The thing is, before you mount solar panels on your house roof, or you buy a wind turbine or solar boiler, you should consider is if it is cost-effective, although undoubtedly it is extremely environmentally friendly. We live in times when governments are continuously changing policies in regards to home-based power generation and it is always tricky to say what will happen next.
In that respect, minimum financial investment, maximum DIY home entertainment, and maximum near-free energy generation would be the perfect solution in a perfect world. OK, yes, I dare say it is impossible to make energy out of thin air without investing absolutely anything, but there are ways for you to make your own power. You can build devices that will give you that little bit of continuous flow of free charge that you really want.
Here are a few picks for DIY projects that can give you tips, tricks and ideas for how to generate your own energy and power things for free. All these have entered the US-Mexico Innovation Challenge that is currently calling for more participants on one of our favorite DIY sites- Instructables.
1. Automatic plant watering device
House plants are a wonderful thing. Not only they green up the space, bringing life in the often sterile environment, but they also serve numerous purposes- from introducing color to purifying air and removing pollutants. But the biggest problem arises as soon as we plan that ever-so-wanted two-week holiday, which will make us recharge our batteries, but unfortunately might well sentence our beloved house plants.
Thankfully, the master minds of DIY will not let this happen. Thanks to user JM1999, here is a tutorial that can guide us how to make a watering device for the plants, which works automatically. It is extremely easy, and it does not require any fancy equipment- only a few bits and bobs and plenty of good will.
2. Free energy prototype
This is the real deal. The tutorial that will not only take you all the way to building a free energy prototype, but it will also help you build your own hydrogen fuel cell on the way. Once running, the device is able to generate gas that powers a 5.5 hp AC generator, that produces 2.2kw, 220v steady electricity.
3. Quantum battery
Some time ago, we published a piece on how to make your own battery, which unfortunately did not attract much interest. I guess, because there are so many toxic chemicals and dangers involved in the process, it is sometime just safer to opt for the store-model. Now, here is another tutorial, which might be a lot more successful.
The result, a homemade quantum battery, is supposed to be very efficient, but it takes quite a bit of investment and high tech instruments to make it happen. Milen, the author of the tutorial, has an aim to attract the attention of potential volunteers, who have the money, the time and the needed equipment to test whether it actually works. Now, could that be you? It is interesting to know if it actually works.
4. Simple solar cooking jar
In many parts of the world pasteurizing water or having access to energy to cook your meal is simply a treat and often even a dream. But even if you can do all these things as you please, and you are not really pressed by circumstances, having a mean to make Sunday lunch using only solar power is really cool.
This tutorial by heguer_ryu guides you through 8 simple steps that turn some Mason Jars, black paint and a few extra bits, into a fully functioning cooking jars, a smaller take on our favorite DIY solar oven.
5. Use your muscles to charge your phone
It might sound funny at first, but if you think about it, a phone charger that uses only mechanical power can be extremely useful in cases of emergency, when there is no power supply for days. In fact, this is the exact reason for Ganesh Selvaraj to come up with a simple charger that is made of simple, easily accessible parts and uses muscle power. Check the tutorial out, it is a real treat. Here is a demo video.
6. Stepper Motor Solar Tracker
Now, this tutorial is something that many users seem to be keen to follow (based on user comments below it). Actually, this is not even surprising, since with a simple solar tracker, you can boost the efficiency of any solar-power-capturing device. The only disappointment with this one is that the tutorial is fully presented in Spanish. The inventor, hectorhhg, promisses to provide the 11 Steps instructions in English very soon, so keep an eye for it, we will too.
7. Cycle Phone Charger
This is something that I am very keen to try and make. Apparently, in 9 simple steps you should be able to make a fully functioning cell phone charger that uses the energy generated from your bicycle. You do not need many components to make it work, and actually you do not even need much time. If you are a serious cyclist and in your world there is no destination that cannot be reached on two wheels, then this is definitely something to consider.
8. Make energy from weeds
The idea here is a smaller, and quite a bit cheaper, alternative to the biogas plant that we showed you how to build in your backyard a while ago. This tutorial guides you through the process of making your own super affordable anaerobic digestor. What is more, it actually gives a whole new purpose to all these weeds that you have growing in your garden and do not know what to do with. The inventor, antoniraj, calculated that the system can make 0.226 cubic meters of gas ( 0.818 MJ) from 2.5 kg of weeds. What is more, the slurry that comes out of it makes a great compost material for the garden.
9. Make energy by moving your hands
Kinetic energy has been used to generate power in the form of numerous devices, which often do not really meet the high expectations that they have set at the start. But this device here, tutorial provided by user ayush190, seems quite cool and it is definitely something to spend your Sunday afternoon on making.
Essentially what you need is some electronics, a motor, gears and pulleys, and you will end up with a little machine that turns 10-15 minutes of hand spinning into as much as 12 volts (although the maker limited his to 5 volts so he can use it to charge mobiles only). In simple words, this length of time spent on spinning will charge your phone up 40-50% and might well help you burn a few extra calories on the way.
This tutorial gives a step-by-step guidance that will lead you to having your own DIY FireCharger. Its purpose is to essentially give a boost to a burning wood and give that extra power to the fire, that is needed in order to sustain constant heat for long. The device pretty much allows you to use any green or over-seasoned wood and burn it at very high temperatures. Yes, there are similar devices available on the market, and apparently you can achieve the same effect with a cheap hair drier, but this one is for free, and free is always great.
Roll-up the sleeves, pick a day of the week that you will dedicate to this, and why not just go through the list and make them all? Ok, I leave this to you, but I do believe they are all (or most) worth at least a try.
Images (c) Instructables/various users