There are many answers to this question. No system is large enough to support waste. It is important that you closely examine demand-side management and conservation first, as you would with any alternative energy system.
In a regular house with cheap electrical rates, a household might use 700 kW/h month for basic electrical service, not including heating and cooking which can come from other sources.
Basic energy conservation practices like using compact fluorescent bulbs and the elimination of phantom loads can easily cut this total in half to 350 kW/h per month. Custom appliances, such as energy efficient refrigeration can again reduce this load considerably. You must remember that it is more economical to reduce your power consumption in the first place.
Battery charging systems generally don't provide sufficient power for heating loads, other than intermittent use. It can, however provide a home with the dozens of kilowatt-hours per month it needs for lights and music, or the few hundred kilowatt hours per month necessary for refrigeration and freezing.
You can determine how much power a system will produce quite accurately when you take all the different factors into account. Exact site measurements are absolutely essential. Simply guessing your head and flow will generally leave you with disappointing results. The samples sites below are intended to give you a very rough idea of the amount of electricity available from various sites. The following page provides some formulas so that you may further calculate your site's potential. Again, this is only intended as a rough idea. Actual site calculations involve other variables that need to be taken into account.
Sample Site 1 - 50 Feet Head
Sample Site 2 - 100 Feet Head
Sample Site 3 - Long Pipe
Sample Site 4 - Spring Water
Site 5 - High Flow, Low Head
Sample Site 6 - Large Site
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