How to make power with a water wheel

Updated July 20, 2017

Water wheels are employed to convert the moving energy of water into electrical energy through the use of a generator. The amount of electricity produced depends on the type of water wheel, the total kinetic energy of the water, and gear ratio of the generator drive. Some water wheels are capable of operating generators that supply enough power for a single-family home. The electricity generated is converted to alternating current, and a battery storage system must be installed.

Buy a waterwheel kit designed to operate for the stream's maximum flow. Mount the waterwheel on foundation according to the manufacturer's instructions. Connect the step gear assembly to wheel shaft and attach a flywheel.

Construct a generator shed on a concrete floor directly beside waterwheel. Assemble the generator kit and mount on the floor of generator shed. Attach a drive belt to flywheel and generator.

Mount an inverter box and circuit breaker on an interior wall of the generator shed. Connect them with conduit, following schematic design instructions for both units. Connect the inverter to the generator with conduit.

Align storage batteries along the shed wall and connect together with post attachments. Run conduit from a positive outlet on the inverter box to the negative post on the end of the battery pack, and from the negative outlet on the inverter box to the positive post on the opposite end of the battery pack.

Attach conduit from the positive energy overflow outlet of the generator to the negative post on one end of battery pack. Connect conduit from the negative energy overflow outlet of the generator to the positive post on opposite end of battery pack.

Attach conduit to the outlet port on the circuit breaker and through the wall of generator shed. Bury the conduit below ground and run it directly to the main circuit breaker of the house or other building.

Close the circuit breaker switch in the generator shed. Unlock the waterwheel according to the manufacturer's directions to begin rotation.


Measure stream flow in litres per minute and use information to buy the appropriate waterwheel, step gears, and generator.


Some city and county councils do not allow individual power generation without obtaining a licence.

Things You'll Need

  • Water wheel with foundation
  • Flywheel attachment
  • Step gear assembly
  • Generator shed
  • Concrete shed foundation
  • Electric generator kit
  • Drive belt
  • Electrical conduit
  • AC/DC inverter box
  • Circuit breaker
  • Storage batteries
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About the Author

A professional writer since 2005, Eric Trent's articles have appeared in "The Seattle Times" as well as his own community newsletter. His novella "The Scepter of Light" was published by Panther Lake Books in both English and Portuguese. Trent majored in both environmental education and geography at Western Washington University.