With electricity so readily available, it’s easy to take it for granted. During the day, you may not miss the lights or lamps of your home, but when it is completely dark outside, you are bound to make some clumsy and awkward. Apart from the lights, other things also depend on the power such as radios and recharging anything from mobile phones to music devices and anything with batteries.
In fact, you can charge rechargeable batteries and use them in various devices, including a flashlight, if you have a source or a power source. Fortunately, you can create your own solution by building a DIY hydroelectric generator.
Now, while it may seem complicated, doing it yourself is easier than you think, and you do not need any special skills or experience. If you wish, you can always practice at home and test your work regularly.
How hydroelectricity works
Before you start working on your homemade hydroelectric generator, you must learn how hydropower works. This will help you better understand how the device should work and why each item is so important.
Hydropower, as its name implies, is the electricity that is obtained by harnessing the power of the flowing water. When the water flows from a higher point to a lower point, it comes into contact with the turbine that is connected to an axis that leads to the generator. The energy of the flowing water is converted into mechanical energy and the generator converts this energy into electricity, which can be used to feed a multitude of elements.
In many cases, water is re-pumped during times of low electricity demand (such as at night) and, when electricity consumption increases again, the water is released and reused to generate more energy. This is the perfect demonstration of renewable energy.
Advantages of hydroelectricity.
If you plan on making your own hydroelectric generator, you may already be aware of some of the advantages. It is important to remember that large- and small-scale hydropower generators offer some of the same benefits but, of course, to a different extent. Some of the main benefits include:
- Clean and non-polluting energy, which is excellent for the environment.
- The water can also be used for irrigation and other purposes.
- If you do not need electricity, you can turn off your generator and turn it on again when the need arises.
- If you have your own compact hydropower generator, you can move it if necessary.
Disadvantages of hydroelectricity
When you create a hydroelectric generator, you should also be prepared for some potential problems. While the advantages are quite large, each source of power has its own drawbacks. Some of these include:
- If the area is flooded, you could end up without power and your generator could be damaged or even lost.
- If it does not rain for a significant period of time, water levels and rivers can become dangerously low. So much so that the use of hydroelectric power may not be possible. Remember that the water flow must be significant and strong enough for the turbine to turn.
- You may have to control the water for considerable amounts of waste. If not selected, they could damage the exterior and the interior of your generator.
- Taking into account all the points mentioned above, it might be a good idea to invest in more than one generator in case you have a problem or need maintenance.
Making a hydroelectric generator at home can take some time, so, taking this into account, it is important to do it well.
This means doing enough research and making sure you have all the data in order. It can be difficult to distinguish the truth from the myths, but here are some important misconceptions that you should keep in mind:
- Closed loop systems are not as effective as many might say it is. These designs involve a pump and a type of relay system. The pump takes the water to the turbine that then turns and generates energy. Part of this power is used to keep the pump running, and so the cycle continues.
- For some, downspout systems in the home are also a popular idea, but if you know only one ounce about hydropower, you know that this will not be effective. If you put hydroelectric generators in the downpipes of your home, you could get some benefit from heavy downpours, but the water is not dense enough to provide you with enough energy.
- The use of municipal water has also been considered as a solution. In other words, some owners thought of using tap water (which has good pressure to generate electricity), but this poses several problems. Not only is it harmful to the environment (waste of water) but it will never generate enough electricity to justify this waste. In other words, the amount of energy created will be worth a fraction of the cost of water.
How to do it yourself
Building your own hydroelectric generator will take some time, but with these easy-to-follow instructions, you can enjoy the green energy sooner than you realize! Once you have created the first one, you can generate additional generators to get even more energy.
Many of these principles can also be scaled up to create an even larger generator if you need enough energy to support several people or families in case of an emergency or disaster.
- An electric drill with a drill?
- A pair of scissors
- Electric tape
- A rule
- 10 cm (or 3.5 inches) nail / punch
- Glue gun with three sticks of glue.
- White glue
- A utility knife
- A sharpener
- A permanent marker
- A small amount of sandpaper or similar abrasive.
- A magnetic compass
- Wire cutters
- A pair of gloves
- A pair of safety glasses.
- Templates printed on paper.
- A plastic jar / bottle 4L. The type used for windshield washer fluid or vinegar.
- 10 plastic spoons
- 1 large cork (3.5 – 5cm)
- Approximately 100m of 24 gauge enameled magnetic wires
- Corrugated cardboard with heavy weight or foam (approximately 22 cm x 30 cm)
- Wood pin 6 mm (1/4 inch) and 20 cm long
- 4 ceramic magnets (at least 18 mm in size)
- Transparent vinyl tube 6 cm long, inner diameter
- 4 Brass paper fasteners
Preparation of the disc
This generator consists of two main parts: the rotor and the stator.
The stator is the section that, as its name indicates, remains stationary. It has wire coils that collect electricity.
The rotor section moves and, with the help of strong magnets, induces electric current in the coils.
- Start by using white glue to stick the template to the cardboard. Make sure to use only a thin layer of glue and apply it evenly.
- Once the glue is dry, use the blade to cut the rotor and stator discs.
- Trim the edges very carefully and, to protect your work surface, be sure to place a piece of wood or a cutting board under the cardboard.
- Use a sharp nail or punch to pierce the center of the rotor disc.
- Use the blade to drill the center of the stator disc and make a larger hole (approximately 1 cm).
Building the stator
- Cut a piece of cardboard 3 cm x 16 cm, fold it in half and secure it with electrical tape. This will serve as a template to make coiling much easier.
- Cut 8 short strips (approximately 4 cm) of electrical tape and set aside.
- Wind your first coil in the template and leave an advantage of approximately 10 cm. Form a coil tight with 200 turns or turns.
- Carefully remove the coil from the template and use two of the strips of insulating tape to secure it in place.
- Use a small piece of sandpaper or something similar to remove the enamel layer from the ends of each wire. Expose approximately 1 cm of each end of the cable and make sure that the cable is completely bare.
- Use the steps above to make three more coils
- Place the loose bobbins on the disk and make sure that the windings alternate between clockwise and clockwise.
- The coils must also be arranged and connected to allow the electrons to flow correctly.
- Once they are properly arranged, connect the coils to each other by rotating the corresponding bare ends. Once connected, cover with electrical tape.
- A multimeter will be ideal for measuring electrical resistance (ohms) at this point. You are looking for a reading of approximately 10 ohms (or less). If it is higher, you must check your connections again until you find the problem.
- When you are completely satisfied with all your connections, connect them to the stator disk with glue. Glue one coil at a time by lifting it and applying a large amount of glue to the template under that coil. Once the coil is stuck in place, and the glue is solid, you can move on to the next coil.
Building the rotor
- Use the magnetic compass to determine the polarity of your four magnets. Use the marker to indicate the North Pole on two of the magnets and the South Pole on the other two.
- Warm up your glue gun and prepare to place the magnets on the rotor disc. You must make sure that the polarity alternates from magnet to magnet.
- Place a small amount of hot glue (approximately 1 cm) at the location of the first magnet. Press the magnet with a washer into the glue before allowing it to solidify. Once hardened, you can move on to the next magnet.
- Repeat this process for the other three magnets and do not forget the polarity!
Building the shaft
- Cut the plug to a length of 20 cm.
- Use a pencil sharpener to create a point at each end of the wooden dowel. You do not need to make it very sharp. A strong point will be more than enough.
Making the turbine
- Drill a 6 mm (½ inch) hole through the center of the large cork. Alternatively, you can use a cork borer to make this hole.
- Make 8 equidistant marks around the wide end of the cork.
- Place the cork (wide side down) on a cutting board. Use your knife to cut shallow grooves where you made the marks on the cork. These slits are for inserting the spoons.
- Use a pair of wire cutters to trim the handles of the spoons to a length of about 1 cm.
- Warm the glue gun and prepare your glue sticks. You may need one to two sticks of glue for this part of the job.
- Insert your first spoon in one of the slots of the cork and press it. Do this with each spoon, one by one, until they are all in place. Make sure they are evenly spaced, in the same direction and at the same angle.
- Once satisfied with the placement of each spoon, it is time to apply a little hot glue to each one. This will keep them in place so your turbine can work without falling. Then, be sure to take the time to complete this step with precision!
Completing the house.
- Prepare your plastic container by removing any labels.
- Use your pair of scissors or your knife to cut a piece from the bottom of the container.
- Use your rule to determine the center of the side of the container and mark it with your permanent marker. Do the same on the other side too.
- Drill a hole (6 mm or? “) Through the plastic on each side of the container (where the marks are).
- Place the stator, with the coils already attached, on the side of the container. Make sure that the hole in the center is directly above the hole in the container.
- Press the nail or punch through each of the slots in the stator disc. This will mark the locations of each slot in the plastic container.
- Use your knife to make four small slits on the side of the container where you left the marks.
- Use the bronze folding tabs to mount the stator disc and keep it secured to the side of the plastic container. Do not forget to fold the tabs to keep everything in place.
Completing the assembly.
- Use your pair of scissors to cut the vinyl tube into two small pieces (approximately 1 cm).
- Slide the shaft into the plastic container (through the hole in the stator).
- Inside the container, slide one of the pieces of the vinyl tube onto the shaft.
- Place the turbine inside the container and make sure all the spoons face the neck of the bottle.
- Press the shaft through the turbine cork and gently work the cork and tubing down the shaft.
- 4 cm of the shaft should come out at the other end.
- Adjust the position of the turbine so that the spoons and the neck of the container line up correctly.
- The position of the pipe should be adjusted so that it reaches but does not enter the interior of the container.
- Now slide the second piece of tube over the end of the shaft. These pipe parts will help keep each turbine element in the correct position as it rotates. To test this, spin your turbine and make sure there are no problems. No part of the turbine should catch or touch any part of the container. If necessary, make the corresponding adjustments and continue testing until the turbine runs smoothly. Even the slightest problem can cause significant problems, so, instead of ignoring a potential problem, take a moment to fix it before continuing.
- Place the rotor disc on the shaft. Make sure it is positioned correctly so that the magnets are 2 – 3 mm from the coils. Spin the shaft to make sure the magnets do not touch the coils.
- Rotate the rotor disc to make sure there are no problems in this area. To do this, turn the shaft slowly and observe carefully if there are oscillations. Make the necessary adjustments to the disc angle on the shaft.
- Once you achieve a swing without swaying, secure it in position using hot glue in the area where the shaft passes through the discs.
The tests occur throughout the construction process, but it is also important to perform some final tests as well. The amount of electricity that this turbine can produce will depend on the speed at which the water flows.
The faster it flows, the harder it hits the spoons, the faster the turbine turns and the more energy is generated.
- Place the neck of the plastic container under one of the faucets in your home so that the rotor rotates.
- Connect the turbine to your multimeter and adjust the dial to measure the AC volts. This will offer a view of the capabilities of your home generator.
- Remember that you are only using your key to test the device! When you put it to work, you should install it where the water flows freely from a high level to a low level. You may need to help direct the flow of water according to your needs (like a funnel), but this is relatively easy to achieve.
Different types of hydroelectricity.
Hydropower is used to generate electricity, and there are several main categories. These include:
- Conventional systems, which refer to the types of hydroelectric dams with which we are more familiar.
- River flow systems make the most of the kinetic energy of flowing rivers or streams. They do it without the help of a reservoir and, in some cases, also without dams.
- The small hydroelectric projects do not make use of artificial reservoirs, and have 10 megawatts or less,
- Micro hydro projects provide individual homes, villages or industries with anything from a few kilowatts to a few hundred kilowatts of power.
- The pipeline projects make use of water that has already been diverted for use elsewhere. Since basic work has already been done, why not make the most of it, right?
- Hydroelectric pumping storage projects store water pumped uphill and stored in reservoirs during periods of low electricity demand. When the demand becomes high again, the water will be released again to generate more energy.
Thanks to these ideas and technology that has improved over the years, hydroelectric generators manufactured in the home are also increasingly popular.
Building a hydroelectric generator by yourself can be a fun and rewarding task. It is important to understand the function of each design element.
By getting a complete and complete understanding, you will be better equipped to handle possible problems and maintenance problems. For example, if you notice that a certain aspect of electricity generation does not seem to work properly, you will know where to look.
It is very similar to any other form of mechanics and, by building it yourself, you will get the unique perspective of its internal workings. Remember that these generators are ideal for situations of emergency and disaster, as well as for everyday life. There’s no reason not to try some designs and have fun experimenting!
DO IT YOURSELF