Life at the end of the road

February 7, 2008

The ‘Harris Hydro Turbine’

Filed under: hydro, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:50 am

I’m seeing allot of referals via google for the ‘hydro turbine’ post, which is a shame because I did not go into any great detail because i posted the story so far here I’m doing the job for a

friend under the guidance of Hugh Piggot of Hugh Piggott – Scoraig Wind Electric Though I hope to fit one myself when funds (and time) allow, anyway the turbine arrived last week so for anyone interested here’s some pics.




As you can see it’s a ‘pelton wheel’ runner and it has got 4 nozzles, these spray high pressure water onto the wheel which is direct coupled to a 24v altenator. At over £1000 and being imported from the US it’s allot of money, not only is the unit expensive but being low voltage the cable will need to be much thicker than for a high voltage turbine. However in the reliability stakes these are streets ahead of anything else. These particular units are site specific, that is they are set up to your head and flow and under the right conditions can produce going on for 1kw though I think this is going to be delivering 200w. Although this doesn’t sound very much compared to say my 2.5kw ‘Proven’ wind turbine it is 24/7/365 so will produce around around 1500kwh per year which I think is around half what your average household uses.

As I have less head and money! I was thinking of going for one of ‘Navitrons’ Chinese made high head turbines.

The one I had in mind was XJ14-0.3DCT4-Z which at £310 inc vat has got to be worth a try. These units also generate at mains voltage so the cable is considerably cheaper

The base

The base/sump/ outflow or whatever you call it has been on my mind for a while now. The top end where the water enters the pipe is sorted (apart from a few tweaks) the penstock pipe is sorted and I’ve been mulling over the easiest way to make a base for the turbine and a cover for the electrics. The cover I think I’ve sourced ( the old hen house ) but the base has been taxing my brain for weeks. If it were near a track where i could get a Quad to I would just make a concrete one but as it’s quite a way from the track I want to minimise the amount of concrete i have to carry.  Today it just came to me in a flash, an old washing machine drum and the base of a manhole which I picked up off the beach about 10 years ago!


I know it doesn’t look very promising but trust me, first thing was to cut the drum to the correct height.


Next step was to split a length of 19mm rubber hose to put round the outside of the drain to act as a seal then push the drum into the drain then drill holes through plastic using holes in drum as a guide for the m5 stainless bolts and nylocs.


Next step was a bit of split 10mm rubber hose for the inner seal and 4 bolts and spacers for the turbine to sit on.


Then all that was required was to bolt it into position.


The valve block is held on by quick release couplings and the turbine by 4 nuts so it’s easy to dismantle and get to the site. The base will only require a little concrete and one of the 110mm outlets  will be utillised for run off (only 63mm going in).


  1. Where can I buy a Chinese hydropower generator? I have been looking at Harris, they are expensive and the tariff to bring them to CR will cost me close to double. The tariff from China is much less, I think. But Chinese stuff (tractors) are such garbage. How would you review the Chinese turbines?

    I have no power at this time, hydro is my best option.

    Thank you,


    Comment by Ginnee — April 24, 2008 @ 10:35 pm

  2. Hi Ginee, is the place to look for Chinese kit and a wealth of experience but I’m affraid it’s the same quality as the tractor. It is however very cheap and most problems can be sorted with a little tinkering. I’m having a bit of a dilemma myself at the moment. The Harris is expensive but I’ve been really impressed with it’s build quality and performance. Originally I’d planned to get a Navitron (Chinese turbine ) but now I’m not so sure seeing how much trouble they’ve had with their wind turbines. This UK based company has some interesting stuff, just put this item number into ebay 250240753709

    Good luck, Paul

    Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 24, 2008 @ 11:04 pm

  3. i basically need someone to help me lol
    the issue is how can i understand the simple logic’s of microhydrodynamics and install this myself. though i am not a rocket scientist i have an education.
    Chinese brands suck, don’t waste time or money, my friend went solar Chinese style and is now begging kyocera to help him
    i don’t want to be in that scenario. is there a website or something that can help me install one alone. i live on a small island in Dominica, there are 365 rivers and no hydro electricity. electric prices are higher here per watt than USA.

    Comment by Damian Brown — November 27, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

  4. Good Morning Damian,

    I know exactly what you mean about Chinese brands and I’ve written reams about it on here. However I myself have a Navitron 200w xj14-02dtc4-z water turbine and whilst the build quality is atrocious ‘it does exactly what it says on the tin’ and that is produce 200w of 230VAC power 24/7 at a fraction of the cost of a ‘Harris Turbine’ or ‘Stream Engine’ both of which are a far better piece of kit than the Navitron. However both these turbines generate low voltage DC. Which means you need to invest in a battery bank/inverter set up or have low voltage lighting etc. Why I chose the Navitron unit was not the cost of the unit itself or even the battery/inverter as I already have such a system for my wind turbines. It was the cost of the cable, I already had enough cable to carry 200w @ 230VAC the 470m from my turbine to the house but to buy new cable capable of transmitting 48VDC would have cost me an extra £2000! + the £1000 extra for the turbine. Had my cable run been less than 100m I would have gone down the Harris route as it is a fantastic piece of kit. Do a search on google for ‘micro hydro’ or have a look on for lots of useful links. Navitron themselves have a most excellent forum where you will get loads of help whatever turbine you decide to buy. It may also be of some interest to you if you have a look under ‘hydro’ on the blog to see how I did it.

    Good luck, Paul

    Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 28, 2008 @ 4:13 am

  5. Don’t you know that you only get what you pay for?
    No one ever regrets buying quality,I was in touch with navitron and I asked if their turbines were made in the U.K. and I am still waiting for an answer,say no more!
    I think there were around 26 Chinese wind turbines installed from a company here in Northern Ireland and without exception they were a total disaster,it was just pure luck no one was killed with the blades disintegrating. No Fung Good!

    Comment by leonard wilson — January 2, 2009 @ 11:58 am

    • Hi Leonard,
      Your dead right, I installed a Chinese 300w wind turbine for a mate who foolishly thought he was getting a bargain. It lasted all of a week before it burn’t out the regulator, when I stripped it down the slip rings were burn’t and the yaw bearings were as rough as a bears ar5e. This particular turbine is imported under various names, Navitron and Aeolus being just two, none of the importers were interested in selling a regulator. The ebay seller had vanished and the manufacturer in China said if I bought the newer better 400w version for $750 they’d supply me a regulator free! Having said that my 200w Navitron water turbine is working very well despite it’s incredibly poor build quality. Though I did change all the fittings for stainless steel and sealed the electronics (most of which seemed to be made from old coke tins) 🙂 The Harris is in a different league altogether but my cable run meant 48v DC was out of the question.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 2, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  6. If you look at department of agriculture grants and funding renewable enegry and follow the links on the wind enegry you will see what I mean.
    My real interest is to harness the local river where I have water rights,I’m reliably informed that I have an average of 20Kw. through the winter. Could the Harris not be supplied with 230 volt generator? I am thinking seriously of a waterwheel,and I have found some very interesting sites in Germany,but they seem to be in the range of 4000Euro per Kw. which is rather frightening,Ican’t help but think that someone here could do it for a lot less and still have the build quality,(Don’t mention Titanic!) I have a very high regard for German engineering,Swedish steel and British inventivness, and since I had an American grain dryer, American quality control,but one must cut the cloth according to the width!!

    Comment by leonard wilson — January 2, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  7. I’ve recently inherited a Harris System, already installed, almost exactly like the one listed. I need to change out the nozzles but have no instruction. Without hurting the unit, or myself, can anyone point me in the right direction? Can I just disconnect the wires and pull the unit or do I shut off at the Trace unit somehow? Many Thanks!

    Comment by Jeff — December 11, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

    • Hi Jeff,

      So long as you isolate your turbine from the battery bank whilst your working on it you should have no problem, it’s a very simple job and no need to turn off your inverter.

      Good luck, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 12, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  8. Hi Paul

    I was thinking of how much water pressure you will get from your pool water outflow. I dont have a clue about the science but was thinking about how many pools there are. Having a small water turbine of some kind can maybe make people save money. So when your pool pump is running it can do something else for you?
    What do you think?

    Take care


    Comment by William — February 24, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

    • Good morning South Africa,

      If only it were that simple William, you need a great deal of height and and a good flow to make any useful power.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 25, 2010 @ 5:45 am

  9. Hi,

    I’m new to this forum, and was just looking for some clarity on the Navitron style hydro turbines. I’m looking to install at least a 3.5kw system on my hillfarm and have noticed that Navitron have an off the peg Chinese job that will plug and play. I know the arguments about build quality etc. but as far as I can gather, this hasn’t had a huge effect on the performance of their Hydro turbines (best not to mention their other Chinese renewable technologies). I haven’t had a good poke around one of these units, are they improveable with basic mechanical know how (ie I could replace bearings/runners, move elecronic parts away from water, seal housings etc.), or will they just fail and die an expensive death. Previous posts seem to suggest that they are dodgy but keep running and ‘do what they say on the tin’. A bit like 1970s Zetor tractors. If this is the experience of forum members, they don’t seem that bad.

    Comment by Dafydd — November 10, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

    • Hi Dafydd,

      If the larger unit is of the same ilk as the smaller one then the alternator part is actually OK, it’s all the other bits that let it down. The turgo runner on mine looked like it had been made from old spoons and welded with hen sh1t, two years of acid water turned it into a rusty blob. The castings look like they’d been cast in gravel but fulfilled their purpose, the electronic control used an old tin can as a heat sink but gave no trouble and I found it impossible to remove the turgo even when it was brand new. Having said all that it did ‘do what it said on the tin’ at a fair price. If I had a steady water flow then I’d consider buying another and improving on it as you say.

      Good luck, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 10, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  10. Hi there, I don’t suppose I could pick your brain about an issue we are having with our turbine, after we replaced the pelton wheel.

    Email –


    Comment by Josh — April 14, 2019 @ 4:38 pm

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