Homemade Wind Power

 
 

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    There are variety of ways to capture the power of the wind. Most of the commercial ones have their drawbacks, especially price.

    You can do-it-yourself easier and cheaper. Even go into business making them.

    Here are several ways. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  1. High Efficiency, cloud-like operation:
    1. Over 70% efficient, they generate electricity the same way clouds make lightning.
    2. This method is especially good if you can sell power to the local utility. You make money and so do they.
    3. The disadvantage is that it produces very high voltage, which can be dealt with electrically, but physically presents some danger to the workers.

  2. Energy Storage is a good idea, since most windmills are mechanical (the exception being the High Efficiency units discussed above.) Pumping water into a storage tank or mountain lake can be effective, then Hydropower is used to make the electricity.

  3. Commercial wind turbines may look cute in pictures but have many drawbacks:
    1. They are very expensive, $1.3 million each!
    2. They usually turn slow, so quite a bit of the energy they capture is wasted in the gearbox.
    3. They only capture from 5-7% of their swept area.
    4. However, the claim that they kill birds, has not been substantiated.
    5. Having only 3, expensive, hard-to-build blades means that most of the wind blows between the blades.

  4. “American” style have blades in the full circle, however:
      Each blade interferes with its neighbor, decreasing their overall efficiency.

  5. All horizontal axis wind turbines:
    1. require a mechanism to keep them aiming into the wind, unless the wind in your area generally comes from only one direction.
    2. In high winds they can blow apart spitting pieces over a block away, dangerously.
    3. Require breaking mechanisms to prevent such destruction.

  6. Vertical axis wind turbines:
    1. Egg-beater style
      1. Requirea a start-up machine, as they are not self-starting.
      2. Most of the wind blows between the blades.
    2. Cut barrels
      1. Heavy
      2. Requires lots of wind to just get them started
      3. Difficult to balance

  7. FloppyMill
    1. Vertical axis, will accept wind from any direction without extra machinery to point them into the wind.
    2. Self-regulating so should not destroy themselves in high winds.
    3. Captures up to 90% of their swept area
    4. Mill can be up high, while the electrical part can be down low for maintenance
    5. Easily homemade
    6. Easy to add more blades
    7. Has many of the advantages, and fewer of the disadvantages of other wind turbines.
    8. Can be built for direct electric production, or energy storage as needed.
    9. Can use recycled auto parts.

    I will describe the FloppyMill here.

    Ordinarily, building a windmill, or wind turbine, isn’t as easy as it looks or there would be more of them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it better, easy to boot, and a whole lot cheaper!

    Take a look at the Floppy-Mill shown here. It can capture up to 90% of its swept area depending on the wind speed, and it’s easy to build yourself.

    It’s called the “Floppy-Mill” because it oscillates back and forth as it turns to get the full force of the wind, as much as possible. The paddles, which may be 4 x 8 pieces of plywood bolted at 90° from each other. As the wind blows one side down, it both blows and lifts the other side up. So it really spins.

    Gravity holds the paddles down, but how much depends on where they are bolted onto the square horizontal tubing shaft. They can be one-third above the horizontal and two-thirds below it.

    It has a vertical axis so it will turn from wind from any direction, and is self-starting unlike some others. What’s more, in high winds it is self-speed-regulating as the lower paddle passes the center point to force the opposite paddle up into the wind. Consequently, it shouldn’t blow apart in high winds like ordinary windmills, spitting parts over a block away.

    More paddle pairs can be added above and/or below them at 90°, to catch more wind. And the vertical axis can be 4-inch steel or even schedule 40 plastic pipe. There needs to be a bearing, that can be made of 3 or more casters to hold the rotating parts steady near the top, and there needs to be a tower or guy wires to hold them. Each pair of paddles needs to be balanced, so that the mill doesn’t vibrate. The paddle pairs should be made as evenly balanced as you can. Lay them with the axis on a pair of sawhorses, and put automobile balancing weights where needed, to balance the pair.

    The square tubing can be put through a T or Cross as needed within the large vertical axis. Each one needs to have a way to turn, you can use a standard bearing, but because it only has to turn only about 170° to allow for high winds. One other method is shown as regular bearings.

    The wind portion is made using a piece of 2-inch square steel tubing, so the plywood paddles can bolt easily on each side of the vertical shaft, at right angles to each other.

    It will take some construction skills in order to make it work right in your case.

    The vertical shaft can reach all the way to ground level, where electrical generators can be protected from the weather, and have maintenance preformed easily without climbing the tower.

    At the bottom, to allow it to turn easily, yet hold the weight, us a recycled automobile wheel, whose bearings are also “thrust-bearings”, so when placed under the vertical pipe it will operate correctly.

    However, most alternators or generators do not allow for a vertical axis, so either gears of pulleys that convert the vertical action to horizontal. One can use an automobile alternator, with its needed wiring and parts. Or you can use a large AC motor.

    I know, they told us in school that you can’t use an AC motor to generate power. Well they were wrong.

    Have you ever started up your power saw and watched the adjacent lights? They dim until the saw reaches full speed. What if you were to add energy beyond what they need to run? The so-called Back EMF gets bigger than the power which runs the motor. The kilowatt-hour meter runs backwards, and if you have arranged it with the Power Company, and have the right kind of meter, they will pay you.

    Wouldn’t you like that?

    You do have to turn off the connecting electric line when the wind stops. Or it wastes power.

    If you recycle from an automobile, use the alternator, voltage regulator, battery, battery wires, alternator light, wiring, and hook it up just like it was in the car.

    Hook up your radios, lights, etc. just as you would in your automobile. Use LED lights as much as possible because they are more efficient, so they use less power. They are availabe from newer automobiles. However, they won’t work if connected backwards, and don't forget to switch them off in the daytime.

    If any of this seems beyond your skill, ask someone to help you. These skills are common.

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