Here’s a little clip by OpenSourceLowTech that shows a vertical axis wind turbine being challenged by strong winds:
In order to harvest the energy from this wind turbine, it’s necessary to add an alternator to the rotor, as well as a method of storing the electricity, but it could also be used simply for the mechanical rotation, such as to pump water or spin a flywheel for other applications.
While there are a number of variables that can affect the output of this DIY wind turbine, including the efficiency of the alternator used (and obviously the speed of the wind where it’s located), according to Connell, using a “50% efficient car alternator (the simplest and cheapest option) should produce 158 watts of electricity in a 50 km/h wind, and 649 watts at 80 km/h” with this design.
Update: In an email conversation with Connell, he stated that “a six vane version with an efficient alternator should produce at least 135 watts of electricity in a 30 km/h wind, and 1.05 kilowatts at 60 km/h.
This homebrewed wind turbine isn’t necessarily going to be powering your home (although a series of these could potentially be used to generate enough electricity to charge a battery bank for modest home use), it might be a great hands-on school project or homeschool activity about wind energy.
A wind turbine is essential in homesteading, especially in areas far from a mainstream energy source. Even if you’re closer to these energy sources, it still pays to know the basics of a DIY wind turbine. You never know when it will become handy and your know-how may just save the day. Take time to learn this DIY wind turbine for a clean and free energy source!