The best way to save yourself a bit of money and at the same time do something good for the environment, is definitely to roll up the sleeves and take on a DIY renewable energy project.
Over the past few years, we have shown you quite a wide range of things you can do in your back yard, including building your solar oven, making your own window insulation, building a wind-powered composter, and even making your own solar panel system. There is, however, something that we have not covered yet, which might well be the thing that makes you ditch everything you’ve planned for the coming Saturday, put on the old working outfit, and take out the tools. That would be the ultimate DIY wind turbine, and before you ask, no, it won’t cost you a fortune. Exactly the opposite, you only need $30 to buy materials.
The person, who designed, planed, tested, and constructed the first one of these incredible wind turbine right at his back yard, was Daniel Connel. He is famous for making sophisticated and functioning green technologies, which come at a minimal price, which makes them suitable and affordable even to people from the poorest parts of the world.
For the wind turbine project, Daniel had only the tools at his disposal. He estimated that the needed budget is between $15-$30, and this would be sufficient to acquire everything that is needed to construct the model in less than six hours. He managed to limit the cost by relying only on scrap material, while the money he put towards bolts, washers and a pop riveter (which by the way can easily be borrowed from the handy neighbor). The turbine uses ~40% mechanically efficient Lenz2 lift+drag design, which makes it resistant to winds with speed up to 105 km/h.
If the idea is to harvest energy, although you can always use it on the spot and just pump out water, for example, then you would need to attach an alternator to the rotor, and some sort of an energy storage system (a 12v battery is sufficient). The former, and the wind speed of course, are probably the most important factors that determine the energy output. However, on average, using the cheapest alternator and wind with a speed of 50 km/h, we could expect to generate around 650 watts.
I think this sounds like a perfect project to get into this coming weekend. It is fun, it is cheap and most definitely very practical. The full tutorial you can follow here, and here you can see some videos on how to build it and the testing.
Image (c) SolarFlower