Stream Power Off the Grid

The stream that powers our homestead 24/7.

Stream power runs our power tools and bakes our bread, cooks our rice and lights up the house. It sends a current to the microwave tower that connects us to the world via internet and keeps the cheese and vegetables fresh in the refrigerator. Off the grid hydro power offers year round electricity to the project here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. With over 6 kilowatts of energy, we will have enough electricity to power the several cabins we have planned for the coming years.

This is a flow through system. The water is returned to the stream after passing through the hydro plant. There is no stream modification or dams required so there is negligible impact to the stream ecology.

Pelton Wheel and generator. You can see where the 6 inch blue pipes are directing water at the top and bottom of of the pelton wheel. Inside the blue housing there is a reduction to 1 1/2 inches that blast high pressure to the pelton wheel. This system is manufactured by Canyon Industries.

Inside the blue housing is a pelton wheel like the one shown here. The two jets of water spin this wheel. Thanks to gravity and water!

This shed houses the hydro plant. It is located in a gully in the stream near the home and runs silently. The white noise of the stream itself hides the subtle hum of the generator and pelton wheel.

The intake is covered with a screen. We took a section of 8 inch PVC and cut open windows along the sides to open up the surface area of the entrance. After heavy rains leaves accumulate that need to be cleared. About once every week in the dry season and once every 2-3 days in the rainy season.

200 meters of 8 inch PVC pipe taps the water from a perennial stream and drops down through the forest to the hydro plant. The volume of water and drop in elevation provide the necessary head pressure.

2 Responses to “Stream Power Off the Grid”

  1. Randy says:

    Hey this is pretty cool! And you get lots of power to boot. My GF went to school with your brother Micheal, her name is Boo now she goes by Meg.


  2. admin says:

    HI Randy, You and Boo (Meg) are welcome any time to come for a visit. I also went to Antioch College where Boo ((Meg) and my brother went to school.
    I checked your garden site. Incredible photos. You don’t have to go all the way to Panama to marvel at the biodiversity that is often in your own backyard!

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