A friend of mine recently asked me about the best way to introduce wind energy to his son’s school. I realized that I had seen a bunch of wind speed devices and weather stations, but I couldn’t remember the last time I saw a wind generator project. So, I decided to do a bit of sleuthing and came up with a great post from Pioneer Settler. If you don’t already know about this site, you’ll love it. There’s tons of practical advice for anything from brewing, growing grain or even raising goats. Anyway, let’s get on with the cool wind turbines! The first one pictured above looks like a classic fan and generates 1000 watts. It was designed by Steve Spence, an Arduino fanatic that happened to live six years off the grid. It uses a magnet alternator, and as Steve states in his Instructable, “The magnets spin with the wind, the coils are fixed, so no brushes or slip rings necessary.”
This next wind turbine has plenty of charm with its used bicycle parts. Not only does it look great in the yard, but it pumps water. It was created by DIYMarta, who happens to be an artist documenting her home and garden projects. Her blog states, “to show how everything you do in the house and in the yard can be integrated in a way that creates very little waste and keeps living expenses at a minimum.” You can find more detail on her Instructable for this project, although Marta does recommend referring to her end list of improvements. Apparently there was some shimmy on her turbine since the wheel was not straight and also issues with weight, making it a bit inefficient. However, it’s a good look at how objects can be re-purposed.
Another recycling gem, this turbine uses auto parts according to maker RD Copeland. His instructions call for a GM pickup truck alternator and fan-clutch assembly, as well as some common parts like a pole and mounting bracket. The tail fin makes sure the blades are facing the wind and also gives the project a homey farm look. RD manages to keep his cabin going with a combination of solar and wind power charging 6-Volt golf cart batteries. He states: “The whole shebang cost me less than $1000 and I have lights, fans, TV and stereo, refrigeration, and a disco ball that goes up for special occasions.”
You can’t help but notice the bright colors on this family friendly mini generator. It scores big points for educational value and simplicity, which I really like. Created by Michael Arquin of KidWind, it can be be easily created using their instructions and small kit in combination with easy-to-find parts like PVC tubes. KidWind has branched out into REcharge Labs, offering education and kits that combine science and art to explore solar and wind energy. Although these projects won’t put you off the grid, they will offer your kids the first step in understanding alternative energy.
If you are a fan of bio-mimicry, you are going to love this final wind generator. Inspired by the rustling leaves of trees, this design by Jérôme Michaud-Larivière of New Wind offers a magical look at wind power, generating 3.1kW. The “leaves” take advantage of micro-electricity and use multiple vertical turbines, insuring that even small winds are captured. This is definitely the most beautiful wind energy device I’ve ever seen and it appears to be safe for birds as well. It makes me excited for the future.
I hope you’ll look at the rest of the wind turbines that Pioneer Settler has gathered. Also, if you would like to get your family thinking about alternative energy, why not check out our Thames & Kosmos Wind Energy Kit. Not only do you get to build a 3′ wind turbine, but you’ll also have the option of doing other experiments. It’s got a great book that outlines different turbines and explains the history of wind energy, so there’s really no reason not to explore. Be the change.