Posts Tagged ‘pico hydro’


Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Finally! After a lot of trial and even more error over the last 2 years, it looks like we have the hydro generator we need for this site. As I write, it’s contributing power to the batteries, something that none of the previous generators have managed to achieve. Not a lot, because of the present meagre flow of water – for the second winter in succession there has so far been very little rain – but the wheel IS contributing for the first time.

Not only that, but it’s a supremely funky addition to our power generation capacity and is also, like the water wheel, proudly made in Benfeita! (Benfeita means ‘well made’.)

Hugh Piggott design axial flux alternator

The axial flux alternator on the back of João’s quad bike in its green and orange paintwork


Never count your chickens before they are hatched …

Friday, February 11th, 2011

… or your alternators before they’re run in.

I spoke too soon.

Presto Wind M-24 permanent magnet alternator installed on water wheel

We purchased this alternator from Presto Wind in the USA on the basis of its advertised power curves and a couple of videos showing no evidence of cogging, which was the problem with the first generator we tried. As soon as it was installed, it was running well over its claimed threshold for generating usable power, so it was just a matter of waiting for the bearings and rotors to run in and then the batteries would be getting some much-needed juice 24/7. Or so we thought …



Thursday, December 9th, 2010

It was almost time enough to have a baby in, and in many ways it’s felt a bit like a pregnancy, but finally we have hydro power!

Today the sprockets arrived for the water wheel’s gearing. They have been waiting for the last couple of weeks to have US threads machined into them to fit on the spindle of the new permanent magnet alternator from Presto Wind in the USA. So it was just a matter of fitting the M-24 plus framework to the existing framework housing the water wheel’s gear wheel, chain and chain tensioner, adjusting the chain to the correct length, connecting up the M-24 to the junction box and switching on the generator and its charge controller. It only took about half an hour.


Hydro power commissioning

Monday, November 8th, 2010

No matter how much effort goes into the attempt to get it right first time, inevitably, and most especially with experimental technologies, there’s a teething problem or two …

Water wheel in motion

With rainy days becoming more frequent now – so that finally, after a long dry summer, there’s more than 1 litre per second coming down the barroco – we’ve had the chance to finally commission our water wheel installation and see how much power it’s capable of generating.


Live and dangerous

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

We got the power!

Solar panels on temporary framework

Solar panels on their temporary framework. They’ll move to their final position when renovation work on the main building is complete.

This post comes to you powered exclusively by the sun. Not only is this site hosted on 100% solar-powered webservers, but the computers and router servicing it are now 100% solar powered too.


Hydropower progress: the chute

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The next stage in the water wheel construction is nearing completion. Because the ‘engine’ of the system is a permanent magnet generator from a wind turbine, and a water wheel turns much more slowly than a wind turbine, the wheel needs to be linked to the PMG via a gearing system that steps up the number of revolutions. To work out the optimum gear ratio for this installation, we needed to measure the actual rpm the wheel produces at present water volumes. For that to be done, we needed to construct a chute to deliver the water to the wheel.

Present water volumes in the barroco: about 2 litres per second

Present water volumes in the barroco. Not huge. About 2 litres per second.


Hydropower progress

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The water wheel is now installed in the barroco, along with the framework for the permanent magnet generator. Next stage is to construct the chute to deliver the water to the wheel, measure the flow rate and to have the appropriate gear wheel machined.

Water wheel installed



Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Work has begun on renewable energy power generation at the quinta!

Having seen local engineer Wayne Sutton’s water-wheel installation on his own property, it was immediately obvious to me that this was exactly what we needed for the hydro component of our planned renewable energy generation system.