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Would it be possible to create a small hydro electric generator for a creek?

Written By: Generator Man - Dec• 17•11

Question by comic geek: Would it be possible to create a small hydro electric generator for a creek?
what rate of water flow is needed to create enough electricity to power a house either a estimate or a formula to be used. Also what type of converter is need to change the kinetic energy into electricity. Would it be actually possible to do using a contractor or family or self done job.my goal is to create a home that is self sufficient for electricity, as well maybe as well as system that can create fresh or clean water from the creek.
also the fact that the area will be about 10 acres or so

Best answer:

Answer by Norman O
You need a paddle wheel and an electric generator. If you are using a creek, it is doubtfull that you will generate enough power to light a mini-flashlight.

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4 Comments

  1. Lando says:

    Yes I have made windmills with car alternators had some gearing issues to work out but still works. I charge marine batteries and with the help of an ac inverter plugin.

  2. oeman50 says:

    The rate of water flow is somewhat important, however the height difference between the inlet and outlet to your turbine or wheel is crucial, as well. The greater the available height, the less water flow you need. You may have to experiment to see how much torque and what speed the set-up can deliver.

    The converter of mechanical to electrical energy is a generator. You would have to size it for the power you expect to produce and see if you have enough energy from your creek source.

    Those are the technical issues. If you live in the US, the regulatory issues are another story. I just read a news article today that said many people want to build small hydro plants but are stalled because the regulations require environmental studies that are way too expensive for small hydro projects. Also, you may want to consider your neighbors may get upset it you create a pond or other impoundment upstream, water rights can cause disputes. And if you are trying to do this without an impoundment you won’t get much power.

  3. mike1942f says:

    Implied in those other answers but important if not obvious is the fact that there are houses and there are houses – anyone who is considering alternative energy has got to consider cutting back on power usage by being more efficient or simply reducing use. One reason is the cost per watt for small projects is high and if you say “I want to keep everything the same and get off the power grid” you will have to spend a small fortune to get enough capacity to allow leaving all the lights on, TV’s running, computers up and instantly available and games running during dinner, etc.
    There are low flow turbines available for power generation but the total output of any setup is going to be limited by the energy in the water – quantity, velocity, and drop – and then the efficiency of the setup.
    If you think you still want to do it, you will need to do serious research and collect data on the creek as well as look at the legal issues mentioned. eSearch ‘low head power generation’ for some sites with education in mind
    Making the water from the creek safe for drinking, okay for cleaning, and available for flushing & yard watering (three different levels of treatment) is mostly a matter of plumbing and buying filter and treatment equipment.

  4. lare says:

    in the 1880s communities in southern california got electricity just this way, using creeks flowing out of the San Gabriel mountain range. while it works good for electricity, about once every 10 years a rain storms brings a gully washer that destroys all the equipment. designing an installation that will survive even a 10 year storm will run the cost and scope of the works up beyond belief.

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