How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half With These Simple DIY Wind Turbines

How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half With These Simple DIY Wind Turbines

Introduction

Reducing your electricity costs can seem daunting. But installing small wind turbines on your property is an easy and effective way to harness natural energy and dramatically cut your electric bill. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to build and install DIY wind turbines to generate your own clean electricity.

Assessing Your Property’s Wind Resource

The first step is determining if your property has adequate wind speeds to generate electricity. Here’s what to consider:

Location

  • Rural and suburban areas exposed to steady winds often have the best wind resource. Urban areas surrounded by buildings see more turbulent, less consistent winds.

  • In general, coastal areas, plains, hilltops, and mountain passes experience the most consistent wind speeds.

Height

  • The higher the turbine, the stronger the winds it will encounter. Turbines mounted at typical rooftop heights of 30-50 ft will generate some energy. But turbines mounted on towers up to 120 ft tall will generate much more.

  • If your property has the space, installing a tower for your turbine can dramatically increase power production.

Average Wind Speeds

  • For a turbine to be effective, your location should see average annual wind speeds of at least 10 mph.

  • Use online wind maps or purchase an anemometer to get accurate wind speed data for your specific property.

Turbulence

  • Steady, laminar wind flow creates consistent power. Turbulent, gusty winds from obstructions like trees reduce output.

-Choose a site with as few ground obstacles and turbulence creators as possible.

Choosing the Right DIY Wind Turbine Design

Once you’ve confirmed your site has adequate wind resource, the next step is choosing a wind turbine design. Here are key factors to consider:

Rotor Diameter

  • In general, the larger the rotor blades, the more power the turbine will generate.

  • For DIY turbines, rotors 3-10 ft in diameter mounted on towers 30-120 ft tall offer a good balance of cost and output for home use.

Number of Blades

  • Most DIY turbines have 2 or 3 rotor blades.

  • 3 blades are often considered more aesthetically pleasing, while 2 blades produce less drag and rotate at higher RPMs.

Rated Power

  • Small DIY turbines usually have power ratings from 100 Watts to 10 kilowatts.

  • Match your power needs to the turbine’s rated output to right-size your system.

Off-Grid vs. Grid-Tied

  • Off-grid turbines charge batteries to store excess power for use when the turbine isn’t spinning. This allows independence from the electric grid if desired.

  • Grid-tied turbines feed power straight into your home and electric panel, offsetting your electric bills. Any excess power is fed back into the grid.

Efficient DIY Wind Turbine Designs

Here are some of the most efficient and cost-effective wind turbines for DIY installation:

Savonius Turbines

  • This vertical-axis design uses cups or scoops to catch the wind.

  • Simple to build from 55-gallon drums or other materials.

  • Can accept wind from any direction and work in turbulent winds.

  • Not as efficient as horizontal-axis turbines, but very effective for DIY builds.

Horizontal Axis 3-Blade Turbines

  • The traditional propeller-style turbine.

  • Most efficient design overall, but requires accurate yaw control.

  • Well-suited to DIY construction from wood, PVC, or metal.

Lenz2 and WindSpire Turbines

  • Cylindrical vertical-axis turbines requiring minimal materials.

  • No yaw control required, just point them into the prevailing wind.

  • Offer very quiet operation with efficient power generation.

Key Components of DIY Wind Turbines

Beyond the rotor and blades, DIY wind turbines require several other key components:

Tower

  • The taller the better, as wind speeds increase with height. Guy-wire supporteddesigns offer cost-effective tower options.

Generator

  • Permanent magnet alternators are common for small wind turbines. Must match your design’s rotor RPM.

Yaw Control (Horizontal Axis Turbines)

  • Keeps blades facing into the wind as direction changes. Can be passive (tail vane) or actively controlled.

Inverter

  • Required for grid-tied systems to convert turbine AC power to match house and grid voltage and frequency.

Batteries and Charge Controller (Off-Grid Systems)

  • Batteries store power for off-grid use. The charge controller regulates charging and prevents overcharging.

Recommended DIY Tower Designs

The tower is one of the most important yet tricky components for DIY wind turbines. Here are some recommended approaches:

Freestanding Towers

  • Can be built from telephone poles or metal pipe. Guying is required for stability.

  • Generally limited to 60-80 ft in height. Higher towers require extensive guying.

Guyed Monopole Towers

  • A single pole with extensive guy-wires supporting it. Can reach 120 ft.

  • Minimizes tower materials. But installing guy anchors can be labor intensive.

Tilt-Up Towers

  • Towers hinged at the base to allow lowering for maintenance.

  • More complex to build but offer easy turbine access compared to fixed towers.

Siting Your Wind Turbine Properly

Proper siting and positioning of your wind turbine is critical for performance and safety:

  • Choose a site with the fewest obstructions, maximizing clean wind flow to the rotor.

  • Keep the turbine upwind and 300 ft from any structures to avoid turbulence.

  • For horizontal axis turbines, position rotor so it faces the prevailing wind direction as closely as possible.

  • Keep all electrical components protected from moisture and inspectconnections regularly.

  • Install appropriate tower guy anchors and foundations for the soil type to handle expected wind loads.

  • Contact your zoning office regarding any codes, permitting requirements, and height restrictions for wind turbines in your area.

Conclusion

Installing small DIY wind turbines can significantly reduce your reliance on the electric grid and cut your energy bills in half. By assessing your site’s wind resource, choosing an efficient turbine design, building a proper tower, and siting everything correctly, you can harness clean wind power using simple and affordable components you construct yourself. With this comprehensive guide, you now have all the knowledge you need to start generating your own electricity from wind and slashing your electric bills.