Off Grid Hydro Power
Practical Considerations

Off Grid Hydro Power Generators are relevant to you if you live in the vicinity of a downhill stream of water that you can rely upon. Not like wind and sun radiation the stream flows day and night every day of the year. This makes the money invested work for you 24 hours a day. Microhydro Power Generation is considered as a very cost-effective method to produce clean sustainable energy, in most cases more economical than small wind turbines and off grid solar power.

Off Grid Hydro Water Considerations

Big Rivers were dammed and are being dammed for the sake of floods control and electricity production. The adverse impact of dams on the environment, such as soil de-fertilization in the Nile basin or disturbing fish migration upstream and downstream are realized now. A micro-hydro power plant is non-intrusive, you don’t dam the stream, you divert part of the water into a pipe, you install the turbine on the pipe outlet to drive a small electricity generator and you let the water return to the original stream.

The amount of power you can generate depends on the difference in altitude between the inlet to the pipe and the outlet from the pipe and on the amount of water that flows in the pipe (the cross section of the pipe).

It is easier to manipulate the electric distribution lines, therefore start you site design by finding the best locations for the water inlet point and the turbine location at the pipe outlet. Don’t worry if the turbine is located far from your home, electricity distribution can be easily handled

Electrical Considerations

The microhydro turbine generates power non-stop, your home demand is fluctuating. There are two ways to equalize supply and demand

  • The one I don’t recommend is to shunt the surplus electrical current into a load, usually to the hot water heater. The disadvantage is that you need to design the production capacity to meet the peak consumption of your home (not including the boiler)
  • The one I recommend is to use a DC generator and to use a bank of batteries to absorb the surplus supply. The advantage is that now you can design the production capacity to meet the average consumption (and not the peak consumption); this results in a smaller and cheaper turbine

DC and AC distribution

You need a small cabin for the installation of the hydro power DC turbine, the charge controller, the off grid batteries and the off grid pure sine inverter. All these use short, high gauge DC electric wire. From the cabin you can run an environmentally shielded AC power line to the building main.To learn more on hydro power click to move from the off grid hydro page to my main hydro page

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Jacob Mintz

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