Bike and Treadmill Power

While exercising, why not use that energy you are burning on something useful - something like energy production.  Below are descriptions of exercise equipment I've built that does just that - converts human energy to electircal energy.   This energy produced
is obviously nowhere near what is required to run a home, but why not exercise and get the burn of the workout from a generator as the resistance source. Currently I use two bikes/generators I’ve built to charge the same battery that powers (4) 12vDC lights in my home from my solar set up. If the plans I have in mind work out, at some point I’ll have two models of power producing bikes and a power producing treadmill to possibly market where one design of each plugs into the wall and feeds the homes AC system, and the other design of each puts out heat while exercising.  The power produced with these systems is little in relation to a homes needs, but I do lump these into energy farming since
its would be a home activity the produces energy using ones own resources.   Plus, for me, being a Diabetic and CF patient (and a bit
overweight) I find the fact that exercise using this equipment to stay healthy AND power a few lights makes for a little extra
encouragement to get up and exercise.

For plans on how to permanently convert a bicycle to a power generating exercise bike, or to build or purchase a stand to set your bike on the will allow it to function as a temporary exercise bike that makes power, see the Service & Information Requests page on this site.

Setup with DC motor as the generator

Similar to the alternator setup described below, I have built a stand to set a regular mountain bike on that runs a 38vDC motor acting as a generator.  This setup works well and is used to charge batteries in my home that power 12vDC lights in our basement   I also have a set of solar panels to help keep the batteries charged.  Since this setup is simpler than the alternator configuration described below, I'll insert some diagrams to show how it is put together:

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Setup with an 37amp automotive alternator

With this exercise bicycle, I've removed the front wheel and constructed a stand to hold the front of the bike stationary. To keep the handle bars from turning, I welded the point of rotation of the handle bars..

At the back of the bike, I mounted the frame to a platform with a few vertical pieces of scrap pipe, and also mounted an automotive alternator on the same platform behind the rear wheel. To produce DC current via the alternator, I removed the rear tire and tube (leaving the rim) and mounted a belt that runs around the rear wheel rim to the pulley on the alternator. The 10 speed gear shifter on the bike allows for a more intense or less intense work out while giving the ability to produce more or less power depending on which gear is selected.

The wiring of the system leads to a set of 12 volt batteries in the manner detailed below:
1) a circuit from Battery(+) through the rear brake caliper (converted to a switch to be used to excite the alternators field) to the field terminal (1 or 2) on the alternator. The circuit also contains a light in middle of circuit to indicate when current is flowing from the battery to the alternator field.

2) a sensing circuit from terminal (1 or 2) on the alternator to battery(+). This prevents overcharging of the battery.

3) a circuit from B(+) on the alternator to battery(+). This circuit charges the battery and also has a diode to prevent illumination of the running light when the alternator is not charging.

4) a circuit from the alternator housing to the bus bar. This is a ground circuit.

5) a circuit from battery(-) to the bus bar. It also has a diode to prevent illumination of the running light when the alternator is not charging.

6) a running light from B(+) on the alternator to the bus bar. This indicates that the alternator is producing current.

7) an ammeter in line of the circuit from B(+) on the alternator to Battery(+) used to measure current to the battery.

I have worked with this system to successfully:

a) wire up 12vDC lights in my home to run off of the batteries that the bicycle charges

b) used a 400W inverter to run four AC electrical lights using CFL (13 watt) light bulbs

Please also see the Services & Information Requests page to see how an installation like this can also support DC backup services.

The picture below shows the bike, alternator, and battery set up:

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I have also converted a standard treadmill to work as a manual treadmill that generates DC power when running or walking on it.  The electrical circuit and wiring concept is the same as that for the bikes described above as well as for Binzie, however the biggest challenge was overcoming the resistance of the canvas the user walks/runs on against the platform that supports it.  To overcome this, I replaced the platform with a standard office whiteboard/dry erase board supported by a 1/2" piece of plywood of the same shape.   Pictures below show this setup:


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I'm also working to create a generator that works off of weights just as a cookoo clock works off of weights - the theory here is to have a set of weights constantly "tugging" on a power train that drives a generator over a period of time, where it is acceptable to have to reset the weights after a given period of time when the complete their exertion on the power train system.  Below are pictures of the experiment as it stands to this point:

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Complete system.jpg (561025 bytes)

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For further information or inquiries, please email me at Please include your name, email address, phone number and preferred method and/or times to contact you

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