Harness renewable resources, the sun and the wind, to power your home. Build your own windmill generator and solar panels. A wind generator has three main parts, a rotor, blades and a motor, that actually catch wind energy and use it to make electricity. In turn, this electricity is wired to a battery bank connected to an inverter, which converts DC power to AC power. Building and wiring solar panels involves wiring together solar cells, and, in turn, wiring panels together, to a charge controller that is hooked up to batteries and an inverter, much like a wind generator.
Things You'll Need
- Solar cells
- Silicone caulk
- 2 blocking diodes
- Jones plug
- 12-gauge AWG cable
- Aluminum tail
- 2 charge controllers
- 2 sets of deep cycle batteries
- 2 AC inverters
- PVC tubing
Purchase a motor that produces high voltage at relatively low RPM and high current. To actually produce the voltage rating of a motor, when you're using it as a generator, you must drive it much higher than its RPM rating. Therefore, a motor in good condition with a reasonable voltage rating for your purposes (i.e., powering a refrigerator will require 110 V, whereas a cell phone charger will require about 6 to12 volts) and a high ratio of voltage to RPM is your best bet.
Connect blades to rotor hub. You can build your own blades, using light and inexpensive PVC tubing, and connect them to a small length of PVC tubing functioning as a rotor hub. If you have never built and assembled blades and a rotor before, purchasing a manufactured set of blades and rotor, while more expensive, may produce better results in less time.
Use bolts to mount motor on a piece of plywood. On the other end of the plywood, attach aluminum tail to keep generator turned into the wind. Mount blades and rotor adjacent to the motor and connect the shaft from the rotor to the shaft on the generator. Mount generator -- either on rooftop, or on a mounting tower.
Wire generator to a 12-gauge AWG cable. Connect black wire to positive generator terminals, white wire to positive generator terminals and green wire to generator mounting, to serve as a ground. Connect cable to blocking diode, then to charge controller board, wired precisely according to manufacturer's instructions for motor and voltage current. Connect charge controller board both to a dump load, to avoid overheating battery bank, and to the deep cycle batteries. Connect the deep cycle batteries to the AC inverter. You are ready to power appliances using your wind generator.
Purchase 36 3 by 6 monocrystalline solar cells, with metal tabs on them. The tabs reduce the amount of soldering that you will have to do to build a panel out of cells. You can also purchase larger or smaller cells. Larger cells produce more current, and subsequently more power, but will result in a heavier solar panel. Do not mix larger and smaller cells: the larger cells will not work to their full potential.
Build a shallow box of plywood (i.e., with 3/8 inch thick plywood, 3/4 inches deep) large enough to house 36 solar cells. Insert a wooden divider into the shallow box so that you, in effect, have two sub-panels. This will make your solar panel easier to wire later.
Cut two pieces of thin, rigid, non-conducting material (i.e., masonite peg-board) to fit inside each half of the plywood box. These pieces serve as insulation for the solar panels.
Cut plexiglass to cover your solar panel and protect it from the weather. While you could also use glass, plexiglass is weather-resistant and less likely to crack if hit with rocks, hail, etc. Gently drill holes into center and edges of plexiglass to facilitate attachment to plywood box.
Paint the wooden panels to protect them from weather and the environment. Paint the peg-board pieces on both sides: if you only paint them on one side, they will curl in response to moisture, damaging your solar cells.
Arrange your solar cells on the plywood and solder them together in series. In other words, use a soldering iron to fuse together the positive terminal of one solar cell with the negative terminal of another. Glue the back of the cells to the plywood by using a drop of silicone caulk in the center of each cell.
Wire the two sub-panels together using 12-gauge AWG cable. Wire the 12-gauge AWG cable to a blocking diode. Wire the blocking diode to a charge controller, connected, as in Section 1, to both a dump load and to deep-cycle batteries. Wire the deep-cycle batteries to an AC inverter, which you can use to power appliances that take AC current.
Screw plexiglass covers in place.
- Photo Credit Solar panels on roof image by kuhar from Fotolia.com
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