How to Build a Small Wind Turbine From Scrap
Building a small wind turbine from scrap materials can be a fun and rewarding project. With some basic skills and recycled parts, you can generate clean electricity to power small devices or charge batteries. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to build your own scrap wind turbine:
Gather the Necessary Materials
You’ll need the following materials:
- Rotor blades – These can be made from scrap wood, PVC pipes, sheet metal, or even plastic bottles. Aim for 2-3 blades that are 2-3 feet long.
- Hub – A metal or plastic hub to connect the blades to the shaft. This can be salvaged from an old fan.
- Shaft – A metal rod at least 3 feet long. You can use an old broom handle, steel pipe, or threaded rod.
- Alternator – Scavenge from an old car or motorbike. This converts rotation into electricity.
- Tail vane – A slab of wood, sheet metal or sturdy plastic to keep the turbine facing the wind.
- Frame – Use metal or wood to build a tower for mounting the turbine. Scrap tubing or lumber works well.
- Ball bearings – Optional. Helps reduce friction on the shaft.
- Electrical cable – For connecting the alternator to your battery/device.
- Bolts, washers and nuts – For assembling.
Make sure to use sturdy, non-rusting materials wherever possible.
Build the Rotor
The rotor is the most important part – this is what catches the wind and spins the shaft.
- Cut your blades to size. Their exact shape isn’t critical.
- Drill holes through the hub to attach each blade at equal angles.
- Secure the blades firmly using bolts/screws in a balanced configuration.
- Attach the hub to your shaft using a clamp or set screw.
Aim for at least a 3 foot diameter rotor. Bigger is better! Test spin it – the rotor should turn smoothly.
Mount the Alternator
- Attach the alternator to the shaft opposite the rotor.
- Make sure they spin independently without touching.
- You may need spacers or brackets to attach both securely.
- Orient the alternator wires downward if possible.
Add the Tail Vane
The tail keeps the turbine facing the wind.
- Mount your vane on a short metal rod attached to the frame.
- Position it behind the rotor, perpendicular to the shaft.
- The vane should be able to freely pivot as the wind changes direction.
Build the Tower
- Use scrap lumber/tubing to make a simple tower frame.
- At minimum, it should elevate the turbine 8 feet off the ground.
- But higher is better – 10 to 20 feet is ideal.
- Turbines need clean airflow, away from obstructions like buildings or trees.
Wire it Up
- Wire the alternator directly to your battery using the electrical cable.
- Add a bridge rectifier to convert AC to DC current.
- For lighting, use a DC/AC power inverter connected to the battery.
- Optional charge controller regulates overcharging.
Don’t connect your turbine directly to appliances! Batteries buffer fluctuating electrical output.
Test It Out
Select an open site with consistent wind, and point your assembled turbine into the breeze. It should begin spinning steadily with minimal vibration. If not, adjust the blade angles or balance.
Start generating free electricity! Angle the tail vane or tower to keep it facing into the wind.
With some improvising and optimization, scrap parts can make a surprising amount of power. Let those old fan blades and alternators spin once again!