DIY Off the Grid with the UpCycle Eco-Charger

UPDATE: Here’s a video that shows our off-grid system in action WITHOUT the $170 ultracapacitor.  I think the ultracapacitor would make it a bit easier and smoother, but isn’t completely necessary.

You would think that charging up batteries with the UpCycle Eco-Charger would be the best way to be off grid.  Turns out there’s a better, much more efficient and reliable way.

For 99% of us, we have power available to us via the grid for 99% of the time.

However, it’s good to be prepared for power outages, living in remote locations, etc.

It’s also much greener, because batteries aren’t all that green, and in this scenario, won’t last long either.

Keegan from Time’s Up, a NYC based non-profit, showed me a page on their site where they have used an ultracapacitor to replace the battery.  In essence, the ultracapacitor regulates the voltage so you can hook up a 12 volt auto inverter and run your phone, computer, etc. off that.

The whole DIY package costs about $200

I asked Keegan if this was something worth doing and here’s his response:

“Yep, works great. What you do is, power the ultracap above 12v, then turn on the inverter, then as you plug things in, you’ll see you need to pedal faster to keep the ultracap above 12v. DO NOT GO OVER 15v, or the inverter craps out, then you have to wait for the ultracap to discharge, and it takes it a while to do so since the inverter will not be drawing any load in the meantime. This is what I mean when I say it is very educational, because you instruct people to watch the voltage, to not go below 12v or over 15v, so they see what kind of pedaling it takes to charge various types of and amounts of portable electronics.”

 

Here’s the page from Time’s Up: http://times-up.org/recent-campaigns/energy-bike-update

Here’s their link to the ultracapacitor: http://www.tecategroup.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=26_30_72&products_id=1223

Here’s a link to a pretty cool auto inverter: http://www.amazon.com/Rally-7413-Holder-Power-Inverter/dp/B002JH7PEQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1373333339&sr=8-2&keywords=auto+inverter+usb