Making a Hugh Piggott wind turbine

#1 – The First Post
Hugh Piggott design wind turbines

2 x 3kW Hugh Piggott design wind turbines at Le Vivray

Welcome to this strange and magical place, where you will be learning how to make a 3.7m Diameter wind turbine to Hugh Piggott’s design. This is our third wind turbine for the collection, and will probably be our last – for now.
There will be about 10 posts, taking you through the process from beginning to end. IMPORTANT: this is NOT for a grid-tied system, but we describe the process of getting your turbine hooked up to a 48V OFFGRID battery system, which then goes via an inverter and hence to your house as AC, where it can be used for standard household lighting and appliances.

Wind turbine ingredients

All the bits for making a wind turbine, laid out for you to see…

This series of posts is NOT designed to be a standalone document, but rather to complement the essential information found in Hugh Piggott’s book, “A WIND TURBINE RECIPE BOOK”, which can be bought on his site or other online bookstore. We’ve never met Hugh and don’t know him (or get any commission!) but to us he deserves a medal for releasing this mine of information and keeping it in the public domain!
Another useful book is Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink’s “Homebrew Wind Power”(Buckville Publications ISBN 978-0-9819201-0-8), a very comprehensive guide for the amateur with basic practical abilities, where Hugh’s is perhaps more for an experienced engineer.
As you may have seen on our website, the average energy output from this turbine is 1-2kW. This is classed in most other people’s books than Hugh’s as a 3kW, which is the absolute MAX in a howling gale – but we’re with Hugh on this one, and prefer not to overstate the energy obtainable. This avoids disappointment, and if anything you may even be pleasantly surprised! If only the commercial residential wind turbine sellers followed this philosophy!
This wind turbine will be built to Hugh’s design for his 3.6m, but the fiberglass blade moulds we made are accidentally 50mm oversize on the length, giving the total of 3.7m.  Hugh’s Turbines are the “Real McCoy”, designed and built for every environment, from light breezes to howling gales, and tested/flown for well over 20 years or more. We like his simple yet elegant concepts, and his geometry for auto-furling of the tail is excellent.

The turbine frame assembly

The turbine frame assembly

Autofurling means that when the wind gets too strong, instead of breaking or needing to be taken down, the turbine’s tail will automatically turn the turbine out of the wind, so that the turbine will always be producing electricity, and always optimally, even in the highest winds. Plus, Hugh’s blade design is highly efficient, matching exactly the power outputs so that the turbine produces in as little as 3m per second breezes. – That is low wind, and most turbines will not produce electricity at that speed.

The picture above shows most of the hardware / mechanical bit, the frame that will take the PMG (permanent magnet generator) on the stub axle and the blade assembly, as well as the tail.  Just so you know, the Peugeot Boxer van, Fiat Ducatto and Citroen Relay all use the same rear stub axle with the biggest being 130mm diameter, with 5 wheel studs. But we have used a Vauxhall Van sealed unit on our Turbine No 1.

You can see  here the mast top metal work, which is ready for final painting, including the 2 meter long tail.  Making the frame needs a fair bit of concentration, what with all the angles, turns etc, and you need to follow Hugh’s notes absolutely explicitly, line by line. – More on this next time!

wind turbine closeup 120102

Renewable energy – residential wind

Hugh Piggott design wind turbines

Hugh Piggott design wind turbines at the lavoir

We will be describing the manufacture of our third High Piggott 3kW wind turbine on this blog. So far we have made one with cedar blades and one with fibre glass blades, and the third one is also with fibre blades. – It is much easier to carve cedar than it is to make fibre glass blades, but it is very difficult to find cedar of the right quality and thickness in this part of Europe.

Our wind and solar energy are offgrid, with the energy stored in battery banks. We are not self-sufficient in electricity yet but may be in the future, as we renovate and insulate. The lavoir (washpond) building houses the power station with the battery banks and inverter/s.

The wee slate-covered wooden house on stilts next to wind turbine #2 in this pic is a 1000L water store: the solar panels you can just about see on the washpond building roof work a small pump that raises the water up to a head 4m so that we can use gravity to water the garden – which is closer to the house and nearly 4m higher than the pond source!


Wind turbine Feb 2012

You will find quite a lot of information already on our website wind energy page about making wind turbines, including other basic energy advice and some notes about power generation. Making your own wind turbine from raw materials is not a project to be taken lightly since there is a lot of serious engineering involved, but armed with some basic knowledge, you can at least be aware of the pitfalls of any commercial proposals, if you decide to try wind energy for yourself. And we recommend Hugh Piggott’s Wind Turbine Recipe Book!