Off Grid Home Forums Technical Discussion Power Systems beyond generator… Re: Power Systems beyond generator…


Dingo3X wrote: “i’m looking more for a basic tutorial,i’m more a do-it-yourselfer… i’m looking more towards information about what kind of components go into the electrical system and the ways the sub-systems interact.


The above question is probably what many DIYer asks themselves. The answer depends on so many variables its hard to define in an article of 1500 words or less. Broadly speaking hydraulic generated power falls into two catagories. AC voltage usually at a level close to mains voltage or DC voltage close to battery voltage levels. Either way the power must be conditioned before use. There are any number of controllers available to handle the task. Low voltage alternators may include a fixed voltage regulator inside the casing as for example in an vehicle. AC voltage has to be regulated to something that can be used without harm to the load being connected. This can be accomplished electronically and is not recommended for DIY construction except by experienced electronics circuit builders. Close regulation is essential to avoid destruction of the loads connected to this self generated power. For example continually low voltage will cause inductive motors for fans and pumps to burn out. Excessively high voltage will cause insulation to break down and cause a fire.

If the generator output is DC it must be closely controlled to prevent boiling dry the battery or if too low, it is not going to deliver a charge to the storage battery.

When storing power a third requirement comes into play. What happens when the continuously running generator delivers excess capacity? Either the generator has to stop or the output is diverted elsewhere. The wind and solar industry has provided solutions for many years, so even a cursory perusal of their product offerings should give the newcomer a good idea of how to deal with that problem.

Unless the installation is located in winter climates one possible solution is to pump up water into an elevated tank for later use in washing, irrigation or even run through a small water turbine for additional power generation. This concept is called pumped storage and is used extensively in places like the Niagara Falls area as well as in other parts of the world. It is even possible to use this technique for seasonal storage but this involves structures far beyond the capabilites of the average off-grid individual.

From the above it should be obvious that a reliable and sometimes complex regulator or controller is required as a first stage beyond the raw generator powered by the waterwheel.

Beyond the regulator box power, distribution takes on a familiar look. For AC the typical home panel with breakers or fuses mounted in a metal enclosure will suffice. For DC a fuse panel or circuit breaker box like those sold for RV vans or boats will do nicely.

It may come as a surprise to newcomers to learn low voltage DC wiring often requires larger diameter wires than AC wiring. This is necessary to avoid excessive line losses.

However that should be the subject of an entirely new thread.