Impressive Off-Grid Hydroelectric Plant Showcases The Hacker Spirit

DIY Hydroelectric Plant

We all know the story arc that so many projects take: Build. Fail. Improve. Fail. Repair. Improve. Fail. Rebuild. Success… Tweak! [Kris Harbour] is no stranger to the process, as his impressive YouTube channel testifies.

DIY Hydroelectric Plant
An IOT charge controller makes power management easier.

Among all of [Kris’] off-grid DIY adventures, his 500 W micro hydroelectric turbine has us really pumped up. The impressive feat of engineering features Arduino/IOT based controls, 3D printed components, and large number of custom-machined components, with large amounts of metal fabrication as well.

[Kris] Started the build with a Pelton wheel sourced from everyone’s favorite online auction site paired with an inexpensive MPPT charge controller designed for use with solar panels. Eventually the turbine was replaced with a custom built unit designed to produce more power. An Arduino based turbine valve controller and an IOT enabled charge controller give [Kris] everything he needs to manage the hydroelectric system without having to traipse down to the power house. Self-cleaning 3D printed screens keep intake maintenance to a minimum. Be sure to check out a demonstration of the control system in the video below the break.

As you watch the Hydro electric system playlist, you see the hacker spirit run strong throughout the initial build, the failures, the engineering, the successes, and then finally, the tweaking for more power. Because why stop at working when it can be made better, right? We highly recommend checking it out- but set aside some time. The whole series is oddly addictive, and This Hackaday Writer may have spent inordinate amounts of time watching it instead of writing dailies!

Of course, you don’t need to go full-tilt to get hydroelectric power up and running. Even at a low wattage, its always-on qualities mean that even a re-purposed washing machine can be efficient enough to be quite useful.

Thanks to [Mo] for alerting us to the great series via the Tip Line!

11 thoughts on “Impressive Off-Grid Hydroelectric Plant Showcases The Hacker Spirit

    1. Then you need faster moving or deeper rivers which won’t freeze in a hurry, or more universally applicable Solar and Wind (set panels high and with enough angle snow will not easily settle – which as solar panels while working tend to be quite warm means it would take a serious sustained snowfall to be much issue).

      All these sort of ecologically sound energy sources and lifestyles are not really universally transplantable – but I’d be willing to bet with the determination shown here you could find a perfectly good solution for almost anywhere – about the only thing you can’t really find a way around is lack of land area for your off grid solution – if you have the space over providing from your base load in both storage and generation enough for the solar/wind to be sufficient becomes easy (if pricey), add in options like coppiced woodlands, bio digesting (etc) for fuel – there are lots of good sustainable options.

  1. I find this seriously impressive. Pretty much all the electricity you could need from a stream. Probably quite a bit of initial investment and effort but it looks like it should run for a very long time with minimal maintenance. Will definitely be watching the whole series.

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