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Anybody have micro hydro?  RSS feed

 
Carina Robicheaux
Posts: 35
Location: Oregon Coast Range zone 8b
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I am in the design phase of setting up a new sustainable housing site. I have a spring above the house site with 200' head and 1.5GPM. The plan is to gather water from the spring in a 1400 gal poly tank 50' below the spring source. This would give me 150' head from poly tank to house, and 2000gal or so per 24 hours available. It's unlikely we would use that much domestically, so I'd like to leave room in the design for micro hydro installation after the house is built.
I would love to hear from anyone who has an on site micro hydro system, to get feedback on; do you like it? was it worth it? Anything you would do differently? Does it meet or exceed your expectations?

We already have almost 500W PV, plus batteries and inverter, so the micro hydro would be for wintertime when there's no sun here in the PNW.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
 
Edward Gurd
Posts: 3
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I lived on a site where we had a 30kw hydro and in winter, ice was a problem even with 50 cubic feet of water flow per second. I have some amazing pictures from it. How deep were you planning on burying your pipe for your head and how much solarthermal are you going to put on your reservoir if your goal is to use this in winter in the Pacific North West?
 
Matt Walker
Posts: 244
Location: North Olympic Peninsula
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I don't think freezing will be an issue in the PNW, unless you are East of the mountains. I live in a 90 year old house with a very similar water supply system, I've never had a significant freeze. Occasionally I'll need to run an incandescent in the lower cistern equipment shed, but not often.

I'm curious to hear the responses here though, I'd like to add MH to my system as well. Very similar flow and head here.
 
Carina Robicheaux
Posts: 35
Location: Oregon Coast Range zone 8b
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Thanks for the responses. 50CFS is a BIG system.
We're planning on burying pipe about 12". It rarely gets extremely cold here. we just had a week of lows in the high 20's(F) and that is usually just for a week or so when it gets back up to 40F and rain (normal winter weather).
So 12" down in the forest is probably overkill for freezing, but we're using PEX from the spring to the tank, just in case. Most people here just lay their poly pipe on top of the ground, but the bears hear water in the line and bite the pipe so burying is as much for bear protection as freeze protection.

I plugged in my numbers to a calculator from the RockyHydro website, and we may not have high enough flow to justify microhydro. I was looking at about 500W per day, using most of the water in the tank.

http://www.rockyhydro.com

We are tossing around ideas about how to get more volume. We could pickup lower on the spring where 2 drainages converge, but would be sacrificing head. We could maybe use a ram pump from the spring convergence, but again, not sure if it would be enough to be worth the expense. We're still in the surveying and gathering info phase (though I have a plastic barrel with holes/fittings installed for a collector) I will keep posting as the situation evolves.
 
Mark Rose
Posts: 45
Location: Toronto
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If you got about 60% efficiency, with 150 ft of head, you'd generate about 27 watts, or 650 watt hours per day. If you used all 200 ft of head, you'd manage about 860 watt hours per day. Certainly put your tank as high as possible. But be aware it's only enough electricity to run a laptop or an 8" household fan (barely).

Electricity costs about $0.10 per kWh. Even in the best case, you'd be generating about $2.50 worth of electricity a month.

I might do it just for the fun factor, but that'd be it.
 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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another forum for micro hydro is fieldlines.com and its sponser otherpower.com
kent
 
Carina Robicheaux
Posts: 35
Location: Oregon Coast Range zone 8b
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Thanks for the input guys.
You're right Mark. After running the numbers a few different ways, my conclusion is that this site has enough water for domestic use, but not enough to make micro hydro cost effective. I'm going to concentrate on setting up for domestic/agri water only.
Maybe I'll look into wind at a later date, and just be satisfied with solar for now. I'm OK with just using less power and shifting my activities to take advantage of natural light. Other members of my group are pretty fixated on having electric luxuries. Oh well.
Thanks again for the advice and the links.
 
Brian White
Posts: 38
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I just lost a half hour reply, anyway, please check out my playlist at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFD3B655FED590244&feature=viewall
and wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitation_water_vortex_power_plant
and

www.zotloeterer.com/welcome/gravitation_water_vortex_power_p303eaf7dd48a84df03ded234a5adeae6.php
People are slow to take up new technology but both the vortex and the reverse Archimedes screw have enough history now for people to jump in and still be a pioneer.
I personally think the vortex power plant is awesome because the fish can migrate up and downstream THROUGH THE POWER PLANT!
I have had contact with the vortex inventor for about a year so if anyone needs an introduction or translation help let me know. English is not his first language but now much of the info is in english too. Even 6 months ago that was not the case.
Brian
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
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Paul and Kelda continue reviewing sepp holzer's Permaculture (the book), chapter 1 part 5 in this podcast: podcast

They talk about micro hydro.
 
Patrick Keller
Posts: 6
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Hi there;
We use a micro hydro system, in conjunction with about 600 watts of solar. Although we are fortunate enough to have a small, year-round creek (maybe 100 gpm) running through our property, and while I am still enthralled by micro-hydro, I must say, it's not been as easy as I'd hoped. This is due more to my amateur enthusiasm than to any real-world, inherent problems.
Now in its third or fourth iteration, the current system is as follows; an 8" single-mold turgo-runner directly coupled to a 200vDC treadmill motor, producing somewhere around 400 watts of continous DC power at roughly 15volts.

Over the years, I've tried multiple auto alternators with some success, but the brushes on all of them could not keep up to the task. I finally bought a box of 7 treadmill motors from ebay, and have used them for various power production experiments, including the micro-hydro system.

Originally, I had no charge controllers (literally old extension cords wired to the battery bank, etc.) so it's become a bit more refined over time. Most of the issues come from our water supply. We have about 200 feet of 2" black vinyl pipe running from a small pond (fed by the creek) and dropping about 50' vertical ft in total (50' head). The pipe changes to 1.5", then 1", then enters a single nozzle on the base of the motor where it is reduced to 1/4" before blasting the runner. The thing really hums. However, we have freezing issues and fluctuating water levels (lots in the spring, less in the winter, when its more prone to freezing...) We'd love to trench the line, but its not practical through the thick brush.

For anyone interested and with a good amount of patience and water flow, I'd recommend trying your hand at it... when its working, it's a very cool technology. Trying to thaw lines out, or running up and down the mountain 20 times a day can get frustrating, but it can be most rewarding when the batteries hit a fully charged state at 3:00 a.m. in the middle of winter. I will post pix of our homebrewed system asap, for anyone interested.
 
Rufus Laggren
Posts: 481
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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Here's a link to a fellow who has run a (very) small hydro plant for three years or so. I believer there are 8 or 9 subsequent hydro pages on his site.

http://www.mrsharkey.com/hydro-power


Rufus
 
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