This is a subject that I have spent a lot of time, and money on over the last 40 years, I have produced elec. with wood, wind, a little solar(not in a good solar area) the weak link is battery’s. Now where I live I want to try hydro. there is a small stream here. I am going to try producing A/C, and for go battery banks. I never understood why all the push nationally for wind, and solar when we have all these rivers that could produce a larger, and more constant amount of power that any other alt… All the locks, and dams on the Ohio river are hydro ready, but have never been used, makes no sense to give billions tax money, and completely ignore hydro.
Make sure you have the rights to dam that stream up. That’s usually the bugaboo with micro-hydro.
Chris is correct. I have called the EPA about this subject. You cannot divert water in anyway. With the change in administration the EPA will likely loosen some rules in this area, but I can’t say for sure. Micro Hydro is very cool stuff let me know if I can help.
In my Town or as many of you would say, my Township ( a division of the state, county system ) we have 4 electric dams on the Peshtigo River. They were built 100 years ago when the Green Bay Trolley system needed electricity. The local power company has somehow taken them over. With todays standards they are quite inefficient. I believe efficiency goes by multiples, not a straight line, when expanding dams. The state makes them keep a certain amount of water flowing in the river at all, times. By using computers, this is controlled much better with less labor now. Each dam has a large flowage. or most people call them back waters, to store water which takes up well over 1,000 acres for these 4 dams. The good side is, these flowages make great places for boating, fishing ( summer and winter) water skiing etc. Great draw for tourist and “shakers” ( people who build cabins or second homes in the woods around the flowages because the power company and state own most all of the land around the flowages. There are 15 nice boat landings for access to the water.
So I would conclude that small dams on local rivers are not efficient, but are good for the community when the overall picture is looked at. I don’t think when laying out a new electricity generator, that power companies look past the dollar bill.
High Falls in the 1800’s before the dam
High Falls Dam 1907 construction
I can’ believe it. I wanted to post a modern picture but can’t find them. You get the idea, that these are/were commercial power plants, not just small “home” power generators. TomC
If a Banki turbine is used, and stream flow at a natural drop, shouldn’t be an environmental issue. A waterwheel also rates favourably for efficiency with highly engineered turbines. http://hmf.enseeiht.fr/travaux/CD0708/beiere/3/html/bi/3/fichiers/Muller_histo.pdf
Power production will be low, but could easily beat a substantial investment in a solar or wind charging system.
Great information Tom, and good point about the over all value of such projects. Not that every area is blessed with significant potential hydro power, but it’s hard to beat the sustainability of hydro. Economic viability is another question, I look at that from the perspective of the heavy subsidies to the oil industry.
Well maintained micro hydro could also help protect against flooding and drought, as you mentioned.
I would like to see a future where government could help with engineering, maintenance, turbine manufacture, possibly employment grants, and automation to help towns and rural areas to diversify the power grid, and offset fossil fuels. There’s got to be a major resource there not being used. I don’t like the power utility attitude of too small for us to bother, reminds me of banks that don’t respect small depositors.
I can’t remember where I read this years ago about a guy who had a stream running through his property with about a four foot drop from one side to the other. There was not enough room to build a dam with the backwater for a water wheel so he connected lengths of 6 inch pvc pipe and laid them in the bottom of the stream until near the place the stream exited his property where he used 45 degree elbows to raise the end of the pipe 4 feet onto a water wheel which produced his power.
In Wisconsin you do not mess with the water line on lakes, rivers, or mud holes. I looked after a farm for an absentee third generation owner. The original owner had put about an 18 in. high concrete dam in the creek. The Dept. of N’tl Resources wrote laws and then tried to get the dam removed == it is still there.
A later generation dug two ponds and like Don said, laid PVC pipe in the river and then to the ponds. 200 feet down the creek, the overflow from the ponds flowed back. DNR got that one closed. I could have been fined for mowing the grass around the dam and creek.TomC
Glad that’s not the regulatory environment here. I believe people shouldn’t be blocking fish in streams, etc, but it’s odd you can bulldoze a forest without issue, but not put a pipe in a stream for momentary use.
In an old issue of the mother earth news, they built a small water wheel and ran two small diameter black flex pipes upstream for a hundred or so feet.
same principle. No need for a dam, if the water is enclosed in a small pipe, you still get the same head pressure from the same drop. Of course the bigger the pipe, the more flow you will get.
A small Pelton wheel could be the way to go if you’re in the off grid battery charging business. Of course you have to have the elevation needed.
Any one have any thoughts on running an inverter directly off of a dc generator,if it could be turned at a constant rpm. I have 3 pm gen heads, 12v,800-1500 watts. from windmills that I can’t use here(not much wind) but have the creek to tap. Any, and all thoughts appreciated.
Next they’ll nail him for hogging the water.
You’ll need some kind of govenor. I think much easier let the dc generator charge a battery and run the inverter from there.
Trying to get away from batteries.
I am no expert and don’t know what you plan to run off your inverter but I would think you would want at least one to aid in motor starting and such. They would offer reserve power for running loads in excess of what you are generating for short term.
I think it was somewhere on here, but I don’t remember where exactly, but there was a video on how to make a bicycle powered generator. One part I recalled was that one COULD run directly from the alternator to the inverter, but one needed to get some 12VDC current into the alternator to start the field, but once it was running, the alternator could maintain its own field for producing electricity. I think the person in the video just used a pack of AA 1.5v batteries for a minute to start the field and that was all they needed for battery.
Al what rpm do they produce 12 volts at? Do you have any specs? That would be the first thing to know. I don’t think you can get fully away from batteries unless you added some huge caps in there. It would not take much od a bank though and would last a long time without a draw…