The Heart of a Wind Power System
A wind power system isn't something that you can just randomly throw together. It's a system, and as such needs to be designed so that the individual parts work together. As a do it yourself type person, you're probably well aware of the nature of scrounging for parts when doing home projects. While this is still possible when building your own wind power generator, care must be taken to ensure that your freely acquired parts work in harmony, and are not detrimental to your project.
Permanent Magnet DC Motors
The heart of any wind power generation system is the motor-generator. To build a useful and functional windmill you'll need one that has certain specific characteristics that are amenable to wind power production. For simplicity and the ease of acquisition, a permanent magnet DC motor is often used. These motors are easy to find at surplus centers, come in a wide variety of output voltages and amperages, and are relatively cheap. Treadmill motors are also often used. These too can be found on eBay or even free on Craigslist if you're willing to dismantle them. It's often worth it though since there are other useful parts in them.
The Right Generator
There are, what seems like, an almost unlimited variety of permanent magnet dc motors that you can use to build a wind turbine. But, just because you've found a dc motor doesn't mean that it should be used in a wind generator. As was stated before, you need to find one that has specific characteristics - namely a lower operating speed, higher output current, and higher working voltage. This will allow you to produce more power at a lower r. p. m. level. The slower that your windmill spins, the longer it should run before maintenance or failure.
Having been involved in the alternative energy field for over 20 years, D. R. Smith has done a large amount of research and found what he believes are the best wind generator plans and solar cell plans that are designed to be easily constructed by the average homeowner.