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How Water Wheels Work

Water wheels are found next to areas of moving water such as rivers or canals. They harness the moving water to generate power or electricity; this can be called hydro-power.

There are three different types of water wheel that you could see, this includes:

  • overshot
  • undershot
  • breastshot.

Diagram showing over-shot, under-shot and breast-shot types of water wheels.
Different Types of Water Wheels

The main difference between the three types is where the water hits the paddles attached to the wheel - either from above, below or the middle.

Water Wheel at Thwaite Watermill, Leeds
Water Wheel at Thwaite Watermill, Leeds