Using falling water to perform work is a very old idea. Mills have used moving water to grind grain and saw wood for thousands of years. Using water to produce electricity is a more recent phenomenon, about 130 years old. A homestead water power system can be as simple as a 5 gallon pail with a customized alternator and nozzles pointed at a turbine wheel in the bucket. We have put together a package of edocs on determining hydro potential of your site, designing a micro hydro solution, and building your own system, from penstock to tailrace.
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Complete Micro Hydro ebook package with design calculator $20: