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Instructions to Build a Wind Generator From a GM Alternator

Chris Meehan

With a little work, you can convert any GM alternator into an electric generating wind turbine. Doing so can help you cut down on your electricity bill or allow you to use a turbine in a remote location to power a water pump or an RV.

You can make a turbine with old car parts and hardware equipment.

Even if you don't have a GM alternator you can buy one for as cheap as $26 online, as of early 2010. The rest of the supplies you need are available at hardware stores.

Tip

Before building a turbine, you should talk with local officials. The American WInd Energy Association has an informative guide. It's always good to know how much wind your area has. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has maps available to show how powerful your wind is. Find a link in Resources. To store energy produced by your generator, use charge controller and a deep-cycle battery (those used in golf carts).

Warning

Don't connect this turbine directly to your home or the grid. If you want to do that, you need to attach it to an inverter first.

Nautilus and Pivot

  1. Cut the 6-inch length of PVC pipe with the jigsaw to fit any of the GM alternator's mounting brackets. Make sure when you mount the alternator that the body is flush with the tube's end, allowing the shaft to protrude (The shaft needs to protrude as much as possible so the hub won't rub against the generator housing.). After you've fit the alternator in, remove it. After removing the alternator, cut a length-wise 1-inch slot out of the bottom. When you're done, paint the housing with UV spray paint, and let dry.

  2. Alternator still in a car.
  3. Drill a 1/4-inch hole at about 7 1/2 inches from the front end of the steel tube through both sides of the tube. Use sandpaper to smooth the holes. Cut both ends of the extension cord off and make sure the cord slides through the holes.

  4. The vane will help keep the turbine head facing the wind.
  5. Cut a narrow slot on the vertical axis to insert the wind vane or rudder, 8 inches into the back end of the tube. Place the metal sheet into the slot, then drill two 1/4-inch holes through the tube and the metal sheet. Use two 1/4-inch nuts and bolts to secure the vane.

  6. Use construction-grade adhesive to put it all together.
  7. Wire the alternator to the extension cord. Secure the GM alternator in the PVC pipe. Then, using construction adhesive, secure the alternator pipe assembly to the steel tube and vane assembly. Make sure no adhesive gets on the alternator shaft.

Assemble the Rotor

    Mark the PVC pipe along the edge.
  1. Trisect the the 2-foot to 3-foot section of PVC pipe into one 60-degree section and two 60-degree sections, using the protractor. Use the chalk line to mark out the sections along the pipe's length, then cut the sections out.

  2. Cut out the blades: Using the chalkline, mark diagonally (lengthwise) across each 150-degree section of pipe. Then cut them out with the jigsaw.

  3. Use the tape measure to find where to drill the holes.
  4. Drill one 1/4-inch hole1/4 inch from the long, straight edge and 1/2 inch from the wide end. Drill another an inch from the first. Then sand down all the edges. Spray with PVC paint and let dry.

  5. Mark the saw blade? into three 120-degree sections. Along each mark, measure out 1 1/2 inches from the blade's center. Mark out the sections to match the holes in each blade, then drill through the holes. Attach the blades to the hub with six 1/4-inch nuts, washers and bolts. Don't over tighten the nuts, because it could crack the PVC.

  6. Put it all together and you've got a wind generator.
  7. Use the alternator shaft nut to attach the rotor assembly to the nautilus and you have a completed wind turbine.