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Pedal-Powered Energy for Everyday Power Needs

Pedal-Powered Energy for Everyday Power Needs

Image source: pedal-power.com

In our quest for more sustainable power options, there have been quite a few recent high-tech innovations that harness the power of the sun, the wind, and even waves, but for an incredibly efficient method of providing human-scale energy, it might just be time to look backward a bit.

The humble bicycle is one of the most efficient machines ever invented, with an efficiency rate of about 97%, which pretty much blows the other options out of the water, at least on a small scale. And now a couple of guys want to bring pedal power to the masses – not just to propel our bodies across town or across the country, but to power our laptops and phones.

The folks at Pedal Power believe that it’s high time to bring human-powered machines into the light of day and stop thinking of them as just transportation.

“Bicycle technology can and should be used for many everyday tasks. Using your own power rather than plugging into the grid is not only fun, but helps you understand your energy use and reduce your ecological footprint.

There are a billion bicycles in the world today — nearly one in every home. One day, we hope to see every household charging phones, processing food, and pumping water with pedal power.”

They’ve developed two versions of a pedal-powered machine that can be used to generate electricity or to mechanically drive other machines (pumps, grain grinders, an air compressor, or other shop tools), and they’ve turned to Kickstarter to raise the funds to bring these devices to market.

Their Big Rig is a multifunction machine capable of powering just about anything that can use a pulley or chain to drive them. It’s said to require less than 1 horsepower, which is right in line with what a person can comfortably generate (1/3 hp to 1 hp peak). They have successfully used their Big Rig to run a water pump, a hydraulic press, a generator, a food processor, and other machines, and the setup includes a work surface for mounting linked machines (or just a laptop).

The other machine is a smaller version, called the Pedal Genny, and it’s portable and more suited to a single task, such as running an electrical generator. It can also be connected as a straight mechanical drive for running other devices, and could be a great low-cost option for getting started with pedal power.


The Pedal Power Kickstarter campaign aims to raise $10,000 in order to take their designs and turn them into open-source plans, so that anyone can build their own efficient pedal-powered machines. If you can get behind the proliferation of one of the most efficient machines on the planet, consider backing this project.

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