I want a bike generator. I google this topic all the time. It seems I can buy plans to make my own, I can find free explanations on how to make my own, or I can buy a prefab that either incorporates a normal road bike or is a stand that will take one. Of the last kind, Gobal Inheritance offers the stand and parts, minus bike, for about a $1100 suggested donation plus shipping (the good cause being their advocacy work). It includes a battery. Another site will let me buy the stand/generator or even a device to charge cell phones while I bike on the road! Their stand set-up is on the order of $600 when I get the attachments I want, but not a battery (which is not necessary for directly powering electronics, though the included voltage controller pretty much is). They will also sell me just the generator for like $50 or so, and I can make my own stand or peddle machine.
Now, after all my research, it seems that the perfect use for a bicycle is, well, transportation! I mean, I can easily displace a quarter gallon of gas or so with a pleasant commute through town (or a more harrowing one this time of year – but still fun). What do I really want my generator/pedal power machine for? Ideal uses for bikes, other than transport, are to directly power mechanical devices such as blenders, grinders, lathes, etc…but sadly I almost never use these devices. I occasionally blend, but not enough to justify the space taken up by a bike. Usually I use a mocahete (granite, mexican mortar and pestle) for small grinding projects. I could also pump liquids (like water) with peddle power, but this is also not really a need for me, as I don’t, at least yet, have a big rain catchment/irrigation set-up for my yard. So I’m looking at generating electricity. Probably, it seems, at around 40 watts sustainable. Only enough to directly power an efficient laptop or lesser device. So I am probably going to use it for charging my cell phone and watching movies on a laptop. Direct use is most efficient, but I’m considering that it may be most convenient to charge a battery and then watch movies or power LED lights later. So, in my dream world, I would connect the pedals/transfer belts/generator to the front of a sofa – perhaps 2 sets for movie watching with a friend. Although this would not be the most biomechanically ideal peddling position, I wonder if it would be enough to offset the 30% loss from battery storage if I were to pedal from a more awkward-to-watch-movies-in position?
But, I have more projects than time, and perhaps more money than sense (not a huge amount more…). So maybe I will purchase a ready made stand, start charging batteries in my shed, and hook up a laptop to watch movies. We’ll see. I’m infamous for wanting things and never coughing up the dough. I am sorta sad that no one makes a nice, compact, perhaps recumbent, peddle power machine…as far as I can tell. Please post comments if you know of any technologies in this direction, have any experiences with peddle power, etc. I have ridden two demo peddle power bikes that light light bulbs, and it wasn’t easy. I think I remember two CFLs at maybe 20 to 40 watts total (depending on which ones they used) being about the limit of my sustainable power generating ability.
As I work on the master plan for the 4-plex, a common area with peddle-power movie watching set up would be a feature. This is very long range, as it requires the addition/renovation to a much larger common area than I have.