How to Build a Wind Turbine for $30

diy vertical axis wind turbine

Renewable energy = high upfront costs… right? Yes, if you’re paying someone else to put your system together for you. Now, that seems like kind of a no-brainer for most of us: I certainly don’t feel like I know enough to build my own solar panel array or wind turbine. But folks like Marcin Jakubowski of Open Source Ecology, and Daniel Connell, who created the Solarflower, think that an awful lot of us can build relatively sophisticated technology on our own… if we have the right instructions, and if the materials and tools required are easily available. Both of these men have committed themselves to creating, and then sharing, technology appropriate for sustainable development in the world’s poorest regions… but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t also try it out in your back yard.

Daniel reached out to me last week to share his newest tutorial at, which shows you how to build a wind turbine. I’ll let him explain it:

The turbine uses the ~40% mechanically efficient Lenz2 lift+drag design. It is made entirely from scrap materials except for the bolts and pop rivets, and should cost about $15-$30 for the three vane version, which can be made by one person in six hours without much effort. Adding an extra three vanes to the bottom… will give twice as much power and also greater stability as the contact point is then moved to the center of the turbine rather than the base.

I think the $15-30 figure assumes that you have access to the necessary tools, but even if you went out and bought them all, you’re still talking about a wind turbine for significantly less than retail and installation.

Is it safe, though? Take a look at a this test of a prototype…

Impressive! I’ve love to hear from anyone with some engineering chops: what do you think of the plan? Would you try building one yourself? If you do, let us know, of course… and keep in mind that Daniel’s approach is “open source,” so share ideas you have for improving the plan.

Image credit: Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Plan at Instructables

About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at
  • dongarb

    Is this some kind of a joke? I see a SINGLE bicycle bearing and no power train leading to a real load. Seriously? Are people really that foolish?

    • John

      A proof of concept perhaps?… I would like to see what you get if you put the hub on a DC motor…

  • USF83

    My estimate would be around $300 that would include a regulator, battery, and heavy duty wiring.