Alternative power source for server and other bits...

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: Jan 28 2004
Posts: 112

So I had this idea the other day while at the gym. I was on the elipitical machine and noticed that there was a display option for how many volts I was generating. I thought how about running a server off a similar machine? I envinsioned more of a stationary bike hooked up to a shelf unit of batteries. Then from there into an outlet of some sort for the server. There are many bumps in the road and questions when I really started thinking about it.

-As with everything else in my to get the most power with the least effort.
-I'm sure that there is some sort of electrical stuff I'm not thinking about that might turn my basement into a chemical waste land or an inferno if I'm not careful.

When I mentioned it to my brother he said he had been thinking about something similar (he has a much more fancy pants set up than I do) with solar panels. But seeing as how I live in Portland Oregon the solar wouldn't work for several months out of the year (I assume...I haven't really researched solar). Any ideas?


A thin face and a new bra are all you need to get by in this world. -- Mom

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moosemanmoo's picture
Joined: Aug 17 2004
Posts: 686
That kind of generating power

That kind of generating power isn't very good for many things, I have heard. My advice to you is to put up some sort of solar panel/battery set up with a redundant power supply from the electrical grid. I hear new solar panels are fairly effective, even in clouds. However, what would be better is if you replaced the server components with lower-power devices. Using solid-state RAM drives, for example, would be a lot less power than a 10,000RPM HDD. The initial cost is also much higher, though. A 1.3GHz Pentium 3, for example, is a good processor for web servers that aren't getting a very intensive load. A RAM caching system would save a lot of HDD access.


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Jon's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 2804
There was a discussion of thi

There was a discussion of this idea on the local KCLUG list. The gist of what I rememebr is that you aren't going to generate enough power toi do anything useful. Basically, if you ride the bike for 20 mins for 3 days a week, you only get an hour of power generation a week. Who would do the work to set it up and then get next to no use from it? It's a lerge investment of time and resources (even if your time is worth littel and you have most of the stuff on hand) for so very little in return.


I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. - Fritz Perls

Eudimorphodon's picture
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1203
Some numbers on the subject

An "average" person can sustain about 1/6th of a horsepower, which works out to a 125 watts. A "reasonable" web server made of desktop components can get by on 50-100 watts, so... if you and two other people are willing to sit in a chair and pedal for eight hour shifts you could run your web server. There's not going to be enough left over to charge a battery, however.

Go with laptop components (something like a Mac Mini, perhaps) which could keep running on 15-30 watts, and then you'd only have to pedal ten, maybe even only six hours a day. (This allowing for losses in your battery charging circuit, which are going to be substantial.) Still seems a little steep.

Of course, you could go all out and build something like this:

At 3.1 watts you should be able to run it all day on about an hour and a half of pedaling. (Assuming 50-percent-ish efficiency of your charging circuit.) Go for it.