solar Energy

www.SunWindProducts.Com Off-Grid, Grid-Tie, Sustainable Living, Clean/Green Solar and Wind Energy Product Superstore

home about us contact us Learning Center

www.SunWindProducts.Com is dedicated to finding you all the right products at the best prices. View all of our products and save time today. Also, feel free to suggest a product that you feel SunWindProducts.Com should carry.


Small Scale Hydro

Here are some good references for planning, designing, and building a micro-hydro system.  Step zero is to carefully determine if you have a hydro resource that is worth developing --  some of the references cover how to do this in detail. 


Water pumping is covered under Solar Water Pumping (including Ram Pumps).

Directory for this page:

  • Small Hydro

  • Water Motors


Report Broken Links ...

Small Hydro
Microhydro-Electric Systems Simplfied,
Paul Cunningham and Ian Woofenden


If above in unavailable try,
How to get articles from Home Power ...

A good introduction to micro-hydro electricity generation systems.

Covers the basic types of micro-hydro systems and the components that make them up.

A free download from the Home Power site.

Microhydro - Clean Power from Water,
Scott Davis, New Society Publishers

Some extensive excerpts at Google Books: ...



This is a very good, hands on book for designing and building microhydro systems.  176 pages.  Published 2004.

Covers site assessment, pipe design, turbine selection, nozzle design, ...
Easy to follow design procedures.

You can get it from New Society, Amazon, ...

Water Wheel Engineering,
Ron Shannon (Australia)

All the details:


Water Wheel Engineering by Ron Shannon provides the basics on  water wheels and water turbines.

Ron is willing to answer email questions in this area -- you can reach him at:

unistream AT hotkey DOT net DOT au
(replace AT with @ and DOT's with periods)

Intro to Hydro Power

Dan New

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power magazine article, issues 103, 104, and 105

Very good articles on small hydro power. Covers each part of the hydro system in some detail. Sizing information and some installation information. Part 2 covers in detail the process of determining if you have a sufficient hydro resource to be worthwhile-- a good starting place.

Micro Hydro Articles from Home Power

An article on Micro Hydro basics:

Level Description
Beginner "Micro Hydro Power in the 90s" from HP issue 44
Secondary "Energy Systems & Design’s Stream Engine" product test from HP issue 67
Advanced "Kennedy Creek Hydroelectric Systems" from HP issue 20
More "240 VAC Direct-Drive Hydro" from HP issue 65

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine is providing the articles to the left.

From the same link:
"Small scale hydro (micro-hydro) is the cheapest way to power an RE home. The price per watt-hour is far cheaper than photovoltaics (PV) and even less than wind.

Streams run twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and often 52 weeks per year. The resource is much more site-specific than solar. But if you are lucky enough to have enough head (height between your source and your hydro turbine) and enough flow, then go hydro.

Head and flow are two components in the hydro power formula. A high head system with a very small flow can give the same amount of power as a low head system with a very large flow."


Micro-Hydropower Systems -- A Buyer's Guide,
Natural Resources Canada

Download The Guide (pdf)

The Natural Resources Canada Website...

A very good guide from Natural Resources Canada on planning, designing, getting approvals, and  installing a micro hydro system.

Very well written with quite a bit of practical design and installation material.  56 pages.


EERN -- Small Hydropower Systems

General information on small scale hydro systems from the DOE EERN site.

Living off the Grid – A New Era in Home-Owner Hydro

James R. Udall



Mother Earth News Article, Issue 143 April/May 1994

Good Mother Earth News article on building small scale hydro systems.  Several examples are discussed.  Not sufficiently detailed to do your design from, but good basic material.

Site Evaluation and Design for Micro Hydro Systems (Large download 11.5 MB pdf)


(this link may have a problem 2/8/07)


This is a well organized collection of articles and papers on micro hydro applications.  It covers most of what you will need to do to evaluate your site for hydro, select the right kind of generator, and design and install a small hydro system.


Homebrew Hydro Electric,
Hydro Electric Experiment with Direct Drive Alternator


This is good series of pictures that show in detail the building of a completely home made small Banki turbine. 
This setup works with very modest flow and head, to produce a small, but useful amount of electricity.
Undershot Water Wheel

Full Construction Details...


This is the paper that was used in designing this water wheel:
"Water Wheel Engineering", Ron Shannon

Update 2/15/07 -- some email questions answered.

This efficient undershot waterwheel looks like its been part of the scenery for a hundred years.
Full details on how it was built.
Aspen Hollow Micro-Hydro System

Aspen Micro Hydro System Description:

Turgo spoons, runners, nozzles,.. for sale:

Quite a bit of detailed information on sizing, designing and building a Turgo wheel micro hydro system, as well as what appear to be reasonably priced  parts to build such a system.
Note the unusual inlet that requires minimal stream disturbance.
The information is kind of spread around, so look around carefully.
ECO Innovation -- Pelton Turbines

Pelton Turbines (pdf) ...

More useful material...

This site sells parts for Pelton turbine installation as well as completed turbines.

Quite a bit of design and installation material is provided -- most applicable to other Pelton wheels.

A Batteryless, Utility Intertie Microhydro System
Kurt Johnson with Paul Hoover

How to get articles from Home Power ...
Home Power Magazine article, issue 80

A very good article on the design and installation of a micro hydro system on a creek. The system is intertied to the utility grid.  Good detail on planning and installation.

Induction Motors for Small-Scale Hydro
Bill Havilland

How to get articles from Home Power ....

Home Power Magazine article, issue 71

Very good article on the pros and cons of using a three phase induction motor forsmall scale hydro installation rather than a DC alternator. Quite a bit of detail on systems using induction motors for generators.

From Water to Wire
Peter Talbot 

 How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine Article, issue 76

Very good hands-on article about building a high head, low flow small hydro system. Lots of design and construction information.  A really challenging installation.

240VAC Direct Drive Hydro

John Hermans

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, issue 65

Description of a 240VAC, low head hydro system in Australia.  Good detail.

The 10 Kinzel/Kingsley Rules for Surviving Micro Hydroelectric Power (and what the ads and manuals don’t tell you)

Terry Kinzel and Sue Ellen Kingsley

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, issue 47

Very entertaining and helpful article on installing and living with a micro hydro power system.  Ten rules are presented based on the authors experience.  Rule 2 is "Never underestimate the ability of the technical elite to dazzle and befuddle us technological dummies".

Powerful Dreams

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power magazine article, issue 96

Description of 30kw grid intertied hydro installation.

Happy On One Kilowatt

Bill Isely

Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News Article, Issue 180

Good article on how one couple built a small hydro system that generates about 24KWH per day – just enough to meet their needs.  Quite a bit of construction information.

Hydro Power Done Dirt Cheap

Stephen M. Gima, Eileen Puttre

How to get articles from Home Power ...

Home Power Magazine article, issue 52

Good article on a very cheap ($328) micro hydro system for a cabin. 

Overshot Water Wheel Design and Construction Manual

Published by VITA

Another Vita manual on waterwheel design:


Very detailed design and construction information on overshoot water wheels.  The published data indicates that these wheels can be quite efficient.
Banki  Water Turbine Design and Construction Manual

Published by VITA



Detailed plans for VITA for the design and construction of a Banki Water Turbine for generating electricity.
Some material is provided on sizing the turbine to the stream, and detailed instructions are provided for the construction of the turbine.  Little is provided on the sizing and gearing for the generator.
Water Motors
Water Power in the Andes -- A water MOTOR
Ron Davis

How to get articles from Home Power ...


Home Power Magazine article, issue 71

Very interesting article on design, build and use of Pelton water MOTOR to directly power woodworking tools and other devices in a remote area.


solar energy