Promotion and information is done by word of mouth - the government is not promoting this kind of electricity supply.
People buy pico hydro systems at the marketplace shops or stalls in cash. In the package there is a small explanation in Chinese on how to install them. However, since there are already many installed (some say about 100,000), the people that buy a system can resort to those that are already are installed. There is no guarantee or after sales service provided by the shops or outlets.
The installation is done by customers themselves with the help of friends or local technicians.
There are no contracts whatsoever, neither for the buying nor the installation: people install these systems on their own lands (irrigation fields or channels) or even in public domain (a river or creek). Usually concentrations are found (more families build a wooden or trash dam in the river to create a head difference and install individually a number of systems. Sometimes a more solid structure is build (e.g., from concrete), in which a number of systems can fit. In such cases, people usually have the approval of the Peoplesī Committee to do so.
People seem to manage, and their own constructions seem to work, but due to bad installations or tubing they may not get the full output of the system. E.g., a medium head system was installed by a family using a bamboo penstock pipe. Even though this was possible, friction was too high due to the thin size of the pipe. Further, the wiring to the house was extremely thin. As a result, this 100 W rated system only produced enough power for a 15 W lamp and a radio.
The load is normally rather fixed: few light points and TVs. The appliances always run and people usually do not use switches. In some tests, the effect of the load on voltage and frequency was clearly demonstrated. For the middle systems there is also a inlet valve that can be used for regulation.
Another problem encountered is the safety of the installation: The cables to the houses are supported by bamboo and the wires are without insulation and can be as thin as 1.5 mm dim iron wire. Distances can be up to 200 - 300 m. (You should not be tall as you might hit a wire).
When using the generator, people plunge it in the hole and the machine starts to spin. When not in use, they take it out of the conduit and it is left on the river side.
The users take care of operation and maintenance and might bring the generator to a local repair shop - often to replace the lower bearing (all other parts have hardly any wear).