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Building A Wind Turbine From Scratch [Off Grid DIY]

Building A Wind Turbine From Scratch

This DIY wind turbine tutorial will do much more than just tell you how to build a wind turbine.  You will discover how the wind is green energy that for many seems unreachable, being the most complex form of green energy that we have.  However, through the guidance within this page, you will have your own wind turbine constructed and operational in no time!  In the first section, we will take a look at the different components of a wind turbine and discuss topics such as:

  • The kind of generator you will need to get your power from
  • Understanding why color-coding wires are important
  • Taking a realistic look at what wind energy will be able to do for you and also an explanation of the risks associated with wind energy

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The second section will discuss the basic introduction on how electricity works, what stripping and soldering means in the electrical engineering sense, and why it is that electricity is typically unable to cross over the air.

With the third section we will review how the wind wheel works, and a more in-depth explanation about the different components you need to look for such as where to look for them.  We will also look into the type of fan blade you will need for you to be more efficient, and how you are able to transfer the kinetic energy from the fan to the magnetic energy of the generator.

In the final section, we will review how you will make your wind wheel yourself, and we will go over issues such as:

  • Building a wind turbine that suits your needs rather than a copy and paste formula everyone else follows without even genuinely understanding most of what they are building
  • How to properly connect your generator to the fan and then how to safely and correctly connect to your other devices.
  • Looking at a secondary fan design solution for the low-wind situation

With this article, you are not just being shown how to build a wind turbine, but it will genuinely help you to understand the various components so that you will not need a guidebook to develop your next wind turbine!

Learning About the Components

In this book, we will be explaining exactly what it will take you to make a practical wind turbine.  To begin with, we are going to take a look at the individual components for a wind turbine.

Generator

The generator is basically the core power behind the wind turbine, this goes for any electrical source.   In the world, there are two types of generators, but the important one for you to keep focused on is the type of generator you will need for your project.  There is AC electricity and DC electricity, which both have two different purposes in our electrical grid.  AC electricity, or alternate current electricity, is electricity that is really big in the beginning and steps its way down as it gets to the source.

The reason it is named alternate current is that it is an alternating current of varying voltages of different levels and it’s hazardous for devices because the voltage itself can be changed based on the electricity being produced.  It is due to this that we are able to constantly use burning fossil fuels to power up the steam inside of steam turbines and electric facilities so that even though the electricity may vary in exact measurements, it can be converted to DC electricity. 

DC electricity, or direct current, is the direct amount of electricity that is measured to pinpoint accuracy and only that amount of electricity is transferred into the device.  If our devices did not have the DC electricity, then our devices would be blowing up more often than not.  This would occur because the AC electricity does not control the overall voltage but severely increases it, so it can be sent over great distances. 

Basically, unless we have a generator that is based on DC electricity, then we would not be able to construct a power grid for our electronics that would evenly spread the electricity without blowing up our systems.  Let us get back into the topic of electricity in a more in-depth level later on, but at this stage, it is crucial that you understand that the type of generator that you need is called a DC generator.  You can get an AC generator, but then you would also need to get an AC to DC converter.

Wires

We will be looking into most of the electricity concepts in understanding electricity, but it is essential to realize that one of the components that you will be using is the classic black and red wires.

The color of the wires is vital because other colors of wires actually have different purposes to them.  For example, if you took off the head of an Ethernet cable, then you would see that the Ethernet cable, a CAT5 or CAT5e, has several different colors of wire under the cap.

All these assorted colors of wires are because the Ethernet cable converts streams of electricity into data, but it also provides things like a telephone line and electrical power base so that the whole wire doesn’t die and some other things along with it.  The essential thing to be aware of is that you need to keep the wire colors organized, and for this project, you will need to get red and black wires.  When you keep your wiring, colors coded and arranged it is leading you towards a more successful result, not to mention safer situation.

Wind Wheel

To make a wind turbine, you will need the actual wheel that the propellers turn, without it you would not have anything to generate the electricity.  However, just understanding the fact that you need a wind wheel is not the end of this topic, because it is almost as important understanding the wind wheel as the wind turbine materials that make up the wind wheel.

Wind

This might be something that you really do not want to hear, but if you do not have any wind at around 10 to 20 feet in the air above you, then you shouldn’t be constructing a wind turbine.  It may turn out to be a rather harsh reality for some, but I am trying to teach you how to build wind turbines so that you will be able to generate electricity form it.

However, if you are located in an area where there is no wind produced that is at least 5 to 10 mile per hour around 10 to 20 feet in the air, then you are just not going to have a sustainable amount of wind that is going to produce the amount of electricity that you want to use.  

When it comes to a wind turbine, the trouble is that you need a lot of wind to produce any type of usable energy out of it, and just to make things worse, you can only gain substantial benefits from wind turbines if you build them really big.  For example, if you wanted to power a couple of houses, you would need a wind turbine that is about the size of two houses on top of each other.

If you are someone that uses loads of electronics that are connected to the wall, then you will need a big wind turbine for your household.  However, if you do have 5 to 10 mile an hour winds and you need more electricity out of your wind turbine, then you need to discover a way or make a device that can turn those 5-10 mile an hour winds into much more significant numbers.

Lessening Your Expectations

When it comes right to it, building a wind turbine is a somewhat costly business, and if you have access to water wheels perhaps you might want to give a water wheel power system a try, or a solar power system might be the right setup for you.

The reason is that wind turbines require highly expensive materials that will be strong enough to withstand heavy winds and sturdy enough that they will not fall apart but instead will generate a decent amount of electricity for you to operate on.

You need to keep in mind that if you build a small wind turbine on a small scale, you will not produce anywhere near the amount that a solar grid would produce on a monetarily equivalent level.  Some feel the problem with wind turbines is that you only get the amount of electricity that can be useful if you go big regarding the size of your wind turbine.

Learning to Understand Electricity

You really need to understand how electricity works, to get any use out of a wind turbine.  Like many others, you may know a bit already about electricity, or maybe perhaps you know a lot about electricity, but there are others that feel that it is okay to try to attempt to build a wind turbine with no knowledge or understanding of electricity before they begin. 

How Electrons work

When looking into all electricity, the core of it is based around the electron and how that electron actually moves.  Electrons essentially, do not want to stick together, and if you were to push electrons forward, then the electrons in front of those would begin to move forward.  However, before this can begin you need to have a catalyst to get things started which we will explain in Electricity 101, but basically you want to push the electrons forward but if the electrons cannot continuously flow they will be unable to move within a given environment.

Creating a Circuit with Positive and Negative

Now moving past the electrons, let us look into how to make a circuit because without a circuit you will not be able to generate any type of electricity through a wire.  When it comes to the wire what it essentially does is acts as a conductor that allows the electrons to go from the positive part of the power source to the negative part of the raw power source.  At this stage you may begin wondering why it is that you need a circuit, and the reason for this is way more complicated than how I am going to describe it.  Basically, the idea behind it is that the air just has too much resistance for a standard power source to overcome and so when the circuit is broken the air prevents the electrons from moving forward, and this can cause a bit of a traffic jam made up of electrons within the wire.  This is the reason that when you have your power source connected while you are touching it, you will act as the negative in this case end up getting zapped for it.

The table below shows the expected energy production at different wind speed with a 100W turbine:

WIND SPEED

ENERGY YIELD

3 m/s

3.2 kWh/month

4 m/s

7.2 kWh/month

5 m/s

12.5 kWh/month

6 m/s

19 kWh/month

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How A Generator Works

The generator, in theory, is simple, but it can be very challenging when trying to explain how it functions to someone that has never had to deal with a generator in their life.  When explaining about the generator, it is tough to conceptualize the idea of magnetism.

When it comes to magnets North magnets will always be attracted to South magnets but will never be attracted to other North magnets.  These magnets serve as our first base line because the two attract each other we are able to drag electrons across them.  What we do is take electrons coming out from one side of the magnet and pass it over a copper coil that’s been wrapped very thickly around something that will spin and then we place another magnet on the opposite side. 

When the copper wire is turned, this causes us to generate a magnetic field based on the electrons passing from one end of the magnet to the other.  This is the reason that you need to constantly spin the generator to produce usable amounts of energy, and this applies on almost all scales.

Basically, you are trying to provide enough power to create that magnetic field and this will, in turn, provide you with the magnetic field to disperse the electrons along the wire.  This is the basic explanation of how a generator works, but it is really far more complicated than I have just explained here. 

Stripping and Soldering

The terms strip and solder are terms that you will hear a lot when you begin to view tutorials on how to strip and solder.  These are kind of catch-22 versions of techniques in the electricity industry.  You really should know how to work with electricity before you even think about wire stripping and soldering.  However, for you to learn how to become an electrician, you will first need to learn how to strip wires and then learn how to solder connections together.

The term strip is describing that we are removing the rubber cover that protects the wires from the outside world and also helps to protect us from getting shocked.   When it comes to soldering, this involves the active heating up of metal rod and using flux as well as some soldering metal to either do a repair or replace a component or to even add a component.  Soldering is really simple to understand, as it basically entails the heating up of a giant metal big rod so that you can melt a little metal rod to fix another metallic part.

Electricity 101

When it comes right down to it, electricity is really easy to understand, but to use the mathematical equations you need to understand what electricity is a few principles.  The voltage is what represents the catalyst that begins the movement of electrons, with more electrons in the wire the more they will move through the wire.  However, this is where amperage comes in.  Amperage is the flow of electrons through any given circuit and will generally be how you begin to measure how much power you have overall.  Then there is the Ohm, and that is how much resistance that the amps are met with as they travel along the line.  All three of these are core components of an electrical device, but there are a few principles that you need to follow when you are applying them to an electrical diagram.

To begin with, you need to make sure that you have a resistor when you are bringing power from a DC generator to curb any spikes in energy and to prevent any unnecessary lack of electricity.

Secondly, there is an electrical formula wheel, and if you are aware of any two parts of the equation, you can mathematically calculate your way to any variable that you need.  Last but not least, you should always make sure that you are wearing protection, because there will still be false facts surrounding the level of safety around certain parts of electricity. 

Right now, for instance, the most common misconception going around is that amps are the ones that kill you not the voltage, this is just a plain lie.  When it comes to the amps, they are a measurement of flow for the electrons, which means the amps can kill you if the current is too much.  It actually only takes 1 amp to kill a human being with electricity.  To obtain the infamous watts needed to multiply the amperage by voltage.  You may think that you may need to calculate for resistance, but the real truth of the matter is that you can only gain voltage by multiplying the amperage by the resistance.

This simply means that you need to multiply all three by increasing amps by resistance to get voltage and then amps by volts to get watts.  Once you feel that you understand these three, you can then begin to implement the power source.

Learning to Understand the Wind Wheel

You will not venture too far into your project to build a wind turbine if you do not actually know what goes into making a wind turbine produce power.  In this chapter, we will take a look into the three different parts that generate the power that you might use from a wind turbine and study what their relative importance is to the overall design of a wind turbine.

The velocity of the Wind

The first thing we will look at, that at this point should be pretty obvious because the device is named after it, it that you need to have a strong wind speed.  The device that you are constructing is going to have to generate a certain level of resistance for it to produce a needed amount of power, that can maintain a constant electrical path, but when it boils right down to the truth of the matter the faster the wind you have, the more electricity you are going to produce.  This is why it is crucial to pay attention to the wind speeds in your area, because if it is between 5 to 10 miles an hour, then you have an average amount of wind power going to your device.  If on the other hand, your average winds are between 0 to 5 miles per hour you would be lucky even to light a bulb with that amount of electricity.

You want to try and focus on striving for a design that will take in low amounts of wind and also boost the amount of energy that actually comes out of the device. 

Materials Used to Construct Wind Wheel

Now, you need to use good quality materials to build your wind turbine, this too is just as important as having good wind speeds.  If you build your wind turbine from shoddy material and craftsmanship, then you could be looking at a device that might not even work correctly, or work with very low expectations.  You really want to care about the wind wheel itself, because it will be responsible for providing resistance to the air that’s  trying to spin the rod that’s attached to the generator.

Often people will automatically search for light material to make their wind turbine, but this is not the ideal choice.  Instead, you should be searching for the perfect material that will allow you to not only have a heavy blade but also be aerodynamically stable enough to turn with ease.  By choosing to go with a more massive more stable wind turbine, you will be increasing the likelihood that, when you reach a mighty enough wind, the entirety of the wind will be captured in the electrical force.

Rather than, choosing light material where you will soon discover that it is not substantial enough to actually turn the rod.  You might think this seems a bit odd, but it indeed does happen because people try to build the lightest fan that they can to turn the generator as fast as mechanically possible.  However, the flawed logic behind this is yes, technically it would go more quickly, but resistance provided by the lack of momentum that such a light device will have makes any benefits that you could gain by switching to a lighter blade obsolete.

The reason for this is the fact that the blade itself would not be large enough to turn the rod that it’s sitting on and this is apparently a massive issue if you plan to build a wind turbine that is meant to power some features in your home.

Purchasing Your Generator

When it comes to buying your generator, you will want to test the amount of potential power that your wind turbine could generate.  Now, you could learn about all the mathematics behind predicting the amount of electricity that specific wind turbines could produce, but honestly, you should be able to locate a calculator for this online.

Regardless, when it comes to the generator that you are going to want to buy it will be an AC to DC generator that will provide you with a direct current from your wind turbine.  Now you can buy a DC generator, and it should work almost the same but if you really want to be safe then choosing an AC to DC generator will be a perfect choice.  Another thing you should be tuned-in about is the fact that you may sometimes require different sizes of generators.

Once you purchase your generator, all you need to do is to stick the shaft of the generator into the fan housing and attach it to the middle of the back of the propeller of your wind turbine. 

After that, it is basically a slice, and solder type of step since the DC generator comes typically with black and red wires already inside it, and you just need to solder it onto something that can manage it.

You will soon discover, that generators come in all sizes.  So, it is essential to not only pay attention to which ones you are purchasing and how heavy they are but also which ones are heavy enough that they can produce a decent amount of energy but also fit in your range when thinking about the support system that you have for your wind turbine.

The great things with wind turbines are that there is already a whole class of generators that have been built for wind turbines of all sizes.  To find a wind turbine that will suit your needs, all you need to do is to just type in wind turbine generator into your Google search engine, and it will bring up a bunch of different listing for wind turbines that are specific for different needs.

For example, if you were wanting to know how much voltage or wattage you want from your system before you begin to delve into which one of these you want because some of them have limits on them.  In fact, most of them do.  These results are essentially due to the material on the inside of them is only made of a certain quality of content that you can just get so much wattage out of with that specific generator.  If you wish to get more, you will likely have to build another one like it.

Building Your Wind Wheel

Now that we are speaking about the type of generator you should buy, and wind turbine you should choose, let’s go ahead and get into actually building a wind turbine.  It is actually very easy to make a wind turbine, due to the fact that it is almost the same as the type of fan that you would find in your bedroom. 

Building Your Wheel

Now, let us begin at the first step to this entire process, which is to make the wheel that’s attached to the fan.  Ideally, you could use a flat surface fan off one of the commercial fans and then just melt the fan to hold the rod that is to go inside of the generator.  However, the problem with this is that the fans that you get from commercial industries tend to be built for sucking in energy from the back and pushing forward.  If you have been keeping track, then you will be aware that wind turbines need to be pointed towards the wind and also need to be aerodynamically made.

Basically, the difference between the two blades is that your blade is being pushed on while the blade that generally comes out of the standard commercial fan will be something that you will be using inside of a room.

With the fan, it tends to cool down the area or, circulates the air which is the standard commercial fan that you will find readily available to you at most stores.  This fan design tends to have a more oval look to them, and they are generally built to reverse the flow of air rather than to go against it.

What this means is that if you decide to use one of the premade fans that you have, or you went and bought for this project, you will likely discover that the amount of electricity that this device provides is insignificant.  In technology, we refer to other technology that is either outdated or broken as insignificant.

Deciding the most efficient method for making the wheel, this has been chosen for us, it is in the iconic image of a wind turbine.  What you want to build no matter what materials you decide to build it with is a three-bladed fan.

This will allow the fan to be scalable in the fact that you can build it up to whatever height that you want, and it only benefits you because even the millionaires and billionaires can’t build a wind turbine big enough to where the drawbacks exceed the benefits.  Looking beyond that, making the wheel is actually just you are making a fan that works on a spindle. 

Setting the Rod

When thinking of the spindle you should keep in mind which way you are going to insert the rod into the generator because the fan is going to be the thing that is turning this rod and the generator.  Generally, you can use any type of rod, but sometimes you may need to use a specific kind of design based on the generator itself.  Depending on the nature of generators, you will find that you will automatically get one whenever you purchase a generator that is used for a water wheel or wind turbine or things of this nature. 

Deciding Where to Locate Your Wind Turbine

Deciding where you are going to locate your wind turbine might be one of those apparent thoughts, but you really do need to find an excellent location to locate your wind turbine before you begin setting it up.

An excellent location for a wind turbine would be a spot where the wind is not being blocked from objects such as houses and barns etc.  Placing it at least above twice your height as well.  The reason that it is suggested that you put it at least above twice your height is that this is where the wind tends to hit the most.  The further that you travel into the atmosphere, the more intense the wind speeds become, and since we are seeking wind speeds, then we want the wind turbine to be up in the air along with those powerful winds.

The problem with building wind turbines is that this usually means that you will have to construct and connect the wind turbine above an average height like you would when installing things such as a water wheel or solar panels.  If you truly want to optimize how much wind you are getting to produce electricity, then you can continue to pull on that fan in front of the generator. 

If your wind turbine is not located in an excellent location, then it could quickly go from being a great and useful and green energy source of energy to becoming a failed product.

Connecting Generator

Once you have your wind turbine, you can start putting the pieces together and making the connections.  You will only have to either solder the rod to the back of the wind turbine fan or you have to find another way to secure it, which often can mean melting some plastic around the endpoint and fuse the rod to the actual fan itself.  Whatever you decide, you need to not only connect the generator to the fan, but you need to connect the red and black wires if they are not yet connected because some generators will not automatically provide these.  You may want to shop around until you find the brand that offers the red and black wires with its package.

Measuring the Output

Finally, before you hook anything up to your wind turbine, you will want to test to find out how much is actually coming out of the wind turbine on a regular basis.  Finding this out will help you to make a grid that’s appropriate for the specific size that you want in a wind turbine.  If you do not take the time to measure the amount that is being produced, then it is likely that you could be looking at facing issues of not having enough power in specific areas or having too much power.  It can be a fascinating dilemma, but one that is easily avoidable if you first take an average rating of all your different electrical outputs such as amps, voltage, and ohms.

Choosing Ways for More Efficiency

You can make your machine much more efficient in design by redesigning the way that it funnels air.  Right now, what you are dealing is the standard wind turbine that you see across the fields of many governments.  These types of wind turbines tend to require a lot of wind to work.  A more efficient way is to build a very similar fan, but the fan is inside of a funnel, and the funnel goes from a huge tube with a top and with small slits to let air through and then as it gets to a much smaller fan.

This process takes air that is running at certain speeds and then condensing it so that it has more of an impact once it hits the propeller fans.  This is actually part of a design that was released a few years ago, but it would be very easy for you to implement once you are aware of how to do it.

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Conclusion

Welcome to the end of this tutorial, while we have gone over a lot about the topic of DIY Wind Turbines, there’s a lot more to be had when it comes to knowledge on this topic.  What I have covered here is just a small amount of what there is to know about electricity.  I would highly suggest if you are planning to build your own power grid that you delve more deeply into the topic of electricity.  Understanding how electricity works will not only be beneficial to you in developing your devices right now but definitely after/during a worst-case scenario.  If you are committed to building your own power grid in the future, then you are going to have to study how electricity works to build and repair your devices.  Well, I am going to say farewell, for now, I wish you great success in building your suitable DIY wind turbine.  I hope that my tips and suggestions in this article will help you to achieve this goal!

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