Ed Lenz's house is pretty hard to miss-it's the one with a home-built vertical-axis wind turbine on the roof. A career tinkerer, Lenz put the turbine up there for a test run three years ago, and it's still turning away today, a super-quiet model of efficiency and ingenuity. The "Lenz2" turbine, built primarily from easy-to-find supplies like aluminum, plywood and magnets, can produce about 50 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month with steady wind. Its output-about 10 percent of the total power Lenz uses-is then stored in a battery bank that feeds into his home lines. The slow-turning vertical-axis design is most efficient in gusts of 6 to 20 mph, so it's ideal for relatively low-wind areas like western Michigan, where he lives. You can download plans at windstuffnow.com to build your own Lenz2. It's not a quick weekend project, but once it's up and running, paying the electric bill should be a breeze.
Build a Vertical Wind Turbine
Time: 3 Days
Easy | | | | |
Another Build: The $30 Open-Source Turbine
Go to velacreations.com to find instructions for off-grid DIY'er Abe Connally's Chispito wind generator, a horizontal-axis-turbine design that more than 200 builders have built and helped perfect. Made entirely of salvaged parts, such as a treadmill motor and recycled sewer pipe, the Chispito can generate 100 watts in a 35mph wind. And if you're able to find all the supplies, you can build it for less than 30 bucks.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.