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Publication Title | Hydro Power Done Dirt Cheap

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Hydro Power Stephen M. Gima

& Eileen Puttre

©1996 Stephen M. Gima and Eileen Puttre

Eileen and I are both firm believers in the information super

highway. She uses it (via the Internet) and I build it, being employed by a telecommunications company. Maybe it was ironic when we started looking for a home in the Adirondacks, we fell in love with the one a mile off the grid.

Above: Steven Gima

performing the final assembly of his $328 hydro system.

especially, since it seems the sun hardly ever shines. Upon further investigation, it seems we get the least amount of available sunshine in the lower 48 states.

By now we were learning a little about renewable energy. The creek turned out to be a gold mine. Searching through and throughly reading everything we could find on the subject, we became convinced that a micro-hydroelectric system was the way to go. But still, a Harris Hydroelectric Generator, at about $1,000 was still a little more than we could afford.

A friend of ours in the Adirondack area, who happens to be an electrician, thought we might try to build a hydroelectric generator ourselves. Our friend located an “American Bosch” 12 VDC permanent magnet generator through a surplus catalogue.

The phone company, where I work, was trying to unload 6,000 feet of reeled 1 1/2 inch semi rigid conduit used for buried fiber optic applications. Over the next few months I managed to get about 1,000 feet of it in roughly 200 foot coils. Try coiling 200 feet of 1 1/2 inch semi-rigid conduit, then hauling it in a Toyota pickup 200 miles. It’s a wonder that we never got stopped by

It’s a log cabin, built by a local mason, on an abandoned logging road. I guess after the initial construction in 1980, he kinda lost interest. When we found it, it looked like it was hardly ever used. The center hall fireplace and stove could not have burned more than a 1/4 cord of wood.

While the house had a kitchen and bathroom, the water fixtures only got water in the spring, due to the rise in the creek behind the house. There were also no lights except for the camping lantern we used to bring up. About the only thing that did work with any regularity was the propane oven.

Since light was our first consideration, we discovered by thumbing through non-electric catalogues that “Humphry” made wall mounted gas lights. So with 100 feet or so of 3/8 inch copper tubing, the main living quarters, downstairs, now had lights.

Well, about this time Eileen got a corporate level job with a photovoltaic company. We were thrilled! Maybe we could actually produce our own electricity. Our euphoria didn’t last. Even at cost, photovoltaic panels were pretty expensive and for that part of the country

14 Home Power #52 • April / May 1996

Image | Hydro Power Done Dirt Cheap

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