He’s Been Generating Free Power for 16 Years Using a Water Wheel
Russ Chastain 05.26.20
Way back in ancient times, or maybe about 4 years ago, I posted here about a homemade water wheel power generator built by a guy in Kentucky. He used a vehicle alternator, some bicycle parts, and some old vehicle batteries to generate power to help him run things off-grid. Pretty cool, but not quite as cool as a guy who repurposed an old washing machine and uses it to power his home and workshop!
Here’s what he says about it:
I’ve been living off grid for the past 16 years, I make my own electricity using an old washing machine I found at the dump.
I rewired the smart-drive washing machine motor to generate electricity, the generator is rotated via a water-driven Pelton Wheel (Hydro Turbine).
Water goes into the intake, creates pressure due to the difference in height between intake and outlet nozzle. Water comes out of the nozzle at 60 psi and spins the pelton wheel which is attached to the modified washing machine motor (now a generator).
The generator puts out 3 phase AC voltage which is passed through a 3 phase diode block rectifier to change it into DC, it is then fed directly into a 24v DC battery bank. A 24-240v AC inverter is connected to the battery bank, 240v AC travels up the power lines to my house. I can now power all my 240v AC household appliances from the inverter.
It makes enough power to heat my water and run all the appliances in my energy-efficient house as well as most of the tools in my shed.
Occasionally I have issues with it and need to go down to the stream to problem-solve, a small price to pay to avoid paying a power bill.
His title says “16 years,” but early in the video he says — twice — that he built this generator 6 years ago. Turns out he’s been generating his own power for 16 years, but this particular setup has only been in operation for 6. Late in the video, he shows some of his earlier attempts at power generation.
Warning: the camera work isn’t great and some viewers may find it nauseating.
In the video, he says he’s doing a yearly checkup on the system, having gotten a low-voltage alarm at his house. The system was only putting out 300 of the usual 600 watts. After a quick check at the unit, he strolls up the creek to check the intake.
He stops along the way to chat about some old trees, but finally makes it to his water intake, where he starts digging in the stony creek bed without any explanation. Afterward, he explains his crude-but-effective water filtration system.
He got all his pipe second-hand for about $400, and the most expensive part of his system was the wire to run power from the generator to his house; he said that ran him about $2,000 — but it would have cost $14,000 for him to connect to a power grid and start paying a monthly power bill, so he definitely made the better choice.
As far as maintenance, this filter cleaning is usually only needed about once a year and he says the motor that’s acting as a generator needs new bearings every 2 years.
Pretty sweet setup, all things considered.