The Five Gallon Bucket Hydroelectric Generator is a pico hydroelectric generator housed in a five-gallon bucket. Developed by Sam Redfield to address the lack of commercially available small-scale hydroelectric power in developing countries, the generator is a low-cost, appropriate-technology solution to the problem of supplying electricity to those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
The generator is easy to build and easy to maintain. By design, the materials from which the generator is constructed are extremely common. Most of the components used in the generator are readily available just about anywhere in the world. The Five Gallon Bucket Hydroelectric Generator can be manufactured and maintained locally by artisans with limited resources and skills. The generator is made with a modified Toyota alternator and readily available hardware and PVC pipe. The system is more economical than comparably sized photovoltaic, hydroelectric and wind generation systems.
The Five Gallon Bucket Hydroelectric Generator has been successfully built and installed in Peru and Guatemala. The generators function as charging stations for small clusters of homes. Used in conjunction with rechargeable batteries, personal headlamps, radios and cell phones, there are no power runs to individual homes. The generator requires very little infrastructure. The energy is used as it is produced, eliminating the need for expensive banks of deep-cycle batteries typically found in solar and wind-turbine installations. The system generates electricity twenty-four hours a day.
This site is intended as a forum for ideas and further iterations of the generator. Included in the site is the build manual for the generator, showing the tools and materials needed to make the generator, as well as the techniques involved in its construction.
See the build manuals for the Five Gallon Bucket Hydroelectric Generator and the Toyota alternator based permanent magnet alternator in the Build Manuals section of this site.
Sam Redfield, inventor of the Five Gallon Bucket Hydroelectric Generator, is a lighting technician for film and television who makes his home in New York City and the Hudson Valley. When not working in film, he devotes his time to the design of appropriate technologies for the developing world. In addition to his work with the NGO, The Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group(AIDG), his technology has been the focus of a working group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s D-Lab and The University of California’s UC Davis Program for International Energy Technologies. His systems have been used in Africa, Central America and Latin America.
During the summer of 2013 he collaborated with the Asociacion Ecosistemas Andinos(ECOAN), the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), and the Syracuse New York chapter of Engineers Without Borders, in the construction and installation of a pico-hydro system in the Andes mountains of Peru. Other current projects include a low-cost wind pump for drip irrigation and a small scale hydro powered grain mill. The subject of numerous articles and online commentary, he is an important voice in the design of appropriate technologies for the developing world.