Friday, October 28, 2011

Going Off-Grid - A Little At a Time

Today's Wyvern Academy project included doing some rearranging. The bookshelf needed to be on the other wall so that this:

could be powered by this:

And then, just so that it seemed more like an actual "school" project, the girls alphabetized all of their DVDs ;).

*Edited to add*: We're still figuring out all of the quirks with the bike generator and haven't set it into full use, but we received our most recent eletric bill. We used 305 kwh - down an average of 3 kwh/day from last month. What changed? We started using an electric tea kettle to heat up water for tea instead of using the burner on the stove-top. Such a little thing - such a huge difference.


  1. I seem to remember an article on bike powered electricity in a Mother Earth News or Popular Mechanics from the late 70s or early 80s. It powered the usual TV/stereo/radio but also small appliances like a blender & toaster. Have you read the article? Anything different than what you are doing? I know that Ed Begley Jr used a bike for his toaster on his show.

    Besides the electricity just think of the physical workout, without the cost of a gym, that you are getting!

  2. I haven't read the article, but I'm sure there's nothing really different. I think the bike generator is pretty straight-forward and probably pretty consisten across the board.

    The basic set-up is the back wheel of the bike is hooked to the generator. The generator is connected to a charge controller, which is hooked up to the battery. The battery is connected to an inverter and whatever we're hoping to power (in our case, it's a power strip) is plugged into the inverter.

    As for the workout - yep! That's one of the big reasons I wanted a bike generator. Yes, to generate some electricity, but for the same money, we could have gotten an RV-sized wind generator that would have given us as much electricity (perhaps more ;), but there would not have been the added bonus of the workout :).

  3. I hope you are making out okay with the storm....

  4. Yikes! My electric was 380kwh for 32 days and that's just for me and the Du dog. Only part of that time had to have A/C and it cycles between 78-80 degrees. I've been working on reducing usage and making headway, but I may need to get more serious.

    brenda from arkansas

  5. Can you store the energy in the battery, or do you have to be using the bike while you're using the thing you're powering?

    This could be kind of awesome at our house - the boyfriend has wanted an exercise bike for a while because he hates my elliptical. Hmmm... that's also non-electric and gravity/force-powered. I wonder if you could hook up an elliptical machine to batteries?

  6. @ citygirl - Ours is hooked up to a battery, and when we pedal, we are charging the battery, but you can hook it right up to whatever you're trying to power - which is what we did when we first got it, and we hooked it up to a lamp and powered the lamp while pedaling.

    One the best things about the system is the opportunity to workout for a reason ;). I'm not an exercise-for-the-sake-of-exercising kind of person, and so this system spoke volumes to me, because I'm exercising, but I'm also creating electricity. Win/win!

    Our generator works on a kind of pulley system. There's a belt that hooks onto the back wheel of the bicycle and then it attaches to the generator, and the rotation of the wheel is what creates the power. If you can hook something similar to your elliptical (someone else will have to tell you if this is possible, because I don't have a clue how an elliptical machine works), then it would work.

  7. @ Maria - Thank you. We were fine. We had a bit of snow, but not much else to worry about ... although I'm told our power blipped off for a few hours during the night. Might explain why I slept so well :).

    @ Brenda - 380 kwh is good! Most households use three times that. Sounds to me like you're doing pretty darned good with your conserving ;).

  8. Thanks for explaining how your bike generator works! I am very interested in trying this!

  9. We have an electric kettle too. My husband loves it - he uses it for mugs of tea/instant coffee and for making oatmeal.

  10. I love that you were able to pinpoint the electric tea kettle. After a post you did (last year?) about it, I started filling my electric kettle completely full (not just for one cup of tea), and then putting the remaining hot water into two thermoses that I have. One time heating water = hot tea all morning long!

    Thanks for the continued inspiration.