Wind Turbine from A Treadmill Motor
On my journey to self-reliance, I read endless books, attended many dozens of classes, and spent a small fortune to realize my dream of living off-grid. But I kept encountering the same troublesome snags.
Like most Americans, I’m not wealthy and couldn’t afford to simply write a check for a turnkey homestead. Now I’m glad I couldn’t. Because if I had, it probably wouldn’t have worked in the first place.
Because self-reliance isn’t something you can buy. Instead, it’s something we must build ourselves.
Nowadays, when people confront a problem, their standard response is to reach for their wallets. Which only ever papers over the cracks as it causes our problem-solving skills to atrophy.
For example, a generator could be a good backup power source. But what happens when fuel runs out? Like it did in Puerto Rico, in 2017, after Hurricane Maria battered the island. Leaving locals to bake in long lines under a hot sun. Just to squeeze a tiny drop or two of gas from emergency relief efforts.
In short, their safety net was far too specialized. This made it unadaptable and a little better than a paper shield vs. other resourceful locals who could pull together wind turbines, water wheels, solar panels, and more from the storm’s scrap debris. To give their family comfort.
With that in mind, every project in this article can be built using a basic home toolkit and features parts that can either be scavenged or bought from abandoned structures, junkyards, or your local hardware store. Even in the aftermath of a major catastrophe like a tornado, earthquake, or terror attack.
Today, there seems to be too much emphasis on highly specialized time and labor-saving gadgets that only do one thing but do it well. Often this works fine. But at a price. Because when your circumstances change it’s the highly specialized who struggle most. While the “Jacks of all trades” prosper.
So, without further ado, here’s your first project.
This simple windmill can be built at home out of scavenged parts and will generate electricity whenever there is wind.
It uses a permanent magnet treadmill motor to output around 100 watts and produces electricity twenty-four hours a day, provided there is enough wind. The electricity can then also be stored in a battery bank and used as needed. By comparison, a 100-watt solar generator only outputs electricity for about eight hours per day in peak sunlight hours. The advantage of using a treadmill motor is that:
When disaster strikes you may be left to fend for yourself, and this includes generating electricity. In its most basic form, a generator is little more than an alternator with an engine to turn it. With a quarter of a billion vehicles spread across the USA, a capable survivor could easily scavenge everything needed to generate electricity on a small scale.
This project uses the same principles to build a simple 12V DC generator capable of recharging car batteries.
TIP: Newer 12V alternators are well-suited to this application because they provide a steady 12V DC regardless of the speed at which the spindle is turned. If the alternator is pulled from a vehicle, simply leave the attached pulley in place and pull it along with the alternator, tension bracket (used to tighten the belt), the belt, perhaps a second pully for the motor, and any fasteners they are attached with.
TIP: While a larger motor such as a car motor could be used in an emergency, a small motor in the 2-5 horsepower range will be more fuel-efficient. If a lawnmower motor is used, the fuel lines and tank will also likely be attached.
Home solar power systems have really come down in price in recent years which is great news for anyone who would like to invest in an ability to generate their own electricity. You can pay an electrician to install a system or you can build your own. I suggest the later, so you understand how it works and how to fix it, expand it, or otherwise adapt it to meet changing needs.
In this project, you’d build a 400-watt home solar power system by starting with a 100-watt solar power kit and expand it to 400 watts by adding three additional 100-watt solar panels. As you add panels, you will also increase the size of your battery or battery bank, by adding additional batteries wired in parallel to increase battery capacity without increasing the voltage.
As a rule of thumb, you should increase battery capacity by approximately 35 amp-hours per additional 100 watts of solar panels you add. A 100-watt solar panel can charge a 35 amp-hours (or 420 watt-hour).
A 12V DC battery, in a single day’s sunlight, coupled with a 400-watt solar array can also be charged four times over for a total of 140 amp-hours, or 1.68 kilowatt-hours of stored energy per day, for years. Not a bad return on a modest $850 investment.
The components listed are sold in kit form which takes the guesswork out of the types and sizes of cables needed to connect the various components of a solar power system. In case you do not acquire the components as a kit, I have listed the components and connectors separately. If you use a kit, make sure it includes the necessary components or acquire them separately.
TIP: Solar systems are generally sold as kits with each manufacturer using different combinations and sizes of connectors, both to encourage you to buy all the components from the same manufacturer and so that cables only plug in one way, which prevents mistakes when connecting the components.
If you choose not to use a kit, you will need to either buy cables that interface with the types and sizes of ports or adapt the supplied cables. To adapt the supplied cables, simply clip off the connectors, strip approximately 1/4″(0.64mm) of insulation and crimp the type of connector you need in place of the supplied connectors.
The water wheel is one of the first technologies used by mankind to harness renewable energy. While many cultures developed water wheels, only Europe had enough streams and waterfalls and the right socioeconomic conditions to run the water wheels that drove the Industrial Revolution. Any survivalist with access to a stream or river would do well to learn how to build a basic water wheel because they are simpler than micro-hydro technology, yet still produce energy 24-hours a day.
TIP: Because this build is sourced from scrap, you may have to make some substitutions for the materials listed to find a combination of threaded rod, washers, and nuts to secure the sprocket or bicycle wheel, jury rig a bracket or make other minor modifications.
Of course, all of these are great projects. The kind that could make all the difference when SHTF.
Plus, making them is a cinch. Even for some of the worst DIY-dunces, I’ve ever known. The kind that, when hammering, hit their thumb more than a nail.
But a step-by-step explanation for how to make them all would be far too long for a modest article. That’s why we’ve included step-by-step instructions, in our latest book ‘Survival Sanctuary’, your one-stop shortcut to off-grid self-reliance.
Even better, you’ll get sixty full days to return it in the extreme, highly unlikely event your unhappy.
That gives you two months to test it out, try some of the projects, and if they’re not for you, no hard feelings, you’ll get your money back.
What makes these projects special is they’re made with adaptability in mind. Meaning if the sky falls, and you crawl out of your bunker to glimpse little more than a barren, ashen waste, you’d still find enough material around you to assemble your own off-grid paradise. Or, save money on your bills when times are good.
So why not check it out? Click the image below for more info.
Cache Valley Prepper is the CEO of Survival Sensei, LLC, a freelance author, writer, survival instructor, consultant and the director of the Survival Brain Trust. A descendant of pioneers, Cache was raised in the tradition of self-reliance and grew up working archaeological digs in the desert Southwest, hiking the Swiss Alps and Scottish highlands and building the Boy Scout Program in Portugal. Cache was mentored in survival by a Delta Force Lt Col and a physician in the US Nuclear Program and in business by Stephen R. Covey. You can catch up with Cache teaching EMP survival at survival expos, teaching SERE to ex-pats and vagabonds in South America or getting in some dirt time with the primitive skills crowd in a wilderness near you. His Facebook page is here. Cache Valley Prepper is a pen name used to protect his identity. You can send Cache Valley Prepper a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com
GOOD STUFF, Cache. I like what you write. For the Treadmill motor, go to the Surplus Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. They have a Good Selection and their Prices are Better than Anyone Else. For the gas powered generator use a Briggs & Stratton single, about 7-9 H.P. Any less HP just won’t pull the load and will burn much more gas trying to. Tecumseh motor is OK, just hard to start. For the Alternator use a Chrysler type, pre- 1983. I have been down this road 4 times. Trust me.
One of the best, simplistic explanations of what the day-to-day experience of living on an average solar system set-up looks like. For all of us contemplating solar for the first time, thank you.
Wind Turbine from A Treadmill Motor
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