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Barrett Johanneson
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This lucky household is about to receive a brand spanking new (belated, complicated) Christmas gift, one that we can strap our bicycles into and pedal to generate electricity. I'm still in a kind of gift-shock about this, thinking that the best gifts are opportunities, too.

While we have made strides toward mitigating several energy problems standing in the way between our household and sustainability, problems remain. One, we don't generate any of our own electricity, though we just switched from a gas oven and gas range to electric on both. Secondly, we were able to upgrade nearly all our appliances to Energy Star models, and switched from gas heat and gas hot water to radiant wood heat and wood-fired hot water. All our fixtures are now outfitted with CFLs and LEDs, with a few stray halogen bulbs semi-never used for art work. Extra bucks went toward high-efficiency wash equipment, which is worth the benefits in parka-laden Wisconsin. So, the consolidation to an electric home is still underway. But unlike the last two places called home, this jurisdiction offers no clean energy program, no member buy-in, no power company sponsored renewable energy. Instead of the wind power we blew on air conditioning and letting the HD DVD player menu loop endlessly while being absorbed by some earth-shattering new blog post, now our electrical energy comes from COAL.

Evil, disgusting, polluting, filthy, black, environment-destroying coal. They burn it two towns over, at a critical juncture in the Mississippi that ranks tops for bald eagle habitat next to Alaska and the Everglades. Not the closest I have lived to dirty power, but that was before I lived where I grew food. I have now seen it spoiling the ancient valley, not far downstream from a massive lock and dam, the chimney rising above the bluffs of an otherwise immaculate local vineyard. So, I envision a world without that coal plant.

Most solar panels and wind turbine setups were too expensive, and I wanted a reversal of how the energy equation worked. Instead of toiling at some work or job to acquire money to then pay a megaconglomerate to burn coal in an irreplaceable riverine ecology and rich, storied farmland, I could start to remove all the bad parts from that energy process. I wanted to see results of how much human energy it took to satisfy the demands of the appliances I "couldn't do without". Santa listened.

So, before I'm able to put this energy into some future flywheel, I'm ready to install a charge controller and deep-cycle battery. The generator apparatus and cables are on their way. Electrical generation without combustion, with an exercise incentive, without direct environmental energy, organically-fueled -- could this be the way to a self-sufficient, sustainable home, a base for our permaculture?

Do you use human power in your home, on your farm, or for your work? I'm really into hand-crank, human-power, renewable energy, and now I feel like finding other kindred crankers on here.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3386
Location: woodland, washington
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talk a little bit more about this contraption.  what are the parts?  what do you plan to power with it?  photographs would be great.

my understanding is that really strong sprinters can put out about 2000 watts for a real short period of time, and folks in relatively good shape can generate between 200 and 300 watts for an hour or so.

I've got a grain mill that I've thought about hooking up to a bike, but I haven't gotten around to it, so I just crank it by hand.
 
                            
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I'm seriously into this as well- at least in spirit and intention.  I'd love to hear more details, see pictures, hear feedback on how useful you are finding it.

I am just now learning how to make a generator from scratch, but it is slow going because I am such a beginner.  Does anyone here have first hand knowledge in this dept?  Can I ask you questions?
 
Ardilla Esch
pollinator
Posts: 230
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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My girlfriend and I have been talking about connecting the TV & DVD player to some sort of bike/generator set-up.  The goal is mostly to make watching DVDs active rather than vegetative...

It sounds like you are generate a significant fraction of the power you use?  That is honorable.
 
ronie dee
Posts: 620
Location: NW MO
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The practical use for bicycle energy is the way that Tel is planning. Use the Bike to crank a grain wheel, turn an old washing machine, turn a grinder to sharpen tools etc.

If you want to generate electricity by pedaling a bike then look long and hard at the complexities of making a large wheel that you can gear up by turning a small central wheel with the bike's wheel. The electric generator/alt
would then have a tiny wheel that turned on the large wheel.
 
                      
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Somewhere on the net there is a bicycle (Stationary exercise) generator, it uses asmall perminant magnet motor for a generator the output is small .
We have mounted a chainsaw bar on an old flywheel style exercycle and it works ok , but you have to bring the wood to it.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3386
Location: woodland, washington
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Grizz wrote:
We have mounted a chainsaw bar on an old flywheel style exercycle and it works ok , but you have to bring the wood to it.


I would really like to see a photograph of this.
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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Remember that TV show, Living with Ed?  It took him 10 minutes of pedaling to generate enough electricity to make toast.  Too bad it couldn't be geared more to generate a bit more electricity.
I did find a couple of links that have pictures:
http://pedalpowergenerator.com/
http://www.econvergence.net/electro.htm - scroll down a bit for the pic

I know I saw a youtube video a while back that showed some kids building one for a class project, but I can't find it now.  Somewhere I heard that you could check the local hospitals for batteries as they are required to replace theirs annually.  Might be able to score a bargain there.
 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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Having a human/bike powered generator will work for running small things.  Like someone has said earlier maybe 300 watts from a unit like that.  You will not be able to run your stove with that kind of out put.  You cant pedal enough to keep the ref cold either.  You can charge a battery and run lights,  or run a TV or some other small electrical appliance.  Keep your expectations reasonable.  Spinning your small generator fast enough,  for long enough to generate enough power to run your home is not very practical.  You will be able to make enough power to use,  just dont try to do everything with the bike system.  If you are pedaling to watch TV you may find yourself taking a break during the commercials. 
 
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