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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-02-08, 07:47 AM   #1
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Using a Bike to Generate Electricity

Hey, does anyone have any information about using bicycles to generate electricity? Specifically, I'd like to take a regular bike and use it to charge a battery that I can then use to run electric appliances. I don't want to make permanent modifications to the bike. My web searches have turned up surprising little about topic. But I know it's been done. Any websites, books or other info you have is much appreciated.

Thanks all
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Old 02-02-08, 08:19 AM   #2
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With a dynohub you can ride about 65 miles and charge up 4 AA size NiMH batteries. Does that give you the amount of electricity you want?
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Old 02-02-08, 08:28 AM   #3
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I know of only one commercial solution, which I came across last night. The Busch & Mueller "Ixon" or "Ixon IQ" headlight with the "Ride & Charge" accessory, along with a bicycle dynamo, can be used to charge a group of four AA batteries. Look for "Ride & Charge" on "http://peterwhitecycles.com/b&m.asp".
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Old 02-02-08, 08:43 AM   #4
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I know of only one commercial solution, which I came across last night. The Busch & Mueller "Ixon" or "Ixon IQ" headlight with the "Ride & Charge" accessory, along with a bicycle dynamo, can be used to charge a group of four AA batteries. Look for "Ride & Charge" on "http://peterwhitecycles.com/b&m.asp".
Looks like a nice product. Their instructions say that you get a full charge for 4 AA NiMH batteries after five hours of "brisk" riding. Elsewhere it mentions a speed of 20 km/h. Five hours at 20 km/h is a metric century (62 miles).
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Old 02-02-08, 08:52 AM   #5
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I'd like something that offers more diversity, i.e. running stuff from television to toasters. I'd also like to build it myself.

Cheers
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Old 02-02-08, 09:10 AM   #6
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I'd like something that offers more diversity, i.e. running stuff from television to toasters. I'd also like to build it myself.

Cheers
First thing I would do is some basic research on how much energy a television or toaster actually sucks down. Then look at how much riding it would take to actually generate that amount of electricity. It is not as simple as it looks at first....TANSFL....a good rider can generate 400 watts I know for a fact my toaster will not run on a 1000watt generator

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Old 02-02-08, 09:26 AM   #7
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Good point. I remember seeing years ago a "bicycle powered" television. The television actually ran on a car battery that was charged using a bicycle.
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Old 02-02-08, 10:06 AM   #8
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From newpointenergy.com (sorry no toaster)

Air conditioner: 2,000 to 5,000 watts / hour
Refrigerator: 60 watts / hour (or 1500 watts / day)
Washing machine: 500 watts / hour
Clothes dryer: 4,000 watts / hour
Dishwasher: 1,200 to 1,500 watts / hour
Microwave: 600 to 1,500 watts / hour
Television: 150 watts / hour
Personal computer: 80 to 150 watts / hour

In searching for the above, I found this http://www.econvergence.net/electro.htm
It looks like a stationary stand with a generator attached. Sells for $400.

I found a bunch of sources that discuss watts per hour a non-athlete can generate on a bike. They fall between 50 to 225 watts per hour.

Oh yeah, and I found one site that estimated 10 hours to trickle charge a car battery at ~ 100 watts.
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Old 02-02-08, 10:07 AM   #9
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If it takes 10 hours at 100 watts to charge a car battery, does that mean that a car battery can hold 1,000 watts?
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Old 02-02-08, 10:47 AM   #10
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In order to power normal 120 volt AC appliances you will need a voltage inverter that changes 12 volt DC current to 120 volt AC current. These are available widely, even at places like Radio Shack and Wal-Mart. A 400 watt unit is probably about $30 these days. But, 400 watts does not do much if a heating element or a motor is involved. If you are powering something like a radio or a small television, 400 watts can work. I have a 400 watt inverter I use to power my laptop if I need to use it while riding in a car. 400 watts is just enough for the power supply my laptop uses.

You will also need a 12 volt automobile battery. Virtually any bicycle generator capable of 12 volts will work, but charging the 12 volt car battery will be a bit slow and require a lot of pedalling between periods of usage. Most bicycle generators are AC. You will need to add at least one diode capable of handling the generator's output. The half of a sine wave graph of the output will be a bit choppy, but I also read that is a desirable situation when charging a battery is the goal.

Each device you need to add to the chain is less than 100 percent efficient. Each device has its own initial cost and has a useful life after which it needs repair or replacement. After a while the objective you have stated becomes an interesting exercise in theory, but is not very practical.

I once thought I would like to power a small television from an alternator connected to my bike. The object would be to make me pedal a certain amount. I would know the TV program goes off unless I keep pedalling.
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Old 02-02-08, 11:14 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Rio View Post
From newpointenergy.com (sorry no toaster)

Air conditioner: 2,000 to 5,000 watts / hour
Refrigerator: 60 watts / hour (or 1500 watts / day)
Washing machine: 500 watts / hour
Clothes dryer: 4,000 watts / hour
Dishwasher: 1,200 to 1,500 watts / hour
Microwave: 600 to 1,500 watts / hour
Television: 150 watts / hour
Personal computer: 80 to 150 watts / hour

In searching for the above, I found this http://www.econvergence.net/electro.htm
It looks like a stationary stand with a generator attached. Sells for $400.

I found a bunch of sources that discuss watts per hour a non-athlete can generate on a bike. They fall between 50 to 225 watts per hour.

Oh yeah, and I found one site that estimated 10 hours to trickle charge a car battery at ~ 100 watts.
I think a modern LCD tv beats that 150watts by a landslide. I bet a normal (less than 35") LCD TV consumes under 100 watts; but what do I know maybe the backlight is just that crazy bright.

A PC is now more like 40-600 watts depending on so many factors it would take me a day to explain. Let's just say anyone could power a laptop while they use it, although if they want hard processing and they're not a cyclist they'll be sweating.
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Old 02-02-08, 11:17 AM   #12
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I'd like to point out that cycling to power home appliances is not a good ecological solution. Mammals are not an efficient machine to process energy from food. It'd be preferable to grow a few select crops and use chemical processes to extract energy from them (right now we do this with ethanol). The equipment for that is probably far out of your reach.

If you're just doing this for giggles then more power to you! Seriously, you're going to need it to power anything more than your TV.
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Old 02-02-08, 11:47 AM   #13
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If it takes 10 hours at 100 watts to charge a car battery, does that mean that a car battery can hold 1,000 watts?
You can charge a lead acid battery slowly for 10 hours and then take it out all in one hour, if that's what you're asking. You lose about 1/3 of the energy in the charge / discharge cycle.

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I'd like to point out that cycling to power home appliances is not a good ecological solution. Mammals are not an efficient machine to process energy from food. It'd be preferable to grow a few select crops and use chemical processes to extract energy from them (right now we do this with ethanol). The equipment for that is probably far out of your reach.

If you're just doing this for giggles then more power to you! Seriously, you're going to need it to power anything more than your TV.
In an off grid situation you should put your first efforts into reducing your energy requirements. For example, lighting - fluorescent is better than incandescent, but you might get by with LED's, and by the way do you need the extra light at all if you can use the dark for sleeping. Eliminate energy conversion inefficiencies when possible, for example using a treadle lathe or a hand drill instead of the motorized versions. Look into alternatives, like boxed crackers instead of freshly made toast. Note - I'm not recommending low energy living in general, just saying that if you don't have easy access to cheap energy you have to do a lot of things differently.
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Old 02-02-08, 03:48 PM   #14
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If it takes 10 hours at 100 watts to charge a car battery, does that mean that a car battery can hold 1,000 watts?
No, watts is the wrong term for stored energy (such as in a battery). Watt hours is the appropriate term.

I have a battery with claimed energy storage of 240 watt hours. You can use this energy in 24 hours at a rate of 10 watts or in 1 hour at a rate of 240 watts.

A battery that charges using 100 watts for 10 hours would have to store 1000 watt hours if it were 100% efficient.

Stored energy, think "watt hours". How fast something uses up energy, think "watts".

Regarding the power used by TVs, here is a page of interest:

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-6475_7-...3.html?tag=nav

screen sizes 27 inches and larger, HDTVs, the one using the least power was 106 watts while typical LCD sets were closer to 150 to 200 watts... and some large LCD and plasma sets used 400 to 600 watts.
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Old 02-04-08, 01:47 PM   #15
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It would probably be better to use the pedal-generated power to directly do mechanical work, like grinding grain or running a saw. Charge your batteries with solar, wind or hydro.
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Old 02-04-08, 01:55 PM   #16
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So I guess my sketches for Dr Evil-esque bike powered LASER weapons are out then.
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Old 02-04-08, 02:00 PM   #17
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So I guess my sketches for Dr Evil-esque bike powered LASER weapons are out then.
I'd focus on making a good cheap blinky first!
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Old 02-04-08, 02:04 PM   #18
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Curses....
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Old 02-04-08, 06:02 PM   #19
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Saw on the superbowl brodcast where cyclists produced enough power for 1/2 hour of the pregame show.

http://digg.com/general_sciences/Usi..._Pre_Game_Show

http://www.humanenergy.ampenergy.com/

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Old 02-04-08, 06:45 PM   #20
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So I guess my sketches for Dr Evil-esque bike powered LASER weapons are out then.


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You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?
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Old 02-04-08, 07:03 PM   #21
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http://www.econvergence.net/electro.htm

This is the Pedal-a-Watt - I think the same one used at the Super Bowl pre-game show.
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Old 02-04-08, 07:24 PM   #22
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Here's the problem with pedaling a bike instead of plugging an appliance into the wall:

Let's say you pay $0.25 per kilowatt-hour and can generate 100 watts continuously while sitting on your bike inside the house. In 10 hours, you will save $0.25. Of course, you are unlikely to sit and pedal for 10 hours at one stretch, so it may take you a few days to save that $0.25.

Now, while you are sitting in the house cranking away, you're going to get pretty warm because there's not much air flow. So, you can turn on a fan to help cool you down. But the fan takes energy which eats into the output that is charging a battery, running the TeeVee, etc.

So, if your idea is to save money, then you would be better off getting a second job. It will pay a lot better and probably take less effort. If you think you're saving the environment, you might think again. There are probably more productive ways to do it then by cranking a generator by human power.

For what it does, electricity is very, very cheap.
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Old 02-07-08, 06:26 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rio View Post
Air conditioner: 2,000 to 5,000 watts / hour
Refrigerator: 60 watts / hour (or 1500 watts / day)
Washing machine: 500 watts / hour
Clothes dryer: 4,000 watts / hour
Dishwasher: 1,200 to 1,500 watts / hour
Microwave: 600 to 1,500 watts / hour
Television: 150 watts / hour
Personal computer: 80 to 150 watts / hour
I do not understand these figures. Average power per unit time? How does the refrigerator make sense?
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Old 02-08-08, 01:34 AM   #24
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Electricity just confuses the dickens out of me.
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Old 02-08-08, 07:12 AM   #25
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The original idea was that it would be a fun project. An opportunity to learn something. Saving money? No. My electricity bill is under $50 in the dead of winter. The practical goal, I suppose, was to have emergency power when our electricity goes off as it does around here sometimes. Not to power the fridge or big appliances, but to power the radio or laptop. Even better a small electric heater; sounds like that'd use too much power though.

You all have pretty much convinced me that it's impractical even for that. Though I'm still interested in references on the subject if anyone knows of such.

Cheers all.
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