Hi Russ; Welcome to Permies!
I have been living with micro hydro for about 25 years now. If you have the right water source you can make more power than you can use!
Other than the advent of permanent magnet alternators you don't see many changes in hydro power because they do not need any!
My hydro is from Harris hydro. It originally had a brushed alternator and I upgraded it to permanent magnet.
I also upgraded the pelton wheel from brass to stainless steel. A major improvement!!!
So Hydro power is all about pressure. If you don't have pressure then you need volume.
They are known as high head low flow or low head high flow.
I have high head low flow. Apx. 300' of vertical drop in 2200' of 1.5" line. I flow 3-5 gpm and get 8-15 amps @12 vt 24 seven 365 days a year.
Tell me about your spring and its location in relation to your house.
That is amazing. We're planning the best way to utilize the water resources in our property and a micro hydro could be the way to go.
We're at the conversion of two valleys - One with a small river and water from Nov - Aug, but very low elevation drop and Another with less water but great elevation drop (we can get around 20m head here).
I'm having a hard time picking a best option, but Pelton might be something to explore.
I see that your is pretty well protected. But how noisy is it? How far can you hear it as a mosquito at night?
Well like I said hydro power needs pressure or flow.
Your seasonal small river with not much elevation change would only work if you can divert most of the water into a pipe. Then you must attempt to measure how much flow is coming out.
If you can fill a 15 cm pipe and it stays full for weeks on end then you might be able to make usable power off of it.
Your smaller stream that has elevation change has a better potential. 2o meters is just ok . I have over 90 meters of drop with 125 psi at the bottom.
It all depends on how much water you can constantly flow. I flow 3-5 gallons per minute That is a bare minimum, any less than 3 and your wasting your money.
With only 20 meters of fall I think you will need to flow twice that amount to make usable power.
You will need to run a line from top to bottom and measure flow. That line should be no smaller than 1", bigger is even better.
Another detail about hydro is your unpressurized waste water leaving the hydro must have a place to go.
Back into the same source it came from is ideal but often not possible.
The next issue is the location of the hydro, 12 volt power must be very close to your battery's to be able to reach them and charge.
Unless your spring / river is right next to your home then you must plumb your waste water away. Mine goes into the plastic barrel and then flows down to water our livestock and then out into our fields.
Hydro's also require a special charge control (constant diversion) and need a way to use that diverted power.
It seems so easy to make water power and it is if you have a good steady supply of water.
The real issue is how much power you can produce and is it a good investment of your time and money to develop.
There is quite a bit of investment in piping and electrical components. Not to mention in the home with battery's and inverter.
My system is barely enough and I also have solar and I have a backup inverter generator.
I am not trying to talk you out of this. Just trying to inform you that you must think it thru completely.
Test your water source for volume before you start investing money.
Calculate apx how many amps you are going to gain.
Consider going with solar for power instead of hydro and your smaller stream for a home water supply.
You might find costs are much less for way more power produced.
EDIT) Hydro are noisy. However it quickly fades into the background when you live with it.
If this was 1996 I could tell you everything about what was available.
Now that it is 2021, I can tell you that Harris hydro is still under that name but is now produced by Dennis Leadbetter.
I have not kept up on new developments or suppliers as mine works great and I don't need a new one.
I will say permanent magnet is the only way to go. Do not invest in a brushed alternator... you will be sorry.
If it is an option, than pay extra and get a stainless steel pelton wheel, it will outlast the bronze ones.
Sorry I am not much help for you.
We will be taking measurements before jumping into the design. It is just a bit difficult as we're not yet living in the land.
Solar is a must. I consider my household a bit more energy intensive than most houses I see here so a system with multiple sources (solar + hydro) is needed.
We're also in northern Portugal, where the winters are very rainy, windy and cloudy, while summers are dry, sunny and HOT. So the combination could help stabilize the power generation.
Sorry to bother you again. :)
The previous owners have constructed a dam to raise the level and diverge water into their farms. This is the river with a higher flow, but low head.
There is, however, this drop that borders our land.
From your experience, do you think there is energy to be generated here?
Marcelo: Yes! That looks like if you can pipe the outlet, there is plenty of water at least in the spring and early summer.
From your earlier description I had envisioned a flat slow creek. This photo looks like there is plenty of water even with the smaller drop.
Are you sure you can do what you like with this? No other neighbor will complain?
No government regulations?
Regarding the neighbors, we only have one to the other side of the river and he has his own pipe of the other side of the dam. He does not seem to use it frequently, as his canal seems often blocked.
The water is already somewhat channeled into our land (see video below) . But the outlet has many leakages and once it enter the property, the drop we can get will be around 6 feet maximum.
From the tree onwards it's already in our land (to the left after the video shows the canal.
Regarding regulation, we would have to submit a request if we aim to install it that close to the river. The municipality is pretty open about new projects as we have a very low density of people in the region.
However, to put the waterwheel there could be a problem since the river can go up quite a bit (rarely, but has happened) and it might destroy it.
I like what you have to start with. It appears that you could slow up some of those leaks with some minor work.
Or lay pipe in that channel so the water has to run where you want it to.
You suddenly have mentioned a water wheel...? Huge difference in infrastructure between them and a micro hydro.
Water wheels are really cool BUT... permits... building... open water that can evaporate...
I know in Europe you can buy large belt driven generators. They no doubt would make more power. You would spin one from a water wheel. I think they are very costly.
In my opinion a micro hydro would be much simpler and less expensive.
I'm open to any system that is the best fit to our situation! I mentioned the waterwheel because I somehow have it in my head that is there's no high head, the Pelton Turbine is not a good option (but with pressure, it might be a good option).
I thought the same about patching up those leaks! I can tell someone did something similar years ago, but it is in deep need of more work (which could increase the flow to our property significantly.
We sure don't want to overdo it.
I'm picking up many ideas from our chat. I really appreciate your experience and help!
That is brilliant Thomas.
I will check also the suppliers we have around here, but that is the type of system I think will prevail after comparing our options.
Let me know if you know any over this side of the pond. :)
To jump in here, I have solar in place and a gas generator. Like many parts of the country, my region has indirect lighting from Early December into March ... give or take. I also have a rather large pond with an overflow that runs 9 to 12 months a year. The overflow always runs un the winter when it is clouded over for months. The overflow runs (conservatively) at 8 gallons a minute with a useable 6 ft drop. I suspect that drop could be as much as 20 feet with some effort, but I would rather run with the lower figure. Is there a reasonable possibility to produce electricity ....and how do I do it?
Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions. Mark Twain
hello if you search with go ... video micropelton you find many DIY (even with my nickname))
I'm for the pico hidro with any height and reach (to start. and then we'll see?)
the most important thing is the water intake at the source that does not cause turbulence and few clogging. do not save on the diameter of the duct, avoid corners and bottlenecks such as false slopes <which create an air bubble which reduces efficiency <
uses three-phase industrial brushless servomotors, which you can easily find at affordable prices
and a good MPPT solar regulator the biggest expense is not the turbine but the piping done well
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