For as long as I can remember my husband has been wanting to build either a hand crank generator or some form of pedal powered generator. Until recently, he has only talked about this idea but lately he seems to have been inspired by some of the YouTube videos that show similar experiments that people are toying with.
I was quite surprised when a permanent magnet motor showed up in the mail the other day. When I asked my husband what it was for, he said that he was finally ready to build some kind of a human powered generator and buying this motor was the first step.
I’m hoping that since he actually spent some money on the motor, he’ll find the time to build something that I can showcase here on booneyliving.com. Until then I thought I would share some of my thoughts about this technology as well as a couple of the more interesting videos that I’ve found on the subject.
My Thoughts on Pedal Powered Generator Technology
I’ve spent a fair amount of time day dreaming about the concept of generating electricity with nothing more than the power of the human body and the determination of the mind. One thing that has become quite evident to me is that many people are overestimating the amount of electricity that the human body can actually produce.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t think there is a place for gadgets like these in the alternative energy world. I just think people need to rethink what they could be useful for. If we approach these types of experiments with the expectations of being able to power small electronic devices like cell phone chargers or even laptop chargers, I think hand crank generators would be well suited for the task at hand.
If we really want to get creative, we can easily build a pedal powered generator that will charge a 12V battery that can be used to power larger devices but these generators will come with some limitations. The biggest limitation will be that of stamina. After all, how many of us can actually sit down at a stationary bike generator and pedal longer than an hour or so?
Humans are limited in their ability to pedal hard enough to spin a generator with enough speed to produce much useable electricity. These are limitations that mother nature has placed on the human body. With this in mind, I’m going to encourage my husband to come up with some kind of hand crank human generator prototype in the next month or so. If I’m successful, I’ll be sure and update this post with the details as well as the plans that you can use if you want to try your hand at this challenge as well.
Bike Powered Generator Video
Here’s a proof of concept video that shows that it is possible to produce electricity with a bike generator. When you watch it, be sure and pay attention to the meter that they have hooked up to the bike that shows how many watts are being generated. Then consider how hard these people are pedaling to get the numbers that they get. This video demonstrates what I was referring to earlier when I said that human physiology is the limiting factor to this technology.
Here’s a video that shows another mad eco scientist’s vision of a bicycle powered generator. He talks about leveraging the adjustable gear ratio’s of a 10 speed bicycle and he uses an alternator instead of a permanent magnet motor which I believe isn’t quite as efficient but it demonstrates the concept quite well.
Hand Crank Generator Videos
Here’s a video that shows a very rudimentary experiment that relies on hand cranking. In this video the person has the generator connected directly to a car’s headlight. My vision of this technology would be something like a self contained hand crank battery charger.
The guy who made this video is really talking my language. His solution to the challenge is similar to what I hope to be able to accomplish with our prototype.
I’d love to see what any of you out there can come up with. I’m laying down the gauntlet! Let’s see if you can come up with a better working prototype than he can!