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Customer Questions
and water wheel thoughts


Here are some common questions about my water wheels and energy production.       While not in any set order I am putting energy production questions in the lower section on this page.

* Is the finish fish safe?      All of the finishes on my water wheels are fish safe.

* What size water wheel do I need?     

*How much water does it take to turn my water wheel?       Simple answer for a water wheel that is spinning freely is about 4 gpm (gallons per minute) for a 4 foot water wheel and about 8 gpm for a 8' wheel.        Now the complicated part...     that 4' wheel will only need about 2 gpm when it is new but as it waterlogs with time it will need a bit more water so figure needing 4 gpm.       Since a water wheel will spin too fast and look bad if you give it too much water (assuming no brakes) I always recomend a valve to allow you to control the water flow over the water wheel.       Give me a call and I'd be happy to describe how to put the valve in.       Some pumps came with flow control valves installed in them.

* Where do I find pricing for your water wheels?     While I do have set pricing for my "standard" water wheels there are many possible options for most models.      By publishing my price list with all of the options and possible water wheel sizes the price list would be complicated and several pages long and I would just confuse customers.      It's easier for you to simply email or call me and tell me about your site.     I will help you select the correct model and options and give you a firm price.    email: Spencer@WaterWheelPlace.com

* I want the paddles angled differently.          I can angle the paddles from "square" to 70 degrees.        By changing the paddle angle we can control where in the wheel's rotation the water drops out at.          "Undershot" (water wheel pushed by the creek flowing under the wheel) wheels have square paddles as do some purely ornamental wheels.         Most display wheels use a 35 degree paddle angle which is a nice compromise between looks and water display.       Power producing water wheels have sharper angled paddles to hold the water further down in the wheel's rotation to generate more power by harnessing the water's weight longer.

*While not a question most people assume that I build my water wheels in my barn or garage in the back yard.     Instead I've been renting my business location for many years and this location in Maysville GA is 100% dedicated to building water wheels.        And unlike at least one competitor who claims to be a water wheel factory I don't sub out my work to out of state manufacturers.       Instead I hand select and cut every board onsite and hand fit the pieces myself in a dedicated business location.     Building water wheels is all that I do, it’ not some part time hobby for me.

*Why do larger water wheels cost so much more than a smaller wheel?      If you double the size of a wheel you don't just double the materials and work.      Example using "Rustic" style water wheels.     A 4 foot water wheel weighs about 80 lbs.      A 6 foot wheel is 240 lbs and a 8 foot standard width water wheel weighs 480 lbs.         More hand selected wood, steel, and a lot more labor.       Just for fun a 10' wheel weighs 950 lbs and the 12' wheels weigh in around 1500 lbs.       These weights are for "standard" widths and options.      Some wheels weigh a lot more and they cost more.

*What size water wheels do you build?      I've built water wheels as small as 8 inches and as tall as 16 feet.      The widest wheel I've built was over 6 feet wide.        I build in half inch increments so if you want a 5'  8 1/2" wheel I will build it, heck, built one that size a few years ago.

*Warranty?      1 year part replacement warranty and I pay shipping both ways.       Over 400 water wheels built now and never had a warranty claim.

*Why do your water wheels cost more than the other guy's website?         While most people are too polite to ask this question I know a lot of them wonder.       The answer is short and simple.      Because I refuse to build junk.        I can build what they do and match their pricing but I refuse to build less than the best most durable low maintence wheels I can using the best materials and joinery; in other words I build every water wheel as if I was going to own and maintain it for many years.        If you want cheap then please feel free to buy a cheap water wheel.      You can always buy a replacement water wheel from me in a few years, many people do after becoming tired of trying to maintain a poorly built water wheel.

*Axle and Bearings?       1144  steel 100,000 psi tensile strength solid axles are standard with industerial grade bearings with zerk fittings.       If the axle isn't strong enough after a few years metal fatigue will break a cheap axle.     You'd be surprised at how many axles and bearings I've sold to replace cheap axles used by other water wheel builders.

Power production questions>>>     Please first read my water wheel electricity section.     It will answer many of your questions.     The questions below cover sections not reviewed on my electricity page.   

*Let's start with a simple fact.      You can not use a water wheel to run a pump that will run the water wheel with no outside power source such as a flowing stream or household electricity.        Consider friction.       If you want to prove me wrong I will sell you a water wheel but many have tried, none have been sucessfull.      Now on to the real questions.

*Can I power my home with a water wheel?      Yes but if you've got enough water power onsite to power your home you'll probably get a better return on your money by using a low head turbine such as a Kaplin.      If you have less than 800 gpm flow and less than 9' of head while a water wheel may not power your home a water wheel may be your best choice for electrical production.

*I've got a great big creek flowing on my property.       Can I make electricity?"       Yes but probably not as much as you think.        If you can't get the water a few feet in the air ir doesn't have very much potiential energy on it.      Combined with the fact that undershot water wheels aren't very efficient (around 25-30% efficient) you may be able to produce a hundred watts or so but that's probably about it.       Some customers sites may be able to produce more power but most people who call me can't.       You usually need to get the water up in the air to make much power.

*Can I use a water wheel to make power from the tides in my lagoon, stream, or inlet?       Yes but probably not very much unless you have about a 18' tide like they have in Scotland and even then it's barely financially viable.

I'll try to answer some of the electrical production questions tomorrow.