Introduction: Home Made Hydro Power System

Picture of Home Made Hydro Power System

At Fuelternatives we are trying to help consumers find solutions to allow them to use alternative energy sources. We have been working on some experiments to that end and this is one of them...

In an effort to extend the offerings here, I thought it would be neat to include the basics for a hydro electric set up using PVC/standard plumbing fixtures and easily made parts.

I made some interesting discoveries along the way and am sharing them...

I started by trying to make an inline energy take off with a pre-made propeller blade from a paint stirrer. While an interesting thought, I couldn't get any reasonable motion out of it - which reminded me of my physics that the max torque will come with the force applied furthest out radially.

Paddle Wheel Hydro Power.
First things first - physics reminds us that we can make energy only convert it and every conversion includes loss. Next that water pressure from gravity is directly related only to the height of the smooth column flow.

Design plan - knowing that we want a smooth flow but our goal is to move the water out to the radial extremes of our propeller, I created a basic test harness to try and understand how to optimize the hydro power system. The pipes here are really representative of what you would have to install in your environment. I fill up the 5 foot tall 2 inch pipe to get a know water volume for efficiency testing.

The picture below gives a good taste for the workings...

Step 1: Water Flow

Picture of Water Flow

The point here is to show the behavior of the water and the wheel. We are aiming the water jets to hit just under tangent to the edge of the wheel so we get maximum effect. Note the whit painted wheel section shows the spin.

A note on performance... You can see the short pipe on the far side is impacting the wheel well, but on the longer jet on the near side needs to be tweaked to maximize impact.

Step 2: Building the Structure

Picture of Building the Structure

The support structure for your practice design is not critical. Shown here, I have a 2 by frame work with a peg board top and a support piece of plywood to keep the wheel in alignment.

The feed pipe gets filled from the hose while I hold the jets closed. Then step back cause water is splashing everywhere.

Ultimately, an installed system might get set in a sump style container so that it can drain away the water.

Step 3: The Plumbing

Picture of The Plumbing

It is important to keep a full pipe since total "head" or falling distance is the basis of water pressure. If we introduce significant disruptions in flow we might impact performance...

We have a 2 inch feed line, but we want it to come out in a tight and aimed water jet. Given that we reduce from 2 to 1.5 inch "T" then plug the "T" ends with 1 inch reducers that then tie into 1 inch "90" bends and in this case, we have the other end of the 90 be a 1/2" compression fitting so that we can use 1/2" copper pipes as our jets.

Copper pipe is easily bent to shape and the tips flattened to maximize the impact on the paddle wheels.

At this point only the compression joint is tight both to the copper and the PVC so that all other angles and parts are just pressure fit, allowing me to change them as needed. To get the far side jet angled so close, it uses a 90 degree compression fitting that you can make out with effort in the back of the picture.


Robdogg (author)2015-11-01

Does anyone know were I can find some good instructions for a waterwheel for a large waterfall on our farm and some water-turbines for our large streams that differ in flow.

maychine (author)Robdogg2016-05-29

hi! did you get a copy?

CosimoB (author)Robdogg2016-04-28

If your still looking for some projects.

maychine (author)2016-05-29

where can i get a free pdf instruction for this homemade hrdro gen, that i don't have to be a pro?

megauser12 (author)2015-11-10

nice its hard to find these materials though

nagato7 (author)2015-03-03

junaid.ahmad.9828 (author)2014-10-04

waste water of city can also be utilized for generating electricity. this can be possible by making artificial dams which can drive turbines through water falls from certain height.

facetheash (author)2014-03-31

May be this could help for a Science fair unless and until you are ready to drain your water tank to generate less energy or ready to carry barrels of water to jsut perform the demo.... But for beginners this is one of the good practice to learn energy conversion... And thanks for helping them :)

alexmac131 (author)2012-08-06

I like your idea, one idea is to use collected rain water pumped to a high tank during excess solar generation, Then when there is no sun use the water in the high tank as a hydro power source.

In this way you can save excess solar energy into long term storage. Also someone had thought of compressed air as a means of storing the energy.

It would be interested to compare these and hydrogen system .

Grey water collection system , rain water lower tank , upper tank would work as storage as well saving water.

Good job, you have given me more to think about

Lefrançois (author)2011-12-04

Use you washing machines drain pumps, the vanes are optimized.

taluntain (author)2011-09-06

you should put a grey water catcher under it

styryl (author)2011-07-24

I've seen some excellent home-made impact wheels like this using old spoons as the vanes on the water wheel. The rounded nature of them increases the power transfer/torque substantially. Good to see.

tinker234 (author)2011-07-05

so is it a hydren fuel cell

josh.p.drake (author)2010-12-06

How much power did you get out of it?

leifjohnston (author)2010-08-06

A neat addition for a science project would be a dynomometer to measure the output curved over water flow rates. I think that you could make a good project out of it...

shills (author)2010-08-06

will it work for science flair.......

sdallesasse (author)2008-07-18

Also, would like to see some preliminary plans.

dirtwrkx58 (author)sdallesasse2009-05-25

check out

dirtwrkx58 (author)2009-05-25

Check out seems like a reasonable price on hyro.

Lftndbt (author)2008-07-18

That's fantastic.... Looking for any new designers? Way ahead of you on this one. I like your idea of using the gravity flow though... You need to look into some jetison nozzle, approx 3 set at different angles. Your design may not work to full potential with that flow.... If not enough back pressure in the pipe to run jets, flip the wheel vertical and turn it into a classic style water wheel with buckets. The buckets collect the water as it spins and much more torque is produced. Check my finalised comment, in regards to taking a stardard highflow pond pump and running it inline in the main from the street. Pong pumps are designed for the purpose, prebuilt, cheap, effective and it works. Great work!!!

theRIAA (author)Lftndbt2008-07-18

yes, a water wheel would be much more efficient, but would have to be huge. at least twice the height of the source, and just 2x the height would be inefficient, because near the bottom of the water drpo, the water would push down instead of around the water wheel (a long, tall, convener type water wheel should theoretically be 100% efficient) if the wheel was ginormous, the drop would be almost strait down and very efficient. a system like this, but sealed (maybe those hard drive air motors they have here) could be more efficient than a normal water wheel.

Lftndbt (author)theRIAA2008-07-18

[ My mini home turbine power plant.]

leifjohnston (author)Lftndbt2008-07-19

One of our guys was proposing this kind of idea, but we realized that the generation energy was tied to water usage. Might be interesting in a commercial setting or other hi water flow context. The fun part would be to have a series of these kinds of ideas and compare efficiencies and help people make use of them to augment energy productions. Thanks again. Leif

leifjohnston (author)theRIAA2008-07-19

Actually the sealed idea might be interesting to tie in to an inner lining of the housing that added to the tornadic spin effects. I think there could be a better propeller design as well, particularly in the tornado flow construct, but the simple design/ build aspect could go out the window quickly. That said, we might fund the creation of it if there were a marketplace. All back to the efficiency and ease of use design... Thanks Leif

leifjohnston (author)Lftndbt2008-07-19

Actually, I was thinking of sponsoring a design contest for any energy generation thoughts, but I need to contact the instructables folks. I had contemplated a 3 angle system, but found tweaking the 2 to be a pain and fundamentally not convinced it would improve things. It would be an interesting set of experiments to determine which design was optimal. The vertical orientation gave me clean separation of potential alternator location away from water drainage. The vertical drop would add the gravitational component, but ultimately, I think the challenge is the efficiency of the energy transfer. thanks for the thoughts... Leif

sdallesasse (author)2008-07-18

Wouldn't a pair of 45's work better? I.E. less disruption of flow / less friction loss and higher working pressure.

leifjohnston (author)sdallesasse2008-07-19

Not sure what you mean a pair of 45's are you thinking the angle of the jets or the alignment of the paddle wheel? I could provide some plans, but not sure how helpful they would be. At present the rod is a 1/4 in threaded rod with nut and washer connection to the wheel. The wheel is 1/2in plywood circle with 12 slots cut for 1in square pieces of 1/4 in plywood. The rest of the structure is just a support that I could create easily. The plumbing is 2" inflow, constrained and shaped to 1in pvc to 1/2in compression fittings and the copper pipe is just a shape that gave me aiming ability. In fact that took alot of tweaking to improve energy transfer. When the discussion is settled, I will publish a full pdf of materials and instructions. Thanks for your interest. Leif

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