if you want to ease the burden on your pocket and help the environment, you can opt for DIY solutions to your energy supply. Home-made devices that can produce electricity using renewable power are becoming increasingly popular not only because they can green our own individual energy supply but also because sometimes they are a much more affordable solution given that in many places there has been a stop in government subsidies for renewables, such as solar panels. The most popular DIY solution to our energy woes seems to be the wind turbine. While most of us are used to seeing industrial wind turbines equipped with blades that are about 50 metres long and have motors with a diameter of 100 metres¹, smaller ones can be fashioned to meet the needs of individual households. Here is how pioneering fellow citizens that have recorded their making of a DIY wind turbine suggest you go about it.
According to various online sources, it is possible to build a wind turbine at home with materials available in hardware stores. This is because a wind turbine is essentially a mechanical device which is very similar to windmills. There is certainly some homework that needs to be done before taking out your tools. One important thing you will need to do is to ensure that building a wind turbine makes sense in terms of the potential energy gains it will provide you. If you are living in an area with infrequent or very low air currents, chances are building a wind turbine will not be particularly helpful. So you need to measure the annual average wind speed for your area which will also help you determine whether your wind turbine would function in a cost-effective way. An average of 19-32 kilometres per hour will yield better results, but a range of 11-16 kilometres per hour will also work².
The second thing you need to do is ensure you are not breaking any local rules or regulations. Once you’ve established that, you would need to make sure you have the required space to set up your wind turbine. As a rule of thumb, 0.2 hectare is needed for a 3 kilowatts wind turbine and 0.4 is needed for one that generates up to 10 kilowatts².
At this point, you can start thinking about your wind turbine and what kind of components you will need. What you choose to make yourself or buy off-the-shelf will largely depend on how confident you are with DIY but also if you have any experience in engineering. One thing to keep in mind is that regardless of mild weather conditions, you should avoid buying cheap materials. The wind turbine will be exposed to a log of environmental factors and for health and safety reasons you need its constituent parts to be of solid make. For instance, you can choose to buy or make your own wind turbine blades. These should be the correct size for your wind turbine to work efficiently. If you are making them yourself, it is recommended you choose to build them from wood or cross-sections of PVC pipes. The optimal number of blades is three. An odd number reduces vibrations while adding blades adds weight to the turbine making it rotate more slowly. Regarding the generator, the wind turbine will likely require one of high voltage and low rotations speed, generating at least 12 volts over a consistent period of time². While there are many online tutorials about making your own generator, it is safest to buy one if you do not have a background in electrical engineering.
For the assembly including connecting all the electronic components, you will have to bear in mind that different tools and knowledge of certain techniques like welding is likely to be needed. Before starting your project, please make sure you have read and understood the steps involved in putting together a wind turbine. Some of the most detailed tutorials can be found on wikihow.com, instructables.com and the personal website of an astronomer who built a turbine himself.