wind generators are suitable alternatives to windmills in windless areas or when towers and blades aren't feasible.
- Check with your utility company if you plan an electric grid-connected windmill. You may receive a small tax credit, cash for selling surplus electricity, or rebates or incentives for windmill installation.
- Site choice is crucial. Average wind speed should consistently be approximately 10 miles per hour. The amount of power generated leaps exponentially as wind speed increases. Avoid sites where high-rise buildings, planned developments, growing trees, or other obstructions block wind. Place blades at least 300 feet from and 30 feet above obstacles, with the windmill's base level.
- Place the windmill away from roads, recreational areas, and airline flight paths. In high winds, towers may buckle or blades spin uncontrollably until vibrations cause them to fly off or fall. To prevent blade damage, build a braking device.
- Ensure local building codes allow windmills on your property. Some areas restrict structure height. Neighbors may also object to noise or blocked views.
- Calm winds or extreme cold stop blades. Homeowners relying primarily on wind power should consider remaining grid-connected or supplementing their power supply with solar panels, a diesel generator, or battery backup. Backups should last one to three days.
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