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Hydro project in BC

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First post here...
Consider myself luckier than most - wife and I are about 3 years away from completely paying off an old 80 acre farm in the Kootenays in BC (south eastern portion) - nope - no inheritance here - just saving saving saving. Gorgous land... A dream come true.

I am seriously looking at the possibility of microhydro. I know I can get 50ft-60ft of head and about 50-100 gpm. At 70 percent efficiency that comes out to 500 wats. What does that mean?

For a simple 4-5 people home - is that plenty? Stove, fridge, freezer etc... (wood heat stove).
What am I looking to invest roughly? I am 34 years strong and can do a lot of work myself.
But this electrical stuff - its complex and I know I will have to hire someone.
Design. Licensing. Materials (pipes, turbine, batteries)...

What am I looking at cost wise? Can I do it under 5K? 7-8?
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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500 watts doesn't sound like much, but 500 watts 24/7/365 is probably equal to 5000 watts of solar or more for you.  And battery bank can be much smaller because it is only for surge, not to get through several cloudy days.
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Building your own microhydro or picohydro system sounds like great fun.

I have no idea about costs, but there will be a lot of factors:
What does the source/terrain look like?
How much horizontal distance do you have to travel to achieve your 50ft of head?
Are you taking water out of a stream and putting it back in the same stream? Are there fish?

With a small house 5kW continuously may be enough, maybe 10kW for a large house. So I think you will need batteries or other energy storage if you are not connecting to a grid.
Energy from a raised mass = mass x gravity x height.
Power = Energy/time = mgh/time  = g x h x (m/t) = gravity x height x mass flow rate
h=17m, g=9.81, m/t=75gpm=5.7kg/s
So at 100% efficiency = 9.81*17*5.7=951W to play with
This may change seasonally.

You can use a turbine selection chart to help you pick an appropriate turbine based on head and flow rate for your site, but there are also other factors

I once designed a turgo turbine system with some other guys at university. It had a pipe taking water into a channel.
The channel then widened to slow the water down, through big filters and then small filters + sedimentation.
Then the pipe which dropped in height shot the water through a nozzle at a turgo turbine.
Then the water went back to the stream.

Pumps can also be run in reverse to act as a generator.
There must be lots of cool arrangements of ponds at different heights where you can use a pump when you have spare energy, and use the same pump to extract energy when you need it.
Eg. Please see attached for an idea.
[Thumbnail for Turbine-with-pump.jpg]
Turbine with pump combo
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Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Welcome to Permies, Jim.  If you have any questions about site that can not be answered on   This Link, then please ask.              

It's great to hear of more permie people setting up in B.C. !   I'm also considering a hydro system at my land which will be paid off some time in 2018!!!  

I can't remember all the sites that I looked at, but the basic things your need to know to get started are:   your flow rate (gallons or liters per minute) in your creek is, and what the distance is for your pipe from your intake to your turbine.  These, along with your head will help you determine which turbine or pelton wheel to get or build.  

The length of the system will also determine part of your costs as you will have to excavate a trench (contractor?) to bury your pipe, and purchase the given length of pipe.  Your power cable going from your turbine back to your house should be minimal in length for efficiency and for cost, and will need to be to code (for your safety sake) and your contractor electrician will take care of it.  

Any electrical devices that produce heat like a stove top/oven, or a hot water tank, are going to be your major draws of power.  An induction hot plate is much more efficient than a regular stove top and could be purchased minimally to use for smaller cooking needs.  A friend of mine uses his wood cook stove and a single induction hot plate for all his cooking needs.   Your freezer/fridge are your other big draws.  Whatever you do, you should choose high efficiency models, or go with different systems for those needs.  

Wood cook stoves are a bit to get used to, but are worth it if going off grid.  A Rocket Stove Mass heater or two will be far more efficient for heating the house than a conventional wood stove, and can aid in the cooking.  There are good threads on this site with links to designs of Rocket Cook Stove as well.  Wood heated hot water can be a bit tricky and is not recommended for the beginner, but would be very worth your while to pay a contractor plumber/heater specialist to install, thus eliminating electric hot water demands.

As far as lighting goes, it might be a good idea to have some of these be on a direct 12 volt circuit as they are much more efficient.  Go with LED's and motion detected lights for some of your lighting needs, and incandescents for those areas where you need the highest quality light.  

I haven't priced out the systems at this time, so I can't help you there, but, if your pipe is not too long, and your system is not too elaborate/complex you should be able to get the job done relatively cheap, especially if your trench is fairly short and you can get the trench dug and pipe laid efficiently with a good contractor.  If you are doing your own domestic water line as well, you might get a deal on the pipe purchase if you are getting your hydro pipe at the same time, and you can do double duty on your trench laying both pipes there.   Good luck with your project, and please keep on posting your thoughts and projects on Permies!
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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With that head and flow you are making close to 1KW every hour aka 24KWHr per day or 700KWHr per month at 100% efficiency or 350KWHr at a more realistic round trip efficiency of  50%
Go ahead and see how much electricity you are using per month currently.

I currently use 100KWHr per month most American use 1,000KWHr per month.
I am sure that you can survive off of what you are producing

HydroGenerator/SolarPanel/WindMill (12KW - 24KW daily production $3000)
Charge Controller ($600)
Battery LiFePO4 (24v 200Ah 5,000W $2,000)
DC (battery) to regular AC electricity inverter (24v 4000w $1000)
backup charger (1000w $400)
backup gasoline/propane pure sine wave generater (2000w $1000)
Distribution Box, Wire, Breaker, Racking/Housing ($2,000)

Jim Baldwin
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Thank you everyone... The costs are steep but I expeced this to be a 6-8k undertaking... Including the dam construction... I do not think it is worth it nor could I afford over 10K...But will do the cac's.  
I will be heading out there in the spring. Will get the correct flow rate and head distance as well as pipe length.
I do not think I can legally take all the water from the creek and divert it through a pipe for 200m? Head being 20m and flow being 3-5 litres per second...
I dont think that's legal. Wife worked for a company setting up the small commercial hydro - they had all sorts of loops to jump through, checking for owls was one of them... insane... Anyhow she says that the maximum amount of water you can divert is anything over a summer's minimum flow rate.
But since the land is all mine, could I not divert it all?

Wife and I live in a 1 bedroom apartment. Used 600kwh per month this winter. But we are not electrically conscious. Keep in mind our dryer is electrical. So is the heat - baseboards. And we have it all plugged in.

On the property - it will be all heated with wood. The house has 2 wood stoves. Nice. But they need 4k in repairs ... But there is plenty of crown land around - free firewood!
Jim Baldwin
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Thanks guys,
Wanted to update everyone - the creek froze over this winter - the water still flowed under the ice but freezing made me rethink minihydro idea...
It wasn't my idea to go to some crazy nightclub in the middle of nowhere. I just wanted to stay home and cuddle with this tiny ad:
Native Bee Guide by Crown Bees
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