Waterwheel Electrical Generator


Water Wheel Electrical Generator


      This is a 2009 proposal by Steve Hines to use a water wheel floating on a river to generate clean electrical energy.  Unlike solar and wind generators, rivers flow 24 hours a day.



      The 5-foot diameter water wheel shown can be scaled up or down.  The surface speed of rivers varies between about 3-8 MPH.  Floating water wheels are typically 25-45% efficient, however the pontoons shown are shaped like airfoils to increase the speed of the water between the pontoons under the wheel to increase the efficiency.  

      The water wheel turns at approximately 15-20 RPM.  The water wheel can make use of a new style generator developed for small windmills that can operate as slow as 80 RPM.  The required speed increase can be done first with a chain drive and then a belt-and-pulley system shown, or gearbox.



      Several floating water wheel generators can be tied in series to multiply the electrical power generated.


      A water wheel of this type can be cost effective in remote areas without access to power from a public utility.  



“I have seen your website which is very interesting!”, Emanuele Quaranta, hydraulics engineer, Polytechnic University of Turin Italy,  June 1, 2017.

“I’m… very impressed with the floaitng waterwheel that you posted online.  I live next to the Concord River for about 20 years, flowing by with untapped clean energy.  You came in mind after ovsrving your ingenious floating waterwheel.“, Dominic Ndungu, Lowell, MA,  March 11, 2016.

“Simple and elegant!“, Val P., Houston, TX,  January 7, 2016.


Clickable Resources:

• Water wheel manufacturer:  Waterwheel Manufacturing, Inc.,  Franklin, NC, USA

• Pontoons, available from: Nautilus Floats, Tiny Pontoons

• Water wheel project:  https://youtu.be/kh-8l8CdipM

U.S. Geological Survey Agency, has data on the flow of rivers and streams in the United States.  

Scott Hydroelectric sells a small, efficient 1500-Watt generator/water turbine, and control electronics that may be adaptable to this floating generator.  Use a 3-phase AC high voltage alternator for long-line transmission.  The 3-phase rectifier changes AC to DC for battery charging.

• Hardware supplier (sprockets, chain drives, pulleys, bolts, etc.):  www.McMaster.com

Waterwheel project in Africa in 2013, organized by Prof. Phil Thompson, Univ. of Seattle, Washington.  The video states “The cost of this waterwheel is much less expensive than the equivalent energy from solar panels”. 

• Waterwheel proposal in Australia, Feb. 2021: http://www.magpiepower.com

• How to rewire an old washing-machine motor to perate as a generator:  http://youtu.be/NLaSf_YY7Xs

Turn a ceiling fan into a wind turbine generator, https://youtu.be/ApKFeaJ6xYE

• Ceiling fan-to-generator conversion:  http://youtu.be/4bZNoKKno48

• Emanuele Quaranta, PhD hydraulics engineer and water-wheel consultant.  


Hines’ original notebook entry:

Waterwheel-Generator-p149-100pnotebook #1, p. 149


This is not a product for sale.





ph. 818-507-5812

email: Steve@HinesLab.com