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Building a Better Windmill
Standard commercial windmills now on the market have a number of drawbacks. First, they need to be placed on top of a tower to ensure high enough wind speed. In some locations height restriction regulations prevent this. At lower wind speeds, generally below eight miles an hour, they do not produce power at all. In some locations the wind speed is not high enough to make installing a conventional windmill economic. Also, conventional windmills have trouble if the wind is gusting and not coming from a consistent direction. In addition to this, commercial windmills are fairly expensive to purchase, while historically, people were able to build their own windmills inexpensively.
Let's start a project to design a better windmill to overcome the above problems. We can fork off several different design paths and then kaizen (from the Japanese: to continuously improve http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaisen) our designs over time. Each design should be appropriate for a single family home. Our designs should be constructible using readily available tools, whether purchased or rented as well as non-exotic materials. There are existing low cost windmill designs on Appropedia for developing nations, so let's design for first world nations, meaning that we will allow the use of more sophisticated tools such as 3D printers or CNC machine tools, and that we are more interested in efficiency than getting the cost as low as possible. Each windmill should produce appreciable power at as low a wind speed as possible, at low heights above the ground (people, pets and property need to be protected from spinning blades and other moving parts), but still withstand high winds. Short towers to raise blades out of harms way are okay. If possible, designs should be able to make use of gusting winds from changing directions. Designs should include specifications of needed electronics to interface to the grid, or supply 120V 60Hz power off grid, or provide standard power for countries outside of North America. We can separate the electronics from the mechanical design so that designs can share electronics. Blueprints and build instructions should be included in finished designs.
If you want to start a design idea or add a completed design or a link to an existing design just start a heading below. Partial and finished designs should be identified as such so others can further designs in progress or choose finished designs to construct. When editing, please do not delete older, completed designs, but just add your updated designs above the older ones under a subheading (you will need to provide a subheading for the older design) as there may be reasons people want to use an older design. As the page becomes longer, we may need a separate page for each design concept or individual design.
Links to get you started
Existing Windmill Pages on Appropedia
S.T.E.V.E.N. Low-Cost Windmill
Gaviotas tropical windmill
Construction Manual for a Cretan Windmill
Optimization and Characteristics of a Sailwing Windmill Rotor
The Gaudgaon Village Sailwing Windmill
Low Cost Windmill for Developing Nations
Sahores Windmill Pump
Vertical Axis Sail Windmill Plans
Technical Report dealing with the TOOL Windmill Projects 1977-1981
Parras wind power gallery
Types of wind turbines
Energy from the wind
Energy from the wind (original)
Small wind turbine