What basic information do I need to give you to install a system?.
Just three things; water HEAD, FLOW and energy USE. The 'head' is the vertical drop in water level available to you and flow is the amount of water flowing (litres or gallons) each second. Powerpal energy is usually electrical and we need to determin if your resource can meet your needs directly or with a battery storage system. The rest of the process is itterative, mainly based on the actual site conditions and equipment needed.
Do I need a dam ?
No, you do not need to build a dam, if one is present then by all means use it however nearly all micro hydro sites divert a portion of the stream, pass it through the turbine then straight back into the stream. These are called 'run of river' schemes and use whatever flow is available. If the water is muddy or gritty a small reservoir, wier or settling basin will be benefical, see pictures for actual installations.
My stream is quite small can I still run the house off it?
Yes, but you will have to store the turbine power in batteries and use an 'inverter' to create 230ac mains. The battery-inverter system is engineered to your needs and as you may take out more than the turbine can put in, a standby generator will be needed. This can be usefully adapted for hot water and heating as well.
I need at least 3 kilowatts to heat a tank of water.. is this true?
No, the 3kW element will heat the water quickly but you can actually heat a tank of water from any of the machines, as a guide it takes less than 9hrs to heat 120 litres of water from 10C to 60C using a 1kW machine, thats overnight when everything else is off. Insulation quality will make a big difference to actual times, arranging the ballast load to heat water is recommended.
I want to use my stream in a simple uncomplicated system!
Pop the electricity straight into water heating, underfloor electric heating or any other large thermal mass. Using the latest lower temperature heating systems makes Powerpal very attractive and cost effective. We can do all this for you.
I'm on the mains and have a small stream.. can I use it for the house?
Yes, Standard UK electrical practice splits the mains wiring into seperate circuits or rings, each is fused or trip protected and can be isolated from the others. You can run any of these circuits straight from the turbine, or from an inverter. Lighting is the most practical as mains failures are becoming more frequent. You must ensure that the turbine circuit is completely isolated from the mains, thats both live and neutral, and employ three phase wiring standards. Mains syncronised inverters will be available soon; a bypass relay is a good idea as well.
I want to be able to run everything at once...like on the mains!
We can do this by using an inverter for each electrical circuit. The inverters are fed from the battery bank and recharged by the turbine. There is a degree of 'living' with all renewables; if the energy can't come from the renewable source then the standby generator will be needed to top the batteries up. Since your high demand is likely to be brief, a steady low input will recouperate the use; naturally when the energy input is high, the output can be as well.
Does the turbine stop and start?
Very rarely, once fitted the machine keeps running day and night generating power all year round providing the water is there! The standard Powerpals use fixed flows and head and produce the same power all the time. An on-off machine is available (only in the largest size) to special order, we are also looking at a variable flow control as well.
And what happens when Im not using power?
An electronic regulator called an ELC (Electronic Load Controller) returns unused power to the generator. A better alternative is to use a 'ballast' load which diverts the unused energy to a heating or hot water system.
Whats the power quality like?
Very good, Powerpals generate 220volt ac (sinewave) which can be used on all domestic goods as if they were on the mains. The ac voltage, which you can set, is maintained by the ELC; 110 volt machines are also available.
Can I divert the entire stream flow through the turbine?
Depends on the site; a wildlife rich stream with young fish in it should be treated with great care. Contact The National Rivers Authority (NRA) who will advise on extraction and protection measures for the site. Generally try to leave at least 10 to 20% for nature, if the flow is drainage or industrial outflow then use it all. Open turbines like Powerpal LH can have additional watercourses that can benefit nature, other turbines improve water quality by aeration.
Can my water authority make me pay for the turbine water ?
Out of the mains supply yes; out of a watercourse that runs the turbine whos power is for your own consumption, emphatically NO! The water companies cannot charge you for a genuine energy producing setup unless you sell the energy. Owners of mills who registered their rights cannot be charged at all, but mill wheels that only serve an ornamental function can be expected to pay for their water.
I have access to a small stream but its about a mile away can I use it?
Yes, the turbine can be located several kiliometers away, you don't have to be up close to it at all. The powerpal range generates high voltage which can be passed through quite modest cables without severe loss.
How long will a Powerpal last?
Almost indefinately, like an induction motor, there's just one rotating part and no brushes to wear. Powerpals are very robust, the runner and guide block are cast iron, the tube and bearing block steel, the alternator body aluminium, apart from occasional bearing replacement the only other wear item is the cast iron propellor which in clean freshwater lasts practically forever.
My stream flow varies quite a bit what can I do?
Seasonal variation in flow is a natural feature and generally energy need also matches the seasons. One solution is to have two powerpals of different sizes, one for low flow, the other for medium flow and both for maximum flow. The operating head is the same for all the machines so they can be mixed and matched for any power level.
What about mechanical power?
Powerpals can be specially adapted or other machines supplied for shaft power, the installation will be slightly different. Shaft power is about 15% greater than the electrical power at 1.5m head; head range and speed can also be extended.
I want to export to the mains can I do this?
Yes, Powerpal is ideal for mains export (grid connect) and will pay for itself in just a few years and go on to subsidise your electricity bills, BUT you need to follow the rules. These are very fair and safety based; essentially you must not generate into a failed line and your local power company must know about you so they can shut you off with impunity for line work, the rest is technical. The larger mill and T range machines are ideal standard machines and we have Pelton wheels, Turgos, Crosssflows and traditional style wheels if you want these as well.
I want to monitor my site from the home PC!
First of all we'll have to adapt your machine(s) with all the necessary sensors, then you've the choice of RF, power line or RS232/485wired telemetry and a software package with your own system mimic for the PC. There's also an annunciator for text display and if you want remote control we'll upgrade your link to full duplex and turbines for non attended operation.
....and a dialup link ?
Choose either a dedicated phone line box or we can organise access via the web. If you want comms from turbine to base we've got simultaneous voice&data units for jungle sites and radio for open sites.