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Monday, June 4, 2012

Do It Yourself Bicycle Generator

According to pedalpowergenerator.com it can be pretty expensive to make your own bicycle generator. Take a look at the list of components you would need to buy below.

1 $149 - 600 Watt Duracell Battery Powerpack
2 $199 - 300 Watt DC Generator
3 $79 - Adjustable V-belt
4 $159 - 12V Charge Controller
5 $129 - Aluminum Adapter Plate
6 $79 - Bike Trainer Exercise Stand
7 $89 - Blocking Diode
8 $49 - Terminal Blocks + Wiring Kit for charge controller

TOTAL $932

+ $223 - OPTIONAL - WattsVIEW Power Monitor for windows (TOTAL $1155)

Price does not include taxes. May cost you extra to buy specific tools and replacement parts.

HOWEVER once you have your bicycle generator, what can you do with it? Well the average person can produce 40 watts per second on a bicycle. Enough to light an energy efficient 40 watt lightbulb.

A small laptop uses 45 watts per second.
The average fridge uses 110 watts per second.
A desktop computer uses between 150 to 340 watts per second depending on the size of the monitor.
A 50" LCD television uses between 210 to 320 watts per second.
A tiny air conditioner in the window uses 500 watts per second.
An electric oven set at 350 F uses 2000 watts per second.

Even a measly clock radio uses 4 watts per second.

So lets pretend you get on your bicycle generator and cycle for 1 hour, averaging 40 watts per second. That is enough to power your clock radio for 10 hours.

NOTE: For $599 you could get yourself a Blue Planet 100 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel, which would produce a lot more electricity between sunrise and sundown. Or you could get a Blue Planet 600 Watt Wind Generator for $799 and generate electricity 24/7. You will also need to buy batteries and a battery control system, but basically it works out to more bang for your buck than a bicycle generator.

So I am sorry for debunking any hopes and dreams you had of running your home on bicycle power. Its just not feasible. An hour on a bicycle producing 40 watts per second is only enough to power a coffee maker (900 watts per second) for 160 seconds. You could cycle 10 hours per day and would still not be producing enough power for the electricity needs of a normal household.

While typing this on my desktop computer, with the AC on full blast, a 60 watt lightbulb, a freezer and a fridge running I conservatively estimate I was using about 980 watts per second. If I turned the AC, computer, the lightbulb all off I would still be using maybe 220 watts per second just to keep my food cold. And this doesn't include any electricity I use if I use water from the tap.

It really makes you realize just how dependent we are on solar, wind, hydro and nuclear energy now that Canada is phasing out coal energy.

NOTE: Canada has no geothermal power plants, even though geothermal produces as much electricity as a coal plant and is significantly cheaper than nuclear power.

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