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Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.

Archive for the ‘Hydroelectric’ Category


Hydro generator system

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Hi Jeff:

I purchased DC-512 four alternators over the Internet for a hydro project. I’m taking advantage of an existing irrigation system on a farm, which pumps a steady stream of water with great pressure at a very long distance. It’s like a fire hose in action.

This system is running continuously for 12 hours daily. I’ve designed a special, very light aluminum=blades arrangement and I have adapted it to the DC-512 via belt drive to disrupt the powerful irrigation water stream, moving this blade as when cleaning a painting roll with a pressure hose. This creates a speed in the DC-512 of 1150 RPM as measured with a tachometer. The voltage produced with no load, e.g., disconnected from the batteries, is approximately 25 volts, measured with a Flux digital meter.

The DC-512 were all connected in parallel to a single 12 volts Flex-Charger of 100 amps to charge a battery bank, 4 batteries connected in parallel. Three alternators DC-512 were disconnected from the charger to perform troubleshooting leaving just one connected in parallel. This is what happens; when I connect the positive cable to close the circuit, seems like a short circuit is created in the alternator, which slows down the speed to about 500 RPM stopping the blades and disrupting its function to load the battery bank. The charger light turns on indicating that is charging but, producing only 13 volts, which is not really enough voltage to charge the batteries. I have connected everything precisely as per alternator and charger instructions. Finally, I am tired of getting wet like crazy during test and troubleshooting process. I wonder if you can explain what is happening and how can I make this system work. Your help will be really appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

Carlos Echevarria


As it states on the web site, we can not answer specific design questions as we do not know all of the specifics of your installations, and this is a free site and we have limited time to spend on each email question. However, we can provide general answers that may be of some help.

First, I assume this pressure flow is due to gravity head and not from a pressure pump somewhere. Second, if I had this much “free” water flow I would purchase a quality hydro-generator that is designed to maximize the conversion of energy. Most likely a properly sized and designed unit could replace all four of your home-made units and without all the problems you are having.

If things work fine with all four alternators in the circuit and then when you cut out all but one and it does what you describe, it sounds like it is being over-loaded. This would drop the voltage while appearing to be under load. Also, your wiring switching to one alternator could be causing the remaining alternator to be sending power into the alternators not being used which would be a large current drain on the working unit.

Again, you have a great opportunity to power your home with this much hydro power if you bite the bullet and purchase the correct equipment.

Good luck!

Jeff Yago


Have river, want hydro

Monday, February 23rd, 2009


I have a large river I would like to tap for power. I find very little information on how to set up a turbine or propeller type. River is 5 plus feet deep 40 ft wide. Average speed 5+. Plus if permits are needed on such a river, were would I get that information?

Mike Eagles


Usually its not how deep or how wide a river is that determines how good it is for making power, its how much it drops in elevation in a short distance.  In other words, If I wanted to install a hydro generator, I would rather have a creek 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep that drops 30 feet in elevation while crossing my property, than a 100 foot wide river 20 feet deep that may only drop 1 or 2 feet in elevation.  Yes, there are a few drag type hydro generators that you can have at the end of a cable in the middle of a river, but the real power comes from the drop in elevation.  That is why they build dams!

Hope this helps and beware, most states have very strong regulations against damming up a creek or river.   Unless you can find an old abandoned dam left over from when water wheels powered our industry to refurbish, odds are it will be more trouble than its worth.

Good luck,

Jeff Yago


Generator question

Monday, July 14th, 2008


I have a home with a year around stream running beside it. I am sure I would not be permitted to dam the channel, but I am wondering if I were to have a 3″ pipe with about 8′ of fall suspended in the flow, and a 1/2 hp deep well pump mounted on it and driven by the water flow, would it act as a generator? the lowest flow is probably about 10 gallons/sec.

Dave Mckee



You cannot make an AC well pump generate electrical power no matter how fast you run water through it. The reason would take me 4 pages to explain but its due to the basic theory of operation of any AC type motor. It is possible to cause a DC motor to generate electricity if you drive its shaft, but I really doubt you have a DC well pump since these are only used with battery and solar power systems. In addition, most modern pumps, regardless of AC or DC operation, use a magnetic shaft drive to allow sealing the pump section from the motor section, and I am not sure how well this magnetic drive will work in reverse.

Now for the good news – If I lived right next to any stream that flowed 10 gallons per second, you can bet I would have already purchased a water turbine generator. There are many manufacturers who make many different sizes and types of these generators. If your stream and land has lots of fall, most people extend the pipe upstream as far as possible to achieve any more flow, since a lower flow at a higher head pressure is usually more effective in generating power than a higher flow of a lower head pressure. Again, lots of technical reasons why this is so, but if your stream really is year round and you can extend a pipe to a higher upstream position you should do this.

Here are a few sources for more information:

Good luck!

Jeff Yago



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