How to Make Your Own Power
Have you ever wondered how to power your home, small electronics, or a generator using natural resources? I know I have. Countless times I've forgotten to charge my cell phone and wished I had a solar powered source to trickle-charge it throughout the day. While riding my bike I've pondered how to harness my own pedal-power and charge a laptop, especially when I'm no where near an outlet. Generating your own power isn't just a lofty thought anymore; today there are a plethora of products that make it possible. (See also: Houses You Can Build Yourself)
One of the most abundant sources of energy available to us is solar power. The sun's rays create more energy in one hour than the entire world uses in one year. Though solar panels have gone through years of improvements, today portable solar devices such as the Solio can charge small electronics within a few hours or help extend battery life by giving them solar-powered boosts. Larger solar chargers are also available through a few different vendors.
Want to power your home off the sun's rays? Home solar panels can help reduce your dependence on other energy. If you produce more energy than you need, some solar systems allow you to store your energy for a cloudy day or sell it back to your utility company. Not only are you saving energy; you could be profiting off it as well.
Many everyday items also have solar panels built right into them that can charge small electronics, like the Voltaic Solar Backpack, cell phones such as Samsung's touch-phone Blue Earth, computer keyboards and mice, calculators, outdoor lighting, and bicycles from Thera-P Products in Toronto to name a few.
Much of the electricity I purchase through our utility company is created at Hoover Dam's hydroelectric plant. But did you know you can create your own hydroelectric energy if you have a constant water supply, like a lake or stream, near your house? An example of this in action is Judy of the Woods in Wales. Using micro-hydro turbines, she turned her nearby springs into a source of energy.
There are also water-powered gadgets such as clocks, calculators, or radios. However, I owned a water-powered clock a few years ago and couldn't get it to work. Maybe the newer products hold their charge better.
The concept of wind power via a windmill isn't new; it's been around for over 1,000 years. Yet today's personal windmills are mostly used on farms and ranches to pump water or mill grain. This doesn't have to be the case. Depending on your community's rules and regulations, you can erect your very own windmill to generate power to your home or to pump your well water. Smaller windmills can be used to aerate a pond or other stagnant water sources as well.
The key to erecting a windmill boils down to where you live; the less dense the population, the less likely you'll have neighbors complaining about the towering structure.
Almost exclusively seen on farms or ranches, work horses can pump water while exercising or charge a generator by walking in a circle. Though this might not be an option for most people, animals can generate about 5-10 times the amount of energy that people do.
Many small electronics now come in hand-crank versions: radios, flashlights, generators, even washing machines. You simply crank or squeeze the handle and the energy from your own body charges the item's batteries; it's simple and effective.
Want your legs to do all the work? Pedal-A-Watt turns just about any bicycle into a stationery generating machine. Charge your cell phone, laptop, or iPod while pedaling, or connect it to a PowerPak for later use. You can even find plans on the web to build your own pedal-powered generator.
Charging my cell phone or laptop on the road no longer seems as baffling as it once did since I can choose from various clean, self-powered energy sources.