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Anyone done a DIY small power generator from a creek?

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by ATCclears, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. ATCclears

    ATCclears Seattle area, WA Well-Known Member

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    I saw the other post on solar and thought I'd start a similar thread.

    I have a small (but steady) seasonal creek on the property. I was wondering if it might be feasible to construct a small generator that would provide say 500-1000 watts. I haven't done much research yet, but any insights or website links are appreciated.

    Peter
     
  2. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner You'll Never Know Well-Known Member

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    Don't have a creek, but I'll bet you could run a couple of automotive alternators off a paddle wheel. I would think you would have to have a considerable amount of flow for 500 to 1000 Watts.

    Here is one

    Making an Undershoot Water Wheel
     
  3. ATCclears

    ATCclears Seattle area, WA Well-Known Member

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    Dunerunner, thanks that is an interesting link with good detail!

    Yes, I don't have the water flow that the fellow does in that link. I might be limited to something lower such as 100-250 watts.

    Peter
     
  4. Brown Trout

    Brown Trout Earth Member

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    google micro hydro
     
  5. knuckle Head

    knuckle Head southeast Well-Known Member

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    I saw an article in Home Power a few years ago on how to do one, if I can find it on the net, I will post it.
     
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  6. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    The trick will be to keeping the alternators at a constant and correct speed to maintain an average output amperage. This is going to require something more advanced than a paddle wheel and more along the idea of a turbine, possibly with some kind of speed control. You will need a bank of 12 volt deep cycle batteries to store the power and this will require regulation to prevent overcharging of the batteries in the event you actually develop enough alternator output. An inverter will be needed as the final component to convert the battery power into useable 110 VAC. I wish I had a year round creek as it would be a fun project. Turning the water power into useable, rotational action will be the biggest hurdle. Conquer that and you will be halfway there. Just remember what Einstein said. " Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be transformed from one form to the other".
     
  7. safetyman

    safetyman Clark County, WA Active Member

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    Before you start major construction, you need to consider the elevation drop of the water you are trying to tap energy from. The basic theory behind hydro power is converting the potential energy of water due to elevation change to electricity through a mechanical device. If there isn't much energy to capture, then it probably isn't feasible to try to capture it :).
     
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  8. SteelyDan

    SteelyDan Junction City Active Member

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    Great thread and I will watch with interest! I've thought about this for many years since we have a river around our property and a year round spring with a long drop. I've looked into the pelton wheel and auto alternators.

    What's stopped me is the expense involved in doing it right. While you could run 12v lights and minimal appliances in a remote cabin, providing sufficient power to a house is another story. The expense of deep cycle batteries, inverters, cabling, etc. is cost prohibitive. If I had a bunch of disposable income I would pursue it just to be off the grid and self-sufficient.
     
  9. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I would check the local water rights to your property.
    Diverting any flow of water is usually restricted in most counties, regardless of what state you reside in.
    Would be a major headache is you built something and the county shut it down and made you remove it..
     
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  10. knuckle Head

    knuckle Head southeast Well-Known Member

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  11. Sodbuster

    Sodbuster Beaverton, OR Chief Cook/Bottle Washer

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  12. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner You'll Never Know Well-Known Member

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    Drive automotive alternators. They are relatively cheap. Charge a bank of batteries and use a sine wave inverter to produce your A/C power. The batteries can also be charged with a gas generator, your car, an automotive alternator driven by a wind mill, or a solar panel.
     
  13. Garg

    Garg east of portland metro Hold my beer..... watch this Bronze Supporter

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    LOL.... Tell that to the beavers...
    So, I am also very interested in this as I am planning on moving onto a property soon that has a year round creek. I plan on solar, hydro, and wind. Going off the grid is a dream of mine, but even if I can supplement, and use in times of power outages, will be very happy.
    SteelyDan is right, that the cost of the required battery bank is...wow... a lot of money.
     
  14. JC9995

    JC9995 Greater "Clackamas" Active Member

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    It's very doable. The easy math is (gpm X Ft/head=watts). So if you have 10 gallons a minute, and 100 feet of drop(head), you would be able to produce 1000 watts... Or 1kw.
    There are quite a few options for small Hydro units. But most produce 12v. So you will need to invert it to 120 v for use in a house. Expect to lose about 15% when you do this.
     
  15. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    I have an aquifer on our homesite, 400 feet away the hillside has a gusher that has a 250 + foot drop to the HWY below.. perfect for small hydro.. so yes, it's a given. I am looking for the quietest generator I can find so it won't be noticed and stolen
     
  16. JC9995

    JC9995 Greater "Clackamas" Active Member

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    I'm jelous. If heard a few of the smalle ones. They have a hum to them, but not loud at all. House them in a shed of some sort with some insulation and you would be stealthy.

    As for generators.... None of them are silent, but the little Hondas and yamahas are very quiet.
     
  17. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    It will be down by the HWY so it has to be very quiet.. It will be in a small, camo-ed cinder block house and will be alarmed to the home security system but I would rather it never gets noticed
     
  18. Brown Trout

    Brown Trout Earth Member

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    If you have constant water flow, you would not necessarily need a battery bank, nor would you need to install DC lighting and appliances. You would only need an inverter rated for the VA of your power generation. If you were to stay on grid, there would be additional things as well.