What Are the Best Tips for Making a DIY Generator?

Patrick Lynch
Patrick Lynch
A cardboard box can be used to make a DIY generator.
A cardboard box can be used to make a DIY generator.

A DIY generator has the ability to create electricity with simple equipment. The best tips for making a DIY generator start with the purchase of a bulb, magnetic wire, magnets, and a nail as well as a cardboard box. Then divide the box into five sections and place a nail in the box’s center. Next, expose the copper underneath the magnetic wire by stripping the edges and connect it to a lamp’s wire. Be careful to ensure the two ends do not touch, and twist the nail to produce light in the bulb.

Generators are machines that produce electricity. A DIY generator is relatively simple to make and will perform the same task regardless of its size. It is best to start with a small-scale generator as a test of building skill before attempting something more ambitious.

The equipment required to create a DIY generator should be easy to find. This includes 200 feet (60 meters) of magnetic wire, four small magnets, one nail, and a 1.5 volt bulb. A piece of cardboard 12 inches (30 cm) long and 3 inches (8cm) wide is also necessary. It is possible to use wood instead, however.

Use the cardboard to create a box. The box should be divided into five sections before being folded as follows. Two of the panels should be 3 inches (8 cm) by 3 inches, two others should be 3 inches by 1.5 inches (4 cm), and the final panel should be 3 inches by 2.5 inches (6 cm). Make sure one of the 3 inch by 3 inch panels overlaps the last panel. Use sticky tape to keep the box together.

Find the center of the DIY generator box and drive the nail through it. Widen the hole so that the nail is able to move without being stuck. Take the wire and stick one end to the box while wrapping the remainder around the nail. Four inches (10 cm) of wire must be left sticking out.

Expose the copper part of the wire by removing the cover from its ends. Tug on the wires in the hole to ensure the nail will easily be able to fit through. Put two magnets on each side of the nail and test to make sure the nail can still move freely.

Find a lamp and connect the DIY generator wire edge to the end of the lamp wire. To prevent the two connections from meeting, twist the ends together. To light the bulb, twist the nail rapidly. Use a hand crank drill to produce a greater level of electricity.

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Discussion Comments


I've heard of people who have managed to make their own generators which could run off bio-fuel, which is fuel made from fermented plants. They could just chuck in the scraps or grass clippings or whatever that they had lying around, ferment it into ethanol, and then stick it into their generator and use it to run various things around their farm.

It was a pretty good deal, as they had calves who were dependent on being warm and they could lose a lot of them if they didn't have consistent, guaranteed power.

Apparently they found the plans for this homemade generator off the internet as well. But, if you are planning to do the same, make sure you know a bit about engines and so forth first. It can be dangerous to mess around with that kind of thing if you are a complete beginner.


@Iluviaporos - Often the generator itself is run off batteries, which are powered by another form of energy, like wind or solar.

You can make it so that, instead of having to revert to gasoline generator when you run out of clean power, you are still connected to the grid. In a way, this is actually better, because if you provide enough excess power, the grid will actually pay you for it.

And this way, you know that you will not be reliant on a generator and on a fuel source which can run out just as easily as anything else can.


If you are looking to try and take yourself off the grid, you might need to think about what the most feasible kind of power is available to you.

Using a generator is a good back-up and you can find ways to integrate it into your overall system, but it can be expensive to run, so you want to be able to supplement it with other sources of power.

Wind power may work in some areas, but in others it won't generate enough, or at least not enough consistently.

Solar power has the same problem, with the added difficulty that it is still quite expensive to set up and doesn't work very efficiently (although it's getting better).

A combination of these both might work, or possibly you have access to hydro energy nearby (in the form of a stream) to keep from using the generator too much.

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    • A cardboard box can be used to make a DIY generator.
      By: Elenathewise
      A cardboard box can be used to make a DIY generator.