Do-it-yourself alternative energy for your home: a review of the best eco-technologies

Amir Gumarov
Checked by a specialist: Amir Gumarov
Author: Sergey Shapoval
Last update: July 2019

The reserves of fossil fuels are not unlimited, and energy prices are constantly growing. Agree, it would be nice to use alternative sources of energy instead of traditional ones, so as not to depend on gas and electricity suppliers in your region. But you do not know where to start?

We will help you deal with the main sources of renewable energy - in this material we examined the best eco-technologies. Alternative energy is able to replace conventional power sources: with your own hands you can arrange a very effective installation for its production.

In our article, simple methods for assembling a heat pump, a wind generator and solar panels are considered, photo illustrations of individual stages of the process are selected. For clarity, the material is equipped with videos on the production of environmentally friendly installations.

Popular Renewable Energy Sources

“Green Technologies” will significantly reduce household expenses through the use of virtually free sources.

Since ancient times, people used mechanisms and devices in everyday life, the action of which was aimed at turning the forces of nature into mechanical energy. A vivid example of this are water mills and windmills.

With the advent of electricity, the presence of a generator allowed mechanical energy to be converted into electrical energy.

How alternative energy for the home came about
A water mill is the forerunner of the machine pump, which does not require the presence of a person to perform work. The wheel spontaneously spins under the pressure of water and draws water independently

Today, a significant amount of energy is generated precisely by wind complexes and hydroelectric power stations.In addition to wind and water, people can access sources such as biofuels, the energy of the earth’s bowels, sunlight, the energy of geysers and volcanoes, the strength of the tides.

In everyday life, the following devices are widely used for renewable energy:

The high cost of both the devices themselves and the installation work stops many people on the way to receiving seemingly free energy.

Payback can reach 15-20 years, but this is not a reason to deprive yourself of economic prospects. All these devices can be manufactured and installed independently.

Types of alternative energy sources
When choosing an alternative energy source, you need to focus on its availability, then maximum power will be achieved with a minimum of investment

Hand made solar panels

A finished solar panel costs a lot of money, so not everyone can afford to buy and install it. With the independent manufacture of the panel, costs can be reduced by 3-4 times.

Before you begin to design a solar panel, you need to figure out how it all works.

The principle of operation of the solar power system

Understanding the purpose of each of the elements of the system will allow us to present its work as a whole.

The main components of any solar power system:

  • Solar panel. This is a complex of elements connected into a single unit that converts sunlight into an electron stream.
  • Batteries One rechargeable batteriesfor a long time is not enough, so the system can count up to a dozen of such devices. The number of batteries is determined by the power consumption. The number of batteries can be increased in the future by adding the required number of solar panels to the system;
  • Solar charge controller. This device is necessary to ensure normal charging of the battery. Its main purpose is to prevent recharging the battery.
  • Inverter. The device required to convert current. Batteries produce low voltage current, and the inverter converts it into the current required for the high voltage functional - output power. For the house, an inverter with an output of 3-5 kW will be enough.

The main feature of solar panels is that they cannot generate high voltage current. A separate element of the system is capable of generating a current voltage of 0.5-0.55 V. One solar battery is capable of generating a current voltage of 18-21 V, which is enough to charge a 12-volt battery.

If the inverter, rechargeable batteries and charge controller are best purchased ready-made, then it is quite possible to make solar batteries yourself.

Panel Connection Diagram
A high-quality controller and proper connection will help to maintain battery performance and autonomy of the entire solar station as long as possible

Making solar panels

For the manufacture of batteries, it is necessary to purchase solar cells on single or polycrystals.It should be noted that the service life of polycrystals is much shorter than that of single crystals.

In addition, the efficiency of polycrystals does not exceed 12%, while this indicator for single crystals reaches 25%. In order to make one solar panel, you need to buy at least 36 of these elements.

How to make a simple source of alternative energy
The solar battery is assembled from modules. Each residential module includes 30, 36 or 72 pcs. elements connected in series with a power source with a maximum voltage of about 50 V

Step # 1 - Assembling the Solar Panel Housing

Work begins with the manufacture of the housing; for this, the following materials will be required:

  • Wooden blocks
  • Plywood
  • Plexiglass
  • Fiberboard

It is necessary to cut the bottom of the case from plywood and insert it into the frame of 25 mm thick bars. The size of the bottom is determined by the number of solar cells and their size.

Along the entire perimeter of the frame in the bars with a step of 0.15-0.2 m, it is necessary to drill holes with a diameter of 8-10 mm. They are required to prevent overheating of the battery cells during operation.

Preparing the housing for the solar panel
Correctly made openings in increments of 0.15-0.20 m will protect the solar panel elements from overheating and ensure stable operation of the system

Step # 2 - connecting the elements of the solar panel

According to the size of the case, it is necessary to use a clerical knife to cut out the substrate for solar cells from fiberboard. With its device, it is also necessary to provide for the presence of ventilation holes arranged every 5 cm in a square-nested manner. The finished case must be painted and dried twice.

Solar cells should be laid upside down on a fiberboard substrate and soldered. If the finished products were no longer equipped with soldered conductors, then the work is greatly simplified. However, the desoldering process has yet to be completed.

It must be remembered that the connection of elements must be consistent. Initially, the elements should be connected in rows, and only then the finished rows should be combined into a complex by connecting to live busbars.

Upon completion, the elements need to be turned over, laid as it should and fixed in place with silicone.

Placing solar cells on a substrate
Each of the elements must be securely fixed to the substrate using adhesive tape or silicone, in the future this will avoid unwanted damage

Then you need to check the value of the output voltage. Roughly it should be within 18-20 V. Now the battery should be run in for several days, check the battery charging ability. Only after performance monitoring is the joints sealed.

Step # 3 - assembly of the power supply system

Having convinced of impeccable functionality, it is possible to carry out assembly of the power supply system. Input and output contact wires must be brought out for subsequent connection of the device.

The cover should be cut out of plexiglass and fixed with screws to the sides of the body through pre-drilled holes.

Instead of solar cells, a diode circuit with D223B diodes can be used to make a battery. A panel of 36 series-connected diodes is capable of delivering a voltage of 12 V.

Diodes must first be soaked in acetone to remove paint. In a plastic panel, drill holes, insert diodes and wire them out. The finished panel must be placed in a transparent casing and sealed.

Observing the correct tilt angle of the solar panel
Correctly oriented and installed solar panels provide maximum efficiency in obtaining solar energy, as well as ease and ease of maintenance of the system

Basic rules for installing a solar panel

The efficiency of the entire system depends on the correct installation of the solar battery.

When installing, you must consider the following important parameters:

  1. Shading. If the battery is in the shade of trees or higher structures, then it will not only not function normally, but may also fail.
  2. Orientation. For maximum sunlight on the photocells, the battery must be directed towards the sun. If you live in the northern hemisphere, then the panel should be oriented to the south, if in the southern, then vice versa.
  3. Incline. This parameter is determined by geographical location. Experts recommend installing the panel at an angle equal to geographic latitude.
  4. Availability. It is necessary to constantly monitor the cleanliness of the front side and in time to remove a layer of dust and dirt. And in winter, the panel must be periodically cleaned of sticking snow.

It is advisable that during operation of the solar panel, the angle of inclination is not constant. The device will work to the maximum only in the case of direct sunlight directed directly at its cover.

In summer it is better to place it at a slope of 30º to the horizon. In winter, it is recommended to raise and install at 70º.

How to get alternative energy with your own hands
A number of industrial options for solar panels include tracking devices for the movement of the sun. For domestic use, you can think over and provide stands that allow you to change the angle of the panel

Heat pumps for heating

Heat pumps are one of the most advanced technological solutions in obtaining alternative energy for your home. They are not only the most convenient, but also environmentally friendly.

Their operation will significantly reduce the costs associated with paying for cooling and heating the premises.

Heat pump classification

I classify heat pumps by the number of circuits, the source of energy and the method of its production.

Depending on the final needs, heat pumps can be:

  • One, two or three-circuit;
  • Single or dual capacitor;
  • With the possibility of heating or with the possibility of heating and cooling.

According to the type of energy source and the method of its production, the following heat pumps are distinguished:

  • Soil is water. They are used in a temperate climate zone with uniform heating of the earth, regardless of the time of year. For installation, use a collector or probe, depending on the type of soil. For drilling shallow wells, obtaining permits is not required.
  • Air - Water. Heat is accumulated from the air and sent to heat the water. Installation will be appropriate in climatic zones with a winter temperature of at least -15 degrees.
  • Water - Water. Installation is due to the presence of water bodies (lakes, rivers, groundwater, wells, sedimentation tanks). The efficiency of such a heat pump is very impressive, due to the high temperature of the source in the cold season.
  • Water is air. In this bundle, the same water bodies act as a heat source, but at the same time, the heat is transferred directly through the compressor directly to the air used to heat the rooms. In this case, water does not act as a coolant.
  • Soil is air. In this system, the conductor of heat is soil. Heat from the soil through the compressor is transferred to the air.Non-freezing liquids are used as an energy carrier. This system is considered the most universal.
  • Air - air. The operation of this system is similar to the operation of an air conditioner that can heat and cool a room. This system is the cheapest, as it does not require excavation and piping.

When choosing the type of heat source, you need to focus on the geology of the site and the possibility of unhindered excavation, as well as the availability of free space.

With a shortage of free space, you will have to abandon heat sources such as land and water and take heat from the air.

Ways to get heat
The efficiency of the system and the costs of its arrangement largely depend on the correct choice of the type of heat pump

The principle of operation of the heat pump

The principle of operation of heat pumps is based on the use of the Carnot cycle, which as a result of sharp compression of the coolant provides an increase in temperature.

By the same principle, but with the opposite effect, most climate control devices with compressor units (refrigerator, freezer, air conditioning) work.

The main working cycle, which is implemented in the chambers of these units, suggests the opposite effect - as a result of a sharp expansion, the refrigerant contracts.

That is why one of the most affordable methods for manufacturing a heat pump is based on the use of separate functional units used in climate equipment.

So, for the manufacture of a heat pump, a domestic refrigerator can be used. Its evaporator and condenser will play the role of heat exchangers that take heat from the medium and direct it directly to heat the coolant that circulates in the heating system.

The principle of operation of the heat pump
Low-grade heat from the soil, air or water together with the coolant enters the evaporator, where it turns into gas, and then is further compressed by the compressor, as a result of which the temperature becomes even higher

Assembling a heat pump from improvised materials

Using old household appliances, or rather, its individual components, you can independently assemble a heat pump. How this can be done, we will consider further.

Step # 1 - preparing the compressor and condenser

Work begins with the preparation of the compressor part of the pump, the functions of which will be assigned to the corresponding unit of the air conditioner or refrigerator. This unit must be fixed with a soft suspension on one of the walls of the working room where it will be convenient.

After that, it is necessary to make a capacitor. A 100 liter stainless steel tank is ideal for this. It is necessary to mount a coil in it (you can take a finished copper pipe from an old air conditioner or refrigerator.

Using a grinder, the prepared tank must be cut lengthwise into two equal parts - this is necessary for installing and fixing the coil in the body of the future capacitor.

After installing the coil in one of the halves, both parts of the tank must be connected and welded together so that a closed tank is obtained.

Heat pump condenser
A 100 l stainless steel tank was used for the manufacture of the capacitor; with the help of a grinder, it was cut in half, a coil was mounted, and reverse welding was performed

Note that when welding you need to use special electrodes, and even better to use argon welding, only it can provide the maximum quality of the seam.

Step # 2 - making the vaporizer

To make the evaporator, you will need a sealed plastic tank with a volume of 75-80 liters, in which you will need to place a coil from a pipe with a diameter of ¾ inch.

Evaporator and condenser coil
For the manufacture of a coil, it is enough to wrap a copper tube around a steel pipe with a diameter of 300-400 mm, followed by fixing the turns with a perforated corner

Threads must be threaded at the ends of the pipe to ensure subsequent connection to the pipeline. After assembly is completed and the seal is checked, the evaporator should be fixed to the wall of the working room using the appropriate size brackets.

Completion of assembly is best left to a specialist. If part of the assembly can be done independently, then a professional should work with the soldering of copper pipes and the injection of refrigerant. The assembly of the main part of the pump ends with the connection of heating batteries and a heat exchanger.

It should be noted that this system is low-power. Therefore, it will be better if the heat pump becomes an additional part of the existing heating system.

Step # 3 - arranging and connecting an external device

As a heat source, water from a well or well is best suited. It never freezes and even in winter its temperature rarely drops below +12 degrees. Two such wells will be required.

Water will be drawn from one well with subsequent supply to the evaporator.

Groundwater energy use
Groundwater energy can be used year-round. Its temperature is not affected by weather conditions and seasons.

Next, the waste water will be discharged into the second well. It remains to connect all this to the inlet to the evaporator, to the outlet and seal.

In principle, the system is ready for operation, but for its full autonomy, an automation system will be required that monitors the temperature of the moving coolant in the heating circuits and the pressure of the freon.

At first, you can do with an ordinary starter, but it should be noted that starting the system after turning off the compressor can be done after 8-10 minutes - this time is necessary to equalize the pressure of the freon in the system.

Device and use of wind generators

Wind power was also used by our ancestors. Since those days, in principle, nothing has changed.

The only difference is that the millstones of the mill are replaced by a generator and a drive, providing the conversion of the mechanical energy of the blades into electrical energy.

Installation of a wind generator is considered economically viable if the average annual wind speed exceeds 6 m / s.

Installation is best done on hills and plains, ideal places are the coasts of rivers and large reservoirs away from various utilities.

Alternative energy for the home from wind generators
To convert the energy of air masses into electrical energy, wind generators are used, the most productive in coastal regions

Wind Generator Classification

The classification of wind generators depends on the following main parameters:

  • Depending on the placement of the axis, there may be vertical twirls and horizontal. The horizontal design provides the ability to auto-rotate the main part to search for wind. The main equipment of a vertical wind generator is located on the ground, so it is easier to maintain, while the efficiency of vertically located blades is lower.
  • Depending on the number of blades distinguish one-, two-, three- and multi-blade wind generators. Multi-blade wind generators are used at a low air flow rate, rarely used because of the need to install a gearbox.
  • Depending on the material used to make the blades, the blades may be sailing and tough. Sailing blades are easy to manufacture and install, but require frequent replacement, as they quickly fail under the influence of sudden gusts of wind.
  • Depending on the pitch of the screw, distinguish mutable and fixed steps. Using a variable pitch, a significant increase in the operating speed range of the wind generator can be achieved, but this will lead to an inevitable complication of the structure and an increase in its mass.

The power of all types of devices that convert wind energy into an electrical analogue depends on the area of ​​the blades.

Wind generators as a source of alternative energy for the home
For operation, wind generators practically do not need classic sources of energy. Using a plant with a capacity of about 1 MW will save 92,000 barrels of oil or 29,000 tons of coal over 20 years

Wind generator device

The following basic elements are present in any wind turbine:

  • Bladesrotating under the influence of wind and providing the movement of the rotor;
  • Generatorwhich produces alternating current;
  • Blade controller, is responsible for the formation of alternating current in direct current, which is required to charge the batteries;
  • Rechargeable batteriesare needed for the accumulation and equalization of electrical energy;
  • Inverter, performs the reverse conversion of direct current into alternating current, from which all household appliances work;
  • Mast, is necessary for lifting the blades above the surface of the earth until reaching the height of movement of the air masses.

With this generator, rotation blades and the mast are considered the main parts of the wind generator, and everything else is additional components that ensure reliable and autonomous operation of the system as a whole

Wind generator connection diagram
The inverter, charge controller and batteries must be included in the circuit of any even the simplest wind generator

Slow-speed wind generator from a generator

It is believed that this design is the simplest and most affordable for independent manufacture. It can become either an independent source of energy, or take on part of the power of the existing power supply system.

If you have a car generator and a battery, all other parts can be made from improvised materials.

Step # 1 - Making a Wind Wheel

The blades are considered one of the most important parts of the wind generator, since their design determines the operation of the remaining nodes. For the manufacture of blades can be used in a variety of materials - fabric, plastic, metal and even wood.

We will make blades from a sewer plastic pipe. The main advantages of this material are low cost, high moisture resistance, ease of processing.

The work is carried out in the following order:

  1. The length of the blade is calculated, while the diameter of the plastic pipe should be 1/5 of the required footage;
  2. Using a jigsaw, the pipe should be cut lengthwise into 4 parts;
  3. One part will become the template for the manufacture of all subsequent blades;
  4. After trimming the pipe, the burrs at the edges must be treated with sandpaper;
  5. The cut out blades must be fixed on a pre-prepared aluminum disk with the provided fastening;
  6. Also to this disk after alteration you need to screw the generator.

Please note that the PVC pipe does not have sufficient strength and will not be able to withstand strong gusts of wind. For the manufacture of blades, it is best to use a PVC pipe with a thickness of at least 4 cm.

Far from the last role on the magnitude of the load is the size of the blade. Therefore, it will not be amiss to consider the option of reducing the size of the blade by increasing their number.

PVC wind turbine blades
The blades of the wind generator are made according to the template from ¼ PVC sewer pipe with a diameter of 200 mm, cut along the axis into 4 parts

After assembly, balance the wind wheel. This requires fixing it horizontally on a tripod indoors. Correct assembly will result in wheel immobility.

If the rotation of the blades occurs, it is necessary to grind them with an abrasive to balance the structure.

Step # 2 - making a mast of a wind generator

For the manufacture of the mast, you can use a steel pipe with a diameter of 150-200 mm. The minimum mast length should be 7 m. If there are obstacles to the movement of air masses on the site, then the wheel of the wind generator must be raised to a height exceeding the obstacle by at least 1 m.

Pegs to secure the stretch marks and the mast itself must be concreted. As extensions, you can use a steel or galvanized cable with a thickness of 6-8 mm.

Steel pipe mast with extensions
Mast extensions will give the wind generator additional stability and reduce the costs associated with the installation of a massive foundation, their cost is much lower than other types of masts, but additional area is required for extensions

Step # 3 - refitting the car alternator

Alteration consists only in rewinding the stator wire, as well as in the manufacture of a rotor with neodymium magnets. First you need to drill the holes necessary for fixing the magnets in the poles of the rotor.

Installation of magnets is performed with alternating poles. Upon completion of the work, the intermagnetic voids must be filled with epoxy resin, and the rotor itself should be wrapped with paper.

When rewinding the coil, you need to consider that the efficiency of the generator will depend on the number of turns. The coil must be wound in a three-phase pattern in one direction.

The finished generator needs to be tested, the result of correctly performed work will be an indicator of 30 V at 300 rpm of the generator.

Re-equipment of the automobile generator
The converted generator is ready to conduct tests on the output rated voltage before the final installation of the entire low-speed wind generator system

Step # 4 - complete the assembly of the low-speed wind generator

The rotary axis of the generator is made of a pipe with two bearings mounted, and the tail part is cut out of galvanized iron with a thickness of 1.2 mm.

Before mounting the generator to the mast, it is necessary to make a frame, the profile pipe is best for this. When performing fastening, it should be noted that the minimum distance from the mast to the blade should be more than 0.25 m.

Wind generator
Under the influence of the wind flow, the blades and rotor move, as a result, the gearbox rotates and electric energy is obtained

For the system to work after the wind generator, you need to install a charge controller, batteries, as well as an inverter.

Battery capacity is determined by the power of the wind generator.This indicator depends on the size of the wind wheel, the number of blades and wind speed.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Production of a solar panel with a plastic case, a list of materials and the order of work

Principle of operation and overview of geothermal pumps

Re-equipment of the autogenerator and manufacture of a low-speed wind generator do-it-yourself

A distinctive feature of alternative energy sources is their environmental friendliness and safety.

The rather low power of the installations and the attachment to certain terrain conditions make it possible to efficiently operate only combined systems of traditional and alternative sources.

Does your home use alternative energy as sources of heat and electricity? Have you built a wind generator yourself or made solar panels? Please share your experience in the comments to our article.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Eugene

    Not so simple, of course, as described, and it is not easy to describe, in fact. The idea of ​​using a water wheel is definitely not appealing. To use the energy of water you need to live right on a noisy river. The spinning wheel will constantly creak near the house, and the water will make noise, it will annoy over time. I tend only to windmills, they do not really bother with sounds and do not obscure the area. He would have made them all the territory near the house. Or I would use solar panels, they are the simplest and most undemanding to maintain. Because you can invest in them once and all.

  2. Dzmitry

    Very interested in the installation of wind generators. Does it make sense to install them in the area of ​​Moscow and Moscow region? Or because of the many buildings it will be economically unprofitable (the energy received should be enough for a small country house)? Can you advise the main manufacturers of wind turbines, and also describe what to look for when choosing a wind turbine.

    • Expert
      Amir Gumarov

      Hello. He was also interested in this issue and according to calculations it was concluded that as an additional source of energy, without abandoning the main one, this option is quite worthy of consideration in any locality. But here again, it is necessary to make calculations as far as it is appropriate for a particular family, to consider the payback, the desired power, and so on.

      Here we need a whole separate article with approximate calculations. According to my personal calculations, taking into account home-made products and other things, it turned out about 200 thousand rubles for the turnkey installation of the necessary equipment. Which, at our rates, taking into account my benefits, is financially unbearable in the near future. Reviewers praise Exmork, Aerogreen.