How to Make Your Own Backyard Wind Turbine on the Cheap

How to Make Your Own Backyard Wind Turbine on the Cheap

How to Make Your Own Backyard Wind Turbine on the Cheap

Installing a wind turbine in your backyard can be an excellent way to reduce your energy bills and decrease your carbon footprint. With some DIY skills and creativity, you can build your own wind turbine on a budget. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make your own backyard wind turbine cheaply.

Choosing the Right Location

The first step is picking the optimal location to install your wind turbine. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Wind speed – Look for an elevated, open area with consistent wind. Use a wind meter or wind maps to determine average wind speeds. Generally, annual average speeds of at least 10 mph are best.

  • Local ordinances – Check with your local zoning office regarding rules on wind turbines. There may be height and noise limitations.

  • Proximity to home – The turbine should be at least 30 feet from your home and other buildings. This prevents noise and safety issues.

  • Obstructions – Avoid locations with lots of trees or buildings that can obstruct wind flow. The turbine needs open access to strong winds.

Once you’ve identified the best spot with free-flowing wind, it’s time to obtain supplies.

Gathering Materials on a Budget

You can build a small wind turbine using inexpensive or salvaged materials:

  • Blades – Use salvaged metal sheets, plastic barrels, plywood, or reinforced fiberglass for blades. Three blades are optimal.

  • Generator – A 12V or 24V DC permanent magnet generator from an old appliance like a treadmill can work well.

  • Pole – Metal piping, thick PVC piping, or salvaged steel poles make sturdy towers. Height depends on your location but 10-30 feet is common.

  • Batteries – Deep cycle marine batteries are best for storing power. Get ones rated for solar usage.

  • Inverter – A 12V or 24V inverter converts the DC power into 120V AC for household use.

  • Charge controller – This regulates power between the turbine, batteries, and inverter. It prevents overcharging.

  • Wiring – Use 10-12 AWG insulated copper wiring suitable for outdoor use.

  • Hardware – Nuts, bolts, braces, and other hardware are needed for assembly.

By salvaging and buying secondhand, you can build a turbine for less than $1000.

Building the Turbine Frame and Blades

Once you have all the materials, it’s time for assembly:

  • Build a sturdy triangular frame out of metal pipes to mount the blades on. Weld joints if possible.

  • Attach the three blades 120 degrees apart using bolts or welds. Keep blades aligned and straight.

  • Add a tail vane to orient the turbine into the wind. Use a lightweight sheet metal or plastic vane.

  • Include a yaw control to turn the turbine as wind direction changes. A simple lazy susan bearing works well.

  • Add guy wires attached to ground anchors to stabilize the tower against strong winds. Use sturdy metal cables.

  • Carefully measure and cut all parts to achieve balance. This prevents vibration and noise.

Mounting the Turbine

Once assembled, it’s time to mount the wind turbine:

  • Cement the base of the tower securely into the ground. Brace it well to handle extreme winds.

  • Hoist the turbine up and bolt it onto the tower. Have helpers to lift safely.

  • Attach the generator to the frame’s center shaft. Align carefully with the blades for smooth rotation.

  • Connect the inverter and charge controller to the generator with wiring. Add a cutoff switch too.

  • Run wiring underground from the inverter to your main electric panel. Follow all electrical safety codes.

  • Secure all wiring connections and covers. Seal properly to protect from weather.

With care and patience, you can mount the turbine professionally. Now it’s ready to capture wind and generate power!

Maintaining Your Turbine

Like any power system, your wind turbine will require occasional maintenance:

  • Inspect bolts/welds periodically and tighten/repair if needed.

  • Check blade condition and repair any cracks, pits or dents.

  • Clean debris and dirt buildup on blades or moving parts.

  • Verify yaw control and tail vane rotate freely. Lubricate bearings if needed.

  • Check all electrical connections stay tight and free of corrosion.

  • Monitor power output. If declining, check generator brushes and resistance.

  • Take safety precautions when doing repairs. Shut off power disconnect first.

With routine care, a DIY wind turbine can provide free, clean energy for decades. The minimal maintenance is worth the electricity savings.

Installing a cheap homemade wind turbine does require some skill and effort. But it’s a very fulfilling project that reduces your environmental impact. With these plans, you can build an efficient backyard turbine on any budget.