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Author Topic: DIY Micro Turbines  (Read 106 times)

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Offline jar3232

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DIY Micro Turbines
« on: May 27, 2009, 02:00:25 PM »
So my latest idea is to build a micro turbine.  In all actuality they are pretty easy and cheap to make.  I expect when my project is all said and done it will have cost me around 400-500 for everything (tower, batteries, wiring).  I know I am not going to produce enough electricity to run my house, but I want to use it to run my garage (a couple of lights and a garage door - estimate of 400-500W).  This is more of a "vanity" project and I more interested in learning the concepts to apply later down the road than anything else.  Also, I am in the process of rewiring my house and will be installing a new box in the garage, so switching between (wind and grid) will be relatively easy. 

My question is this, does anyone have any experience with this type of project or tried anything like this before? 
« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 08:33:00 AM by ColDayMan »

Offline Grumpy

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2009, 07:02:17 AM »
I've thought for a couple years about building one behind my garage. Its somewhere on the list of things I'd like to do around my house but haven't found the time. From the little research I've done, it doesn't look like it would be terribly hard, but if you find any good information online or any good books on it let me know.

Offline jar3232

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Micro Turbines
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2009, 11:53:57 AM »
Update:
I think instead of building I am going with a pre-built one. Mainly because it comes with a charge control and that plus a turbine for under $500.00 seems like a good deal.  I am worried about the "high" start up wind speed at 5mph, but my house seems to get a steady 5-9 30ft up.  Anyway, this is the unit:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=170320175347

I "think" I have someone donating a 30ft tower to me.  All I have left to buy is a deep cycle battery and a power inverter and I think that is all for the big stuff.

I figure about 800.00 for everything.  I estimate that my garage averages about a .1-.2 kilowatt hour's per day.  So, if this thing puts out 100W (which is the more likely power output), then I should be able to keep the battery charged for whatever I need to do.   When it is all said and done and it stands the test of time it will take roughly 14 years to pay for itself, though like I said before this is more of a science experience than trying to get off the grid.   

On a side note, does anyone have any experience with ARI wind turbine? There isn't much on the net formally about them, but from what I can tell they put together a decent cheap micro turbine.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2009, 11:59:22 AM by jar3232 »

Offline kingfish out of water

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Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2009, 02:36:14 PM »
I have seen VAWT before and I think they have better urban applications than wind turbines.  The problem now is that 1. they are more expensive than traditional turbines 2. less efficient at this point on a smaller scale.  I think in 2-5 years they will be viable, but it just isn't there right now. 

Another intersting concept is the "wind belt"  It uses ossolation to produce current instead of spinning a turbine.  Pretty neat concept.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/industry/4224763.html

Either way, I think a micro wind turbine is really my only option right now
« Last Edit: June 01, 2009, 02:36:44 PM by jar3232 »

Offline kingfish out of water

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2009, 03:00:20 PM »
Awesome!

Offline Hayward

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Offline hubz1124

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2009, 06:30:01 PM »
http://www.earth4energy.com/members/kvplxtoi001a.html

This guy is very knowledgeable on the subject.

Offline jp340803

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2009, 10:56:47 PM »
There was a show on making this exact project on PBS this weekend. Interesting stuff. I'll post the show if I find it or see it again.

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2009, 01:16:03 PM »
So I decided to document this project from start to finish here.  So this is the first step, my new new 35 ft tower for the turbine.  The goal is to run my garage "off grid" for under $800.00 dollars. Part 1. The tower.  This was donated to me by a friend.  Free 35 ft tower = awesome



Another view of the final resting place for the tower.  She will sit around 30ft when I am all said and done.  Step 1 is going to strip and paint this tower brown (least obtrusive color). Step 2 dig a hole 3ft down and cement it in.


Shot of the yard and roughly were the tower will set.  Notice how looooong that thing is.  I plan on painting it brown and setting as close to the property line as I can to blend in the surroundings.  I think that minus the actually turbine it will be hard to see the tower. 


Here is the tower at 20ft, minus 1 10ft section. 
« Last Edit: June 13, 2009, 08:00:31 PM by jar3232 »

Offline kingfish out of water

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2009, 06:06:02 PM »
Do you need permits for this sort of thing?

Offline Ram23

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2009, 06:36:46 PM »
Do you need permits for this sort of thing?

Absolutely.  And a 35 foot tower might be pushing it.  You're going to want to check your municipal code for height restrictions and setbacks.  In Cincinnati, for example, only 20' towers are allowed, despite the max building height being 35 feet.

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2009, 07:55:07 PM »
Currently Cleveland doesn't have any "zoning" laws for turbines, but they are going through the process right now.  Currently my height restriction I believe is 25ft, but I think I am going for 30 anyway.  The tower is going down 3.5 feet and won't need any guy-wires.  I am going to call Monday and figure it out.  Though I am pretty sure with enough persistence I will get it through legally.  Anyone want to translate the code for me?   :?

Quote
353.06     Exceptions to Height Regulations

(a) Towers. For towers attached to the ground or mounted on a building, except for roof structures as defined in the Ohio Basic Building Code and as regulated in division (b) of this section, the maximum height specified in Section 353.02 may be exceeded, provided that:

(1) the area of the tower's horizontal cross section above the height limit does not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the lot area excluding all required yard area;

(2) the tower is not nearer to any lot lines at the height limit than 25 feet;

(3) the tower is located no closer to a public airport or landing field than one mile, unless closer proximity is specifically permitted by the Board of Zoning Appeals, based on recommendations provided by the Department of Port Control.

(b) Roof Structures. In any height district, stairway and elevator or ventilating equipment penthouses, and penthouses for similar purposes; water tanks, cooling towers, ornamental towers, scenery lofts, poles, chimneys or other necessary appurtenances, when erected upon and as an integral part of the building, may be erected or extended above the maximum height specified in Section 353.02 if such building is more than one mile from a public airport or landing field, or if closer proximity to such airport or landing field is specifically permitted by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

(c) Exemptions. No provision of this section shall apply to any tower regulated by Chapter 354.
(Ord. No. 2306-2000. Passed 1-22-01, eff. 1-23-01)

Offline kingfish out of water

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2009, 08:43:49 PM »
My reading of section 1 is that the height of the tower is dictated by the size of the lot; for a 35 ft tower, your lot would need to be at least 140 feet by 140 feet. Judging from section 2, if you're looking to place it along the lot line, then you will have problems; it this ends up going before the Zoning Board of Appeals, your neighbors and public safety will surely weigh in and things could get drawn out, expensive and generally ugly. However, if you have a sterling relationship with your neighbors and city officials, and you don't violate any of the airport stuff, you may just want to go ahead with the operation and hope for the best.

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2009, 11:55:33 PM »
Quote
However, if you have a sterling relationship with your neighbors and city officials, and you don't violate any of the airport stuff, you may just want to go ahead with the operation and hope for the best.

I have more than a sterling relationship with my neighbors (for the record, I asked each neighbor within 3 houses in each direction if it is ok and they all looooved the idea)...
« Last Edit: October 12, 2009, 03:38:54 PM by jar3232 »

Offline Hayward

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2009, 10:51:08 PM »
My reading of section 1 is that the height of the tower is dictated by the size of the lot; for a 35 ft tower, your lot would need to be at least 140 feet by 140 feet. Judging from section 2, if you're looking to place it along the lot line, then you will have problems; it this ends up going before the Zoning Board of Appeals, your neighbors and public safety will surely weigh in and things could get drawn out, expensive and generally ugly. However, if you have a sterling relationship with your neighbors and city officials, and you don't violate any of the airport stuff, you may just want to go ahead with the operation and hope for the best.

That's the cross section only  Section 2 is the only problem area (legally), except that his neighbors have no problem with it, so its in the clear.  The city won't do anything about it's proximity to the lot line, because that's not their business unless some dispute were to arise....say if you got a new neighbor who didn't like it. 

« Last Edit: June 14, 2009, 10:52:12 PM by Hayward »

Offline kingfish out of water

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2009, 01:08:36 PM »
Confusing wording, but I think the key phrase is "...the area of the tower's horizontal cross section above the height limit..." I'd definitely call the city to confirm this. To be perfectly legal, you need a variance if there is a violation of the zoning ordinance, your neighbors verbally-expressed opinions aside. As a former ZBA member I am conflicted. Then again, I went around the despotic Italian Village Commission and installed a satellite dish in the alley (I had no problem with that because the IVC is concerned only with aesthetic issues. f$&k 'em). If the neighbors are really for the project, I'd say you have nothing to lose by going before the ZBA; your neighbors will be officially notified of the request, and if you can get a few to come out and speak on your behalf, all the better. It makes a huge difference.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 01:08:54 PM by kingfish out of water »

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2009, 07:18:59 PM »
Everything still moving along...Got the turbine in today. 

It's an ARI-450


Another view, still have to paint it and name it. 


The charge controller for the turbine. Shuts down the turbine if the wind is to high and monitors the charge of the battery pack. Option for controlling solar panels in the future.


Hope to have it up and running the garage by next Friday. 
« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 07:19:54 PM by jar3232 »

Offline Ram23

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2009, 07:15:31 AM »
^ Awesome.

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2009, 04:06:42 PM »
So the weather and some other obligations have kept me from the project, but here is a little update.  All that is left to do is to cement her into the ground.  I need two days of decent, no rain, weather to do it.  Here is to hopping it is this week.

My 4ft hole for the tower filled to the top with mother nature...Boooo her


All wired up and mounted. Still have to figure out a way to hold the slip ring in place.

Turbine is painted and the collet I made even works. Yeah metal working skills. She is officially named the NCC-1701 J, yes a very bad joke, but what else would you expect?


View of everything mounted, wired, and ready to go, including my new wireless anemometer to run to a pc.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2009, 04:10:06 PM by jar3232 »

Offline Mildtraumatic

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2009, 06:25:41 PM »
I researched a little on alternative energy sources for sailboats and it seems a combination of solar and wind will suffice with a gas generator for emergencies for that need. The only down side I kept hearing about the wind turbines was the noise they made. I love the paint job  and I'm interested in how it all turns out!

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2009, 09:12:17 PM »
Well today I put the turbine up and anchored her in.  5 guys put it up and poured the concrete in just under 2 hours.  Went very well. 

View from the neighbors yard.


Bottom brace


Full View


Turbine at dusk


I like this view


Now I just need to lay a slab and trench the wire to the garage.  Project is going along nicely so far. 

Offline MayDay

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2009, 09:16:37 PM »
This is just awesome - if you don't mind sharing the $$$ details over the course of a few months with us, I think a lot of people would be interested.

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2009, 05:45:07 PM »
I will be more than happy to share any information I gather.  I have a weather station at the top of the tower which records wind speed, direction, and a ton of over information.  I will periodically post my readings for anyone who is interested.

Today I poured the base slab. 

A picture of the prep work for the slab


10 - 80lb of concrete were poured to make the slab


A friend untying the support ropes
« Last Edit: August 18, 2009, 08:16:08 PM by jar3232 »

Offline Eigth and State

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2009, 06:05:43 PM »

   May I ask how you acquired the tower?

Offline cd-cleveland

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2009, 08:12:26 AM »
It looks great!  But as tall as that thing looks in your photo, I'm even more concerned that the city will cite you for not having a permit for the install.  You have to consider that codes are in place to safeguard residents and inspections do the same.  There has to be some kind of professional check and balance to ensure that it was constructed properly and isn't going to fall onto your neighbor's roof.

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2009, 09:19:08 AM »
A friend of mine had the tower at their parents house, it is an old TV antenna tower.  It was really easy to adapt to use as a turbine tower.  Minimal metal working skills were needed.  This type of tower is pretty easy to come by these days and you can find them cheep everywhere.  They have a flagpole type tower you can buy for around $150, but this setup gives me the flexibility to climb it and do maintenance if I have to. 

CD, I followed the guidelines and safety instructions for installing a TV antenna.  I kid you not, for a 100 ft tower you are supposed to go down 5 ft.  On my 30ft tower I went down 4 and a half and poured the larger slab just to be safe.  Think of the slab as a stabilizing top, it keeps it from leaning or moving around in the original hole.  All together there are 18 - 80lbs bags of concrete that hold the tower up.  It isn't going anywhere.  To be honest, you cannot see it from the street at all.  It is pretty well hidden.  You will have to come over and check it out.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2009, 03:41:53 PM by jar3232 »

Offline jar3232

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2009, 09:43:12 AM »
A little Cleveland wind power history for your reading.

Well I was hoping to be the first resident in Cleveland to be wind powered, but I was roughly 120 years to late.  In 1887 Charles F. Brush designed and erected the world's first wind-powered electric generator in Cleveland, Ohio. It operated for 12 years delivering 12 kilowatts of power to Brush's home on 37th and Euclid Avenue.

During the winter of 1887-88 Brush built what is today believed to be the first automatically operating wind turbine for electricity generation.  It was a giant - the World's largest - with a rotor diameter of 17 m (50 ft.) and 144 rotor blades made of cedar wood. Note the person mowing the lawn to the right of the wind turbine.

The turbine ran for 20 years and charged the batteries in the cellar of his mansion.
Despite the size of the turbine, the generator was only a 12 kW model. This is due to the fact that slowly rotating wind turbines of the American wind rose type do not have a particularly high average efficiency. It was the Dane Poul la Cour , who later discovered that fast rotating wind turbines with few rotor blades are more efficient for electricity production than slow moving wind turbines.

The Brush turbine on Euclid Ave.


Mr. Brush's Windmill Dynamo, Scientific American, 20 December 1890
« Last Edit: August 18, 2009, 10:05:08 AM by jar3232 »

Offline Robert Pence

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2009, 11:07:40 AM »
Even for a large mansion, in that era 12KW probably would have been quite adequate. That was before HVAC, microwaves, Plasma TVs, electric refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners, and other electric appliances. Even commercial radio didn't go on the air until 1925. The only use for electricity was lighting, and even though lighting systems then weren't very energy-efficient, they were in use typically for only a few hours in the evening and a little while in the morning. That left most of the day and night for the windmill/dynamo to build up a charge in lead-acid storage batteries.

Even into the 1930s, and sometimes until after WWII, some farms beyond the reach of commercial power used stand-alone generators and lead-acid batteries for lighting. The generators' output usually was less than 1KW (750-850 watts), and a bank of 15 or 16 lead-acid cells in glass jars provided 30-32 volts D.C.. Even with that limited output, the generator didn't have to run continuously. In some cases as seldom as one or two days a week the owner would start the generator. It would shut itself off after the batteries reached a full charge.

Some wind-driven generators were available. Their output was much lower than the engine-driven rigs, and they often operated at 12 volts or thereabouts.

Offline tedolph

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Re: DIY Micro Turbines
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2009, 04:11:41 PM »
So my latest idea is to build a micro turbine.  In all actuality they are pretty easy and cheap to make.  I expect when my project is all said and done it will have cost me around 400-500 for everything (tower, batteries, wiring).  I know I am not going to produce enough electricity to run my house, but I want to use it to run my garage (a couple of lights and a garage door - estimate of 400-500W).  This is more of a "vanity" project and I more interested in learning the concepts to apply later down the road than anything else.  Also, I am in the process of rewiring my house and will be installing a new box in the garage, so switching between (wind and grid) will be relatively easy. 

My question is this, does anyone have any experience with this type of project or tried anything like this before? 

Yes, an automotive alternator ($50.00) an rpm step up pulley system/automotive fan belt, a broomstick for an axle and home made blades (think model airplane) are all you need.  Lots of plans avialable on the interweb!