How to Turn Your Toilet Into a Mini Hydroelectric Power Plant

Converting your toilet into a mini hydroelectric power plant can be a fun DIY project that also lets you generate your own renewable electricity. With some simple materials and basic plumbing skills, you can harness the water flowing through your toilet's plumbing to produce enough power to charge devices or even run small appliances.

Understanding How a Hydroelectric Power Plant Works

Before getting started, it helps to understand the basic components of hydroelectric power. A hydroelectric plant uses flowing water to spin a turbine connected to a generator that produces electricity. The key elements are:

The key is using the natural flow of water to spin a turbine. Your toilet setup will follow the same basic principles on a smaller scale.

Choosing the Right Generator and Turbine

Two main components you need to source are:

Aim for a turbine with an alternator already attached so you have a single integrated unit. You can find small hydroelectric generators designed for DIY use online or at some specialty stores. The turbine diameters can range from 2 to 6 inches for residential use.

Match the turbine size to your water flow volume - higher flow requires a larger turbine.

Calculating Your Toilet's Water Flow Rate

Before purchasing a turbine-generator, it helps to estimate your toilet's flow rate to size your components properly. Here are the steps:

  1. Flush your toilet into a 5 gallon bucket - Time how long it takes to fill.
  2. Calculate the flow rate - Let's say it took 10 seconds to fill 5 gallons. That's 30 gallons per minute.
  3. Size your turbine - For a flow rate of 30 gallons per minute, a 4-inch turbine is appropriate.

Always go a bit bigger to maximize power capacity.

Setting Up the Intake and Penstock

With a turbine-generator purchased, it's time for the fun part - installing the DIY hydro system into the toilet water lines. Here are the key steps:

Use adapters and valves so you can still turn off water to the toilet when needed.

Installing the Turbine and Generator

Now it's time to integrate the turbine-generator unit:

Testing Your Hydroelectric Toilet

Once everything is hooked up, it's time for the big test!

With some fine tuning your toilet can now generate clean, renewable electricity from water you use anyway!

Using the Generated Electricity

Once your toilet hydroelectric system is operational, you'll need to make use of the electricity generated. Here are some options:

With your own mini hydroelectric plant, you'll reduce your electric bill while learning about renewable energy. Just make sure to shut off the water when maintaining the toilet itself. Then it's back to clean power with each flush!