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Hydroelectric Home Power

Updated on February 6, 2013
A hydroelectric power plant in Ukraine
A hydroelectric power plant in Ukraine | Source

Hydroelectric power (energy fueled by water) has been produced through large hydroelectric power dams with very successful results – but it's also possible to recreate this economical form of power generation in your own home.

This is a great way to conserve energy, help the environment, and save some money! What could be better? Below is a brief introduction to what's involved in putting together a hydroelectric home power system, and how to get started.

The Benefits of Home Hydroelectric Power Generation

Also known as ‘micro hydro’ – hydroelectric power in your home can be an extremely beneficial and convenient form of power generation.

  • Water flow is a power source available in all seasons and largely regardless of specific weather conditions.
  • It can save you money: In America, the average electricity use per month is around 936 kilowatt-hours (source Depending on what sources you have available, a hydroelectric power system can provide as much as a third of that amount of energy.
  • · It is relatively inexpensive to put together a modest system.

It’s also an extremely eco-friendly way of power generation:

  • It does not require changing water-flow
  • It does not require anything that might be harmful to wildlife
  • It is 'clean' - it does pollute the water or air in any way.

In his book, Microhydro: Clean Power from Water Scott Davis argues that home hydroelectric power"the simplest, most reliable and least expensive way to generate power off grid."

There can be a great deal of variation in the cost of a system. estimates that a hydroelectric power generator can cost between $1,000-$20,000.

Most of the pre-made systems available online range between $1,000-$4,000.

But, the cost will vary depending on a variety of factors – including whether you build the system yourself, and the type and size of system you need for your specific water source.

What does it take?

Obviously, the first thing you need is a water source on your property. According to The minimum requirement is a water flow at the speed of 2 gallons per minute. You can easily measure the water flow by measuring the fill-time of an appropriately sized bucket.

Before deciding to set up a hydroelectric home power generation system you also need to check with local environmental authorities to make sure that doing so is legal. Some regions have regulations about setting up such systems.

A system has a variety of different elements, including a turbine which is moved by the water, a battery and/or direct line for the power to be used, and in some cases it is necessary to return the water to the source if you are in some way altering the water flow.

The rest of the details depend on your specific situation, and the companies that sell systems or parts can help you find what you need. You can buy/create systems that use a variety of different types of turbines designed for different types of water sources: ranging from tall waterfalls, downhill streams, small waterfalls, etc.


Buy or Build?

You can decide whether to buy or build a system from scratch.

A company call Home Hydro stationed in California sells hydroelectric power generators for (at the time of this writing) around $1350. Their website provides an abundance of information to help you figure out what kind of system you need, and what is necessary to make one of their generators work for you.

Another company, Micro Hydro, has a long history of developing hydroelectric home power systems.

The above companies will work with you to design a system that works best for your situation. A quick google search will reveal several more companies, but making sure that they provide one-on-one assistance is vital.

It is certainly possible to build one yourself. The necessary parts not hard to find and there a plethora of resources to learn all the necessary planning, assist you in finding the parts you need, and walking you through the whole building process. Below are some of the recommended books that can help you step-by-step through the whole process.

Building a home hydroelectric power generation system can be a great way to cut costs, go off-grid, and reduce your impact on the environment. It is not an easy endeavor, it will take some research, planning, and careful construction - but the rewards can be tremendous.

To you, what would be the main reason you would want to try hydroelectric home power?

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