How to Create a Backyard Wind Turbine on a Budget
Installing a wind turbine in your backyard can be an excellent way to reduce your electricity bills and carbon footprint. However, commercial wind turbines can be very expensive. In this article, I will provide a step-by-step guide on how to build a simple, low-cost wind turbine using commonly available materials.
Benefits of Backyard Wind Turbines
Some key benefits of having a backyard wind turbine include:
Reduced electricity bills - Any electricity generated from the turbine reduces the amount you need to buy from the grid. This can save you money each month.
Energy independence - Producing your own renewable electricity gives you energy security and reduces reliance on the grid.
Low maintenance - Small wind turbines are very reliable and require little ongoing maintenance.
Eco-friendly - Wind energy produces no greenhouse gas emissions, unlike fossil fuel power plants.
The main components required are:
- Select 3 wind turbine blades to capture the wind energy. Wood, plastic or metal will work.
- Longer and thinner blades are more efficient.
- Aim for a minimum blade length of 1.2m.
- This converts the rotational energy into electricity.
- A permanent magnet AC generator is a good choice for small DIY turbines.
- Select one rated for at least 400W.
- The turbine needs to be raised high above obstacles to reach stronger winds.
- 10m height is recommended as a minimum.
- Possible options include metal scaffolding poles or woodenutility poles.
- Batteries store excess electricity generated for later use.
- Deep cycle lead-acid batteries are a cost-effective option.
- You will need a battery charge controller to protect the batteries.
- An inverter converts the generator's low voltage DC output into 120/240V AC electricity for household use.
- Grid-tie inverters sync the current with the grid.
Wind Turbine Design
There are two main design options:
- Horizontal axis - The rotor spins horizontally around the tower. More efficient.
- Vertical axis - The rotor spins vertically around the tower. Omni-directional.
For DIY projects, a horizontal axis, upwind configuration is simpler to construct. The blades face into the wind upstream of the tower.
- Install guy wires to securely anchor the tower against strong winds.
- Place the turbine well away from areas frequented by people or animals.
- Use a braking system to stop the rotor in high winds.
- Ensure all electrical wiring is properly insulated and connections are weatherproof.
- Turn off and isolate the turbine before any maintenance.
- Check that your design complies with any zoning regulations and obtain permits.
Follow these steps to build the wind turbine:
1. Create the blades
- Cut 3 identical blades from your chosen material using a template.
- Add a steel plate to the root of each blade for attachment to the hub.
2. Build the generator housing
- This protects the generator from the elements.
- Weld steel tube or angle iron into a cage structure and attach mounting plates.
3. Assemble the rotor
- Bolt the blades equidistantly around a central hub disk.
- Attach to the front generator mount via a bearing.
4. Mount the generator
- Fix the generator to the rear mount plate on the housing.
- Connect blades to generator shaft.
5. Construct the tower
- Cement pole sections or scaffolding into the ground.
- Make sure overall height is sufficient.
- Allow easy access up the tower for maintenance.
6. Install the turbine
- Hoist the turbine assembly up and bolt to the top of the tower.
- Attach guy wires from halfway up the tower for support.
7. Add electrical components
- Connect the generator to the batteries via a charge controller.
- Wire up grid-tie inverter and household circuit.
- Ensure all electrics are weatherproof.
8. Test operation
- Check the rotor spins freely before generation begins.
- Gradually bring up to full operating speed and load.
- Monitor performance and look for any issues.
Here is an example cost breakdown for a basic 400W backyard wind turbine:
- Blades/hub - $120
- Generator - $350
- Charge controller - $180
- Batteries - $400
- Inverter - $250
- Tower/hardware - $300
- Total - approx. $1600
This budget setup should give you a functional wind turbine that will generate renewable electricity and cut your bills. With DIY labor and sourcing used components, costs can be reduced further.
Constructing a wind turbine in your backyard is an achievable project for the DIY enthusiast. Carefully select suitable components and design a sturdy supporting structure. Follow safety guidelines and build incrementally, testing as you go. Soon you will be harnessing free wind energy to power your home!