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How to Make Homemade Wind Turbine Barrels

Creating green energy for your personal use is becoming an increasingly popular option for those who are either intent on saving money on electricity costs or on saving the environment. Wind energy conjures up the image of a 60-foot tower with a wind turbine at the top. This structure on a tower is also known as a horizontal axis wind turbine. A cheaper alternative to this kind of structure is the VAWT, or vertical axis wind turbine. Using the discarded plastic barrels used to deliver food goods can cut down significantly on the costs of building your own VAWT.

Restaurants discard food containers every day like this one which can be used to make a wind turbine.
  1. Cut both barrels in half vertically using a circular saw or manual hand miter saw.

  2. Offset the two halves so that there is an open space of about 6 inches on each side of the barrel. These two halves will form the spinning part of the wind turbine. The wind will enter the open space on one side and cause the barrel to rotate as the wind exits on the other side.

  3. Set both sides together in the offset position. Trace the outline of the 3 1/2 inch PVC fitting in what is now the center of the barrel structure.

  4. Connect the PVC fitting ring to the top of the barrel. Use four bolts with nuts and lock washers. The axle will be inserted through this area so it's important to make sure that the fitting is in the center of the offset barrel.

  5. Cut a hole through the barrel in the center of the PVC fitting ring with a spiral saw. Repeat these steps with the second barrel.

  6. Cut a 3 1/2-inch hole in the centers of two lazy susan spinners.

  7. Mount two PVC rings in the center of two 7-inch by 7-inch by 1-inch wooden platforms using 3/4-inch screws. These platforms will be placed onto the lazy susan spinners to facilitate the rotation needed to generate electricity. They will be secured together with the 3 1/2-inch PVC pipe that will serve as the vertical axle.

  8. Hammer the 3 1/2-inch PVC pipe through the center of the holes you created in the barrels. Leave enough clearance of the pipe on either end to attach to the spinning platforms on the top and bottom end of the turbine.

  9. Mount the 12-inch gear to the spinning platform on the PVC fitting ring. This will be at the bottom of the turbine.

  10. Bolt the alternator to a wood platform with the bearing facing up. Attach the smaller gear to this platform so that the teeth of the large gear fit into the teeth of the small gear. When the large gear spins, the smaller gear should spin as well, turning the alternator and generating electricity.

  11. Mount one of the spinning platforms to the bottom of the axle pipe just over the large gear. Mount the other spinning platform to the top part of the axle pipe. The 7-inch square wood pieces that are mounted to the axle will act as anchors to hold the VAWT in place. Drill a 3-inch self-tapping screw through each corner of the square wood pieces into a supporting structure. This can be a raised porch, deck or a structure you construct specifically for this project.

  12. Connect one wire to the positive terminal of the alternator and another to the negative. Insert the other ends of these wires into a charge controller device. This charge controller will serve to halt the transfer of power from the alternator to the battery bank when it is at capacity.

  13. Connect the output from the charge controller to the battery bank. Connect the positive wire of the charge controller to the positive terminal of the battery bank. Do the same for the negative wire. The batteries you use for a battery bank should be the Deep Cycle type that are made to be charged and drained continuously. These can be found at marina supply stores or at a golf cart supply shop.