How to Build Your Own Wind Turbine Kits

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Wind turbines have been used to pump water, grind grain and generate electricity for years. One negative about building your own wind turbine is the cost. A professionally built and installed wind turbine can cost well into the thousands of dollars. That's why some manufacturers have started making kits for easy assembly, reducing the price enough for a do-it-yourself enthusiast to seriously consider buying one. There are three things all wind turbine kits must have: a generator, blades and a mounting directing it into the wind. Towers and batteries are also needed, but these must be customized for each kit and are difficult to ship.

Things You'll Need

  • Items Needed per Kit
  • 1 motor
  • 1 24-inch-by-6 inch ABS pipe
  • 1 5-inch-diameter, one-quarter-inch-thick aluminum disk
  • 1 3-inch-diameter toothed pulley
  • 10 3/4-inch bolts
  • 10 3/4-inch nuts and washers

Generators

  • Locate generators with the highest-rated voltage at the lowest rpm. An automotive alternator is a common generator used for wind turbines, but they need to spin at a very high rate of speed to generate enough power to be of use to anyone. Most wind turbines will not spin fast enough to generate that amount of power. To build more than one kit, you will need to be able to order more than one of the same type of motor or generator.

  • Salvage motors off of old computer tape drives. One brand of these type of motors is the Ametek. The drawback to these types of motors is that they are difficult to find and are not made anymore. While there are other models, if you can find someone selling these reel-to-reel drives for scrap, it's because they don't really know what they have. These motors are sometimes sold at online auction sites or out of storage units of old computer equipment that have been locked away for safe keeping.

  • Use direct current permanent magnet motors. These motors are readily available as DC motors. The drawback to using these types of motors is that they are not really built for the stress of being a wind turbine motor, but they will work. If you can find a 325 rpm-rated DC motor at 30 volts, a wind turbine will usually be able to produce the required 12 volts at normal wind speeds.

Blades

  • Mark a 24-inch-long, six-inch-diameter piece of ABS pipe for cutting. Use a pen to draw a straight line lengthwise across the pipe and cut the pipe into two pieces.

  • Lay one half-piece of the pipe down on its corners and mark a spot on the pipe one-half inch from where the upper right corner touches the ground. Draw a line from the left bottom corner of the pipe to that mark on the upper right corner of the pipe. Cut along that line, creating two angled pieces or blades.

  • Mark one inch from the corner on the wide end of the blade and draw a square. Cut out the square, leaving a one-inch tab on the wide end of the blade. This tab will be where the blades will connect to the turbine assembly for spinning. Drill two one-third-inch holes in this tab.

  • Use the completed blade as a template to complete two more blades with one to spare. Each 24-inch-long pipe will make four blades for your kits. Three pipes will make enough blades for four wind turbines.

Mounting

  • Place a three-inch-diameter toothed pulley over a five-inch-diameter, one-quarter-inch-thick aluminum disk. Use a Sharpie and mark where the holes on the pulley are in relation to the solid aluminum disk. Drill three quarter-inch holes through each of those marks.

  • Drill a hole in the center of the aluminum disk. To find the center, place a ruler over the circle lengthwise, from left to right, and draw a line using the ruler as a guide. Place the ruler over the disk from top to bottom and draw a line. The center of the disk will be the place where the two lines meet in the "X" that is formed.

  • Place the tab of one of the blades over the aluminum disk and make a mark where each hole is located. Place two other blades on the disk so that they are evenly spaced and repeat. Drill holes at these spots; this will be where the blades will be bolted to the disk.

  • Bolt the pulley to the disk using bolts and washers.

  • Cut two corners off a one-quarter-inch thick sheet of aluminum 14 inches long and 8.5 inches wide. This will be the tail, which will turn the blades to face into the wind. Cut a notch into the top right side of the two-by-four just large enough to slide the aluminum sheet into.

Packing the Kit

  • Add the correct-sized bolts, washers and nuts for whoever purchases the kit to assemble the blades and other pieces together.

  • Wrap the blades in protective bubble wrap so they do not rattle around during shipping and/or break.

  • Place the motor in a separate, smaller box, and tape or secure it to one corner of the larger box you are shipping the kit in.

Tips & Warnings

  • When creating a kit for another person's use, some parts to connect to tower assemblies and batteries will depend on the size of the tower, wind speeds and the intent of the person building from the kit. Since these variables are impossible to predict, it's best to let that person choose his own connection and battery needs.

References

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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