The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homesteading exercise

exercise biking in the garden?

In the winter we usually shift into a routine where we work on indoor stuff in the morning and do outdoor activities after lunch when the sun creeps over our little mountain.

When it's cold we usually work on less labor intensive items, which I've noticed has an impact on my mood if I didn't get my core body temperature raised for at least 20 minutes.

A solution that's been working for me is an old exercise bike (Thanks Mamaw). Doing it with sunshine seems to double the positive effect, and maybe being in the middle of the garden adds a nice psychological boost. In the future we want to add some sort of generator as an alternative method of charging the solar cell batteries when we get them hooked up.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Unfortunately, using a bike to generate electricity is a losing proposition. After accounting for all the losses, you only have about 1/3 of the energy input left as usable electricty.

Cycling slowly requires around 30 W of power. An amateur bicycle racer can put out around 3 W/kg for around an hour, say 200 W for a 70 kg rider. (source)

Let's say you can put out 100 W of mechanical power continuously for 20 minutes. That equals 20×60×100 = 120.000 J. One kWh is 3.600.000 J. Accounting for the 1/3 efficiency of the conversion, after your 20 minutes you will end up with around 0.01 kWh of electricity in your batteries...

It is much more efficient to make a pedal powered machine, (which have a long history). For your business, I'd guess a pedal powered lathe or drill press would be a good match. (a lathe can be used as a drill as well, so it's more versatile than a drill press)

As mentioned on the bicycle performance page, bicycles are extraordinary efficient transportation devices. So probably the best and most easily realized use of your exercizing energy is to haul stuff around on the farm. Maybe get an old MTB and mount some fat tires and a cargo rack or panniers? If stability and slow speed are a hindrance on your terrain, you can consider a tricycle or quadracycle.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Dec 9 15:00:53 2012

If you read that last rather well-informed comment about crank power not being efficient, but you still want to try it, here's a link from a complete amateur (me) to a bicycle generator that looked like a great gadget. I don't recall the cost, and my internet's too slow tonight to check it, so apologies if it's priced for "yuppie homesteading."

Comment by Faith T Sun Dec 9 20:53:31 2012

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