The Best DIY Generator Ideas

There are many reasons to build a DIY generator. Maybe you want a backup plan if the grid gets wiped out. Or you want to go green and preserve the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.  Either way, your goal is the same – to produce and use your electricity.

Living without electricity is possible, especially for those individuals living off the grid. In fact, centuries ago human beings survived without electricity. They depended on fire for heat and light.

However, the discovery of electricity made things easier and better. Today’s modern society can’t survive without a freezer and refrigerator, and most industries depend on electricity for all their manufacturing processes.

In a way, electricity is an essential survival tool. Although non-material and intangible, it is useful in many ways.  The versatility of electricity has enabled us to achieve endless survival-related goals, including heat, cooking, light, communication, entertainment and construction.

What’s even better, you don’t have to be a genius or have an electrical engineering degree to design and build a DIY generator to cover your electricity needs.  

Being able to build a generator is a valuable skill to have at your disposal, even if you don’t plan to make a DIY generator today.

The Principals of Making Electricity

Before we can discuss the different types of DIY generators you can build, let’s cover some basic concepts about electricity.  Electric generators share common basic principles.

Electricity always has a source: When we consume electricity, we’re consuming energy that comes from somewhere else, whether running water, wind power, sun, or a coal plant.

One form of energy (geothermal, combustion, wind, water) gets converted to another (electricity).

The Stator and the Rotor are essential parts of every DIY generator.  The stator is a stationary shell that houses the Rotor, while the Rotor is a set of magnets that spins inside the Stator. When the Rotor spins it creates an electric current, which gets captured within the coils inside the Stator and gets transferred to a storage unit.

The most common storage unit for the electric current generated by the Stator and Rotor is a battery. You can find several commercial batteries in the market tailored to store self-produced energy. The larger the battery you get, the more electric current or energy you can store.

The battery size you will select will depend on how often you plan to use your DIY generator. If it’s too often, find a large battery with high energy storage potential. Or you can connect several batteries in a series to store more energy.  Select a small battery if you just want enough electricity to charge your camera or flashlight.

8 Best Homemade DIY Generators

Here is a brief, but comprehensive list of the best homemade DIY generators.

Bicycle Generator

A Bicycle Generator is the simplest form of a DIY generator. You don’t need the whole bike for this generator.  If you have an old bike that you’re not using, you can convert it to a DIY generator, by turning the wheel or gears of the bike into a Rotor.  Not only will it help you generate electricity but also to work out.

Although it’s not convenient for larger household tasks like heating, a bike-generator can come quite handy when you need electricity to complete small, quick tasks.

Do you want to boil water for cooking? No problem! Pedal the bike for twenty minutes and your water is ready.  You want to read, but you have no light? Just ride the bike while reading and you’ll have continuous light.

Hydroelectric Generator

This generator is the best option on our list. Not only because its reliable and consistent but also very effective. For thousands of years, hydroelectric power has been used to achieve several tasks. For instance, ancient Greeks harnessed the energy of moving water to grind wheat.  That’s how they made flour.

So, what’s the idea behind the generation of hydroelectric power?

Well, the best way to generate hydroelectric energy is by using water wheels. First, you position a wheel with a Rotor in the moving water. The water spins the wheel, causing the Rotor to rotate and produce electric power, which then gets stored by the Stator before getting transferred to the storage unit (Battery).

Since most rivers and streams flow at a constant rate, you can produce hydroelectric power day and night, non-stop and efficiently.  However, building and installing a running hydroelectric plant on your own is hard but not impossible. With the right foresight, preparation, and planning, you’ll succeed.   Also, you need access to a body of running water.

Wind Energy

Wind energy is as effective as hydroelectric energy. Instead of wheels, wind energy makes use of large blades that capture wind’s speed and converts it to electric power via a Rotor/Stator setup.

Sadly, it’s difficult for a single person to run wind turbines. They often require regular upkeep and maintenance. That’s the reason why large-scale wind farms usually have a team of highly trained professionals who keep the wind turbines running.

When it comes to setting up a wind turbine, it’s vital you invest in an efficient Rotor/ Stator set up. Invest in a turbine setup that will allow you to harness as much wind as possible.

However, wind turbines only work in places where there’s wind. So, if you’re living in a place with unpredictable wind patterns or still air, then you should look into other options.  For a wind turbine to work, you need constant and reliable wind.

One advantage of both wind and water power is that both are environmentally sustainable since you only use natural resources to generate your electric power, and they don’t release any pollutants to the environment in the process.

Hand Crank Generator

You have probably owned or heard about the hand crank flashlight. It’s a flashlight that you don’t have to charge or change its battery.  It has a crank handle unit that when rotated it generates enough friction to power up the flashlight. The hand crank flashlight is just a basic version of the hand crack generator, and you can build a similar one to produce electricity.

Just like in bike generators, hand crack generators convert human energy into electrical energy. So, the more effort you put in the higher the output. Although hand-crank generators are not your best bet, they can come in handy when you need light.

Compost Heat Generator

Do you know you can generate heat from waste?  I know heat is not electricity, but It’s as useful as electricity.

By composting materials, such as wood chips, grass clippings, hay, and mulch, you can generate high amounts of heat, which you can use to warm your small home, heat your hot-tub or warm your greenhouse.

There’s one catch though–you have to run a pump so the water can circulate. This means the setup requires some form of energy input for it to produce heat.

Atmospheric Energy Generator

Did you know the atmosphere is full of potential electrical energy? All you need is a way to tap it and use it for consumption. That’s where the atmospheric energy generator comes in.

Even though it’s possible to generate small amounts of free energy, no machine had been invented for large-scale energy production. But don’t lose hope yet. New inventions are always being developed, so maybe soon we might get a large-scale atmospheric energy generator.

Solar Power

Solar power involves converting sun rays into usable energy.  It’s very reliable and can significantly reduce your monthly electricity cost. Furthermore, if you understand how it works, then you can design your own DIY Solar Power System.

Biogas Generator

For a biogas generator, you only need organic wastes. The waste includes manure, agricultural waste, plant material, sewage, food waste, green waste, or municipal waste. The next step is to take the waste and place them in a digester, a large bin, or a tank. You will then have to fill the digestor with a specific ratio of water and organic material.

Once the organic waste breaks down, it will release heat and gas or biogas.  You can use the biogas to power a generator which converts the cheap biogas into electricity.   The Liberty Generator is one of the best examples of a simple, easy, and cheap DIY generator.