How it Works

Our machines are designed to make use of a natural source of running water. Water from the stream is channelled into a pipeline to gain enough head (vertical drop the water falls) to power the system. The water passes through a nozzle, where it accelerates, strikes the turbine wheel and turns the generator shaft. The amount of power produced will depend on the head and flow from the water source. A simplified explanation of the basics behind micro hydro machines can be found here.

There are two basic models which fit two different needs. The stream engine is designed to take advantage of sites with higher head while the LH1000 is designed for sites with low head and high flow. Both models are designed for battery-based power systems, with electricity generated at a steady rate and stored in batteries for later use. When AC power is desired an inverter is used to convert the stored energy. In grid tie applications, the machines are usually used to generate high voltage DC that is compatible with grid tie inverters.

Stream Engine

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The design to the right shows the basic set-up for a stream engine machine. Water is channelled into a pipeline and then sent downstream through the piping where it passes through the turbine and then returns back to the source of water. The stream engine can operate at heads of about 3 metres (10 feet) and upward.

The general formula for watts of output is head (in feet) times flow (gallons/minute) divided by 10. In metric, head (in metres) times flow (litres/second) times 5. Our machines tend to outperform this calculation but this will provide a good starting point.

Find out more about the stream engine on the product page.

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Low Head

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The LH1000 is designed specifically for sites with low head and high flow. The LH will operate best at heads between 1 metre (3 feet) and 3 metres (10 feet) but requires flow of at least 1000 gallons per minute. The design to the left shows how a low head machine is set-up. The water passes through a guide vane assembly and turns the propeller which is connected to the generator. The water then exits through a draft tube that is immersed in the water source.

Find out more about the LH1000 on the product page.

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Getting Started

In order to get started you will need to determine if your site meets the requirements for generating micro hydro power. To do this you will need to measure the head and flow of your water source. Click the link to view a helpful guide on determining these measurements. Once you have measured your head and flow, refer back to the website to find out which product fits your needs.

Grid Tie

It is possible to use a hydro machine for use on a grid-tie house or business. The main difference will be the extra costs associated with grid-tie compliance. In order to meet regulatory requirements it will likely be necessary to hire an experienced installer. Some utilities may offer net metering, which means they will deduct the power produced from your energy bill but may not pay you for excess power. It is important to consult with your utility provider prior to making any decisions. It is possible to by-pass the utility by using the DC power from the hydro machine to heat hot water or air directly. Below is a to-do list before considering grid tie hydro power:

  • Check With Your Utility For Their Requirements

  • Refer To Your Power Bill To Determine Your Current Energy Usage

  • Check With Your Local and State Inspectors for Their Requirements

  • Check With Any Regulatory Agencies (Waterways) as Permits or Rights May Be Needed

  • Check With National Electric Code 2014 (USA) Requirements

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FAQ’s

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more information!