DIY Residential Wind Turbine: How to Build One
The mechanics of a wind turbine are, in a lot of ways, similar to those of a windmill. The turbine has blades that turn when hit by air currents and transmits mechanical energy along a draft. The draft uses that energy to turn a generator, thus generating clean energy for your household.
If you are a DIY enthusiast who loves building things, you’ll be glad to know that building a wind turbine is easy. You just need a few supplies from the local hardware and electrical store. In this post, we tackle what you need to know about building a wind turbine.
Design and Plan your Wind Turbine
Every DIY project starts at the design phase. In the case of a wind turbine, you need to determine the location and its average wind speed. A turbine needs wind speeds of at least 7-10 miles per hour to function efficiently.
It achieves better performance if the wind speed reaches 12-20 miles per hour.
Check online maps to determine the local wind speed. An anemometer can also get the job done. Measure the speed of wind consistently for a few weeks to determine if a wind turbine in your area is reasonable.
Keep in mind that seasonal changes can result in drastic change of wind speeds.
You should also check the local building code and see what it has to say about wind turbines. This code varies from one area to another, so be sure you don’t violate any regulations.
Next, evaluate the space available for the installation. While wind turbines don’t require a lot of space, it’s important to take certain precautions to avoid conflicts with neighbors. You should have at least a 0.5 acre of land for a 3kW turbine. If building a turbine that generates 10 kilowatts, an acre will suffice.
Assemble the spindle and spokes
This is a relatively easy task. Simply weld the spindle to the spindle plate. Be sure to put on protective gear like visor, welding jacket, work boots and gauntlet. This may not be necessary if your turbine kit comes with the spindle already welded to the spindle plate.
Slide the hub into place on the spindle, ensuring you place a bearing between both parts to prevent friction. Leave a 4” clearance between the spindle and bearing.
The next step involves attaching the lower spoke flange to the hub. Slide the hub through the holes on the flange then fasten with lug nuts and socket wrench.
Connect the spokes to the blades. You should have a couple of spokes for each blade, bringing the total to six for a turbine with three blades. Use spacers to separate lower spokes from upper spokes.
Bolts will come handy for connecting the spokes to the lower flange. Tighten the bolts using a socket wrench. You can utilize a thread locking compound to guarantee a good connection that isn’t affected by adverse environmental conditions.
Attach four studs to the upper flanges, and ensure you use threaded studs that are 0.25” thick and 2.375” long.
Mount the magnets
Start by making upper and lower magnet rotors. You’ll need epoxy, 2” x 1” x 0.5” neodymium magnets and rotor plate.
You should have 24 neodymium magnets 12 for the top rotor and the rest for the lower rotor.
Alternatively, purchase premade magnet rotors from a turbine manufacturer as part of a wind turbine kit.
If making a magnet rotor, ensure that the magnets are equally distributed around the edge. Working with a template is a sure way of preventing misplacement of magnets and rotor damage.
Be sure to mark polarity of magnets before starting placement. Mount the magnets using pea-sized amount of epoxy applied to the bottom.
Move the magnet to the corner of the rotor place, all the while placing a finger between the two. Once it grabs onto the plate, use the template to guide the magnet to the correct position.
Next place spacers on the studs and the stator on top of the lower magnet rotor. Only use spacers of equal length to avoid creating a slanted position for the upper magnet disk. Leave an inch clearance above the spacers, allowing the hex nuts to fasten the upper magnet rotor.
The stator is a series of coiled wires that can be bought as part of a turbine kit. If making one from scratch, you need three groupings of three coils of 24-gauge copper wire. Each coil should have 320 windings in the same direction. Use electrical tape and 2-part epoxy to secure the windings.
The next step involves placing the upper magnet rotor and it can be dangerous if not careful. Stack four boards on either side of the central spindle, ensuring the top boards are thinner than the lower ones.
Keeping a finger in the gap between the stacked boards, lower the upper rotor towards the lower one. Once in place, fasten the rotor using hex nuts.
Finish turbine assembly
Connecting the spindle to the tower can prove difficult with the turbine assembly attached to the spindle.
Use an upwards motion to remove the assembly from the spindle, and place it on a work area with the hub facing up. Weld the spindle flange to the tower, and remember to put on protective gear.
Install the tower in a sturdy location and if possible, pour concrete slab for added stability. Install a bracket for the stator and spindle, ensuring it fits like a collar.
Bolt the bracket into place and use a thread locking compound to make it more secure.
Place a tapered bearing on the spindle before attaching the main assembly. Fasten the stator to complete the turbine.
Attach electrical components
This is the final stage of wind turbine construction. Start by connecting a charge controller to the circuit or battery to prevent damage due to power spikes.
Connect an insulated wire to the charge controller from the generator, then thread it through the base and tower shaft. Tie in to the main home circuit, but before consulting a professional.
That’s it – you now have a fully functional wind turbine that works just as a store-bought model to convert wind energy into electrical energy.