Outdoor Living

The bicycle generator

How we make electricity

Being a detailed account of our experiences with electricity this winter, and how to build your own simple bike generator.

Peddaling hard

Food energy pumping directly into a battery.

Living in the woods, there are no convenient plug sockets. It is of course pleasant to live in a house without walls full of piped electricity – but it is also a fundamentally difficult thing. We know we don’t need much electricity to survive – our kettle, oven, hot tap and central heating are all provided by the wood-fire, and our lighting is most candle-powered. But, a little leccy does really make life easier.

Our daily focus, this winter, has been on the more obvious commodities – wood, water, fire and food. But the intangible force of electrics, in trying to document our findings, tell our tales and sell the CD, is still very important. We need power flowing into our two mini laptops, fairly alrmingly regularly. These devices are also used to charge our telephone. They are our main electricity requirement.

Everything else, such as head torches, cameras and voice recorders, are so infrequent to need charging that they can be carried to a local friend’s solar and wind inverter station.

But we wanted to become a self-sufficient group, and so for this electric issue we decided to put our faith in one of the cheaper and more hands-on forms of electricity generation – the bicycle generator.

None of us knew much at all about this sort of thing, but with Rose as our driving force of discovery, we soon found that it was very easy to bodge a machine that will gather (make?) the electricity we need.

To find out more, please read on…