How to Build a Small-Scale Hydroelectric Generator at Home


Building a small hydroelectric generator at home can be a fun and rewarding project. Hydroelectricity harnesses the power of moving water to generate electricity cleanly and sustainably. With some basic materials and a little bit of elbow grease, I can build a simple system to provide electricity on a small scale.

In this comprehensive guide, I will walk through all the steps I need to take to successfully construct a homemade hydroelectric generator. I’ll cover the following topics in depth:

Selecting the Right Location

Choosing the optimal location is crucial for my home hydroelectric project. Here are some key factors I need to consider when picking a site:

After scouting a few possible spots, I have decided on constructing my hydro system on the creek running through my backyard. The steady flow and 5 foot head height give me an adequate hydro resource to work with.

Turbine and Generator Selection

Two main components I need are a turbine to capture the water's energy and a generator to convert that mechanical power into electricity.

Turbine Types

For my application, I believe a propeller turbine is the most suitable since I'm working with low head height. These are simple to construct and install.


I plan to use a permanent magnet alternator, which can generate AC power from the mechanical rotation of the turbine. I will need to match my alternator size to the expected power output from the turbine.

Intake Design

To divert water from the stream to my turbine, I will need to build an intake structure. Key components include:

I will construct a gravity-fed intake without any pumping, since I have adequate head height difference. The intake screen will filter debris, then 6-inch PVC pipes will carry the water downstream to my turbine.

Turbine Housing

I need to build a secure housing for my propeller turbine. Some design considerations:

I plan to construct a turbine housing out of concrete in my backyard using forms. The housing will have a side access panel, double sealed for waterproofing. My PVC supply pipe will connect to a nozzle angled to hit the turbine blades.

Power Output and Storage

My small 500 W permanent magnet alternator can output about 3 kWh per day on average. To store and use this energy, I will need:

I will size my battery bank for 1-2 days of storage capacity. With the charge controller preventing overcharge, this will give me reliable power on cloudy days if needed. Any excess generation will power electrical loads in my home.

Construction and Installation

Time to build! Here are the key steps I will follow:

  1. Construct turbine housing and establish suitable foundation.
  2. Build water intake system and lay PVC pipe.
  3. Install propeller turbine, connected to alternator.
  4. Mount alternator and align to turbine.
  5. Test water flow over turbine.
  6. Connect output wiring to charge controller, batteries, and inverter.

I will carefully align the turbine and alternator, then do initial tests at low flow to check rotation smoothness. Once fully wired up, I can gradually increase water flow to start generating clean hydropower.


To keep my system running properly over the long-term, I will need to perform periodic maintenance:

Catching any issues early and doing preventative maintenance will extend the life of my hydroelectric components.


Constructing my own small hydroelectric generator has been an extremely rewarding DIY project. I now have the ability to produce clean, renewable electricity to power my home using the flowing creek out my back door. With the right location and a systematic planning approach, building a home hydropower system is an achievable goal. AnyDo-It-Yourselfer with basic skills can follow in my footsteps!