Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

3 Posts
Dec 9, 2009 07:38 pm
Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

I own a 60 ft plus waterfalls I am not sure how to figure out the water flow, it flows year round and was used in the 1800s to supply 3 large factories with power. I own the water rights as part of my deed because of how it was used in the past, Here is a link to a picture to give you some idea of size and what I am thinking of doing

My place is above the about leve from where the photo was taken, my concern is how to deal with the high water in the spring and would it be reasonable to think that I could power my house and shop. I own a welding company so doing the fabrication and pipe work would not be a problem. I imagine that I could use the largest pipe that I would be capable of affording and installing on the side of the bank.

Anyone who has seens something that may work here or have some first hand info about a project of this size I would appreciate any imput. I have no idea if this is practical or not...Bob

Email Bob @ EmpireGP.com
351 Posts
Dec 10, 2009 06:41 pm
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls


The biggest question is how much power are you talking about ? How many kilowatt-hours a month (or a day) are you currently using ?

If you are looking at around 18 kWh a day or less, you might be able to do it with a Stream Engine and some 4 inch pipe. In round numbers you would be looking at about 130-140gpm for about 750 watts. It could be done with PVC pipe.
If you are using significantly more power, you would need a larger turbine and larger pipe.

I don’t think flow is a problem, but hear is a link to how you can measure it.
I would pick a spot upstream of the falls to do your measuring.

What is the high water that you are worried about ?  Are you worried about the intake ? Or is it that you would need to locate the turbine up the bank (reducing the available head) to keep the water pool below the falls from flooding out the turbine ?  Or both ?

Speaking of high water, how much silt/sand/mud is suspended in the water during peak flows ?  Many times it is enough that the turbine should be shut down during peak flows to prevent excessive wear on the turbine wheel. This item could impact whether you go off grid, or stay grid connected and produce some, but not necessarily all of your power. 

Dec 13, 2009 11:23 am
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

Wow! This is the first time I have seen a picture posted on the forum thread its self. How'd you do that? Anyway.
Here is different option.
I thought that, with your steel fabricating and welding company this option might appeal to you. Not many things attract attention quite like a water wheel in motion, with water flowing from it and well, you'd be getting electricity taboot!
I for one would love see a picture posted here of which ever system you choose after its installed. I can't wait. This is going to be great!
351 Posts
Dec 13, 2009 01:33 pm
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

The most applicable page is 

Note the quote in the last box at the bottom of the page.
“A waterwheel is really designed to do mechanical work”

It is far easier to generate power with high head and lower flow, than to give up the available head and be forced to use a much greater flow.  The less water you divert from the stream, the lower your impact will be.

Water wheels do not like changing water levels.  The headgates, flumes, millraces, or other methods to protect the wheel from the changing levels/flows can be major projects in themselves.

Water wheels do have a certain majesty about them.  I love them(just like steam engines). But they are way down the list when it comes to generating electricity.   
3 Posts
Dec 13, 2009 11:00 pm
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

This will give you an idea of how much the water flow can change

I do not think a water wheel here would be practical, I do have a concern about debri in the water, sand gravel and limbs during any heavy rain and my concern would be a flooded turbine if it was mounted on the bottom, I guess as suggested that it would have to be mounted higher on the bank. I figure I could get pipe down to the creek level to build something but the banks to the creek are very steep and there is no access to the bottom of this area with any heavy machinery.

I do not know my power usage now, I currently using a wood fired boiler to heat my shop and house my main thoughts were any surplus could be sold to the power company and I would use electric heat in the shop. I run another business out of the shop painting motorcycles and my biggest cost is heat, I have to maintain a steady 70 degree temp for body work to dry. This may not be practical, the wood I have is pretty much free, Just my labor. I go through about 15 full cords of wood a year to heat the shop and house. I am not looking for any more than a help to what I have.

I thought I could manage 6 inch pipe and thought that with that volume at a 60 foot drop it would provide enough force to turn a decent sized turbine to make electricy. My concerns were would this ever pay, I figured if anyone had the perfect location I stood a pretty good shot of pulling it off. I will look at the links posted and do some more research, thanks for posting and sharing your information...Bob

351 Posts
Dec 14, 2009 02:23 am
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

Here's another site that may help you.

3 Posts
Dec 14, 2009 08:36 am
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

Thanks Ken I just signed up for the forum...Bob
462 Posts
Dec 14, 2009 11:57 am
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

Bob, looks like you have plenty of flow. The thing to do is to take water from upstream. Make a diversion from which you can run PVC pipe downstream to the location you plan on installing the turbine. Then install a return line out of the turbine back to the stream. You can make a pit from which you take the water in order to deal with sediment or else use screens or something similar.
 It looks like you can get away with 4-6 inch pipe then reduce it at the turbine. Then you can either use power directly from the turbine or include some batteries. You can also make the system automatic or manual using ball valves or motorized/zone valves.
26 Posts
Dec 18, 2009 03:52 pm
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

Mr Brown ;

 That, is a very beautiful view,simply gorgeous.
 Good luck to you, on your adventure.It will be an   interesting story to follow.
46 Posts
Dec 18, 2009 09:46 pm
Re: Hydro power from 60 foot water falls

Mr. bob, i don't know a lot about hydro, but from the looks of it i would say
your sit looks amazing, not to mention beautiful. my guess is that you will have more electricity than you will know what to do with. this of course depends on exactally what kind of turbine you end up installing.
try some research on homepower (either .com or the paper version). Don Harris is a fellow who lives in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. he is very knowledgable, and the original manufacturer of the Harris hydro turbine (though it is now owned by another company). homepower has several articles on or by this gentleman, as well as many other informative articles on hydro.
you will probably need at least a small battery bank to "condition" or smooth the power, as well as a substantial dump load (large water tank in the paint shop?). whatever you end up doing, please keep us all informed. this is gonna be fun!

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