Hydroelectric Generator

This is by far the most technically advanced innovation I’ve found for a five gallon bucket so far. Sam Redfield developed this design to provide a source of electricity that can be built cheap and hooked up to any source of flowing water – including irrigation systems, creeks and streams, or even sewage systems.

If you are very mechanically capable, you can download the full 35 page design manual and attempt to build your own five gallon hydroelectric power plant.

The following video shows some of the assembly, as well as the generator in action.

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26 thoughts on “Hydroelectric Generator

    • I would be extremely impressed! Please make sure to get back to me with results and I’ll update the article with your project.

    • Your plumbing “manifold” is sized incorrectly on top of the bucket. What you need to do is start from the nozzles and work backwards, you could probably use 1/2′ nozzles, why 3/4″? Assuming 3/4″ is needed:
      2) 3/4″ pipes need a 1” supply
      2) 1″ pipes need a 1-1/4″ supply

      So the main supply line should be 1-1/4″ (for four 3/4″ nozzles):
      Split with 1-1/4″ supply line with a 1-1/14″ tee and reduce each side to 1″ and then on each 1″ is split with a 1′ tee reduced on each side to 3/4″ or simple stated
      1-1/4′ split to two 1″ and two 1′ split to two 3/4″ for four 3/4″ nozzles
      Start with a 1″ supply split to two 3/4″ and then split the two 3/4″ into four 1/2″-nozzles.

      Nice McGuivering,

      Jerry Smith

  1. Pingback: Hydroelectric Generator – Download The Full 35 Page Design Manual » The Homestead Survival

  2. Reading the DIY seems really cool but you must have “26 gallons per minute” to reach 12 volt charging. I feel you can reach this by have a gear system which will crank the generator faster. We did this in Costa Rica – Not this project – by adding gears which allowed a wheel to spin then multiply that which made the generator go faster.

    • Chris, I would be interested to know how to do that. I need a portable hydroelectric generator that is flexible to operate in a variety of water sources.

  3. On the series “Mountain Men” Eustace built on of these in a 55 gallon drum, fed by a stream on his property that was capable of running his sawmill!

  4. I have been studying these for a while. Pretty simple to make. Use a permanent magnet alternator and it will generate at a lower rpm. You can play around with the nozzle sizes until you get optimal performance. 26 gpm is a bit extreme. You can power an entire house with the right configuration on 3.5 gpm.

    • If it can produce that much couldn’t you set the unit in a 55 gal drum or other larger container and have a sump pump cycle the same water through it to minimize the amount of water needed and still have the flow rate? the generator would power itself and be self sustaining unless I’m not thinking right.

      What configuration would power the whole house? a large bank of deep cycle batteries?

      • //the generator would power itself and be self sustaining unless I’m not thinking right.//

        You’re not thinking right. That would be a “perpetual motion” machine, which only exists in a “zero friction, zero-loss” universe. Even at 100% efficiency and no losses anywhere, the generator would use all its own power to run itself. You can’t get power for free this way.

        I have a whackjob neighbour who insists he can couple an electric motor to an electric generator, spin it up and the motor will run the generator and give him enough power to run his house and sell back to the grid. (theoretically impossible, but he insists it is only not working for him because he hasn’t got a big enough motor and generator yet. He will probably never learn)

  5. It is a combination of gpm and head or pressure that the drop provides that determine the power output up to the max of the alternator or generator.. That is also why streams more at different speeds.

    • Potential power is flow rate X elevation drop X water density X acceleration due to gravity. Kinetic power from the jet is flow rate X jet velocity-squared X density. If there were zero frictional losses, then the two would be equal. Then have to cope with turbine efficiency (max. 80%) and generator/alternator efficiency.

  6. Looks great but my only what in the world question is. What in the world are you doing sitting in a stream building this thing? Go inside and build it, then take it outside for final connection.

  7. What was the reasoning for installing the intake screen and the pipe to drive the generator and then assemble the jet drivers for the turbine fins in the field?
    Couldn’t this have been built in a lab or shop with more comfortable surroundings then brought out to connect to the down pipe?
    Just wondering.

  8. Isn’t the head pressure related to ‘distance in drop’, or volume of column. This pressure too can be increased by a funneling of liquid: or is it volume that is transfered to rpm as in rate of flow ?

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