Pico-Hydro is an ambitious project by Sam Redfield to develop small, low cost 1 kW hydroelectric power stations. Develop a small hydroelectric system located in a 5 gallon bucket. A permanent magnet alternator is used as a generator for the system, it is made almost entirely of PVC.

Field tests were carried out in the small community of La Florida to determine the possibilities of electricity production with this device. Florida lost its main source of electricity and depended on candles and batteries for its energy needs.

We remember a project in Chile where Manfred Mornhinwegue designed and built his own in-house hydroelectric power station.

Florida is a small community around a coffee plantation in which a group of landless peasants received an abandoned property after the bankruptcy of the previous owners. Now it functions as a community that produces great organic coffee. Located on the slopes of a semi-active volcano near the Pacific coast in the tropical lowlands of western Guatemala, Florida offers a temperate climate with easy access to water. The work in Florida focused on the possibility of recharging cell phones with the Pico-Hydro system which had been developed in the United States.

To charge cell phones, community members had to take a taxi and wait an hour for it to charge at destination.. Cell phones are increasingly important in small, isolated communities, giving them access to medicines, the market and the family. Field tests began by identifying a site with access to plentiful water and a steep slope to power the generator. After finding the site, the device was mounted.

In a traditional way, we also have a very interesting example of an artisanal hydroelectric power station: Eight. Small hydroelectric power station that generates light with two PET bottles.

The generator was installed with a self-regulating voltage battery and an inverter. The regulator ensures that the battery is not overcharged, the battery stores energy for use, and the inverter converts the energy to 110 volts. Then they collected the cell phones from the community. About 18 phones. The generator was producing 60 watts, not a lot of power, but enough to charge 10 cell phones at a time without draining the battery. The system produces enough power to charge all cell phones in the community.

Pico-Hydro 1

Another application studied for the generator is domestic lighting. With the high performance of LEDs, this is a possibility that is within our grasp.

The work continues. One of the issues they face is the cost of the system. The alternator that produces electricity in the system costs around $ 300.00 and must be imported from the United States. As part of the AIDG program in Guatemala, the possibility of rebuilding a Toyota alternator to function as an alternator in the hydroelectric power station is being explored. After studying various possibilities, there is a working prototype, which is being integrated into the system. Other improvements include the integration of the voltage regulator into the device and improvements in turbine performance.

Here you have a system very similar to the one installed in Florida:


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More information on: aidg.org