DIY Wind Turbine

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

  • If you can turn a wrench and operate an electric drill, you can build this simple generator in two days.
    Photo by Robert D. Copeland
  • You can use any vehicle alternator with a built-in voltage regulator.
    Photo by Robert D. Copeland
  • The fan is attached to the alternator using a 3-inch washer.
    Photo by Robert D. Copeland
  • You can use 1/2-inch galvanized pipe to make the generator bracket.
    Photo by Robert D. Copeland
  • The 3-inch washer used to attach the fan and clutch assembly to the alternator.
    Photo by Robert D. Copeland
  • Here, you can see how the generator mounts into the bracket. Keep in mind that the exact bracket dimensions and the size of the bolts used will vary with different alternators.
    Photo by Robert D. Copeland
  • The completed generator is ready to hook up to a battery bank and provide renewable energy.
    Photo by Robert D. Copeland

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

1/25/2021 1:47:25 PM

Put a liter fan on it not the one shown use bamboo wood for the tail

11/16/2020 1:47:26 AM

Lsouth it doesn't take a genius to figure out how to wire an Alternator to a battery bank.

11/4/2020 2:31:32 PM

It believe it would take a hurricane force wind to turn that type of fan blade. Even then, the tower would likely collapse long before any electrical power has been produced. I'm in the process of building a hand crank operated, 12 volt battery charging system, using a series of small and large pulleys. Tech support where I ordered the alternator from told me I needed to provide 600 rpm to excite (energize) the alternator. Providing that I can crank 1 rotation every 2 seconds (30 rpm) stepping up to 4-1 ratio (120 rpm) with pulleys, and then again with 5-1 pulleys, I'm hoping to reach that 600 rpm mark. With friction from the pulleys and belts, it is unlikely I could step up a 3rd time and be able to crank 30 rpm by hand. Wind power would require much less physical effort, but it's rarely ever windy where I live. Anyways.... I call BS on this article.



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