DIY Wind Turbine

Turn a car alternator into alternative energy by building this cheap and easy homemade wind generator.

| April/May 2017

Maybe you reside on a boat, vacation in a remote cabin, or live off-grid like me. Or perhaps you’re just interested in lowering your energy bill. Either way, with a handful of inexpensive and easy-to-source materials, you can build a homemade wind generator, making electricity yours for the taking for as long as the wind is blowing. You’ll be able to light up that storeroom, power your barn, or use a generator to keep all your vehicle batteries charged.

Electricity for my off-grid cabin comes from solar and wind power stored in a bank of four 6-volt golf cart batteries wired for a 12-volt system. A charge controller and battery minder keep my system from under- or overcharging. The whole shebang cost me less than $1,000, and I have lights, fans, a television and stereo, refrigeration, and a disco ball that goes up for special occasions.

If you can turn a wrench and operate an electric drill, you can build this simple generator in two days: one day for chasing down parts, and one day for assembling the components. The four major components include a vehicle alternator with a built-in voltage regulator, a General Motors (GM) fan and clutch assembly (I used one from a 1988 GM 350 motor), a tower or pole on which to mount the generator (15 feet of used 2-inch tubing cost me $20), and the metal to build a bracket for mounting the generator on the tower or pole. If you’re a Ford guy or a Mopar gal, that’s fine — just make sure your alternator has a built-in voltage regulator. You’ll also need some electrical cable or wires to hook the alternator up to your storage batteries. I used 8-gauge, 3-conductor cable pilfered from the oil patch. (And they said the transition from fossil fuels to renewables would take years. Pfft!)

Fan Clutch to Alternator Attachment

The blades for the wind generator are repurposed from a vehicle fan clutch. To attach the blades to the alternator, you can weld the fan clutch hub directly to the alternator hub — just make certain the fan is perfectly in line with the alternator shaft. Also, make sure the alternator’s built-in wire plug-ins are located on what will be the bottom of the generator. If you don’t have access to a welder, you can connect the fan clutch to the alternator using the following materials:

• 5/8-inch-by-3-inch washer, 3/16 inch thick
• Electric drill
• 1/4-inch thread tap
• Drill bit that corresponds to specific thread tap
• (4) 1/4-inch-by-1-1/2-inch to 2-1/2-inch bolts with corresponding nuts and lock washers

2/26/2018 3:04:50 PM

The alternator needs to turn at a minimum of 700 revolutions per minute to make any voltage so I am calling BS to this.

2/24/2018 7:35:49 PM

Low wind speed is the problem with any wind generator-the available energy is much lower,not just linearly reduced.I agree with above that an efficient blade set is very important.If it is inefficient you would get a trickle charge at best.There are other little tweaks that might turn out to be advanced engineering to get them right.The support pole has to be high.It could be a solar collector that creates a heated updraft to power a horizontal vane.A simple flat vane could bend in a very low breeze,connected to a one-way could start the main shaft spinning and overcome starting friction and inertia.Etc.

2/6/2018 5:49:06 PM

The viscous clutch is going to allow the fan to free-wheel unless you have hot air flowing over it to make the thermostat engage the clutch. The fan is designed to pull air thru the radiator, not to be turned by air flowing past it. It is, after all, a FAN not a wind turbine (notice the curve of the blades). There is no way the fan will spin fast enough in the wind to turn the alternator fast enough to generate any usable power unless it is sped up buy a gear or pulley set.

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