How to Make Your Own Wind Turbine from Scrap Materials

How to Make Your Own Wind Turbine from Scrap Materials

Introduction

Building your own wind turbine from scrap materials can be a fun and rewarding project. Wind turbines harness the power of the wind to generate electricity. With some basic mechanical skills and recycled parts, you can build a small wind turbine to power low voltage DC devices or charge batteries.

In this article, I will provide a step-by-step guide to making a scrap material wind turbine, covering the key components, tools, and materials needed. I will also offer tips for optimizing your turbine’s power output. Constructing your own wind generator is an excellent way to learn about renewable energy. So let’s get started!

What You Will Need

To build a scrap material wind turbine, you will need the following key components and tools:

Components

  • Alternator – Converts rotational motion into electrical energy. Can use an automotive alternator.
  • Blades – Capture the kinetic energy of the wind. Can be made from plywood, plastic, or metal.
  • Hub – Attaches the blades to the rotor shaft. Can be made from metal or wood.
  • Tail – Orients the turbine into the wind. Can use a metal sheet or wood board.
  • Frame – Holds all the components. Can be made from metal, wood, or PVC pipe.

Tools

  • Drill – For making holes to mount components.
  • Saw – For cutting structural materials.
  • Wrenches – For fastening bolts and fittings.
  • Multimeter – For testing the electrical output.
  • Safety gear – Gloves, goggles, etc. Important when working with power tools.

Sourcing Scrap Materials

One of the keys to building a wind turbine on a budget is sourcing scrap parts and materials. Here are some ideas of where to look:

  • Junkyards – Great source for alternators, steel tubing, and sheet metal.
  • Construction sites – Scrap lumber can be used to make turbine blades. PVC pipes make good frames.
  • Appliances – Motors, wires, and gears can be salvaged from broken appliances.
  • Cars/bikes – Old fan blades and pulleys have potential for wind turbine parts.

Also check craigslist, online classifieds, and garage sales. State parks and beaches can yield scrap metal washed ashore. Get creative in your scrap sourcing and give materials a new life!

Blade Design

The blades are key components in harnessing the wind’s energy. Some tips for designing effective scrap material blades:

  • Material – Thin plywood, plastic sheets, sheet metal, and even cardboard can work.
  • Length – Longer blades capture more wind energy. Make them as long as your materials allow.
  • Number of blades – Two or three blades are most common. Three is optimal for torque.
  • Angle – An angle of 30-40 degrees provides good lift.
  • Shape – Curved blades similar to an airplane propeller are most efficient.

Test different blade shapes and angles to find the best design. Use a drill to make holes to attach the blades to the rotor hub.

Assembling the Rotor Hub

The rotor hub connects the blades to the shaft and alternator. Here are some construction tips:

  • Use an automotive pulley or cut metal disks to make the hub. Drill holes to bolt the blades evenly around the hub.
  • Attach the hub securely to the rotating shaft coming from the alternator using a set screw or welding.
  • Make sure the rotor assembly is balanced. Unbalanced blades will cause vibration.
  • Allow the rotor to spin freely. Filing down rough edges on the hub can help reduce friction.
  • Consider adding a nose cone to the hub to reduce drag and increase efficiency.

Mounting the Tail

The tail keeps the turbine facing into the wind. Key tail guidelines:

  • Use a flat piece of scrap metal, heavy plastic, or plywood for the tail. Size it about 1-1.5 times the blade length.
  • Mount the tail on a pivoting joint so it can move freely.
  • Attach the tail assembly off-center from the rotor axis using welded rebar or a metal pole.
  • Place the tail so the turbine naturally points downwind when not generating power.
  • Allow the tail to pivot easily to track the wind. Friction will reduce efficiency.

Proper tail mounting is crucial so test it thoroughly before finalizing the design.

Constructing the Frame

The frame holds all the turbine components sturdily in place. Frame construction tips:

  • Use metal tubing, wooden beams, or PVC pipes for the frame. Choose sturdy scrap material.
  • Size the frame to hold the rotor at a suitable height to catch prevailing winds.
  • Mount the alternator near the base, either horizontally or vertically aligned.
  • Consider concrete footings for the frame if mounting the turbine long-term.
  • Allow yaw rotation so the frame can pivot to track wind changes.
  • Include a rigid neck piece to hold the rotor up high. Use metal or wood blocks for attachment.
  • Brace weak sections prone to vibration with guy wires or wooden struts.

Take time to make a balanced frame resistant to oscillation forces.

Wiring Considerations

Connecting your wind turbine’s electrical system:

  • Wire the 3 alternator phases together to get higher voltage DC output.
  • Use a bridge rectifier to convert the AC output to DC if desired.
  • For batteries, use a charge controller set a few volts higher than battery level.
  • Fuse all connections to prevent shorts. Size fuses for your expected output.
  • Ground the system safely with an earth grounding rod.
  • Hook low voltage DC appliances directly to the turbine output.
  • Monitor voltage with a multimeter during testing.
  • Use large enough gauge wire for expected electrical load.

Take proper safety precautions when working with electrical connections.

Testing and Troubleshooting

Once assembled, perform these tests to optimize your turbine’s power and safety:

  • Check rotor shaft and tail pivot for smooth rotation without friction.
  • Watch for any wobbling or imbalance at operating speeds.
  • Listen for rattling noises which could indicate loose parts.
  • Measure voltage output with a multimeter under wind gusts.
  • Apply safety stops to prevent over-spinning in high winds.
  • Check guy wires and fasteners under wind load to confirm stability.
  • Take wind speed measurements to estimate potential power.
  • Adjust tail position to properly orient into the wind.

Make fixes and adjustments until satisfied with the turbine’s performance and balance.

Conclusion

Building a scrap-based wind turbine is an enjoyable way to learn wind power basics. With some mechanical aptitude and salvaged materials, you can construct a small-scale wind generator to run electronics and charge batteries while reducing waste. This article provided key guidance across the major wind turbine components and the full assembly process. Make use of the tips presented here as you harness the wind’s renewable energy in your own backyard project.