Key to energy independence at home involves a bicycle??

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by sparky, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    I recently read somewhere that somebody had created a bicycle with an alternator of some sort.... and that when pedaled for 6 hours, it provided enough energy for one home for 30 days!!!

    Any electrical folks think that's plausible?

    I'd be off the grid next month if this were true. Anybody know a good starting point for recommended / necessary parts, etc.??

  2. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    Well, first define your needs.

    Frankly, I think the likelihood of any such system providing real world energy demand for even basic electric lighting to be essentially zero. Pedalling a stationary bike at a reasonable 90 strokes per minute to spin an alternator isn't going to come close - 6 hrs of such exercise would likely not provide more than a single days minal electricity needs.
  3. softride

    softride Member

    think positive
    there now put a wooley sweater on and hug a tree:grin::grin::grin:
  4. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    People call me a nay-sayer sometimes.

    But when I hear things like 30 days power for 6 hours on a bicycle, I think "not likely".

    When someone offers a free lunch, be suspicious.
  5. lennyharp

    lennyharp Member

  6. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    It seems to be saying that about 80 Watts is possible. (While pedalling.)

    This is desirable and admirable, but it's certainly not the total answer to our power needs.

    But I'll be buying one when I've got 600 bucks that doesn't have any higher priorities attached.
  7. terrence

    terrence Member

    Sparky I know your just throwing this out there so this isnt an insult to you.
    And if it were true id be there with ya.

    Ok, now if you peddled for 6 hrs and got 30 days worth of electricity why wouldn't a
    person hook up a electric motor to the alternator, run it for 6 hrs, then shut it off and
    have 30 days of power. Wouldn't that be 29.75 free days of free energy without the
    manpower even though you used the electric motor?

    Come on now...maybe if Jesus was riding the bike. I'm all for alternative energy but
    something smells like bull dung. (By the way, holds more energy than the bicycle power)
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  8. mralaska

    mralaska Member

    Defining your needs is quite essential and the laws of physics prevail. The only way pedaling 6 hr would provide all my energy needs for a month is if I were living in a tent in the middle of summer and eating out every night (basically no energy needs other than personal substance).

    I was concerned about all the energy I was 'wasting' when i work out on the elliptical every morning so I looked into setting up a generator to provide the resistance and store the power and maybe switch to a stationary bike. I figured out that even at 100% efficiency I was not burning enough power to make it worth while to save. The time it would take to recover the cost of the modifications was more time than I have available on this planet.

    Edit: I am not against human powered energy and other forms of alternative energy, they actually interest me a great deal. Back home when I was younger I had friends living in cabins powered by car alternators hooked up to home-made wind mills then later my family powered our cabin with solar panels. I do like the pedal powered generator that Lennyharp posted. If it reasonably has 80W output that is pretty high efficiency because that is just about how much power a normal guy can put out but in the context of the original question (pedal 6 hr for 30 days energy) it would take some intense modifications to run a home for 480W per month, or even 480W per day.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  9. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    I found the article...

    Not much info, other than "six hours of pedaling can create and store enough electrical energy in batteries to light about six homes for 30 days (in areas where people use less electricity than in the U.S.)."

    Anything that gets me off the grid interests me ever since my window A/C unit quit working a few weeks ago. I finally busted out the Kill-A-Watt meter I bought last year, and I'd say that my home should only be using 400~600 kW per month, and I'm not understanding how the power company is saying we used 830 kW prior to the A/C breaking (44 W), then simply opening the window and switching out the last incandescent in the house (54 W). Now according to the power company's bill, we should at be about 750 kW / month just from these two changes alone. That still seems like quite a bit of a stretch for what we're actually using, tho. My desktop is the biggest drain, because I leave it on all the time to record tv shows, and it still only uses, say 120 kW / month. All the other electronics in my room can't be more than 25 kW / month. All the lights in the house usually stay on 90+% of the time, which would be about 60kW / month. Two fans are about 50 kW / month. The fridge is about 55 kW / month. The microwave prolly isn't even used an average of 2 min per day, so that's only 2kW / month. Mom uses the hair dryer for 2 min a day maybe, that's about 1 kW / month. Then all that's left is my mom's TV, which I've yet to measure.... but I doubt it's 400 kW a month, like the power bill is suggesting.

    I don't get it. Does the power company charge for the electricity that they generate, or the electricity that reaches your home? Because there is some loss in the wiring, I know. But man... we're getting ripped off. There's nothing else that could be sucking the power.... no washer or dryer or anything.
  10. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    Sure it's plausible. As long as you cook with gas, have no TV, computer, or electrical appliances and use the power generated soleley for lighting with LED lamps. The "home" they were powering was probably a mud hut in a third world country. :)
  11. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    After finding the article again, I noticed the part saying "[homes] where people use less electricity than the U.S." But my house uses less electricity than the average home in the U.S. too.

    I think if I had about $3,000 to spare, I could get this house below 300 kW per month, including constantly running A/C, fridge, microwave lights, a computer with two tv tuners, a laptop that can connect wirelessly to the tv backend, and other small electronics like modem, router, cell phones, battery chargers, speaker system, etc.

    At that point, the gas and electric bill would be virtually the same at ~$35.

    I wish I could find out why our bill is so high right now, tho... we're definitely not using as much as the power company says we are.
  12. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    Chances are, you are using the energy they are charging you for. Electric meters are very accurate, and even the mechanical ones will only really err on the low side as they age. (to your advantage, that's why they have been switching to the electronic ones) Remember that appliances that aren't being used often draw several watts just to be on "standby". So when you add up all of these devices, you can come up with 100-200W draw that is "always on" - even though you aren't doing anything. Some surprising energy parasites are doorbell transformers, clock radios, microwave ovens, furnaces, TV's, DVD players, etc.

    Here in the great state of NJ, the utility charges a "ready to serve" fee - which means that I pay about $40 a month even if I don't use one kW of electricity or one cubic ft. of gas. The water company does the same. I own a rental property, and the utilities are surprising even when the property is vacant.
  13. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    As far as energy independence goes, my "10 year plan" includes installing a 10kW solar array on my house, along with a battery bank and necessary inverters for a "net metering" system that will feed power back into the grid and "spin" my meter backwards when the batteries are fully charged and there is excess production. I also plan on having a "slow speed" Lister type diesel generator (1920's tech!) that can be fueled with waste veggie oil or bio-diesel to keep the batteries charged when the sun ain't shining. Sure I will be energy independent, but it will cost more per kW hour and require a lot more work/maintenance than just flipping on a switch. Alternative energy is far from being cost effective, or user friendly - and only people who want to devote the money and effort to do it are the ones that will be the pioneers for the rest.
  14. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    6 hours of peddling provides, at best, about 480 watt-hours, as discussed above. 480 watt-hours, divided by 6 houses is 80 watt-hours per house, per month, or 2.67 WH per day. Suppose you use a very high efficiency LED bulb to provide reading light for a single room - you could have about 3 hours of light a night, for a single LED bulb in each house. :(

    So, Sparky, to go back to your original question, I wouldn't plan on disconnecting from the power grid, just yet...
  15. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    Yea... I wanted to see some numbers to see how small, primitive of a "neighborhood" this was powering.

    Right now, I'll be content to lowering the bill. And then perhaps in 5 years, I'll be able to convince my mom to add solar panels to the roof with some of that money we save on the power bills. Only problem for us is... when a hurricane comes, how easy will it be to move them inside?
  16. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    You'll be saving for a looooong time sparky!
    A 10KW net metering solar panel system (no batteries) costs about $75,000 installed here in NJ. Even with rebates, it is not a cheap way to get electricity. Solar power is for people that are h3ll bent on conserving, or for rich people to feel less guilty about excesses in their lives. (like those ridiculous "carbon credits" - hahahaha) As far as moving them in the event of a storm, I don't think that it would be easy - and you would have to have a pretty large storage area if you had a system capable of doing anything worthwhile. The best way to lower utility bills is to simply stop using power. Lights out, all parasitic devices unplugged unless you need them, etc. Even then, you probably get charged a "ready to serve" fee from the utility so you'll pay out even if you use nothing.
  17. Man. I would totally get this thing and hook up my bike engine so I wouldn't have to pedal.
    EPIC WIN!!
  18. Skyliner70cc

    Skyliner70cc Active Member

    Why pedal? Those generators should be run by engines running on HHO gas from water. Energy problems solved! <<---please note my sarcasm on the new HHO gas "technology"...
  19. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    Hey sparky -

    I think what you need to do in your storm prone area is to install a "slow speed diesel" generator (about 10kW) and run it off of waste vegetable oil from restaurants. You can use the generator to charge a battery bank, so you won't have to run it continuously. These old fashioned Lister type diesel engines look like antiques (but are still produced in India) but will run for decades. These engines are often used in third world countries for providing small villages with electricity. A genset will cost roughly $6,000, a lot less than solar panels - and you can run it during storms when everyone else's power is knocked out.
  20. Alaskavan

    Alaskavan Guest

    I use (when it's dark out) a couple of 7 watt led arrays. I have a fluorescent 15 watt in the kitchen, and fluorescent 25 watt bulbs in the shop and the bathroom. I have propane and oil lamps for ambiance (I'd light them up if I could lure a gurl out here to impress). My computer is my major power draw. I almost always cook on the wood stove (which is piped to heat my water). I have a propane stove, but haven't lit it in about a month. I have a propane fridge. My electric bill averages about $15 a month. $100 worth of propane should last the summer. In the winter, I won't use the fridge. I can just keep stuff out in the enclosed porch.