You can generate electricity from your bicycle, which is good news for you as an off-gridder.
You might have heard of it as a rumor in the neighborhood, but you can actualize it. Bicycle generators can produce enough energy to power your off-grid home.
There has been a debate on the pros and cons of bicycle generators and whether they are worth it or not.
That is the focus of our post today. We will be looking at bicycle generators in detail: how to make it, how it works, and its advantages and disadvantages. Keep reading for all the details.
- Can You Really Power With A Bicycle Generator?
- How Does The Bike Powered Generator Work?
- 9 Steps To Make A Bicycle Generator
- Step 1: Preparing Instruments
- Step 2: Remove The Back Tire Off the Bike
- Step 3: Build A Bike Stand And Front Wheel
- Step 4: Attach The Drive Belt Along The Back Rim
- Step 5: Attach The Stand With The Motor
- Step 6: Place A Diode In Series With Motor And Battery
- Step 7: Connect The Battery Leads With The Inverter
- Step 8: Plug The Device Of Your Choice Into The Inverter
- Pros And Cons Of Bicycle Generator
- Wrapping Up
Can You Really Power With A Bicycle Generator?
Yes. Bicycle generators can produce just enough energy to meet daily requirements at your home. How is that possible?
If you are physically fit, you can pedal fast enough to generate about 100-150 watts. That means continuous pedaling will give you between 100-150watt hours of electric power.
Bicycle generators produce ac electricity that can be used for powering just any electrical device.
Alternatively, you can use batteries to store the generated for later use in powering lighting systems, laptop computers, cell phones, TVs, radios, etc.
Family members can be involved in pedaling the wheel in shifts. By doing so, you can have a continuous supply of electricity to meet your consumption requirements.
And to ensure a steady supply, a battery bank is needed to store the power. That way, you will not need to pedal the bicycle all day long. Just an hour of work should be sufficient.
How Does The Bike Powered Generator Work?
You must have heard of a rim or tire dynamo attached to the wheel of a bicycle to provide light when cycling at night.
It is nothing different from the bike-powered generator. Dynamos converts the mechanical power produced by the spinning wheel into electricity.
A bicycle-powered generator also works the same way. You need to design a wheel and choose an appropriate unit for generating electricity.
Some people have successfully used old car alternators to make bicycle generators with higher generation power.
The wheel will be turning the alternator or electric motor to generate electricity. The electricity generation inside the unit is a complex process that we will not get into, but it works much like any other electric generator.
Compared to diesel generators, bicycle generators are eco-friendly. They depend on your energy to provide the mechanical power and not diesel or petrol generators.
The input to a bicycle generator is you pedaling the wheels, and output is electricity, which is proportional to the rate of revolutions of the wheel.
9 Steps To Make A Bicycle Generator
You can make a bicycle generator from locally available materials. As an off-gridder, you don’t have to buy a complete bicycle.
There are 8 steps that you need to carefully follow to make a homemade bicycle generator. Just ensure you have all the materials, tools, and equipment.
Step 1: Preparing Instruments
The very first step is to ensure you have all the materials and tools you need to make a bicycle generator. Gather the following before proceeding:
- Hammer with a nail puller.
- Screwdriver and screws
- Old fan belt
- Old car alternator
- Voltage regulator
- Short plank
- Two 50x6x2 planks
- One plank (24 inches)
- Nails of about 3 inches in length
- L-corner braces
- Bendable metal bracers or perforated plumbers’ steel
- Old bike
- Piece of metal
If you cannot find an old car alternator, you can buy a 24V, 300W electric scooter motor on Amazon.
Electric Scooter Motor
These motors usually come with a toothed chain sprocket for easier connection to the wheel. They are also lighter and more efficient.
Step 2: Remove The Back Tire Off the Bike
You do not need the back tire of your bike unless you still plan to use it on the roads.
To build a bicycle generator, we will be chaining the generator directly to the spinning axial of the back wheel. So, removing the tire and tube inside it will eliminate unnecessary loads on the wheel.
Insert a chisel in between the rim and the tire and then pull the tire edge outwards to remove the tire.
Remove the chisel and place it to the next position a few inches from the first one and repeat the process until you set the tire loose from the rim.
Unbolt the wheel from the frame to set the tire and tube free.
Step 3: Build A Bike Stand And Front Wheel
A stand is needed to elevate your bicycle from the ground and provide support when cycling. The design is up to you.
Create the front bike stand by first cutting the wood into appropriate lengths, about 12 inches should work for many people.
Drill bolting holes into the planks. You also need to create a base for the front stand to support the bike and the cyclist.
The front stand is not necessary if your bicycle frame still has the front wheel intact. You also need to build another stand to hold the back part. The design is also up to you, provided you can come up with a stable stand.
Step 4: Attach The Drive Belt Along The Back Rim
If your bike was still in good working condition, its belt should be enough for connecting the flywheel to the back rim.
Otherwise, visit an auto parts store to buy a new one that will fit your arrangement. Remember, the sizes vary depending on the bike size.
Step 5: Attach The Stand With The Motor
You also need a steady stand for the motor or create a place on the back wheel stand to mount it. The motor or car alternator should be firmly mounted. You can do that using the bendable metal braces or the perforated plumber’s steel.
Screw the power generation unit onto the stand and chain it to the drivetrain of the back wheel if you bought a motor with a teethed sprocket.
If you are using an old car alternator, you should consider a drive belt. That belt should connect the rim to the alternator.
NEW DB Electrical Alternator
Step 6: Place A Diode In Series With Motor And Battery
Whether you decide to use a car alternator or a motor, it will generate a DC type of electricity.
As a good practice, you should not power your electric devices directly from the alternator or motor. Instead, direct the generated power to a battery storage unit.
Also, it is not advisable to connect your generator directly to the battery. That is because the current can change direction when the wheel is pedaled in reverse.
Connect a diode between the generator’s positive terminal and the battery to protect the battery from current reversals.
Step 7: Connect The Battery Leads With The Inverter
Batteries supply a steady DC power to the connected devices. But if you have some that do not use this DC power, you need to include an inverter into the circuit.
Connect the positive terminal of the battery to the positive terminal of the inverter. You might consider adding a switch on this line. Do the same with negative terminals.
The size of the inverter you choose depends on the electrical or electronic devices you want to power. A 3000W DC/AC inverter should be sufficient to supply AC power to TVs, laptop computers, etc.
Step 8: Plug The Device Of Your Choice Into The Inverter
Complete the loop by connecting an electrical load to your system. For AC-powered electrical devices, connect them to the inverter.
DC-powered devices can be connected directly to the battery if the voltage rating of the battery does not exceed the recommended one for the device.
At this point, you can jump onto your bike and give it the first test. You can use electrical bulbs to test if everything is working out fine.
Take the voltage readings you can generate at different pedaling speeds with a digital multimeter or any voltage-measuring equipment.
Pros And Cons Of Bicycle Generator
Bicycle generators are crucial in the life of any off-gridder. However, it comes with its pros and cons that you have to deal with.
Pros Of Bicycle Generator
Help the whole family stay fit and healthy
Pedaling is part of any fully-equipped fitness center. Instead of walking long distances looking for the same services, you can exercise at home while producing electricity.
Create a routine to ensure that every family member is involved in the pedaling to keep fit and healthy.
Charge batteries or power electric devices directly
You do not need any other source of electricity to power the electrical devices you have in your home if you can produce enough of it.
Most bicycle generators can produce enough electricity to run most of the systems you have. Just ensure you have a healthy battery bank to store the power generated.
Produce extra energy in the winter, function as effective backup units
Even if you have other off-grid power sources, such as solar systems, you still need a bicycle generator as a backup unit.
There is not enough sunlight during winter for the solar to generate enough power to meet your demands. That is when you need a bicycle generator to supplement the energy produced.
Ideal addition for fallout shelters, safe houses, storm cellars, etc.
You can plan in advance for any eventuality. Even if you believe that the utility power is stable, natural phenomena such as storms can bring the system down, leaving you in the dark.
A bicycle generator can ensure your survival in such situations.
Teach the kids about the importance of self-sufficiency
Bicycle generators will instill survival skills in your children. They will learn how to deal with uncertainties and eventualities that can come in their lives. Such skills are vital for survival, and your children will appreciate them.
Cons Of Bicycle Generator
Does not produce much power, inefficient operation
Most bicycle generators do not produce enough power to run demanding electrical devices such as air conditions, fridges, etc. They become inefficient in such cases because you cannot meet your electricity demand.
Bicycle generators are expensive
The cost of making a bicycle generator is high, especially if you have to buy everything. A battery bank, which is needed for efficiency, is also expensive.
Can wear out the tires on a bike
Bicycle generators use friction to transfer energy from the spinning wheel to the motor itself. If the point of contact involves a tire, it will wear out much quicker.
When connecting directly to appliances and electronic devices, it can be hard to keep up the speed.
A high pedaling speed is required to generate enough power to run many devices. Keeping that speed constant for a long time is a challenge to many people.
How much power can you generate on a bicycle?
The power generated from a bicycle generator is proportional to the rate of pedaling. An average person who is physically fit can generate about 100W of electrical power.
The quantity of electricity produced also depends on how the system was designed and installed.
What is the purpose of a bicycle generator?
A bicycle generator produces electricity needed to run electrical devices. It is a system of pedals, chains, wheel, motor, and sometimes a battery bank and an inverter.
The latter two components are recommended to improve the stability and efficiency of the system.
How can a bicycle generate energy?
A bicycle can generate electricity if it is chained to a generator. The back wheel axle can be chained to the teethed sprocket of a motor or the rim belted to an alternator.
When the wheel is turned through pedaling, the mechanical energy is transferred into the generator and converted to electricity.
How do you make an electric bike generator?
You can make a bicycle generator if you are an enthusiast DIYer. You only need to assemble materials, tools, and equipment and follow the steps described in this article.
A bicycle generator can produce enough electricity to power some of the electric devices in your home.
Depending on the design, you can generate an average of 100 watt-hours of electricity in just one hour. That is enough energy to run a lighting system, charge phones, laptops, etc.
Use the steps described in this article to make a bicycle generator and enjoy the benefits that come with it.
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