DIY vertical axis wind turbine

This vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) uses five 3” PVC pipes cut in half for blades rotating on three kids bicycle wheels to spin an Ametek 38 volt motor or a wind blue alternator. The whole thing spins in a frame that is a 12 feet high and 2 foot square box that is able to sit on his deck. In total it cost him about $125 plus time, a bit more if you use the wind blue alternator.

Video of the vertical turbine in action after the break.

32 thoughts on “DIY vertical axis wind turbine

  1. One cool feature of this design is it turns when the wind is from any direction. A traditional Dutch-style windmill needs a rudder or other mechanism to turn the vanes to the wind, where this design wastes no time rotating.

  2. That’s really great. your losing a lot a speed threw vibration at the top. If you put it out in the yard will you get better wind pick-up? like i said that’s really great though keep up the good work i want to see more on this

  3. I want to make one, maybe more than one, but I don’t think it would work well at my apartment. Maybe I’ll make a micro version and make a light for my deck with it(like a solar light but with wind).

    As far as deciding on the generator, I think the satisfaction of building the generator for it would be worth the trouble. But if you really want to use the power from it you will probably get more efficiency from something else.

    Nice write-up by the way, simple materials with a great result.

  4. techyguru- the hardcore wind power guys build their own generators because of the efficiency and cost. as long as you have the time and patience, it is definitely possible to make a cheap, efficient one.

  5. The swept area of vertical axis turbines is far too low to get any real power out of them – that’s why big commercial turbines are horizontal three blade designs. If vertical were any good that’s what the power companies would be using because verticals are cheaper to build.

  6. It’s OK to play around with as a project but it’s far from a serious turbine. I work for, for those who actually want to build a serious high tech wind turbine, I would suggest getting a kit there. We don’t sell vertical, because as the previous poster says, they don’t measure up to a real well designed three bladed model. Wind Power is not new, these designs have already been figured out through millions of dollars and hours in testing and actual practice. If vertical was good, all the commercial turbines would be vertical. Still, this is fun design and I applaud the ingenuity and adaptation. Pretty cool for a project. –

  7. I’ve made non toy size like this out of 55 gallon drums and regular car alternators. we built a “farm” of 6 of them that stand on top of 25′ tv tower sections and they generate enough energy for a small 1000 acre farm to not need electricity tie from the grid.

    Place them at the top of a hill and you get a constant wind to keep them turning. works great. This little toy is great for experimenting but you need to scale it up to generate real power.

    Note: use a belt pully system to the ALT to make it high wind safe. when you exceed wind speeds the belt get’s thrown off and you simply freewheel in the wind and dont blow the alternator up. My design used from altpower website starts in 6mph wind and will run down to 4mph wind. the location we plopped them has a constant 5mph wind and typically has 10-12 mph during the day but never drops below the 5 at night. (gotta love trade winds)

    So yeah, this is a neat toy. now scale it up.

  8. hey guys, i see you are intersted in Vawt, it is easy simple. please feel free to build one like it and test with it. always give credit where credit is due…happy tesing…..



    1. my son picked your first VAWT as a school science project and i was wondering if you can send me the how to build with parts list. i see the 2nd build moves quicker then the first and i would like to build to compare the differances as well.
      can you send the how to and parts list. would you prefer the amertek 38 or the windblue?

  9. Regarding the Maglev turbine above it would seem to be a bunch of hooey. Reason is that it claims to use earth magnets to achieve the Maglev suspension. Wouldn’t this fail for the same reason that you can’t use permanent magnets to create a perpetual motion energy machine? You wouldn’t be anymore able to achieve permanent maglev suspension for the same reason? Maybe I’ll submit this to make the Make and Nuts and Volts forums as well.

  10. Permanent magnet maglev is basically a magnetic bearing, a not that uncommon mechanical engineering solution. Put the north poles of two powerful magnets together and you get repulsion. You can use this to suspend the weight of the rotor and thus minimize the friction. Using several magnets together you can also shape a complex magnetic field that would hold a rotor up and keep it centered. Less friction equals more efficiency. Would that makeup for a difference in aerodynamics? no idea.

  11. I think VAWTs have much potential despite the inefficiencies pointed out already. Even though they have a low output, the sweet spot will be in mass amounts of small turbines ganged together. For example lining the sides of a highway will harvest the low altitude wind from passing vehicles. The low cost of manufacture will outweigh the occasional loss of nodes due to idiot drivers :-)


  12. Awesome, I’ve actually been thinking about making one of these. Imho they seem better than the traditional ones since they take up less space so these actually open up the possibility of putting them in even the smallest of yards, even though they are considerably less efficient. How would a different number of “fins” affect it? Would it be the same as the traditional dutch style where the more fins the more torque and vice-versa? From what I gather that one has 10… I might try making one with 8 if I ever find the time…

  13. Just checked out the website…. Lots of fun projects… many that would be really easy to find parts and great educational value.

    I’d recommend you try some sort of transmission to get higher rpms in your generator from your turbine. And I’d recommend you hook up a rather large capacitor across your generator before you hook it up to a load so that when the turbine first starts turning it charges up the cap before it sees the load.

  14. hey guys you should check out the V8 that i build last week…it is at instructables and youtube..





  16. This is a neat design. I love how tall it is. The basic design is a savinious, my personal favorite, which typicall gets about 15% eff (out of betz max of 59%). The capture area is only half the swep area though.
    Two good websites to check out are and for more ideas for building wind turbines.

  17. Why we don’t see vertical turbines using the common sheet metal ventilation turbines that we sometimes see on roof of houses, shops, etc? If they work ($30)it would be a cheap way to make power.

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