wind turbine on the cheap

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by CATO, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Constructing the lattice tower was a time-consuming effort. I had to learn to weld and use a cutting torch. The tower is constructed from steel tubing (the top rails of chain-link fence). I located my tower carefully among the large trees in my backyard. I used the oak trees, a 6-ton pulley, and a 5/16-inch steel cable system—raising the tower using a second pulley connected at two different stress points along the tower with a 12-volt, 12,000-pound winch. An oak tree acts as a “gin pole” to raise the turbine; other trees help support the main tree (you can pull one over, trust me). I can push a button to raise and lower this homemade renewable energy system.

    Anyone handy with tools and who has patience to learn can create a similar device, even if at a lesser height or capacity than this project. The turbine is just a simple homemade alternator, using a six-stud trailer-wheel hub with two bearings. With 32 rotating rare-earth magnets next to a three-phase fixed stator wound by hand with #10 copper coils, there’s really not that much to it. I like to keep things simple—I went with this design because it’s simple and it works. I’m always working on it, enhancing it, and making it better. I’ve seen it generate more than 3 kW at times. With a 1 kW solar-electric array, I’ve been pleased with the results—cutting about 30% off the old electric bill.

    This is a 48-volt hybrid (wind/solar) off-grid system with three parallel Magnum Energy inverters that feed a separate 150 A breaker panel in our home to provide standard 120/240 VAC electricity. The hybrid system charges 16 deep-cycle golf-cart batteries, which gives us at least 24 hours of backup with no wind or sun energy input.

    The solar-electric array is eight 12 V, 130 W modules, with two groups of four in series to provide a 48 V output. The other four modules are configured in the same way. Both 48 V series strings are then connected in parallel to a 60 A Morningstar controller. The array is mounted on a large frame with 12-inch casters and tie-downs, so I can easily rotate it on the deck to maintain a higher level of performance, morning to sunset.

    The turbine and solar-electric modules maintain a good charge on the batteries. I use a Morningstar relay driver to monitor battery voltage and amperage, and it automatically switches if there’s wind or solar energy to be had. I also have the relay driver programmed to apply a dynamic braking relay (shorting out the three-phase alternator) if turbine blade overspeeding occurs (the battery voltage suddenly rises) or if the Morningstar diversion controller or load resistor fails.

    I would have paid more than $25,000 to purchase such a system commercially. My project cost was between $5,000 and $7,000, including the batteries.

    Roger Beale • Evington, Virginia

    MAIL: Homebrew Wind | Home Power Magazine
  2. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    This is my dream. I live in a valley floor that gets allot of wind in the winter months when there is no sun to run the solar. The hill behind my house was slatted to get windmills before the greenies with their "it will scare the animals out of the county" act started preforming. I wish this article would have gone into more details on the construction and design. I have a certification in welding and mill work so i know i can build the tower, would be interested in how he keeps it from spinning to fast in high winds and where he got his blades for the turbine.

  3. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Contact someone at They seem to be very helpful in this area. Maybe they could provide more details or hook you up with that guy. I would also get those books he referenced.

    I have a subscription; let me know if I can look anything up for you.
  4. goinpostal

    goinpostal Monkey+++

    Theres a two part diy on Youtube where a guy builds a pretty decent one out of an 18v cordless drill.
  5. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    I'm looking for something a bit bigger. 1k min
  6. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    I might have found what i am looking for in my own back yard. I was reading through a local classified ad's site yesterday. Someone had posted a wind tower for sale. It's a 40' wind tower with a 200 volt dc generator with 7' prop.It's an older gentleman that owns it. I took the day off tomorrow so i could go look at it. The best part is the price @ $500. He told me that to take it down you just unbolt one of the legs and lay it over. Here is a pic.

    BTPost and CATO like this.
  7. kellory

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

    Good luck with that. Can't see how one leg would allow it to fold, the base appears square. I thought maybe a triangular tower. Any close up pics of the motor assembly?
  8. goinpostal

    goinpostal Monkey+++

  9. jasonl6

    jasonl6 Monkey+++

    I went and looked at this today. The 200 amp 12v, The prop is similar to an airplane prop. The base is square and pivots on one side. I made a deposit on it and plan to get it in the spring. The man is elderly and couldn't work on it anymore.He set the brake 5 years ago and it has sat since. He is going to give me all the charging stuff along with it. I will plan on putting it up and using it as is till i can upgrade to a 1000w 24v generator with a better prop setup. I think just the base is worth his asking price. I should be able to get the generator at about 45 - 47' should be allot of wind up that high. Just need a huge block of cement to hold it in place.

    kellory and BTPost like this.
  10. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

  11. Chad Peterson

    Chad Peterson Monkey

    I've been a heating contractor for 30 years. Came across a blower motor that the armature is all magnet. When you spin it produces about 50 to 125 volts ac 3 phase. It's an ecm motor. Another neat thing about them is you can probably get one for nothing (free). The motor comes new with a module that's prone to fail. Manufactures supply a new complete motor if the module fails and the heating contractor more than likely just throws the old one into the scrap pile.
    You'll need a bridge rectifier to convert the ac to dc. I'm working on one I pulled off an old circuit board. Not sure it's big enough.
    I've got a motor mounted on a plate and a chunk of conduit getting ready to install a tail fin.
    Just another project. One I enjoy though.
    ecm Motor
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Why convert to DC? Why not use these as MicroHydro, or Wind, as is and regulate the RPM into the shaft for 60Hz AC, direct?
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Probably way easier to rectify variable AC, then feed to a DC buss somewhere with a regulator into batteries than to try to measure and throttle the flow to maintain a specific rpm. PM motors don't have excitation coils that can be used for speed control.
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary