If you’re seeking for a reliable source of clean, high-volume electricity, investing in one of the top hydroelectric generators may be the solution. Using the energy of running water to generate electricity is not a new notion. Humans have been harnessing the power of water for millennia, beginning with ancient civilizations that used water wheels and progressing to the massive Hoover Dam.
With today’s sophisticated technology, you may simply become a part of history (as well as the future) by installing your own backyard hydropower generator in your own backyard.
The possibilities open to you if you’re fortunate enough to have a stream or river running through your property are numerous. Even if you do not have access to a body of moving water on your property, don’t despair! Wherever there is moving water, there is an opportunity to capture the energy it generates. It is possible that it is present in the pipes that run throughout your home.
On this Page:
- 6 Best Hydroelectric Generators
- What to Look for in a Hydroelectric Generator
- Selection Criteria: How We Ranked the Best Hydroelectric Generators
- How do hydroelectric generators work?
- I have a stream on my property. Will it be able to produce hydroelectricity?
- Will I need to purchase any additional equipment?
- Will droughts affect me?
6 Best Hydroelectric Generators
- Best Overall: Scott Hydroelectric Turbine Generator
- Runner-Up: SAVEMORE4U Water Turbine Generator
- Best for Camping: Waterlily USB Portable Power
- Best All-In-One Kit: WindZilla PMA Pelton Water Wheel Adapter
- Best for Large Properties: Jiangsu Naier Hydroelectric Generator
- For Those on a Budget: WZINTOP Portable Micro-Hydro Generator
Best Overall: Scott Hydroelectric Turbine Generator
- Watts: 1500W
- Type: Cross flow turbine hydro-electric generator
- The High Points: Excellent build quality, low maintenance and good power production at properties with relatively low head
- The Not-So: These units are quite pricey and are generally for people who are looking to go completely off-grid
Scott Hydroelectric Generators are among the most reliable and efficient hydroelectric generators available. They are fantastic for the wants and financial means of the regular homeowner.
This device is fairly expensive when compared to other generators with similar specifications, which makes sense. They are, on the other hand, extremely well-built and simple to operate for the enthusiast who is just getting started.
Batteries, charge controllers, inverters, and other accessories can be added to the generators as well as other features. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who are unfamiliar with the specifics of what they should receive and how they should obtain it.
This device comes with everything you’ll need to get started blasting out raw power right now. As a result, this generator is a true winner in terms of convenience, and it is a no-fuss value.
What Do Reviewers Say?
These generators have received nothing but positive feedback from reviewers. They are amazed with how simple the installation is.
The generators require little to no maintenance, which is a significant advantage. Also praised by the reviewers was the generators’ ability to operate with a low level of head pressure.
Customer service and guidance are provided on a continuous basis by Scott Hydroelectric to its clients. Reviewers have expressed their gratitude for how beneficial this has been for their installs in great detail. This is due to the fact that this type of configuration can be tough for the untrained newcomer.
Features & Considerations
These devices have a rated power of 1500W, however they are capable of producing 200W when the conditions are correct. That is more than enough electricity for the ordinary home.
The generator makes use of a cross-head turbine to generate electricity. This is particularly advantageous in areas where there is little or no water flow. Comparatively speaking, Scott’s generators are well-suited for a wide range of environments and terrains when compared to other generators in their respective classes.
The spinning components of the hydropower generators are limited to only two. They are relatively quiet, which makes them less unpleasant when they are close to a residence.
The generator is delivered as a fully assembled and operational unit. This eliminates a great deal of the technical work that the regular homeowner would have to do in order to implement the system.
This generator, on the other hand, is recommended to have a head height of 25 feet and a pressure rating of 9 PSI in order to operate at peak efficiency. The fact that some landowners are unable to generate these pressures on their property can exclude them from participating.
The units are designed, manufactured, and distributed in the United States. Therefore, if you have any questions concerning installation, you can quickly contact the company for advice and assistance..
Runner-Up: SAVEMORE4U Water Turbine Generator
- Watts: 10W
- Type: In-pipe micro hydro-generator
- The High Points: Super low-cost and easy to install
- The Not-So: Only a very small amount of energy can be produced using this product
Designed to be installed in the pipeline of a typical household’s plumbing system, or on any property where pipes of the appropriate size are available, the SAVEMORE4U Water Turbine Micro Generator saves time and money. This gadget appears to be deceptively simple: anytime water flows through a pipe, the generator’s turbine spins, resulting in the production of energy.
Although it is unlikely that you would be able to meet all of your household’s energy requirements with this small generator, the concept is quite intriguing, and the idea of recovering energy from readily available sources is a practical one. The cost of this product is really inexpensive, and it is relatively simple to install, making it a feasible option for practically anyone interested in being more environmentally conscious.
What Do Reviewers Say?
The neat small gadget received generally positive feedback from reviewers. A common issue is that the input pipe that feeds into the generator is too narrow, which makes it difficult to generate enough flow at times, according to several users.
Some reviews also mentioned the requirement for acquiring a blocking diode in order to make use of the power generated by the generator. The absence of a blocking diode in the unit may present an additional headache for people who are not technically savvy in sourcing and installing the device in their environment.
Features & Considerations
Water running through the pipe to which the miniature generator is linked can generate extremely modest amounts of energy, which can be used to power the device. It would be simple and effective to link a number of these generators to high-flow pipes, such as those leading to showers or irrigation systems, for example.
This would allow the generators to contribute to the charge of a battery unit that provides power to the home, while the primary sources of energy would be wind or solar arrays, respectively.
Most of the most powerful pipes can be located in and around the home, including shower pipes, irrigation lines, and water lines that enter water boilers or heaters, among other places. Another application that has been suggested is the use of lights attached to garden hoses for well-lit nighttime watering of gardens and flowerbeds.
Finally, this excellent small device is a fantastic concept that is going to gain a lot more traction in the energy reclamation systems that are just getting their feet wet in the renewable energy field.
See the Amazon price for more information.
Best for Camping: Waterlily USB Portable Power
- Watts: 15W
- Type: Portable camping/hiking unit
- The High Points: Durable, portable unit that is capable of charging devices reliably
- The Not-So: Requires a decent flow of water to charge devices properly
The Waterlily is a small, portable hydroelectric turbine designed primarily for persons who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. It only requires a moving body of water, such as a river or stream, to function. Once it is up and running, you can connect the device that you wish to charge.
The business claims that the unit is capable of generating up to 360 Watt hours of electricity in a single day, which is a figure that shouldn’t be dismissed lightly. As a result, the Waterlily performs as well as or better than a 100-watt solar panel. It’s possible that this unit will be the answer to your power needs if you’re a serious outdoor enthusiast who requires a dependable charge.
The design appears to be sturdy and durable, and it does not appear as though it would shatter if it were to bump into a few pebbles while floating in a strong stream. Towing this unit behind boats moving at moderate speeds to generate energy is an interesting application for this item. The Waterlily is a must-have for any vacation into the great outdoors because of its adaptability and versatility.
What Do Reviewers Say?
The outstanding quality and long-lasting design of the Waterlily received rave reviews from customers. It was also acclaimed for its ability to replace large batteries that were required for journeys into the wilderness. This provides compelling evidence of the quantity of energy that the unit is capable of producing….
Some reviewers, on the other hand, expressed concern that the blades of the turbine require a significant amount of water force in order to generate energy. It may be difficult to use in slow-moving streams or rivers as a result of this. In addition, some reviewers noted that the unit’s size and weight made it difficult to transport in a backpack, which was an issue for them.
Features & Considerations
The portability and simplicity of use of this device are its primary selling points. Finding a river or stream with sufficient flow to turn the turbine’s blades may prove to be the most difficult aspect of the entire process. However, if you trek in locations where these are easily accessible, this shouldn’t be a problem for you at all.
The unit can be ordered with a drybag in case of inclement weather or fast-moving water that could splash the equipment. When it comes to those who enjoy intense outdoor activities or who are concerned about harming their gadget while traveling, this is an excellent additional benefit.
The waterlily is available in two configurations: a USB version and a 12V version. Finally, it is fairly versatile in terms of the devices that it may be used to charge. While it may not be able to charge a laptop, it is more than capable of charging phones and other tiny electrical devices.
An important characteristic to keep in mind is that the Waterlily can also be used as a wind turbine when there is no water present and the weather conditions allow it to be done. If there is no flowing water or wind, the turbines can still be manually operated to generate energy.
Best All-In-One Kit: WindZilla PMA Pelton Water Wheel Adapter
- Watts: 350W
- Type: Pelton wheel hydro-electric generator
- The High Points: A great, reasonably priced combo package for those who need mid-range power production
- The Not-So: The generator will still need some technical know-how and may not be able to satisfy the average home’s power needs on its own
In terms of reliability and quality, WindZilla generator units are excellent choices for supplying power to the ordinary residential user. This particular machine has the advantage of coming with a sleek 8-inch Pelton wheel and adaptor, which means it’s practically ready to use right out of the box.
When used in particular configurations, the Pelton wheel design is excellent, and the ease of not having the turbine already connected cannot be stressed.
A Pelton wheel design is excellent for generating electricity because it is the most efficient form of hydropower generators available today. In fact, for a Pelton wheel system, 90 percent efficiency is considered to be a poor level of performance.
These systems are intended for use in situations where high head (high pressure) streams of water can be generated, which may exclude their use on particular sites. They, on the other hand, require extremely little water.
What Do Reviewers Say?
The efficiency of the generator, as well as its ability to create significant amounts of electricity at a low rotational speed, have impressed the reviewers. It was mentioned by some reviewers that the bearings in the generator had too much friction and were prone to failure at times. This may pose problems in the long run, but if the parts do burn out, they may be replaced with new ones.
The Pelton wheel attachment has been praised for its performance under low pressures and has received positive feedback on its overall design. The fact that the system comes with an adaptor as well as the Pelton wheel already attached was praised by reviewers as being very practical. In reality, it eliminates the time-consuming and sometimes difficult procedure of locating and mounting a suitable turbine.
Features & Considerations
This WindZilla unit is able to be used both for hydro-electric energy production or with a wind turbine. Although this unit comes with an attached Pelton wheel, it does allow for the generator to be used to harness wind power efficiently should it be required.
The generator is able to produce 12V at an impressive 540RPM, and 24V at 1080RPM, making it great for use in relatively small-scale projects.
Another nice and often overlooked feature is the mounting foot that comes attached to the unit. The mounting foot makes it easy to simply bolt the unit into place and fire it up.
Even though this unit comes with many of the necessary parts, you’ll need to consider that the setup is sometimes more difficult than a Pelton wheel system.
The WindZilla system requires the creation of pressurized water through gravity or some other means. This may not be an issue for some consumers who have the right set of circumstances, but it may be inapplicable to others.
Best for Large Properties: Jiangsu Naier Hydroelectric Generator
- Watts: 2,000W
- Type: Multi-use hydroelectric generator
- The High Points: Has the potential to power entire households if the correct setup is used and conditions are present
- The Not-So: Requires some serious DIY skills and a bit of technical knowhow in order to get this generator producing power
This high-capacity generator unit is the most important piece of equipment you’ll need in order to start generating significant amounts of electricity for your home. In order to make full advantage of this product’s potential, you will need to have access to a sufficient amount of water on your land.
When this flow of water is channeled and used to propel the turbines that are attached to the generator, a significant amount of energy can be generated.
Depending on the model, the generator unit can be equipped with a range of various turbines, which can be utilized to harness the power of any existing water system that you may have. In order to get the most out of your unit, it will be necessary to set it up in a specific way depending on the requirements of your land.
The unit, on the other hand, is extremely adaptable and may be used with a broad variety of systems. The fact that these generators are gearless, direct drive systems permits them to have extremely long lifespans, which according to the manufacturer could be in excess of 20 years.
What Do Reviewers Say?
The adaptability and dependability of this unit appear to have impressed the majority of reviewers. Jiangsu Naier has built a solid reputation for producing high-quality generators that have long life spans and require little maintenance throughout the years. Despite the fact that these generators are often utilized for wind energy generation, customers have discovered that they are a perfect fit for hydroelectric applications as well.
The majority of reviewers had success with a Pelton wheel design, but the generator’s low RPM characteristics allow it to work well in a variety of other designs as well. All in all, the reliability and versatility of these devices were praised by the reviewers, who agreed that they were their strongest features.
Features & Considerations
It is necessary to install a system that will harness the energy of the running water you will be using to the Jiangsu Naier Hydro Generator, which is a three-phase permanent magnet generator. This might be as simple as a waterwheel or as complex as a highly efficient system.
If you believe you are up to the challenge of installing this generator, you may find that the thought of getting completely off the grid becomes more conceivable.
As a result of the aluminum frame, which distributes heat extremely quickly, these devices excel in their capacity to function in hot temperatures. The generator is also approximately 30% lighter than the majority of other units of similar size, making it easier to handle and a delight to work with when setting it up and taking it down. Despite the fact that the unit is rated at 2,000W, it is capable of producing a maximum of 2,500W.
For Those on a Budget: WZINTOP Portable Micro-Hydro Generator
- Watts: 3.5W
- Type: In-pipe micro hydro-generator
- The High Points: Low cost and discreet unit that reclaims the energy of moving water in your home
- The Not-So: Not capable of producing as much energy when compared to other in-pipe micro hydro-generators
It is impossible to exaggerate the convenience that comes with having a mini generator like this. Using this simple generator, any pipe system where moving water is present may be connected, and little amounts of electricity can be generated in the background every time water travels through the system.
This enables homeowners to harvest energy from extremely small rivers on their properties that would otherwise be rendered ineffective otherwise.
As a result of the unit’s compact design, it may generate electricity from any source of water, provided that water can be channeled down a pipe at a sufficient pressure. As a result, the unit’s potential applications are virtually infinite.
In terms of performance, it is comparable to the SAVEMORE4U Water Turbine Generator, yet the WZINTOP outperforms it when it comes to the number of watts it is capable of producing. It is, on the other hand, less expensive and more durable than other comparable models.
What Do Reviewers Say?
Reviewers praised the product’s adaptability. Some customers complained that the fittings were too small for their liking. As a result, depending on the size of your pipes, you may require adaptor components to connect this generator to your plumbing.
Many reviewers who were outfitting large homes with many units found that purchasing huge amounts saved them a significant amount of money even though this item is just significantly less expensive than the competition.
According to some users, the units require a significant amount of pressure before they begin to generate electricity. They couldn’t be used in some systems because of the small inlet pipe diameter. For some customers, the smaller outlet pipes resulted in less water flowing out of the pipe as a result of the smaller intake pipes.
Features & Considerations
The device is a low-cost way to harness the energy that is already there in your home while water is moving. In terms of investment and return, the device is a no-brainer. However, as the saying goes, every little bit helps when you consider all the available free energy that may be used.
Because they are larger and more robust, these units can withstand higher pressures than others in their class. These products have a little longer average lifespan than their rivals in their price range, too.
Because of their bigger size, these units are a little more difficult to install in places like crawl areas where pipes are common. Given that, it’s worth seeing if you’ll have enough room in your plumbing for these units.
What to Look for in a Hydroelectric Generator
- Is hydroelectric generation the right choice for you?
- What kind of water source do you have access to?
- How much power do you want to produce?
- Are you an experienced DIY person with some engineering knowledge?
Before choosing a hydroelectric generator, it’s important to first consider how and where you’ll be using it. Depending on your use, each model and type will have its own host of pros and cons. These variables will help you to determine which model is the right one for you.
Is hydroelectric generation the right choice for you?
The first and foremost requirement of hydroelectric generation is accessibility to water. This is an obvious requirement and, in most situations, makes hydroelectric generation dependent on location.
These are some important questions to ask yourself before investing in a unit:
- Do you have a river or stream running through your property?
- Will you be hiking near rivers or streams?
- How much water runs through the pipes in your home on a daily basis?
Those without access to a river or stream can use little hydrogenators, which can be installed in a home’s plumbing or dropped into rivers while on a hiking trip. Mini hydrogenators are another option.
Some of the smaller generators won’t allow you to go entirely off-grid; nevertheless, hydroelectricity can be generated by anyone.
What kind of water source do you have access to?
The amount of power you can generate will be determined by the water body to which you have access. Fast-moving rivers and streams are the best bets for whitewater rafting. When using hydroelectric generators to generate adequate amounts of electricity, you must first address two critical issues:
The head of your system dictates the amount of pressure you can generate with your set up. It is the vertical distance your water can fall. In general, the more pressure there is, the more power there is.
The vertical distance that water can fall on your property is what you use to determine the head.
The pressure generated by one foot of water elevation is 0.434 pounds per square inch (PSI). When determining how much pressure a location can generate, it can be classified as either high head or low head.
A hydroelectric generator unit will be unusable in any situation where there is less than a two-foot vertical drop in water.
Gallons per minute (GPM) is a common unit of measure for flow, and it’s critical to your site’s ability to generate power.
Flow can be measured in a variety of methods, but the simplest is to stop the water’s flow and divert it into an existing container whose volume you know to be correct. The volume flowing into the container per minute can readily be determined this way.
How much power do you want to produce?
Hydroelectric generators come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with varying power outputs. However, your water supply determines how much power you can generate.
You may calculate the potential watts produced by your water supply once the head and flow have been determined.
Pth = ρ x q x g x h
Pth = power theoretically available (W)
ρ = density (kg/m3) (~ 1000 kg/m3 for water)
q = water flow (m3/s)
g = acceleration of gravity (9.81 m/s2)
h = falling height, head (m)
Are you an experienced DIY person with some engineering knowledge?
The installation of a water redirection system might be challenging at times. This isn’t a good idea unless you have complete faith that you’ll be able to get your machine up and operating to its full capabilities.
It’d be a waste of money to buy an expensive generator just to discover that you don’t have the right circumstances for power production on your property.
If you’re a novice, your best bet is to go with a small hydroelectric generator that you can attach to your pipes with ease if need be. This is less time consuming and less expensive. You can also use a portable version that doesn’t require any setup.
Selection Criteria: How We Ranked the Best Hydroelectric Generators
We’ve selected the six top hydroelectric generating systems from a competitive list based on our set criteria.
Our rankings are based on a variety of factors, including water quality, energy output, and ease of installation. The average homeowner’s level of technical knowledge was also taken into account.
Although the amount of energy that each of the chosen generators can create varies greatly, each of these generators was specifically designed with a certain set of circumstances in mind when it was built. Maximum power output for a typical home is 2500 watts, and minimum power output is 3 watts.
A mountainous area with fast-moving streams of water surrounds your home. If that’s the case, congrats! If that’s the case, no problem. To accommodate those without access to rivers or streams, we’ve included several solutions that can be used regardless of where your water comes from.
We’ve listed the five most common types of hydroelectric generators below:
Technical complexities of installation
The average person isn’t an electrical engineer with the skills to design and build a mini-Hoover dam from start. That’s why we went with products that are simple to set up. Additionally, we’ve included some bare-bones units for those who want to design and develop their own custom system but don’t have the resources to do so.
How do hydroelectric generators work?
These generators work on the basic principle of harnessing the kinetic energy of falling or pressured water to generate useful electricity. Water has kinetic energy, which powers a turbine by spinning it. The kinetic energy is transformed into mechanical energy by the turbines’ rotation, and this mechanical energy is then converted into electrical energy by the generator.
In order to utilize this energy as effectively as possible, various systems employ a variety of settings and techniques. A modest water wheel is a good starting point.
For millennia, people have used these machines to grind, pound, or hammer things by harnessing the energy of a rotating wheel. The same basic principles underlie all of our current hydroelectric generators.
I have a stream on my property. Will it be able to produce hydroelectricity?
You’ll have to consider a number of aspects when attempting to answer this question. To begin, use the preceding procedures to figure out how high the stream is and how fast it’s moving.
The amount of pressure you have available to drive a hydroelectric generator’s turbine will be determined by calculating the head. Because of this, hydropower generation may be out of the question for many people whose homes lack height. There must be at least two feet of elevation difference between the source and the final destination for any hydroelectric project.
The ideal height is roughly 25 feet, and top-tier generators can produce significant amounts of power at these altitudes. If you’re serious about your setup, you can also use weirs and small dams to artificially raise and optimize altitudes.
There may be some difficulty creating energy from your water supply if the flow is less than 300 gallons per minute, although flow isn’t nearly as crucial in hydroelectric systems as is the height.
Will I need to purchase any additional equipment?
Yes, that’s very likely to happen. Depending on your configuration, you may require batteries, alternators, 3 phase rectifiers, inverters, and other pieces of equipment to convert the energy you generate into something usable.
All of these items are available for purchase separately. Any additional equipment you’ll require should be disclosed to you by the hydroelectric generator maker or reseller.
Will droughts affect me?
The amount of electricity you can generate may be significantly impacted if the river that runs through your land changes considerably during the year. Only specific periods of the year will some places be able to generate electricity.
During a drought, cities may impose water usage limits. Your energy generation system may have issues if you find yourself in any of these circumstances.
Flow rates should be measured year-round and legislation governing hydroelectric power production or the use of river water should be studied before a generator is installed. The website of your city or county government should provide pertinent information.