12 Creative DIY Wind Generator and VAWT Designs
Part of being prepared for any disaster, natural or man-made, is having a plan for power. If the electric grid goes out, how will you light your home? Keep the contents of the freezer from spoiling? Run water pumps? Wind turbines are an easy way to harvest free power. There are many options, including the popular DIY wind generator design called vertical axis wind turbine, or VAWT.
We’ve compiled 12 creative wind generator designs to inspire you.
1. DIY Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
Vertical axis wind turbines, or VAWTs, are the simplest style of turbine to build yourself. A typical VAWT design places the main components at the base of the tower so they are easily accessible for maintenance or repair. This particular design was built out of left over construction materials. While it isn’t the most efficient turbine ever built, it generates a consistent 70 Watts of energy. Not bad for a power system that was essentially free.
2. Snow Shovel Wind Generator
For an investment of less than $200 in materials you can enjoy 300 Watts of otherwise free energy. And yes, this turbine is built out of snow shovels. All you need to add to the design is a simple alternator and battery for energy storage. You can purchase an alternator, or make your own. Learn how by reading this great e-book.
3. Silent Rooftop Wind Generator
While this is a commercially produced turbine, the idea is excellent. It is completely silent. Once it is installed, you’ll never know its there. At low wind speeds this wind turbine from the Dutch company Archimedes produces 1,500 kWh of energy per year. That’s enough to cover half of an average household’s energy use.
The turbine measures five feet in diameter, and starts at about $5400. It’s a bit of an investment to start. However, not only do you make that money back by saving on your electric bill, you also have the peace of mind that comes with being prepared for a crisis.
4. Wind Generator Built from a Bicycle Wheel
If you don’t have the cash for a pre-made turbine, consider this simple DIY design. It is based on a bicycle wheel with heavy plastic blades. There are many designs out there for bicycle wheel wind turbines. You could build it up with the blades standing vertically to make a VAWT, or follow this example to build a more traditional style turbine. Use it generate power or pump water from your well.
5. 1000 Watt DIY Turbine
This homemade wind generator uses a magnet alternator. The magnets spin in the wind, and the alternator generates three phase AC power. They’ve designed it to rectify that into DC power. It is then fed into a charger which loads a heavy duty battery. The battery charges the house, which is entirely off the grid.
You need to be mechanically and electrically inclined to do this project, or at least educate yourself on the basics of electricity before you get started. It is well worth the effort when you are completely in control of your own power system. Plus, once you have it up and running, you get free electricity.
6. 55 Gallon Drum Wind Turbine
The guy who built this admits that it is not very efficient. You can’t deny his creativity however. This is a six blade turbine built out of recycled 55 gallon drums. They are the perfect building material as they are usually cheap if not free. But learn from this man’s mistakes. A smaller turbine would be more efficient, and a vertical axis design even more so.
7. Combined Solar and Wind Power
When you are planning your off grid power system, there are no rules saying you must stick to one energy source. A diversified plan is better, just in case one unit fails. Or what if there is no wind? With rapidly changing weather patterns, you never know what may happen.
This design combines solar and wind in a single unit. The result is greater efficiency at a lower cost.
8. Savonius DIY Wind Turbine
The Savonius style of wind turbine is a classic. Despite the fancy name, it is simply a drag type turbine. It is not the most efficient design, but they are very straightforward and easy to build.
Popular materials for building a Savonius turbine are aluminum sheeting and a few lengths of PVC pipe. You will need a motor of some sort to actually generate power. Consider an old treadmill motor or even a car starter motor.
9. Wind Turbine Powered Car
While rare, there are cars driving around with solar panel roofs, why not a turbine powered vehicle? This little model car is a trial run for the full-sized versions to come.
A turbine powered car might not be your first investment in survival gear, but when the designs are perfected it could be a great alternative to fossil fuel vehicles. Plus the model sized car looks like a great toy.
10. Low Wind Speed VAWT
This fancy turbine at a home in Denmark is designed to generate power at low wind speeds. For the greatest efficiency, every turbine should be designed for a particular wind speed. Features such as blade size, angle of attack, tip speed ratio and disc area ratio can be modified to optimize the amount of energy captured in 30 mph winds or 5 mph winds.
11. DIY Wind Turbine Kit
If you’re not quite ready to build a turbine out of scrap metal, PVC pipes or 55 gallon drums, consider a wind turbine kit. The mini turbine in the photo costs less than $200. It works best at a wind speed of 15 mph, and can produce 2.25 amps at 25 volts. While it won’t power your home, it is good for charging gate openers and electric fences. Some people couple a mini turbine with solar to power remote cabins or barns. You can also purchase hybrid wind/solar kits to maximize your energy savings.
12. Rainbow Wind Turbine
This is a simple, beautiful wind turbine. It is currently on display in Quito, Ecuador as part of an alternative energy awareness program. Wind turbines don’t have to be complicated. Even a small one will make some impact on your electric bill or can have a dedicated job like charging a pump. Keep in mind that the wind can be erratic, so you should have a back-up to wind energy for essential devices.