How It Works

How it works

The Basics

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. Our machines can also feed the utility grid.

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 downloaded here.
Energy Systems & Design

Key Terms

Technical jargon broken down to help you understand how it all works.


Total Vertical drop of the water source from intake to turbine.

High Head

The vertical drop of the water source is greater than 3 meters or 10 feet

Low Head

The vertical drop of the water source is between 1 meter or 3 feet and 3 meters or 10 feet

Head Water

The Head Water is the source of the stream leading to the generator.

Tail Water

The tail water is the water that leaves the generator and is returned to the stream

High Head (The Stream Engine)

The design above 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.

Low Head (LH1000)

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.
Energy Systems & Design

Let's get started

In order to get started, you will need to determine if your site meets the requirements for generating microhydro 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.

Our Products

Our Engines

X-Stream Engine

One X-Stream can generate the power of two standard machines.

LH1000 Low Head Engine

The LH1000 is specifically designed machine to operate efficiently in low-head sites. It takes advantage of the same generator as the Stream Engine, however the water turbine component uses a low head propeller design.

Watter Buddy

This little machine generates DC power from a source such as a stream running down a hillside. Water is channelled into a pipeline with enough drop (head) to build up sufficient pressure.

1K Micro Hydro Power System

The 1K Micro Hydro Power System is one of Energy System and Design’s answers to a version of our Stream Engine that can provide reliable power for your needs at an affordable price point.

Energy Systems & Design

Still have questions?
Our staff are experts in the field

They are always willing to answer any questions you may have about microhydro power. Explore our website and find out more about the world of microhydro and how you can start producing your own renewable energy. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.