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Transmission Distance  RSS feed

 
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Our elderly neighbor just put the property right behind ours up for sale. It's land locked so the price is reasonable. There's a creek on the property. From what I've learned watching you tube videos there's enough flow & head to run a small hydroelectric set-up. I don't know much about electricity or setting up an off grid power source. I'm just wondering weather it's even worth my time & money to invest in the land. My main concern is that the creek is a LONG way from our house. A 1/4 mile or more. Is it possible to run power that far? Cost effective???
Thank you for your patience with my novice question.
t
 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Tracy,

I really respect your desire to capture energy from water falling down a hill.  There are devices out there that can run a household from a small hydroelectric plant.  But for you, sadly the problem is going to be the cost of running electrical cable 1/4 of a mile.  I don't even know if it were legal for you to run that much line unless it were trenched in.  The devices in a category called micro-hydro, and you can probably google this easily enough.  But your real problem is getting 1/4 mile worth of high quality wire.  Electrically speaking, most outlets in homes are on 20 amp circuits and require 12 gauge wiring (in this case, the higher lower the number, the thicker the wire, the more electricity it can handle and the less resistance over distance).  I would think you would need at least 30 amp wiring (10 gauge)  you could start by going online or to a local hardware store to price 1200-1500 feet of 10 gauge wiring.  This would at the very least give you a starting point by which to measure the cost of installing such a system and trying to figure out if you can make the numbers work.

I am afraid that I can not give you an exact price at this point, but I would look up the price of a micro-hydro setup and the price of 1500 feet or 10 gauge wiring.  This will be you bare minimum cost and will only go up from there.

In addition to this, you will need to figure out obvious stuff like your homes electrical use (and if you need help there, we can talk more) and the water flow of the creek.  Of course, if you know nothing about electrical work, you will DEFINITELY want to have an electrician do this work for you.

Please keep us informed and let us know how this project of yours progresses.  I am already extremely curious.

Eric
 
pollinator
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I'd consider buying it, if only for resale later. It's landlocked for now, but since you own adjacent property, you could establish an easement access to the landlocked piece. This would make it far more desirable for someone interested in buying a private piece of land. Thus it would be more valuable, price-wise.
 
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With the price of solar today any property is viable. Your loads would be the determining factor.
 
gardener
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Here's a thought...  Is it better to put the hydro 1/4 mile away and have the electricity travel to you or is it better to pipe the water to you and have the hydro plant near the house?  
 
pollinator
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10awg isn't that bad...

If you need to bury it, that is painful... conduit, or far more expensive direct burial wire... plus the work. I sure wouldn't want that long a run above ground on my property though.

The kick in the teeth is that 10awg over that distance will allow only 8amps @ 240v, with a whopping 10% voltage sag. You'd need 6awg to send the same current if it were 120v.. (googling 'wire size calculator' will let you play around with this..)

Quite a limited amount of power; if you are willing to spend lavishly and live with a frugal power budget, it's not impossible. If you have unlimited funds you can have regular suburban house power budget...

I had a similar distance to reach power at the road. It was going to be around 60-70k(Cdn) to bring 400a onto the property and 200A to the house site, with drops at a couple barns en route...without counting any cost for me and my excavator doing the bulk of the labour.

I went with solar instead. 1/3 the cost, and substantial compromises.

If it's feasible to grab the property anyhow... seems like a golden opportunity with it being landlocked.
 
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Well......FWIW

Transmission lines are ludicrously expensive because of fantastic line loss of DC and peoples concerns about high voltage, but......if your cahones are not shriveled with fear by lethal voltages there is a simple solution.
Transformers are 95% to 98% efficient.
If you have an in, with electrical contractors, or utility workers, line voltage transformers (yes the ones at the poletop) run from 2250 / 240 v to 4160 / 208 v depending where you are in the country.
Transformer calculation are % in = % out,  so a backfed 2250 / 240 at 24v would = 225v out (or at least 95% thereof!)

Wire size is rated for Amperage, (#10 is good for 30A) with the size increased every hundred odd foot to compensate for voltage drop.
But power, as shipped is measured in wattage, (VxA=W)  thus 5000 watts of power at 24 volts = 208.33 amps requiring a 4/0 wire for the first hundred feet but 5000W at 225V = 22.22 A requiring a #10 wire for the first 100 feet.

A 4160 / 208 transformer back fed at 24v would have an output of 480V , therefore 5000W at 480V would equal 10.42 A,  a reasonable run for 10 A at 480 v would be #12 wire for the first 150',   #10 to 280', #8 to 500" #4 to 700', etc.

The caveats are you must feed your transformer AC, you must have an equivalent transformer at the other end, (where you finally would rectify it to DC) and you generator must be rewired for single phase (2 poles) and many of the old used transformers (the ones that are getting changed out) are filled with toxic Polychlorinated biphenyls
 
master pollinator
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No piece of land is ever landlocked any more. The landowner can in fact force you to sell a right of way to access his land by all rights depending on certain factors. That is because without access, the land is utterly worthless, and that devalues the property value. Because property taxes are derived from that value, and all of society is based upon paying property taxes, including the salaries of those who make and enforce the laws; these kind of laws are in place.

Now it does not mean that right of way has to go across you. Here is a case in point. My cousin has 115 acres of land locked land behind my house that he wants to sell. He wants me to sell a right of way to him so the land can be sold. I do not want a house 500 feet from mine, and certainly not for a few hundred dollars which would be all I would get for a right of way. BUT I am not required to sell. Traditionally that land was never accessed by my land. To access it, we went across another neighbors land. So in my case, I am not obligated by law to sell a right-of-way at fair market value.

Now in your case, I would not tell him that!! And in fact for that reason alone I might buy the land so that you are not forced to sell and a right of way to the land. The fact that it has a stream is only a bonus.
 
Travis Johnson
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This is the best video series I ever saw on making Micro Hydro really work. It takes some time, but shows how diverting flow to a generator shed was accomplished. This video is late in the series, but if you trace its roots back, you can watch the build.

 
Travis Johnson
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The way I see this, you have two options. Either bring the water closer to the house and install a turbine close by, or put the turbine by the stream and run power to the house.

I have the same problem, but for me it is the ideal location for a windmill, but it is a 1/4 mile away. Since I cannot move the wind closer to my house, my thoughts were to just build a powerline. The cost of wires underground gets expensive because of the rubber jacketing and trenching, so why not do what the grid does and go overhead? ACSR wire will only set you back $2000 for 1/4 mile for both the Hot and Neutral wires. A few cedar posts, and some insulators and you are plugged in. Since it is on your land, and not connected to the grid, there is nothing illegal about it. In fact it is nothing more than a glorified electric fence.

But which is cheaper: building an overhead powerline, or bringing the water to the house via plastic pipes?

No one has really stated what the feasability of the latter is. We all assume that the stream is located uphill from the house, but that may not be the case. A lot of variables have to be just right to plumb the water to a location closer to the house. So an overhead powerline may, or may not be less costly.

In either case, because of the 24/7 nature of hydro power, your return on investment would be pretty quick compared to most alternative power methods.
 
Mike Jay
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Travis Johnson wrote:No piece of land is ever landlocked any more. The landowner can in fact force you to sell a right of way to access his land by all rights depending on certain factors.

 I haven't heard of this before.  Might this depend on the state/country in which you live?
 
Tracy Roepcke
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Thank you all so much for all the quick replies! & no one even said it was s stupid question LOL My main question was answered. It is possible to run power over such a long distance without a huge drop in voltage. Now I need to do more reading/research & start crunching #s. We live up hill from the creek I mentioned so piping the water closer to the house isn't an option.
Thanks again for all your advice. I'll keep you updated on our decision & plans.
t
 
pollinator
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If you ran it 600 or 1000 volts, your wire could be tiny. 3 phase helps if you can get the voltage up.
 
Bill Haynes
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As a clarification....
Wire size is not increased sequentially I.E. if you run 700' ( as per the last example )  the entire run would be #4+

The reason for two phase is because poletop transformers are two poles (windings) off a grounded neutral (centerpoint) three phase transformers are either three single winding transformers with one leg of each joined (wye) or one leg of each winding joined to the next transformer (Delta) or a regular 2 pole connected  in 2/3 of a Delta (ungrounded center (open Delta which produces weird voltages)) either way anything other than 2 phases requires extra parts and complexity.
Many generator/alternator windings are actually 9 windings arranged in 3 strings of two windings in series (three phase), which can be easily rearranged into two strings of three windings to create 2 phases.
Finally wire smaller than #16 is usually only rated for 300 volts (voltage over 300 is going to break down and overcome the  insulation at some point!) and voltage over 600 requires unusual (and expensive) insulation, 600 volt insulation is the industry standard and going over that threshold is increasing your costs.
The one thing that will increase your capacity is fine wire (multiple fine wires twisted together to equal the cross section of regular wire) but again it comes at increased cost.
 
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