For a conservationist, creating your own electricity with a homemade wind turbine is a step in the energy-efficient direction. Wind turbines use renewable energy, and are found on farms, businesses, and homes. There are remote areas that don't have electricity and wind turbines come in handy in collecting energy to generate much-needed electricity.
What Is a Wind Turbine?
Basically, a wind turbine is powered by the wind to generate mechanical power or electricity. While the purpose of a windmill is using wind power for pumping water or grinding grain, wind turbines convert the power into electricity by using a generator. To put it simply, a fan uses electricity to make wind power, and a turbine operates in the opposite way; it uses the wind to create electricity.
Vertical-axis and Horizontal-axis
There are two types of wind-powered turbines.
- Vertical-axis - This has blades that look like an egg beater. The gearbox and electrical generator are placed at the bottom of the tower. The blades don't need to be pointing into the wind. One disadvantage of the vertical-axis model is that it is harder to mount onto towers.
- Horizontal-axis - This type of turbine has two to three blades. The rotor shaft and the electrical generator are at the top of the tower and the blades need to be pointed upwind in order to operate.
How a Homemade Wind Turbine Operates
Before deciding to make your own turbine, you must determine whether you have enough room for the system to operate. Wind turbines work best in open spaces without any trees or buildings to interfere with performance.
Parts to a wind turbine include:
- Gearbox - connects the low and high-speed shaft to each other
- Blades - wind blowing over the blades causes them to lift and move, or to rotate
- Hub - the sphere object used to mount (using a drill and bolts) the blades on
- Generator - creates at least 60-cycle AC electricity
- Tower - the tall steel or metal pole the turbine operates from, at least 100 feet off the ground so that the turbine can capture the least turbulent wind
- Rotor - the hub and the blades together
- Yaw drive - only needed for an upwind turbine; it keeps the rotor facing the wind
- Yaw motor - provides power for the yaw drive
- Nacelle - sits on top of the tower and holds the gearbox
- Low-speed shaft - turned by the rotor at a rate of 30 to 60 rotations every minute
- High-speed shaft - connects to the generator and drives it
- Anemometer - measures the speed of the wind
How to Make Your Own Wind Turbine
On the Internet you can find those who have ventured out and built their own wind turbine and provide step-by-step instructions on how it can be done. Some have been able to build a turbine for as little as $150 to $200. Of course, this doesn't include the price of the tools (drills, screwdrivers, hammers, etc.) that are needed to build this product.
The ABS Alaskan can equip you with parts needed for constructing your own turbine.
The American Wind Energy Association is a good place to visit for practical and informative guidance on building a turbine.
Naturally, building a wind turbine is more than just obtaining the right parts. Knowledge of electronics is necessary in order to create an effective and lasting product. Patience is another key factor if you want to succeed in operating your own homemade wind turbine.
How much electricity is generated in a wind turbine built at home? A turbine with a rotor diameter of about six feet might yield 500 kilowatts of electricity per year. The average household consumption for a year is about 4,500 kilowatts.
Therefore, it is clear that building one turbine strong enough to take care of a household's complete electricity needs is not feasible. On average, homemade turbines can power small needs such as charging batteries, two to three hours of computer usage a day, or the capacity to operate a small household appliance like a blender or coffee maker. If you want to lessen your need for your local utility company, you will have to build a number of turbines on your property or connect your turbine to an electricity grid.