I am documenting the construction of my first wind turbine. I am not an expert, just learning as I go. I am not building a turbine from scratch, but instead trying to first succeed in mounting one to a tower and wiring it up to power small devices inside my house.
The Power of Wind
I want to document the process so that it would be easier for me to duplicate this a second time, as I would like to construct more than one turbine. Also, if the instructions are of any benefit to others doing a similar construction, I would be happy to know that. Let me know if you have tips to share or would like to show off your own DIY wind turbine.
Buy Wind Turbine
After I raise my first turbine, I would like to attempt building the turbine itself from scratch. But for my introduction and education, I decided to buy a pre-made wind turbine I found on eBay. I found a small turbine from eBay seller blairusa. Butch (the eBay seller) builds turbines and sells them on eBay. The particular turbine I bought is small and according to Butch has the following spec’s:
- 140 Watts
- Starts spinning in winds of around 4 MPH
- Can withstand winds over 40 MPH but not recommended
- weighs about 22lbs
- Made of aluminum and steel
- Propeller diameter: 36 inches
- Length of generator: 42inches
I paid $305 total (including shipping).
I don’t have the windiest location but want to give this a try anyhow.
I picked a location in my backyard. My primary consideration for picking this spot was that it will be out of view for most of my neighbors. I don’t want to make enemies. The turbine will make a little noise when spinning which might bother my neighbors if I put it right on the property line. Some people, for whatever reason, do not like the way wind turbines look. I haven’t talked with all of my neighbors about it, so to be safe, I’m keeping this one tucked away to eliminate any trouble with the neighbors. Also, the location I chose is fairly close to the house, meaning the wiring will be fairly short, making it easier for me to run wiring to get the power into the house.
The turbine will be mounted to a steel pipe. The pipe will be secured in the ground with concrete and guy wires.
At the target site, I dug a hole 1 ft wide and 2 ft deep.
I used a pick and mattock with a shovel to dig the hole.
I had to get on my hands and knees to dig the last several inches using trowels and the shovel.
Now we need a pole to mount the wind turbine onto. I did some reading online and found a helpful site: mdpub.com. That site got me started making a pole out of steel pipes commonly found at home improvement stores. Below I’ll show you how I assmembled the pieces.
Above you can see a hinge joint so that the wind turbine can be lowered and raised from the ground whenever maintenance is needed. Most of the pieces for my tower came from my local Sutherlands store. The tower constructions uses the following steel pipe parts: elbow, tee, nipple, coupling, and adapter.
Note that the tee above is a bigger diameter than the rest of the pieces, so that the threads are unused on the tee, allowing the tee to function as a hinge joint. Most of the pipe pieces have a diameter of 1 ¼”. The tee above is bigger, though, with a diameter of 1 ½”.
A tee was chosen above to allow the electrical cables to exit from the pipe. Later, you will see how the wires come out of this hole.
Dig a second hole and place a stationary pipe in it. The second pipe has an arm that latches onto the first pipe. The arm can be detached at any time. I’m surprised how sturdy this connection is. The arm can hold the pole up with wind turbine mounted to the top without any guy wires. However, for safety and extra stability, guy wires are a must. The guy wire installation is detailed lower down on this page.
Apply Plumber’s Grease
I want to be able to detach the steel pipes at any time for maintenance, re-wiring, or other future modifications. Since the steel pipes are outside and exposed to rain, condensation, and humidity, the pipe threads will rust and fuse the pipes together. Already in the short time I have had them outside, they have already developed rust. I picked up some Plumber’s Grease from Sutherlands.
I used an old toothbrush to apply the grease to all the pipe threads.
I put most of the pieces together, minus the turbine itself, to see how it fit together.
With the setup above, the wind turbine blades will be 16 feet above the ground.
Attach guy wires
When the turbine is up on the pole and the wind starts blowing, we need a way to keep the pole from falling down. I attached (4) guy wires to secure the pole and prevent it from falling down in high winds.
But how should the guy wires connect to the metal pole? One site showed how eye bolts could be attached to a pole. [jerryriverguy.com] That encouraged me to try the same.
Another site showed how a hole was drilled into steel to make a tripod. That gave me an idea of how to go about drilling holes into the wind turbine pole.
The video above shows how to drill and tap a steel pipe coupling. Eye bolts are attached to the coupling. The guy wires will connect to the eye bolts.
Attach guy wires to pole.
One thing I like about this setup is that the pole is raised and lowered by one person and requires no fancy equipment.
The next video below shows the typical power output of this little turbine on a windy day. It’s not as nearly impressive as I had hoped, but I was still very excited to see “free” power going into my battery.
Typical Power Output on Windy Day
The wind turbine was advertised to produce up to 140 W. So far I have witnessed a more typical output of around 33 W (about 2.5 A at 13.1 V). I now see that it is common for wind turbine sellers to overstate the power output of the units they sell.
Add Anemometer to Measure Wind Speed
I wanted to measure the wind speed required to spin the blades and begin producing enough power to push current into my 12V battery. I added an anemometer to the wind turbine pole.
The anemometer is part of a weather station kit, the La Crosse WS-2316U Wireless Weather Station.
Before you consider buying this, you might want to read my unbiased review of the La Crosse WS-2316U Wireless Weather Station.