How to Build a Small Wind Turbine

Written by eli laurens
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How to Build a Small Wind Turbine
Homemade wind turbine. (

Building a small wind turbine to generate power or pump water involves three or more curved vanes centred around a propeller shaft that turns as a prime driver for equipment. The ideal materials are lightweight and malleable to the proper shapes while maintaining strength. The average backyard inventor can make a wind turbine in about two to five hours.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Propellers (wood or metal)
  • Rotating hub (rear bicycle wheel, sprockets and axle)
  • 2x4 lumber (ten pieces)
  • Stand or base
  • Saw
  • Socket set
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Welding supplies (optional)

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    Building a Small Wind Turbine

  1. 1

    Cut the propellers out of wood or metal sheets. Each blade should have a 30 degree angle from the hub when viewed from the end. The rotation will be opposite the angle of deflection. The propellers will be aligned in the same direction, pushing the force of each one into a circle. It is important to make the blades large enough to turn the equipment, or the entire device will not work. The propellers should also be thinner at the ends than near the hub, but many simple designs use simple sheet metal vanes.

  2. 2

    Attach the propellers to the hub by bolting or welding them to the bicycle wheel or a wider disk that is centred and secured onto the wheel. A hubcap or pie plate makes an excellent hub cover, fastened to the spokes of the bicycle wheel. It can be secured with a backing plate and bolts, but a more lightweight approach is to use pipe tape and small screws. The lighter the windmill, the easier it will turn. The sprockets on the wheel should be left on and in the rear of the windmill.

  3. 3

    Secure the wheel to a stand or mount, such as the leftover parts of a bicycle's frame. The frame forks of a bike can be fashioned into a stand for the wind turbine easily because of the wheel mounts, with the front of the bike on the ground. More elaborate stands can be custom fabricated out of any possible material, such as metal or PVC pipe, wood 2x4 lumber, or any mountable surface...even stone. As long as the wheel has enough wind to turn, then it will generate a prime force.

  4. 4

    Attach the equipment to the sprockets on the rear of the bike wheel, using the original bicycle chain and a secondary sprocket added to the equipment. The sprocket can be added to the equipment by welding or bolts, as long as it is centred. The equipment's sprocket, such as an alternator, should be smaller in gear ratio than the windmill's sprocket. This will provide maximum gain for each rotation.

  5. 5

    Set the wind turbine up in a breeze, and chart how the power rises and falls with wind speed.

Tips and warnings

  • A directional vane can be built into the design, but is not absolutely required, and will add to the level of engineering necessary.
  • Use proper safety equipment and precautions when working with welding equipment or electricity.

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