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Mountain-side creek Micro Hydro potential and plan?  RSS feed

 
William West
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Hello all!

My first post and here to talk micro hydro plans and options

I purchased some property in the PNW this year with 2 spring wells and a very heavy running creek that has been flowing steadily all year. I am up at around 1800ft. The creek has approx 50-75ft of head running from one side of my property to the other. There are also some small 3-5 ft waterfalls along the run.

Flow:
spring wells- 2-4 gpm depending on time of year, coming out of a 2 inch pipe on the highest elevation of property
creek- not sure of approx gpm. It is heavy... 10-15ft wide x 1-3 ft deep channel. Nov-Apr it is a torrential rush of water... thousands of gallons of water are rushing by on my property per minute. May-Oct this decreases by 20-30%

I set up a small solar system this year with 4 heavy duty, sealed gel, 12 Volt battery bank that I got from a solar friend via a forest service surplus. I have to dig up the name and brand, but they are apparently 10+ year lifespan, tough batteries. I am hoping I can use these batteries for my solar and eventual hydro set up simultaneously

There is power run to the property from an old cabin that is no longer there. I could possibly get it hooked up, but the cost is outrageous with the county due to issues with previous owner and foundation placement, and more than that I just want to be completely off grid for power consumption. I may set it up as a back up one day... but not anytime soon.

SO...Ive been digging around for a few months and seeing tons of conflicting opinions online about micro hydro. Hopefully you guys can help me sort through the options and help to figure out an efficient system based on my lands potential

I am a sculptor and furniture maker and have worked off generators for my saws and welders before. I would ideally like to run these off hydro, but I realize it may be too much to ask for a small system.
Here is a list of my ideal power set up from hydro

-100-200W of led lighting -mostly at night, plenty of natural light during the day
-TV, projector, DVDs
-50W guitar amplifier -small music shows
-tankless hot water heater
-small electric heater for an 8'Wx 15'L x 7'H tiny home  -only used in extreme cold, emergency. we have a wood stove for heating as well.
-small refrigerator
-small washer/dryer
-Chop Saw, Palm Sanders, 10 Amp Table saw
-20 Amp Welder
-220V

Budget-$2000-$5000 upfront for hydro system/power efficient appliances and tools

I can do without A LOT of these items, but this is my ideal off grid list. Basics are, lighting, hot water, hand power tools for work and projects around the land.

If i can run part of this off the spring wells then it will be much closer to my homesite. If I use the creek it is 100ft-500ft away from my homesite, depending on where the turbine ends up/battery location, etc.

Lastly, I know in a hydro system there need to be an output for the extra power generated once the batteries are full, a fan, heater, etc. I was daydreaming about a water heater that I could place in a diverted pool of the stream for a poor mans hot spring...  any thoughts on the feasibility of this?

Thanks ahead of time for your thoughts and input on my situation and requirements. I hope this is enough info to get a dialogue going!

Happy New Year and to a productive and peaceful 2017!




 
Kate Callahan
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Location: Florida, USA
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Hi,

I watched an interview with Dr. Mercola recently and he was speaking about the dangers of led lights and how they can cause blindness due to the blue spectrum.  He was recommending incandescent lighting as an alternative because it has the infrared spectrum which is beneficial to our eye health.  Just thought this might be some useful info for you as you get your plans underway for living off grid.  Here is the web link.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/10/23/near-infrared-led-lighting.aspx#!
 
Tj Jefferson
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Have done a fair amount of research on these. IF you use the entire output of your stream for the entire altitude difference you are probably looking at 1000+ Watts generated (huge fudge factors throughout). This is enough to run one 10A circuit. IF you can afford to install a home storage system you could conceivably run everything off that with no problem if you are a modest consumer. But you basically have an intermittent stream through your property and that's a big generator and big wiring. I don't have the financials I did for the other property, but the payback period is very high. It may be reasonable if you can't get power from the grid.

I would still look on some of the supplier websites and source the equipment, realizing you still have to build the collection system. Lots of good venues out there to do research.  I got it all from supplier websites-calculations, strategies etc.

 
Travis Johnson
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In a nut shell what you have is the Colorado River 100 years ago: a wild raging river part of the year and all dried up the rest. You certainly can harvest the power of it like they did and and put in micro-hydro, but you are really looking at a lot of money to do so. You have two options there: either dam up the stream and store its water and thus potential energy, or build a battery bank up and store lots of electricity for when it is dry. Either way is pretty pricey, and may be problematic securing the authority to do it even.

Your electrical requirements are pretty high too from what I can tell, and while I know they are not constant, what you are asking and when, is pretty taxing in an off-grid situation.

I might consider scaling back on your power needs, installing a micro-hydro system as augmentation if you can get the umbilical cord of the grid there within reason. People are better advisors then me, but I believe a efficient Pelton wheel alone will cost you $2000. I am not saying it can't be done, nor am I saying don't do it, I just an't imagine doing so on that sort of budget.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Almost certain to need a kaplan. More material for channel, not piped. You are talking almost 10-12" diameter channel. https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/ayazsuleman/0-final-report-hydroelectric-power-plant sorry thumb typing
 
William West
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Throughout the year I checked the flow of the mountain stream and doesnt lose much of the flow it has during its peak run off, even in the height of summer. The spring wells do lose about 20-30% of their flow though.

I realize this could fluctuate, but the stream does seem to be fairly constant. I wouldn't want to dam it up if not totally necessary. Something low impact would be ideal.

At the moment Ive been looking into starting with one of the power spout Pelton turbines.

As i mentioned a small water heater and lights would be the basic setup Id like to have from hydro.
 
Tj Jefferson
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You can want a pelton. It won't work well. Please read the slides probably number 8 or so. You don't have the pressure head...
 
Travis Johnson
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William West wrote:Throughout the year I checked the flow of the mountain stream and doesnt lose much of the flow it has during its peak run off, even in the height of summer. The spring wells do lose about 20-30% of their flow though.

I realize this could fluctuate, but the stream does seem to be fairly constant. I wouldn't want to dam it up if not totally necessary. Something low impact would be ideal.

At the moment Ive been looking into starting with one of the power spout Pelton turbines.

As i mentioned a small water heater and lights would be the basic setup Id like to have from hydro.


I actually owe you an apology.

I was thinking last night as I was laying in bed that my post was rather negative and not very constructive. Of late, I having been trying to be more constructive then negative because this fall I endured some harsh criticism from someone that was not necessary. There is a time and place for realistic replies, but in this case the man just did not want to let a younger, more physically able, more enthusiastic guy, join in on HIS non-profit charity. And this was just an employee of a rather large facility. I do not want to be like that, so please forgive me for my lapse in judgement.

I will say that I also understand the need for brevity on these forums and that not everything can be explained in detail. Pictures would be great, and I would love to see you have micro-hydro. I guess the challenge would be to find what works.

Since I have not done micro-hydro myself, I'll have to just watch how this thread transpires.

Again, I am sorry for my negativity. It was not warranted at all and I hope I have not dampened your enthusiasm.
 
Travis Johnson
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After a little thought, I am wondering if you could set up a micro-hydro set-up for your budget, running the bare necessities, then maybe just run a portable generator on the really cold nights? I just picked up a generator for $289 for an extended outage we just had. I understand no one wants to run a generator in a tranquil setting, but for those times when just a wee-bit more excited electrons is needed, would not be the end of the world.

Just a thought.
 
thomas rubino
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Hi William; I've been reading these posts and thought i would chip in. I live with micro hydro , have for over 20 years.  Many ways to do things .  It sounds to me that your creek is the place to make your power. No dams necessary other than a funnel point to place a 4" or better pipe. Run it alongside / down the creek. A low pressure high volume 4 nozzle pelton or a turgo runner can make you mass amounts of power. So much power that most people with a 4 nozzle hydro have a shut off on each nozzle to cut back how much power they are making!   You mentioned the creek is away from your house . Make your power at the creek , invert it from dc to ac and then you can run it as far as you need (within reason) let the waste water from the hydro just flow back into the creek. If you use your piped water you will have to find a place for it to run off ... much easier to let it go back to the creek. Yes you need battery's , the ones you have may be fine or not that depends on how much power you make versus how much you need to use . If you set up near the creek, you will need a battery shack for your battery's and a separate area for your inverter. Hydros always need a constant diversion regulator in the system , heating a pool isn't going to happen ...  but you could put your dump there , just don't think of taking a hot bath...I use a ballast dump in the far end of my home that heats up and also runs a computer fan to blow heat around that end of our house. Strings of lights also work well as a diversion , fans or just about any form of electric consumption, as long as it uses more power than you can make. Run a hydro with to small a dump and your alternator will over cycle and burn out in short order. You mentioned on demand hot water heaters, look at paloma, one of the first made and no electricity required at all . The newer fancy ones that people are installing use way more electric than they should... i wouldn't own one.
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Harris hydro permanent magnet hydro, single nozzle
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Paloma ph-24 on demand water heater
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hydro power dump
 
William West
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@thomas rubino

Thank you very much for the thoughtful and informative reply!

Everything makes sense too me regarding this set up. I've taken a look at Harris Hydro's site. I'm assuming you would recommend their 4 nozzle system for my situation?

What is a ballast dump? looked around online, but not exactly sure about this component.

Best,
William


 
thomas rubino
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A ballast dump is a ballast resister . Go to a wind power site , I think Kansas windpower is a good one . there you will learn about  ballast resistors and permanent magnet alternators...  they may even offer one that puts out a/c instead of d/c.  Harris hydro ( now run by Denis Leadbetter and  called low power engineering) is a good place to start to look .  Turgo runner hydro's is another style of wheel that may be better suited to your site. Google them as well.   Yes, it sounds like you have a low head - high volume site where a 4 nozzle would work well.  My site is high head - low flow , I have 300' of vertical drop but only run 3-5 gal a minute thru it. I make 10-12 amps at 12 vt  24-7.  I still need a backup genset for when we are  using high draw items. Nice part of that is our inverter has a built in battery charger that refills the battery's at the same time as it runs everything else (sweet huh).  I have been buying "champion " gensets  made in china (sold at cosco) I tried onan and  other lower cost 3600 rpm sets and you can't beat the price versus the longevity of them.   Honda and yamaha make awesome  inverter generators.. they idle down when not under hard draw and last years but your looking at 2000-3000 to get one ! Champion is now making a 2000 watt inverter genset and it is stackable  (two makes a 4000 watt set ) they are running around 800 each.  An 8000 -9000 watt ( Non inverter ) champion is 600-700 bucks.  Make sure you get one with a wireless remote starter .   About your creek , you need to evaluate its potential ... will it fill a 4" pipe of the required length all year how bout a 6"   you may want to start large 8" and drop down to 4 " exactly how much drop do you get ? These are the things you need to figure out,  to build an appropriate system .  Your budget is low ... how low ? depends on materials you will need .You can always start small and work your way up. Off grid living is not cheap and not for everybody .. look at all your costs and remember things like battery's and electronics will need to be replaced every ten years or so. It really isn't "free" energy.  I have street power that was connected to my house and still crosses my land but I choose to thumb my nose at it and stay 100% off grid . Have I spent more $ by doing this YUP but I didn't understand that at the beginning,  should I have left the street power connected and pay every month I know now that would have been cheaper... Do I wish I had done that   NO not even a little ! I love being off grid , not even knowing when my neighbors are out of power.    Good luck with your new place and keep us posted on your progress.
 
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