Human Power Generator: Human Energy Meets Power Ouput

Pedal powered radio operated at Solitary Island lighthouse.

Human power generator output is a great fuel when it comes to generating electricity. Human power expended during exercise, walking, opening doors, etc can all be harnessed and used to generate electricity. A lot of solutions have been proposed for various ways to capture pedestrian traffic and convert it to useful energy.

One of the most popular ways to generate electricity from human power is using simply electric generators. A magnet moving through coils of metal wire will generate a current. This is the basis of an electrical generator. A human pedaling by hand or foot can create appreciable amounts of electricity. The average person can produce around 75-150 Watts from a hand cranked or bicycle generator. Althelets will be able to generate more and during intense exercise nearly double the amount can be obtained but this is not sustainable for long.

Let’s look at some of the different ways human power is harnessed and put to use generating electricity.

Pedal power or bicycle generatorswere discussed above and are one of the most efficient but also require active operation. When built using a battery array as well can store large amounts of energy for later use. To calculate how much energy you can generate using a bicycle generator simply use this formula:

(Watts Generated) / (Watts Used) = Hours Use

Stepping or compression generators use piezoelectric materials to generate a current from being compressed and expanded repeatedly. A good application for this is in shoe soles to power personal electronics.

Shaking generators are very simple and you might have seen them used in LED flashlights you can charge by shaking. Inside is a magnet which passes through coils of wire to generate a current which is stored in a battery.

Other (Stretch/Pull, Push, Weight) Generators use any kind of human motion you can imagine. Yo-yos can generate electricity, weight lifting, opening doors, etc.

It is quite satisfying to generate all the electricity you use in a day by exercising or otherwise recapturing wasted physical energy. However, for most people human power will only be enough to run the bare essentials. Equipment to take advantage of this energy can be extremly useful in emergency situations where power could mean the difference. Just an hour of cycling could power a radio nearly an entire day.


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