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Nature's Cabins

Eco Power At Wongari


(Note: this article has been superceded by 'Holidaying With Hydro)

Powerspout hydro-electric In Soundproof Enclosure

Installed Hydro-electric Turbine


Our cabin Bimbul is run by a hydro-electric turbine and totally off-grid. This is a great way to generate power. To be able to access such a reliable source of water on the driest continent on the planet is a rare privilege.

Power by flowing water is produced 24/7. It is not reliant on the variables of solar or wind. Therefore the number of deep cycle batteries you will require is greatly reduced as the batteries are being constantly recharged. But you will need to calculate your backup power (battery capacity) so that peak demand is easily catered to.

We use a 150 amp, 48V system (now 280amp - ed). We only have four 150 amp batteries lined up series. Most solar off-grid systems would have at least double this in two arrays. What we have though is more than adequate to meet our needs.

An Adaptable System:

But guests need to be mindful of not having all appliances on at once. Further, some time in-between using various appliances would be ideal. This allows recharging of the batteries.

You would need to be able to calculate, albeit roughly, the balance between what is generated and what is being consumed -over time. That would be ideal.

But for the ideal to be achieved the guest would need some awareness of how their power is being sourced. Unfortunately, not all guests understand the choices we need to make when living with hydro-electric power.

Wiring for renewable energy in hydro-electric turbine

Wired For Action

Therefore, our challenge was to set up a system whereby guests could simply relax and enjoy their time at Wongari without worrying how an off-grid, hydro-electric turbine could complicate their ideal get-away.

An Ideal Resolution:

Our solution was to set the hydro up to a level that determined what was possible. This then allowed us to give our guests parameters to work within.

If you are going to use the few heavy appliances we have (toaster, kettle, microwave, hot water, blow dryer) on a regular basis than you would be considered a heavy user and we would ramp up power production to 8 amps per hour.

If you only make the occasional tea/coffee, defrost the odd meal but otherwise consume little than we would reduce the power generated to 6 amps. You are a light user of power.

The one condition applying to both users would be a maximum of 10 minutes of shower time a day. This would mean the hot water system, which is heated up only when there is excess electricity being generated, will be adequate for the prescribed stay.

It works a bit like an insurance policy.

So there, in a nutshell, is the simple version of living with sustainable energy, in an off-grid situation, while you are thinking of something else – or maybe nothing else at all.

Standalone Hydro Wired for Power

At Wongari Eco Retreat we aim to live sustainablely for the sake of our planet and all those we share it with.