At BackwoodsSolar.com, we offer the best in off grid power systems and accessories. Here you’ll find a large selection of micro hydro systems, hydro generators, books and DVDs to help you benefit from microhydro power.
Water turbines steadily charge 12, 24, or 48 volt batteries, working 24 hours a day every day. Compare this with solar modules in sunshine for at best, 6 full-power hours a day, and that's just on sunny days. A hydro generator producing 10 amperes around the clock matches the usable power generated by over 40 amps of solar modules. So cost is a lot lower with hydro. The power system itself is the same as solar, except only diversion type charge controls can be used with hydro. Pelton wheel generators use a small volume of water raised to high pressure by running downhill in a penstock (pipeline). Pressurized water shoots from nozzles to strike and spin a cupped wheel on an alternator. Other types of wheels and propellers handle water sites with less pressure (head) and more flow volume.
Performance depends on the site more than on the cost. Greater water pressure at the nozzle, produced by more head (elevation change top end of pipe to bottom), brings more power. Greater water volume (gallons per minute) onto the wheel also brings more power. Sites with higher head are most desirable because they need less water, smaller pipe, fewer nozzles, cost less to install, and fare better in low water years.
Pipe size, number, and size of nozzles, and choice of alternator depend on measurements of your site. Since there are so many combinations of water volume and head, it is best to contact us and describe your creek site. Tell us specifically:
- What elevation change (from intake to the turbine) over the length of the pipe?
- How many gallons per minute flow, minimum and maximum?
- What size, type, and length of pipe? (if it is already installed)
- Wire distance from hydro plant (lower end of creek) to the home?
COST: A complete hydropower system with hydro generator, charge control, batteries and inverter costs about $4000 - $15000 plus the pipeline and installation.
For an interesting article on site evaluation and micro hydro systems installation, here's a review of Scott and Tracey's hydro system