Normally when you water your plants, you sprinkle them using a garden hose or some kind of water container. That’s for sure… unless you have the time and the vigor to create a hydroelectric dam to make this task more automatic. That’s exactly what the YouTuber known as Construction General did.

YouTube video

By scaling down his construction skills and implementing a simple electronic setup, he was able to create a system capable of powering the lights of a (very small) bridge as well as the irrigation system for his plants.

Making the Dam              

miniature hydroelectric dam

As mentioned, this tiny dam was made almost exactly like its bigger counterparts. Using wooden sticks as rebars, Construction General was able to create the outline of the dam. He placed a piece of a banana trunk in the middle, covered the outline with some boards, and filled the whole thing with cement.

Once the cement hardened, he removed the boards and pushed the banana trunk out; creating a spillway for the water to flow through. Construction General covered the hole with a metal plate – effectively creating a watergate.

The Miniature Bridge

miniature hydroelectric dam

To help the surrounding wildlife circumvent his man-made structure, Construction General placed some tiny fences and streetlights on top of his dam. What’s cool about them is that just like real streetlights, the tiny versions were assembled using wires which were placed carefully under the bridge. The wires feed into a generator installed in the dam’s penstock, powering the streetlights and the irrigation system.

The Penstock

miniature hydroelectric dam

The penstock is where the redirected water flow is converted to electricity. Just like the dam, it is also made from cement. It features a small tunnel that feeds into a recess where a turbine is located. As water passes through, the kinetic energy is converted into electricity by a generator. With the help of some tiny utility poles and wires, the generator transfers the electricity to the bridge’s streetlights and into the irrigation system on the other side of the dam.

The Irrigation System

miniature hydroelectric dam

Compared to the penstock, the irrigation system is pretty simple in terms of its construction. It uses a number of pipes that take stored water from the dam and expel it through a rotating sprinkler system. As long as the circuit is turned on and there is electricity provided by the generator, this sprinkler system will continue watering the plants.

To conserve electricity, Construction General made two switches: one to power the streetlights and one to activate the irrigation system.

miniature hydroelectric dam

Considering he carved a stream on the side of a hill to make this project, I’d say those vegetables better taste pretty good!

The whole video is definitely worth a watch, as it delves deeper into the creation process of this miniaturized man-made structure.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.