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Micro-Hydro Electric Power

If you have a small stream located on your property, this type of electric generation may be right for you. Micro-hydro electrical systems use turbines to convert the rotational energy of water into electricity using a generator. For more information on how hydropower works, we recommend Intro to Hydropower published by Homepower Magazine.

K.C. Larson offers consulting, design and installation services for micro-hydro electrical systems. We can help you evaluate the water flow and developed head pressure of your stream and design the most efficient and economical solution for your micro-hydropower system.

There are very specific requirements that must be met for the proper location of a micro-hydro system or your investment will not benefit from a timely payback period. If you believe that you have a good site to install a micro-hydro turbine, take a few minutes to review the Intro to Hydropower and the below bullet points.

  1. Contact your local PA Department of Environmental Protection to discuss the stream and location of the proposed turbine. They will let you know the next steps to take. By doing this early in the process, much time and effort can be saved. If the stream or waterway contains native trout or is stocked with trout by the PA Fish & Boat Commission it is important to discuss the possible turbine installation with them also.
  2. A micro-hydro turbine system has an upstream intake site where the penstock piping begins and collects the water to begin the process of generating electricity. The downstream site where the actual turbine is installed is the powerhouse. To create enough head pressure to effectively allow the turbine to operate, the vertical elevation difference between the intake and powerhouse locations should be at least 30 feet. 30 feet is adequate, but 60 feet or more is better.
  3. There are micro-hydro turbine units available that work well with a head (vertical elevation difference) between 5 and 30 feet with a good, steady flow of water. These turbines generate less electricity and normally are not economical to install.
  4. The stream or waterway should have a good, steady flow that isn't dependent upon seasonal changes.
A single nozzle turbine


Single Nozzle Turbine

A single nozzle turbine


Four Nozzle Turbine

Micro-Hydro Electrical Dam

Illustration courtesy of homepower Magazine.

Intake Diversion - the highest point of your micro-hydro system

Penstock - the pipeline that moves the water to your turbine

Powerhouse - the building or box that contains your turbine

Tailrace - the channel that carries the water back to the stream

Micro Hydro System Canyon  Hydro System

Commercial, Industrial or Municipal Hydro Electric Turbine