can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works?

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by zarraza, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. zarraza

    zarraza Survivalist in training

    my backyard is too small to put a wind turbine system on it - so i thought of finding a small windmill that i could incorporate with a small solar system to go grid tied so when the SHTF i have at least something to keep a few of my creature comforts.

    someone told me it has something to do with magnetics rather than the small windmill actually turning a generator of some kind.
  2. hartage

    hartage Monkey+++

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    Generators have magnets. Electricity is generated when a wire passes through a magnetic field. That is usually how motion is converted into electricity.

    A low cost windmill here according to website it can generate up to 400w in ideal conditions.
    reconprepper likes this.
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    Hartage: Good find, I didn't know they made turbines that small. I'm going to look into that after bailing out of here next year.

    Z: The main difficulty with "old school" windmills (aside poor efficiency) is essentially the same as with any wind power collector, you need wind, and to get it you usually need height as well. "Too small" for the foundation and guying might still be the problem in your small yard. Our resident turbine tech (Quigley_Sharps) might be able to elaborate a bit, but I think solar is more reliable than breeze in most places.
    chelloveck likes this.
  4. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

  5. fritz_monroe

    fritz_monroe Guest

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    I've just started looking into micro wind power and there's a lot of good info out there. My first wind project is going to be a Pringles can wind turbine. Won't really get all that much out of it, but maybe be able to charge some batteries. But the big draw is working with the materials and finding out what works best. But if you look into savonius rotor, there is a lot of do it yourself stuff out there.

    Here's one used to power a driveway gate. And here's a step by step to building this guy's version.
  6. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    very cool stuff...
  7. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    An 'old time windmill' like you see on old farms were mostly for pumping water.....they had a rod that worked off a cam on the windmill shaft that went down the tower to operate a pump in a well to supply water......and they were a LOT bigger than most of the small watt wind turbines of today........a LOT bigger....with a pretty massive tower to mount them on....unless you're thinking of the the little yard ornament models built on the same general type as the old fan windmills, but on a lot smaller scale....AND don't actually DO anything but decorate a yard.

    Heck, those little 400-600 watt wind turbines of today you almost don't even can mount them on a single pole bolted to the end of a house or shed.....then use them on sailboats on the mast, and they have NO you need to go looking and revise your thinking.
    reconprepper and Witch Doctor 01 like this.
  8. zarraza

    zarraza Survivalist in training

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    solar would be the best alternative, but "just in case" i'd like to have something that would run at night

    i kinda thought those were pumps of some sort - but i was certain that one of those decorative yard windmills could be converted somehow to work for at least something. do you have a quick link for a 400-600 watt turbine - i'd like to take a look and see what the dimensions are - if i can squeeze it, i might bite - is there any way to get something that could test my wind availability?
    i also remember those things on the roof (whirly birds we called them) that help heat escape from the attics of houses (powered by wind) - might some sort of generator be fitted to those (not that i would be able to use them at my house, my tile roofs don't have any place to mount them) but it might be good information for others who have the ability to use such a device
    chelloveck likes this.
  9. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    I suppose you could hook a fractional watt generator to a roof turbine, but the cost of the generator ( you'd probably have to build it ) would probably be more than the tiny amount of electricity it would produce.....that's my guess.

    Enter the words "Small Wind Turbine" in GOOGLE and browse to your heart's delight.

    Google is your friend.
  10. fritz_monroe

    fritz_monroe Guest

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    It won't tell you your wind speeds, but Wind power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:Windenergy.jpg" class="image"><img alt="" src=""@@AMEPARAM@@commons/thumb/e/e0/Windenergy.jpg/220px-Windenergy.jpg will show a graphic of the areas of the country that have regular sustained winds.

    As for measuring it, you can buy or make an anemometer. If you make one, it can be a simple manual one or a more complicated automatic one.
  11. Rancher

    Rancher Specialist

    Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    This appears to be either an Air403 or an Air-X manufactured by Southwest Windpower.

    I personally have two of the Air-X units and can attest to their effectiveness.

    I purchased mine from the fine folks at At the time they had the best price out there, quite a bit less than Harbor freight.

    Another source for small wind turbines can be found at

    While I don't have personal experience with Mike's products; I know of several people who use them with no complaints.
    john316 likes this.
  12. Re: can anyone explain the way an "oldschool" windmill works

    Looks like the site is down for construction.
  13. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

  14. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++


    this must not be sexy because no one talks about windmills for water or energy generation. We talk about the big blade gizmo's but not smaller windmills. We had them for wells on ranches growing up and they are fairly reliable. Just not cheap if you have to go deep. These days solar powered submersibles are cheaper to maintain and operate but this is still a good tool for water
    john316, chelloveck and Brokor like this.
  15. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    sorry fought it was about electric mills.

  16. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    This type uses an Archimedes screw to lift water continously, but not very high. This uses the spinning of the blades to spin the screw. Thus pushing water uphill.

    This is the standard type (modern version) of a windmill water pump.
    chelloveck likes this.
  17. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Ever been in a situation that you needed water, and you could see it, but the access to it was so difficult to reach it would be unsafe to climb down into and expect to get out of ?
    I had gotten carried away with a walking staff I was making ,for bugging out one where I had to start a new garden.
    Heavy walled aluminum tubing .
    I had several attachments including a water pump.
    I'll show pictures later when I get home.
  18. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Took me a while and I figure now that you might be asking so I'll take the plunge with my experience.

    The Oldest type I have worked with is a DC Generator type from a Ford. In this you will need a Battery with a bit of a charge to allow the generator to excite its field by using the Voltage Regulator that was designed for the Ford system.

    After that it's pretty simple, spin the Generator with some type of fan, get the current to the battery by using a slip ring and a correctly set up Voltage regulator.

    Sounds simple.
    Ganado likes this.
  19. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Cool videos from Wranglerstar I found to be useful to this topic:

    Ganado and kellory like this.
  20. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Don't need to be big to pump water...
    chelloveck and arleigh like this.
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