Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Nov 08

Pedal Powered Electricity Generator from Windstream

Posted in Energy Inventions | Human Power | Pedal Power

Pedal Powered GeneratorThe pedal powered generator from Windstream is perfect for emergencies, power failures, remote locations, and off-grid applications. It can be pedaled or cranked by hand to charge 12 volt batteries and run small appliances. The typical average continuous power that can be generated by pedaling the Human Power Generator is up to about 80 watts. The maximum power obtainable through hand cranking typically is about 50 watts. The pedals and optional hand-cranks are interchangeable. Re-engineered for more strength, easier adjustment, and smooth operation, the new MkIII Human Power Generator is the tool for energy education and self-reliant electrical production.

Windstream Power Generator

Back in the ’70s, if Sheila Kerr wanted to watch television she had to work for it. Her inventor father rigged the TV to a generator powered by a bicycle. “If I wanted to see ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’ I had to pedal,” Kerr said recalling her favorite show with a laugh. Today Kerr still is pushing pedals, but not to see Luke Duke or Boss Hogg. She’s head of sales and marketing for Windstream Power LLC, founded by her father, Colin Kerr. She sells human-powered generators all over the world.

Some might be powering TVs but they are also powering lights and appliances for foresters in camps in Siberia, “off-grid” homesteaders in Alaska, even owners of ocean-going boats. With increasing awareness about the effects of global warming and skyrocketing energy costs, human-generated power is gaining attention again. Windstream is well positioned to take center stage as one of the only established makers of human-powered generators. In April, Windstream was acquired by Bowles Corp., a North Ferrisburgh environmental engineering company, providing Windstream with engineering expertise and financial backing.

Bowles does oil-spill recovery through subsidiary

Clean Earth Technology

and makes an ultrasound watt meter used in ultrasound imaging machines. “I’ve been for years and years looking for the third leg of the stool,” said Dave Bowles, president. Windstream turned out to be the answer, although at first he wondered about the market for human-powered generators. As Bowles learned more about them, he saw possibilities.

Windstream makes two types of human-powered generators. One uses a bicycle crank assembly attached to a chain and a fixed gear that charges a 12-volt battery by hand cranking or by pedaling. The other is a bicycle training stand that hooks up to a bicycle. The charged battery, with the help of an inverter, becomes a power source for a variety of needs from a laptop computer to a light bulb to an appliance.

The idea for a pedal-powered generator grew out of a wind turbine generator Windstream developed that was designed to perform in adverse conditions. The Helius, still in use today, was attached to the top of buoys in the ocean generating power for underwater research equipment.

After the Helius was on the market, requests began to come in from boaters who wanted to generate power without having to rely on their diesel engines. The pedal-power generator was introduced in 1978. Windstream’s generators are marketed to schools and museums that use them to demonstrate how much human exertion it takes to make power, something most of us have little awareness of, noted Dave Melichar, an engineer with Windstream.

“There’s a huge lack of knowledge in our community and society about how much we consume and what it takes to produce it,” Melichar said. The generators aren’t cheap. The pedal crank sells for $497. The bicycle trainer setup costs $558, without the bike. The battery packs cost $397 but are sold at a discount when paired with the generators, Kerr said.

In addition to educational uses, they are popular in places without reliable electricity, like Zimbabwe, where there is four hours a day of electricity and that seems to be waning, Kerr said. People who intentionally live “off the grid” without electricity in remote places such as Siberia and Alaska, also buy them, Kerr said. The company enjoyed a bump in business in 1999 from people worried about failure of the grid at the turn of the century, she said.

Kerr is excited to have the company in a situation where it can grow. Already, Windstream’s battery pack has been streamlined and made more portable. Sales have doubled this year. Windstream hasn’t advertised in years, relying on the internet to bring in customers. Googling “human-powered generator” brings up the company’s name, not because it has paid for that, but because Windstream is one of the few places in the world to buy one.

Inventor Colin Kerr, who has officially retired, arguably was ahead of his time when he hooked up the family TV to a bicycle three decades ago. Things may be finally be changing, however. “In the early ’70s there was a sudden awareness that other sources of energy were called for because of the oil crisis,” Kerr said. “It takes a few rounds before society gets it. We’ve already had a few.”

  • Gary Bourque

    Hi, I am looking for information on Human Power and it’s uses.

    I attend a College in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and I want to get the institute to start using the energy produced by students and faculty when they use any and all cardio machines. I have been able to find relatively little on any large scale projects that may have been done or currently in progress. Something that I could use as a role model.

    If anyone has any type of information or sources that may be of conceivable help; I’d use anything and everything.

    Peace and thank you.

  • Adam Gilmore


    I’m a Master’s student at the University of Guelph and I am also interested in learning about the application of this technology on a larger scale.

    If anyone knows of a case where Windstream generators were successfully used to produce a nominal amount of power, I would appreciate a reply.


  • tom foxe

    Hi. I have made a low power generator, using a 300watt (nominal) wind generator hub attached to a frame, but without any blades attached, and driven by a bicycle. I added a rectifier and voltage controller unit, and was able personally to charge a 12V battery at 8 amps, i.e. producing about 100 watts. That was hard work though and 50 watts would be a more realistic target for long-term use. I chose a wind generator because I figured it would have good quality low-friction bearings. This generator has been used on a number of occasions to charge the battery for a 12 volt/100 watt sound system at “Green” events. Many people aged from about 10 years up pedaled the bike, and the battery has never gone below 12 volts.

  • rui

    Hi. I’m the owner of a gym in Portugal and i would like to know if its possible to use the energy produced by 17 bycicles X 16 classes X 1 hour per class, a week of Spinning (static bikes with people pedaling them really hard!). I would imagine that can be some energy there… but how can it be transferred and to what? How much would it cost? Would it be significant?

    Thank you for your answer

    Rui Barbosa

  • Greg Monk

    Hello. I am also a new found believer in the technology of human kinetic energy transfer to electrical power. This could be a potentially great advance and that I would like to support. Please contact me for sharing of efficient entropy.

  • decksawash

    I just finished building what is essentially an exercise bike. I can easily pedal up 100watts of 12v power, but not, apparently, any more. I’m using a 26″ bike wheel to turn a shaft that has a pulley arrangement to two razor scooter motors, thus bringing their RPM up to the needed 2500. Now to find out how many minutes I can pedal at a time for how many times per day. I can do a normal ex bike for 40 minutes, but that’s without the inspiration of generating juice!

  • Neil Garland

    There have been very few larger projects that use stationary bike technology to generate electricity. This is people’s power. I plan to build a series of these with Buddhist texts inside them as with the Mani wheels, (Tibetan prayer Wheels) to turn the dharma and generate and store electricity. Over the next few months I will be working on larger units and will post stuff here and at other energy sites.
    Professor Neil

  • christo pieterse

    Hi, I have this idea to build a powerup system that can be sold to gyms, where the gym uses his customers to generate electricity for the gym itself. We in South Africa had an electricity problem, we are loadsharing, half a day with out power. Can any one tell me if this idea would work?

  • gumby

    Humans (and other mammals) are relatively inefficient converters of food energy into work (including electricity). However, for countries where people can afford plenty of calories, go ahead and try pedal power.

    In my experience, it’s more useful as an educational tool than a practical source of power.

  • Boris

    There’s definitely a business opportunity here. With everyone in the U.S. starting to become more conscious of their health as well as the environment, perhaps a non-profit can streamline the production of bikes exploiting the kinetic energy. Now this isn’t a real alternative energy source, but the charged batteries can be used power homes, mobile generators. I think this is something that can be turned into a “cool thing to do.”

  • Jamey

    Outfitting every exercise machine in each chain of gyms has been an idea I’ve carried around for years. Neither an engineer nor a businessman, I’m not about to try and execute this; but somebody will. Gyms who make the investment of retrofitting (or replacing) their exercise equipment would have some free electricity; surplus electricity could be sold back to the grid, and members’ gym fees reduced accordingly. A small but perhaps non-negligible quantity of fossil fuel could be conserved nationwide. The company that could offer gym chains and independent gyms the service of retrofitting all their existing exercise equipment would likely thrive in the coming environment, financially and otherwise.

    As for the home market, it is soon going to be a great deal broader than “Alaska and Siberia.” The US electric grid will experience increasingly frequent blackouts of increasing duration as crises converge: resource scarcity, climate change, deteriorating physical infrastructure, and the unregulated, monopoly-prone state of the electricity industry. In such conditions, the company that can introduce and mass-market a home pedal-power stationary bike can make a mountain of money, as long as there is zero ambiguity about how the owner is supposed to get the electricity from the generator bike into his toaster or tv or lamp. Let’s hope somebody does this soon.

  • Digna Adames

    Dear sirs:
    Please quote:
    Two power generator bikes with low revolutions pedals. Nominal power 500 watts, Electronic charger control: 15 amps., LED indicators of energetic level, Battery 40 AH; illumination system of 4 lamps with cold light, DC Electronic Ignition.

    Digna Adames
    VANJI, S.A.
    P.D. If you dont sell this, can you tell me where can I find.

  • zalman

    My idea is to use the kinetic energy of pedestrians and cars going through the streets. Is there a way to store the energy of thousands of cars and people walking? I was thinking pressure – sensitive sidewalk panels?

  • Don

    Hi There

    I’m interested in this pedal power Generator. I’m a ham radio operator. I’m looking at your pedal power system to supplement a 110 V charging system to a 12 v deep cell battery. Using the 12 v to power radio’s when commercial power goes down. The Pedal Generator can re power 12 v battery if hydro is out over a few days.

    Don VA7DGP

  • chris

    Can a car mounted with belt somewhere near the axle spin up a generator (much like the bike power) although on a bigger scale? Think about it – you put the gas in the car, go on a road trip and while powered by the combustion engine, charge up the batteries. On the way home, you use the electrical power.

    Has this been done? Can it be done? What are the limitations with this idea? Would you need a ridiculously huge battery?


  • Devlin

    Here in Alberta electricty is roughly 10 cents per kw/hr. That means at 50w you would have to pedal 20 hrs to get 10 cents worth of electricity, not worth it.

    Chris, the generator would be increasing the load on the engine. However given that the generating system isn’t 100% efficient and that internal combustion engines are about 40% efficient your elec output would probably be less than half of the increase in fuel consumption in terms of energy. It would be cheaper just to use the grid. If you sold the elec you’d be losing money.

  • todd

    I created my own bicycle generator for a lot cheaper than that. I had a spinner stationary bike, attached an electric motor to it (generates electricity when rotated), and connected marine/deep cycle batteries to it.

    Then I used a converter to used the marine batteries to power things such as my TV, my computer, etc.

    The spinner bike was the most expensive part.

    Once this technology becomes more affordable it will be common place. But that is too expensive.

    And if you are buying it “just in case” of an emergency. Why not just buy a gas-powered generator for much less….and much less work.

    Electricity is pretty cheap now. When prices increase, wind turbines, solar panels and human power will start to emerge and also be more affordable.

    Otherwise, it’s just a TOY.

  • todd


    It’s called an ALTERNATOR. It’s already on your car now.

    Look it up on wikipedia.

  • todd

    To all the people that want to create power in gyms or on their own, do some math on how many watts it generates compared to how much watts cost you.

    If you are getting around 60W from a bike, that’s not a whole lot of power. It is significant if your electricity is expensive. And it can power many things as appliances are becoming more energy efficient.

    For example, new LCD 20″ tvs are only 50W. So you can watch as much TV as you peddle. New fluorescent bulbs are 14W so you can light almost 3 bulbs by peddling.

    But a microwave is at the least 900W. So for every minute you peddle, you would only get 1/20 minutes of your microwave.

    The cost of the bicycles would probably never be returned by the electricity gains alone. So you would never make money and probably lose money in a gym.

    The actual electricity you created would be pretty insignificant in terms of the cost of the bikes. But if you have power outages and electricity is expensive, it may keep the TVs going or the lights on.

  • ivan cruz

    hi, i want create my own bicigenerator because in my town we haven’t electric service. Welcome all information¡ i live in Mexico.


  • mike

    We are building an exhibit to demonstrate human power. In one display we are going to make a giant hamster wheel. We want to see how many compact fluorescent bulbs a person can light. Has anyone made anything like this? Any suggestions?

  • todd

    Ivan and Mike,

    Here is a youtube video on how to make a human power generator:

    I actually duplicated the setup and it worked great.

    Ivan, if you buy enough batteries and converters, you can save power for later.

    Good luck.

  • ivan

    Ok, thanks for the video and for the idea

  • BobTFK

    Hi, I’ve been thinking about making my own bike powered generator since a friend of mine and I tried brainstorming about solutions to the energy crisis. Just little ideas that would help ourselves and other individuals. I hadn’t realized that others had had the same idea already lol and found this site while beginning my research. The gym idea came up also. A few thoughts I’d wondered are: Would being able to change the gears on the bikes increase the watts harvested? Would larger equipment yield more power? And others for later.

  • normand

    Hello everyone… perhaps a bike generator for kids and adults who watch a lot of tv or play video games… exercise and entertainment at the same time… this way it’s not so much economics but health benefit.

  • Andrew


    If you take power from driving your car to charge a battery, then your engine will work harder and burn more fuel. You don’t get energy for free. In fact, because of the energy losses as you use gasoline to drive the generator, you will probably be worse off than if you simply use the motor as usual.

    Hybrid cars actually work on this principle, but they gain some efficiency from the fact that engines work most efficiently at certain load levels. By pairing them with electrical backup systems, they can store power when they are being under-used (and would therefore be less efficient) and then return it when the motor would otherwise be overworked and be running less efficiently.

  • matt

    I’m thinking of tying the whole set-up to an external gear connected to a shaft that will be pressurized by a dozen car shocks. My goal is: you come back every two hours or so, and with the help of a hydraulic jack, re-compress the whole thing. Just has to be geared right. Coocoo-clock tech has existed for centuries, if applied in the right proportions, you could definitely get the desired 20kw /per day (a 500w alternator) is the needed torque. I will have to experiment with the gear ratios and perhaps make the back wheel sturdier.

  • Amy

    It seems to me that this technology will take off once they’ve figured out how to store energy more efficiently. I have a vision where every home is able to produce all the energy that it consumes. Between power bikes and exercise gyms that could be used by the family mornings and evenings, solar panels on every roof and dozens of little windmills in every tree (why not?) and perhaps several other technologies that haven’t emerged yet – perhaps we can at least significantly reduce our dependence on oil. A personal computer in every home? That’s a reality. How about a personal rechargeable generator in every home? That’s my dream.

  • John

    Hi, I was wondering if someone could explain the concept of Energy Balance and how it relates to human powered generators. As far as I know the amount of energy you get out of any system is as much as you put in (minus losses).

    1 kWh = 859845.2 Calories, so does this mean I need to expend at least that many calories in order to produce 1 kWh? If so, then it doesnt sound like human energy production is very practical.

  • Solomon

    For those who are looking for cheap or free electricity, a more efficient way is a methane converter, they have them in India, Nepal and on some farms. The idea is to contain the natural gas created when the bio-mass of our human refuse (poop) is being digested by bacteria.

  • Todd

    John, typically when you do a work out the “calories” you see on a piece of workout machinery are really KILOCALORIES, not the calorie defined by raising water 1 degree centigrade. It’s 1000X that. So it’s more like 900 Calories needed for 1 KWH. Still a hefty amount of work.

    But 1KWH can go far for low powered devices. I have a 22inch TV that only takes 45W. So that’s 20 hours of watching TV off of one 1KWH. Or a 14W fluorecent bulb thats 60 hours of light on 1KWH.

  • Steve

    I’m working on a 10 speed bike that drives an alternator from a diesel truck. These alternators typically have a higher output at lower RPM(which is good in this case). I plan to work out on the bike daily, which will keep a very large deep cycle battery charged. I have a 2.5kw power inverter which will be used to power a portion of my home. Most likely the lighting (which is all CF). It will also serve for emergency use to power the heating equipment and refrigeration equipment.

    This is currently done using a small boat deep cycle. I generally test the setup every few months and find that I have roughly 1 day of service without charging the battery.

  • Joe

    How about outfitting prisons with these bikes and hooking them up to the grid. With an estimated 1 Million people incarcerated in the US, we could let them pay back their debt to society by supplying us with green energy. Judges could begin sentencing in Killowatt hours with each year being the sum of a reasonable amount per day of pedaling. Prison health care costs might also go down with a healthier prison population.

  • Dave

    Brilliant idea! (number 33)

  • Paul

    I think a e bike hub motor would work for a generator you would need a rectifier to charge a battery. I bought a bicycle and installed a gas motor kit, I did a few things to it and it will go 30 mph on flat ground, but going up steep hills I have to pedal. I almost bought a e bike kit and installed it on the bike but the gas kit was cheaper. Now I’m doing a little experiment with a 36 volt 600 watt front hub E-bike kit, I’m adding it to the gas powered bicycle. I want to see if I can go up steep hills with both motors wide open, it should have incredible take off power, I can turn one off on the flat and when my battery gets low I can charge the battery using the front hub. I would have to stop and put the bateries in parallel and hook up a rectifier, this would only take a min. or two. I hope the front hub will generate 36 AC volts at 20 MPH, if so a garden tractor rectifier will charge the batteries at 10 amp. I hope it works. A car could be built with this same theory.

    It started out as a hobby and is turning into a science project. You can see a picture of this bike in my pic’s on

    It’s the black bike, I will put up more pic’s of it when I get done with the E-Bike kit.

  • Jason

    Hey Paul, that gas powered and hub kit sounds like a cool idea and I am interested in how it goes. Would love to see some pics of it. Good luck!

  • Dan McCarthy

    I was nine years of age, living in Co. Cork, Ireland; we had no electric power, no radio. Things changed when we bought a battery-powered (PYE)radio. The ‘Dry Battery’ 120V AC, lasted a few months, however, the ‘Wet Battery’ 6V, lasted only a few weeks. That was a radio used sparingly. Getting the wet battery Charged was a major problem; it had to be taken to an electrical/radio store in a big town far away. Then, it had to be left for a week!

    A local farmer told me he had a six volt Dynamo that he was selling: I paid 2 shillings and lugged it home.

    With my bicycle’s rear-wheel elevated slightly, rear tyre removed, a belt from the wheel to a bolted-down Dynamo, I had a Generator.

    Pedalling easily, at first, with a dead battery then, as the battery charged up, it became harder and harder to pedal. When I couldn’t pedal any more the battery would try to out pedal me. It worked. My next project was a windmill…..but, that’s another story for later. Dan

  • The Electric Gym Network

    The Electric Gym Network is currently(no pun intended) working on a business model that can be implemented on a global scale.

    As for the future Arthur C. Clark (Author/Futurist) predicted that the Kilowatt would become the new worldwide exchange currency.

  • Luby

    Hey, Todd,

    Your posts came in later, otherwise I would have included you in my thanks. Now you get a separate bow. Yes, I am looking at solar panels too. How many watts is one of yours? Also, do you know how much they produce in the shade, since that’s what I am getting most of here.

    Thanks again,


  • Colin Tonks

    Hi, we’ve just completed filming of a show called the human power station for the BBC. We managed to power an entire house over 14 hours, producing over 15kw peak (i.e. when the electric power show, kettle etc we one). To achieve this we had 80 pretty fit riders! Its amazing what you can do with a few DC motors! Thanks, Colin

  • Julie Brill

    Hello, I am looking for any information on funding or grants for one of these. If you have any info or know of where I should be looking please let me know. Thank You… Julie

  • The Electric Gym Network


    The best way to find funding or grants for these programs should be the utility companies. It is ironic that the more we conserve energy the higher the rates will go. The utilities do not charge based on cost, they charge based on what they feel the people can afford. They would rather charge higher rates and produce less power this means better profits, so in fact they would/should be the biggest supporter of green programs. Good luck!

  • Luby

    So, Guys/Gals,

    What is the best DC motor/generator for pedal/bike electicity production? Where can I get one?



  • Colin Tonks
  • Luby

    Thanks Colin,

    I like that this motor is 24V. This makes me think that if I pedal slower I will still get enough to charge a 12V battery. My concern (not knowing much about DC generators) it that this motor may not be too efficient, since it produces only 250 Watts. So, if I pedal slower, it would output much, much less. I read the description that an average human can produce only about 40-50 Watts in regular pedaling. Still, effectiveness of the motor is a factor. Do you have another suggestion? Or maybe, explain the process a bit, please.

    Thanks again,


  • colin

    The MY1016 motor will charge a battery no problem. At this stage, all you need to know is that as long as you have a suitable ratio between your pedaling and speed of the motor you’ll have no problem charging a battery. The faster the motor turns, the higher the voltage. If you use a bicycle with gears, you’ll have no trouble reaching >13.8v.

    These motors are not the most efficient, but given their low cost, you get good bang for your buck. Also, although these motors are rated @ 250w, they will produce more under extreme load. However, unless you’re a professional cyclist, you are going to struggle to sustain that for anything more than a few seconds.

    Also note that if you wish to charge a battery with a bike generator that a) you’ll need to include a diode to prevent the battery from cranking the motor. A diode is like a one way value that allows energy to flow from the generator to the battery only.

    Also you’ll need to ensure that you do not over charge the battery as this will damage it. There are a few simple ways to do this I can explain another time.


  • Todd


    I’m not sure if you understand how a generator(motor) works. But the faster you peddle the higher the voltage will go on the output of the motor. The only issue is, you need to peddle fast enough to get the voltage higher than the battery to charge it. So if the battery is down to 8 volts, you need to peddle faster than 8V. And as the battery charges, you need to keep peddling over the battery’s voltage.

    Being “240W” is based on an electrical input not output. If it has a constant wattage, that means the motor is not variable, i.e. it has a constant speed when you plug it in. I’m not sure how that works as a generator. Like I said, you will have to peddle at a minimum speed that may be vigorous. You can’t peddle slowly and expect to charge the battery.

    I had my own setup and although you can power a low-watt TV, a radio or a light bulb, it’s a bit discouraging how much work it takes to power these small items. You can buy 60W solar panels for around $300 that will do the trick as well.

  • Todd

    There are some reliable cheap solar panels for $280 on Amazon. I bought 4 sets of these for about $1200. That’s about 2Kwh per day. But just one set is comparable to running on the bike all the time the sun is up. The peddling setup is fun to play around with, but it’s a lot of work to get a little energy.

  • Luby

    That sounds good. You explained it great. I knew I have to put a diode to stop the current from flowing back. Now I have to find time to make everything happen.

    Thanks for your help, Colin.


  • Colin Tonks

    No problem, good luck with it!

    Oh by the way, here is what you can do when you link a bicycle generator to a motor!!


  • Ashley

    Hello good people,

    As I read through the posts I find that I have the same question as #24, BobTFK. Would it be possible to use a larger generator and use the gears on a bicycle to get it turning to the appropriate RPM?

    Thanks for your consideration and feedback…


  • Todd


    It’s all a numbers game. You can peddle harder to get more watts per turn, or you can peddle easier to get fewer watts.

    It’s just like a regular bike. You shift to bigger gears when you have momentum, you shift to smaller gears when starting off or going up a hill.

    You can do it however you want.

    Changing to a bigger motor/generator may prove fruitless as it may be too hard to turn to get your desired output. You can always salvage a car alternator, that may produce more for you and be harder to turn.

    Really, what you want is something that you can comfortably generate power with. Can you sit for 1/2 hour and peddle as if you were going up a hill? Or would you rather peddle for 1 hour at a normal stride?

    I chose a spinner-type bike for my generator. The reason is it has a big metal wheel that turns on its own. So initially it’s tough to get moving but then once you get it turning it’s actually helping you along and will continue to turn even if you stop peddling.

    But again, you need to do calculations. People seem to think they will sit down for 1/2 hour a day and peddle the watts to power their house. To get an idea, if you wanted to power your TV, you’d have to peddle at a normal speed minute-per-minute of watching TV.

    Are you willing to do that? Sure you can peddle harder, maybe double the speed and go 1/2 minute-per-minute.

    The point is, there’s no easy way to get free electricity. You might not realize how much electricity you really need and how much work it takes to generate it manually.

  • Gary

    I wondered how far it could go with multiple chain/cassette sets and proper size flywheel?

  • Gary

    Would any tech geeks provide some feed back on the idea of peddling energy into a flywheel for shifting into higher gears in order to drive a higher output/resistance generator/alternator. Am I just having pipe dreams?

  • Todd


    I brought this up before. I bought a DC motor, connected it to a Spinning stationary bike and charged marine batteries that way. The spinning bikes are like a big fly wheel. They have a giant steel wheel. It’s ideal because you can pause while peddling and it keeps moving.

    If you connect a DC motor to a regular 10 speed bike, you could simply use the gear ratios on the 10 speed to pump the wheel faster.

    Realize that the faster the wheel spins, the more juice comes out.

    But again, don’t get any ideas of grandeur. Pumping hard for 10 minutes isn’t going to produce that much more electricity. You are going to have limits on current and voltage anyway.

    The sad fact is, even if you could maximize the transferal of physical work to electricity, you’d get exhausted very quickly with not that much return.

    The best way to get a lot of juice is long and steady peddling. This, in the end, is why many people will give up. You just don’t produce as much electricity as you think you would.

  • Kim


    In answer to your question, 45 Pedal-A-Watts were used together over one week to create a large amount of power for Super Bowl 42. See more at

  • Terry Quick

    Don’t you have a system that with a multiple speed bike would generate ten thousand watts or more. I don’t know if I could even buy parts to build my own, but I have to try something. My income is only $9,500.00 a year. I need to find a way to generate my own electric power.

  • RJ

    hi everyone.

    it’s really cool to see how long this conversation has been going on. i’m trying to come up with a way to power a juicer or blender on a regular portable bike. is there any way to save the energy that i create when pedaling my bike around to power a blender when i stop? or is there an easy way to set up my bike to do that once i stop? is this possible or would i not be able to create enough energy? would it be better to do this by charging a battery or another way? this is great! thanks everyone!

  • colin tonks

    RJ, if you google smoothie bike there are loads of different ways to chop fruit, all of which are mechanical. However, we’ve devised a slightly different method but connecting a generator to a motor! It’s a touch overkill when you look at some of the more simpler mechanical methods, but fun none-the-less.


  • Fred Thompson

    I am thinking about using this technology in large scale applications… like prisons… I think that if everyone in prison pedaled for 3 hours a day we could solve the nation’s energy crisis… What do you think?

  • Erik Jensen

    Let’s do some more math to see the value in these devices. Let’s say you get 100 W (0.1 kW) for a 1 hour workout. This gives you 0.1 kWh of energy per workout. At market rates of about 10 cents/kWh, you have generated about 1 cent of electricity. Do this every day for a month and you’ve cut 30 cents from your bill. I’m all for exercise and alternative energy, but this isn’t going to put a dent in your electric bill or cause a detectable decrease in our use of other fuels. If you really want to save energy and money, then ride your bike everywhere.

  • tjdavid

    Let’s do some more math to see the value in these devices. Let’s say you get 100 W (0.1 kW) for a 1 hour workout. This gives you 0.1 kWh of energy per workout. At market rates of about 10 cents/kWh, you have generated about 1 cent of electricity. Do this every day for a month and you’ve cut 30 cents from your bill. I’m all for exercise and alternative energy, but this isn’t going to put a dent in your electric bill or cause a detectable decrease in our use of other fuels. If you really want to save energy and money, then ride your bike everywhere.

  • tjdavid


    It’s all a numbers game. You can peddle harder to get more watts per turn, or you can peddle easier to get fewer watts.

    It’s just like a regular bike. You shift to bigger gears when you have momentum, you shift to smaller gears when starting off or going up a hill.

    You can do it however you want.

    Changing to a bigger motor/generator may prove fruitless as it may be too hard to turn to get your desired output. You can always salvage a car alternator, that may produce more for you and be harder to turn.

    Really, what you want is something that you can comfortably generate power with. Can you sit for 1/2 hour and peddle as if you were going up a hill? Or would you rather peddle for 1 hour at a normal stride?

    I chose a spinner-type bike for my generator. The reason is it has a big metal wheel that turns on its own. So initially it’s tough to get moving but then once you get it turning it’s actually helping you along and will continue to turn even if you stop peddling.

    But again, you need to do calculations. People seem to think they will sit down for 1/2 hour a day and peddle the watts to power their house. To get an idea, if you wanted to power your TV, you’d have to peddle at a normal speed minute-per-minute of watching TV.

    Are you willing to do that? Sure you can peddle harder, maybe double the speed and go 1/2 minute-per-minute.

    The point is, there’s no easy way to get free electricity. You might not realize how much electricity you really need and how much work it takes to generate it manually.

  • Jeremy C. Carlson

    So all of you are caught up in this human powered nonsense- ha ha ha… ~ Really though, the answer to electric freedom without the money issues(at least in the long run), lies directly within the power source of electricity at its base core function. “Lame man’s terms… -> Electricity is a current, like a river. If one was to dam it, there would be excess energy to use for whatever. A battery is like a dam, electricity flows in to fill up the dam. The trouble with the battery though is that when the battery is in use, the dam empties. – All one has to do is keep the flow of energy going into the dam at an excess of what is being taken out.

    – I’ve made such a machine that will do just that. My machine runs off of electricity, that it itself makes in excess and with this excess energy I am able to power a number of useful things. – Trouble now is that no patent company will go near my invention, nor will any investors. My prototype was built out of a wind-up flashlight… It overpowered due to lack of funding for a voltage regulator. I’d like to find a partner who’d be willing to help me fund and build a bigger more useful prototype.

  • Paul

    Well Jeremy, I had a class last Dec. and found out that Kohler has a new voltage regulator (rectifier) that converts AC volts from the top of the wave and the bottom of the wave. So your a little late.

  • Mike Gordon3

    You innovators should get in touch with Michelle Obama and fight childhood obesity. What’s needed is an off-the-shelf unit that can run a TV when pedaled.
    Does such a unit exist now? Any recommendations?

  • kenzo

    Did you know that this is being implemented in a Jail in the Philippines? Nice huh?

  • ChrisRyan909

    Is there a version that uses pumping action? I’m guessing that alternate equipment could be engineered? Not just a crank version, but a weight lifting version that gets a flywheel going? I’m trying to imaging ways to get unemployment down, and I want to know if there can be enough equipment in one gym to create surplus power?? Even a modest amount?

  • GY

    I have used my ebike (Amped Bike) with a rear wheel motor as a generator to charge batteries configured for 12 & 24 volts. (Obviously, the higher the voltage, the faster you have to pedal.) The maximum power have a generated was 469.9 watts — it was probably only for a few seconds. All you need to build this is a bike stand ~$100(must get the rear wheel off the ground), an electric hub motor for the rear wheel ~$150, and a three phase rectifier ~$38(or you can build it with 6 diodes $6 — it will get hot, so I prefer the pre-built three phase rectifier ($38) attached to an old computer’s heat sink $0-PN#88K9644 Newark Electronics) One option would be a DC watt meter (Watts up DC power meter works great) to tell you how much power(energy) you have generated $65. A typical work out (1hr) would generate 100Whr = 0.1kWhr = $0.02 (@ $0.2/kwhr – typical electric cost from grid). So, taking my engineering hat off, and put on a business hat – 20 people at a gym would generate $0.40 per 1 hour of use. Lets say it is used 4 hours a day by 20 people or $1.60/day. And, lets say the bikes are used 200 days per year = $320/year electrical savings. But, it costs $275/bike conversion = $5,500 for all 20 bikes. So, $320/$5500 = 5.8% Return on investment — you had better use the bikes 200 days for 4 hours each day (800 hours/year) with no maintenance & no battery storage (could be done with minimal battery storage) or the return on investment goes down. This is more of a marketing scheme (feel good about the environment) than a real business money maker. People can not generate enough energy to compete with the low cost/large scale generation by the electric companies.

  • Gary Wardell

    I am interested in hooking a generator up to a horse hot walker and so my horses can generate electricity as they walk.

    Can any body make a generator for this purpose?

  • Colin
  • JohnSmith37821

    For those reading comments, I just want to be sure that you are aware to not confuse motion with wasted energy. If you look at car wheels spinning as someone drives and think “you could capture that energy for free!” you are wrong. In order to transform movement into electricity, you must overcome additional resistance. This would mean that it would take more power to make the car wheels spin, but due to friction and the laws of energy conservation, it would consume more power than it would capture. If this was NOT true and you could generate MORE power than you put into the device that is being used to generate the power it runs on, then you have created free-energy, which is impossible. In other words, if you want to move something 12 inches to generate 1 watt, it will be far easier than moving the same object 12 inches to generate 10,000 watts. The factor that determines how much power is generated, is not only based on speed or distance, it is more importantly based on how much force of magnets you are overcoming in the generator. Many people’s first thought is “treadmills!” but no, if I have explained properly, you know that treadmills run without needing a human walking on it, then you will know that the act of the surface spinning, isn’t an opportunity to capture energy, that would be wasted. Although Piezoelectric could capture the impact of your feet I suppose… If you look at a “hamster wheel” for rodents to use their weight and energy, to cause the wheel to spin, this is the type of energy you can harvest. However, you must again realize, that the more power you intend to harvest at once, the stronger the magnetic force will be for the creature to have to overcome. If you try to collect too much energy with too little movement/spinning, then the creature will be physically unable to overcome the resistance and nothing will happen. Imagine if you had a magnet that was strong enough to pull our solar system out of orbit. If you were to build a generator using magnets that strong, the strength of a natural humans arms or legs, would not be capable of turning that generator. Now imagine a tiny magnet the size of a grain of sand. Imagine how easy it would be to overcome that resistance. Now you would pick somewhere in between these to get a magnet that has the level of resistance that will be easy enough to create electricity to serve a purpose without being difficult to the point that you miss opportunities to create electricity. An great example is a windmill (these numbers are not at all accurate). Imagine if it took 100 miles per hour of wind to generate 100 watts of power VS 5 miles per hour to create 4 watts of power. The frequency of 100 MPH wind is likely not common, so although it generates more power per MPH, the 5 MPH windmill would be generating power possibly every day. A simple weight could be attached to gears which turns a generator or to just directly power a fan without using electricity at all. There are also generators that create power based on compression known as “piezoelectric”. Another HUGE factor you must be aware of, is that no matter what the generator is built from, it will not last forever. Forever means there is no end in existence (just because something may last for trillions of years, doesn’t mean it lasts forever). Since generators don’t last forever, you should consider how long it will last and how much it will cost to repair/maintain it. If it cost $5,000 and is only able to generate $300 worth of power, then it isn’t a money making opportunity (unless you are selling them for special purposes, like where there is no “power-grid”). Good luck.

  • rawmilkmike

    not funny

Meet the ELF: A Pedal-Powered, Solar-Electric Hybrid

The Elf

Described as the “most efficient vehicle on the planet”, The ELF is a solar and pedal-powered hybrid tricycle hand-built in the United States by Organic Transit. It is available in

Energy-Recycling Artificial Foot

Energy-Recycling Artificial Foot

It should come as no great surprise that walking with a prosthetic limb is difficult. According to a newly published paper on prosthesis, walking with a prosthetic foot requires

Forget Solar Power, Human Power is the Future

Forget Solar Power, Human Power is the Future

That may be a little aggressive, but Princeton University engineers have developed a device that may change the way that we power many of our smaller gadgets and devices.

The Pedal-A-Watt Stationary Bicycle Generator

The Pedal-A-Watt Stationary Bicycle Generator

Today’s twin goals of keeping fit while doing something good for the planet by creating electricity without any pollution come together in a product that has been around for

Pedal Powered Laptops in Afghanistan

Pedal Powered Laptops in Afghanistan

While there are solar powered laptops that will allow a computer to be powered without an energy source, not everyone may be able to afford them. There was

Human Powered Workout Gym Concept

Human Powered Workout Gym Concept

When we look closely at human history we can easily conclude that locomotion is one of the most primordial needs. But our current lifestyle does not allow us with

150MPG Human Powered Goblin Aero

150MPG Human Powered Goblin Aero

Goblin Motors’ new line of human powered vehicles are coming online February 2009. These vehicles, known as velomobiles, allow a single occupant to travel faster than a bicycle using

Pedal Power Dynapod

Pedal Power Dynapod

A dynapod is a stationary pedal-powered device. The word ‘Dynapod’ comes from the Greek words for power and foot. The dynapod can be attached to any kind of device or