How to Make a Simple DC Generator for a Battery Bank

Written by joe capristo
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How to Make a Simple DC Generator for a Battery Bank
Many hand-held power tools use DC motors. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Any direct current, or DC, motor can generate electricity if it is turned in the opposite direction of its normal function. The same electromagnetic principle that makes the motor work will generate an electrical current when turned in reverse. Any system that you can use to turn a DC motor shaft, such as a wind turbine, hand crank, pedals or a waterwheel, will produce electricity that you can store and use with a deep-cycle battery bank.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 12-volt DC motor
  • Wiring
  • Soldering iron
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Adjustable wrench or socket set
  • Charge controller

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  1. 1

    Wire your selected DC motor to a charge controller. Depending on the gauge of the wire, bolt or solder the motor leads to the charge controller. The charge controller will keep the motor from overcharging the battery bank or from draining the batteries when not in use.

  2. 2

    Wire the charge controller to the battery bank by soldering or bolting. Set the charge controller to turn on the electrical current when the battery bank's charge is less than 11.7 volts, and to turn the current off when the charge exceeds 14.3 volts. If you are using a hand crank or pedal system, invest in a charge controller, which displays a readout of the battery bank's charge so that you don't exert yourself needlessly.

  3. 3

    Connect a hand crank, pedal system, wind turbine or waterwheel to the axle of the DC motor. Many commercially available wind, water and crank systems have an appropriate DC motor system integrated into the unit, eliminating the need for you to find an appropriate 12-volt DC motor. Numerous project manuals are available in print or as e-book downloads from Internet retailers and local booksellers.

  4. 4

    Crank your DC motor with your installed turbine method to charge your battery bank.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have access to a running body of water, build a waterwheel. This will turn your generator 24 hours a day.

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