How to Install a Complete Micro Hydro Alternative Free Power Generation System for your Home.

    This project goes over the details on how you can setup and install a 300W Off the grid Micro Hydro System for your home .

    The water source mentioned in this project have a flow rate of 15 – 30 gallons a minute and the drop between the source and the house is about 150 feet.

    The first step is to make an intake angled screen box for the system that helps in channeling the water from the source. The aluminum screen on the top blocks leaves, sticks and other debris to pass through into the box . The box is made of a 24 inch 2X10 ,2X4 and an 2X8 angled piece treated lumber.

    We add 3 one and quarter inch attachment points on the lower side of the box for the hdpe poly pipes. The box is secured using exterior screws on the outside and inner tubes on the seam to prevent leaks.

    The box is installed on the creek with help of couple of three and half inch concrete anchors and two boards are screwed on both the sides for support.

    The outlet poly pipes from the intake screen box goes to 55 gallon plastic barrel which acts as a silt catchment and also an air free source. The 3 outlet pipes are connected to the top of the barrel with the help of uniseal rubber gaskets. A 2 inch pipe is installed midway on the tank for the penstock.

    We also install an overflow pipe near the top of the tank to take the extra water out and a three inch cleanout pipe at the bottom . The cleanout pipe can be unscrewed to remove the silt and debris out.

    To take the water from the intake to the turbine, the penstock used here is a 100PSI 1100ft 2 inch poly pipe. A threaded adapter is glued to the outlet coming out of the barrel. It is then connected to a two inch full port shutoff ball valve followed by an another threaded adapter and a pipe. The penstock poly pipe is attached to this pipe using barb fittings with hose clamps.

    Next step is to install the pressure gauge and the surge tank to our penstock pipe. Water will come down through the poly pipe into another PVC pipe fitted with a pressure gauge, surge tank, two inch closing ball valve and a union to remove the turbine from the pipe. The surge tank is made of a standpipe that will prevent any water hammer affecting the pipes.

    The two inch poly pipe coming out from the barrel is connected to the two inch PVC surge tank and pressure gauge using regular . If the main shut off valve is suddenly closed, this tank will allow some of the surge to be absorbed.

    Next step is to build a housing for the micro hydro turbine. It is going to have a lid that opens up and a drain field pipe that goes out back to the creek. The housing for the turbine is made of three quarter inch plywood that is 2 X 2 foot wide and one foot tall. The turbine sits inside the hosing in the middle with the help of some 2x 4 scrap wood and a bucket lid piece. Then a 3 inch exit pipe comes out of here down through the middle of the housing .This drain pipe keeps the water from piling up under the turbine.

    The Micro Hydro Turgo Turbine is custom built based on the head pressure and the flow rate of the water source. It has three ball valves and four quarter inch jet nozzles coming out of them. The ball valves can be separately turned off when there is not enough water .The turbine is wired up to be three phase. The water coming out of the penstock hits jet nozzles that turns the Pelton wheel which is connected to 3 phase AC motor.

    To connect the turbine to our house, we use a 10/3 underground feeder wire. The wire is enclosed in a one inch conduit pipe. The proper way to install wire into a conduit is to get your conduit all glued together. And then you have a vacuum that pulls a string through. You tie your string to the wire and then pull the wire through the conduit. The wire goes into the house through a PVC conduit body.

    We install a junction box on the housing of the turbine to join the 3 phase turbine output wires to the 10/3 UG feeder wires coming from the house. Inside the house, we connect a rectifier to the three legs of the three phase coming from the turbine .This converts the AC generated into DC power.

    To generate useable power from this micro hydro system we need to install certain electrical devices in our houses. These include the MPPT Charge Controller, Grid Tie limiter Inverter, breaker box, disconnect switches and the batteries. These components are mounted on a 2 X 2 foot ,three inch plywood board. In case there is some excess heat for one of these electronics at some point, we cover the plywood board with a piece of sheet metal so that it will act as a heat sink.

    From the rectifier, the connection goes into a 25amp breaker box .The red wire goes into the breaker box and then further connects to positive of the charge controller. The negative white wire is directly connected to the negative of the charge controller.

    The five 12V AGM batteries are connected in series using four gauge cables. The positives from the batteries are connected to the charge controller and the inverter via DC switches .These switches allows us to isolate and disconnect the components individually. The negatives from the batteries are connected to the negatives of both charge controller and inverter respectively. The inverter is further connected to receptacle from where it goes straight to the main supply.

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One the other side of the case , we are going to mount the inverter remote control switch, 350A high current plug which is used for jumper cables or to add high current loads, a GFCI AC outlet with a weatherproof cover. The GFCI outlet is connected to the inverter inside the case. We want to put the battery as close to the wheels as possible, because that will help keep the heaviest part down low when moving the case around either on the wheels or by carrying it. We place it snug into a corner of the case using battery mount and couple of pieces of 2X4. The inverter is placed inside the case in such a way that there is enough space for air ventilation and for tucking some of the wires underneath. The inverters are secured in place using mounting tabs and 10x24 machine screws. The PWM solar charge controller is also mounted in the same way near the solar panel connector input. The trickle charger / battery maintainer is placed as low into the back of the case .This is not something that will get very warm so we don't need to worry about heat dissipation or anything like that . We plug the power cord from the trickle charger into the AC input cord. Next step is the wiring. We start by connecting the power cables from the inverter to the battery. The positive and negative from the inverter is connected to the positive and negative of the battery respectively. To distribute power in our generator ,we use a six circuit fuse panel for the positives and a busbar for the grounds. We use two inexpensive battery cables to run the power to our distribution blocks as well as running the power to our high current quick connector. The positive red connection from the quick connector goes to the fuse panel and the black negative connector to the ground busbar. Both connections are further extended to connect to the positives and negatives of the battery respectively. The LED lights are connected to the 3 way connector switches. The switches are further connected to the power distribution fuse block. Similarly a single switch is connected to the USB outlet, voltmeter and the cigarette lighter ports in parallel. The positive from the switch is connected through a daisy chain mechanism to the three positives of the ports ,the negatives are similarly connected to our distribution block. At this point, we now have a power wire and a ground wire for every single one of our accessories connections . We bundle these wires and keep it neat and tidy using zip ties. Separate the positive wires from the negative wires, we are going to be rounding the negative wires to our ground busbar. After we have all of the ground wires connected, we can move on to the power wires on our distribution block. Each one of the blade connectors represents one fuse circuit. We connect the positive red wires from charge controller, battery trickle charger, usb ports,voltmeter,12V outlet to the fuse circuit. We are using a 30A fuse for the charge controller,12V socket, 20A for the LED work lights, 5A for the trickle charger.
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