WaterPod Tour de Volts pedal powered generator
Page data
Part of CCAT pedal powered innovations
Keywords human power, pedal power, Electricity generation
SDG Sustainable Development Goals SDG03 Good health and well-being
SDG07 Affordable and clean energy
Authors David Lopez Jr.
Ben Erickson
Bart Orlando
Published 2008
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Affiliations Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT)
Humboldt State University
Impact Number of views to this page. Views by admins and bots are not counted. Multiple views during the same session are counted as one. 3,199

A pedal powered generator is a Human Powered Energy Generator (HPEG) that provides a method of generating electricity by means of a modified exercise bike for use in energy storage and running household appliances. Human/mechanical energy is converted into electrical current by means of a Direct Current (DC) generator that is connected by a fanbelt to an exercise bike flywheel. The energy created by the DC generator can be stored in various types of lead-acid batteries. Energy stored in battery form can act as a supplemental energy source for battery banks that may already be used for wind, hydro and photovoltaic systems. Also, energy that is stored within the lead-acid battery can be utilized as DC current for use in DC appliances such as those found in automotive mobile homes. If Alternating Current (AC) appliances are in place then a inverter must be used to transfer the 12 volts of DC current into the standard 110 volts of AC current for usage by these appliances.

As discussed in Pedal Power: In work, leisure, and transportation by James McCullagh (1977), tests at Oxford by Stuart Wilson on a bicycle showed that 75 watts of power is possible to be generated by an average rider at road speed in a one hour time frame. Wilson also found that at 18 mph it is possible to achieve 200 watts for short periods, while 750 watts is possible only for a second or so, under extreme load. These calculations show that human/mechanical energy, if harnessed could add to existing battery banks, or could be set up alone to run appliances. Appliances that could be powered include radios, televisions, lights, power tools and other appliances that pull relatively low amounts of energy for their usage.

Now that the potential power output for an average cyclist has been defined it is possible to design a human powered energy generator. The information that is contained within this web page is intended to allow the reader to examine potential uses for this design. This example is based upon calculations done by myself, and can be used as a template for design of different energy demand systems. This system would be most appropriate for a household with more than four people that do not have high energy demands, and are in average physical condition.

The following contents of this information include a list of the components necessary for assembly of this system, followed by an example of potential usage for this design.

Written by Ben Erickson

Projects on Appropedia[edit | edit source]

Components Needed to Build a 12 volt Pedal Powered Generator[edit | edit source]

Exercise bike[edit | edit source]

Preferably a front mounted flywheel with a channel to accommodate a fan belt. The bike gearing that has proved effective is with a 52-tooth chain ring on the exercise bike connected by the chain to the flywheel, which has a 16 tooth freewheel. The flywheel diameter that has proven effective, is with a solid metal flywheel that is 15.5" in diameter. The generator pulley is recommended at 3-4" in diameter. The pulley ciameter can be altered to make the effort required to spin the pulley easier by putting on a larger pulley diameter.

Fan belt[edit | edit source]

Must be large enough to cover circumference of flywheel, generator wheel, and distance between each wheel. V - belts waste ~20% of your pedaling effort to friction. Tooth belts are ~95% efficient.

Generator[edit | edit source]

24 volt DC. generators that have proved effective are permanent magnet generators that are rated at 1800 rotations per minute (rpm), and a potential of 1/3 horsepower of output. The voltage output is directly proportional to the rpms and the capability of this system is to rotate the generator at 900 rpm's. This will lead to an output of 12 volts. Do not use a car alternator.' They are reqired to spin too fast (3000-10,000 rpm) and use 1/3 of your pedaling effort to power an electromagnet instead of using permanent magnets that use no power.

Wiring[edit | edit source]

10 gauge copper stranded copper wire. Do not use solid copper wire. Electricity is conducted along the surface of copper wire. The more surface area, the less resistance (energy loss due to conversion of electricity to heat). The more copper strands the better.

Voltage regulator[edit | edit source]

20 amp flat automotive fuse that is to be placed in line with the positive electric wire. The voltage regulator limits amount of current flow when battery reaches full charge to prevent damage to battery.

Diode[edit | edit source]

A one way electricity valve placed on either the positive or negative wiring. Must be rated at 25 amps, and at least 35 volts.

Lead-Acid Battery[edit | edit source]

A 12 volt deep cycle battery can receive a supplemental charge with pedal power but it is better to use pedal power to match the load of an electrical appliance powered by the battery or via an inverter. It is better still to charge smaller flash light or cell phone batteries. It is best not to use a battery at all, as in the vase of the pedal powered electric blender.

Inverter[edit | edit source]

Changes 12 volt DC into 110 AC. Inverters must be able to handle potential peak electrical loads. To determine the loads, look at the watt requirement on the back of the appliances. This calculation should be used to insure that the inverter can handle the electrical loads. Most inverters vary in there efficiency under electrical loads allowing for 60%-90% of original 12 volt DC current to be transferred into 110 volt AC.

Ampere, Voltage, and RPM meter[edit | edit source]

Attached to exercise bike.

Wooden Platform with wheels[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]