Optimizing the Efficiency of Home Hydropower

The Objective : The purpose of this experiment was to see how much electricity could be generated by connecting rain gutters to a Pelton wheel generator. This could complement home solar power which is popular but doesn't work when it is raining.


I made a Pelton wheel generator and tested this system with the water at two different heights, using four different water nozzles with different flow rates.

For each of these conditions, I calculated the potential energy, kinetic energy, and electrical energy.

Based on these numbers I then calculated the efficiency of the system. Finally, I calculated how much energy could be generated from rainfall on an average American home roof in a rainy area.


I had a maximum of 1.08% overall efficiency. The highest generator efficiency was only 2.22%.


I learned that each element of this system needs to be optimized and matched to the others to achieve high overall efficiency. I also calculated that even an efficient system would only generate a dime of electricity in an entire year, which is not a great investment.

This project studied whether it would be possible or practical to generate electricity from rainwater falling on the roof of a house.

Science Fair Project done By Ellie F. Gifford



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