A new generation of cardio machines have the ability to convert their users’ energy into power and deliver it to the grid. Exercise enthusiasts now have more motivation as they count the watt-hours on the screens of their stationary bikes and treadmills.
Technology advances have made it easier for families to produce electricity with their own muscles. Instead of running on an old-school treadmill or riding a spin bike, you can ideally combine new gym equipment with commercial-grade batteries and pair the energy from your workout with the output from the solar power generated on your roof.
Startups are springing up in developed markets with fitness gear that can gradually give back some of the cost. At a reasonable pace, users of pedal-power generators can create enough juice for a classic, 100 W light bulb or even more.
If a home is equipped to supply electricity to the grid, which makes it a prosumer, it has the possibility to install hi-tech devices like stationary or recumbent bikes and make an unconventional form of renewable energy by exercising. Early versions have been around for decades.
From gyms to homes
SportsArt, founded in Taiwan more than four decades ago, hit the market with a line of products several years ago with an eye on gyms. The company has just introduced a high-end solution with compact devices for smaller spaces including multifamily housing, but also a design for homes.
Imaginarium has added a power-producing gym to its rooftop solar power plant and small wind turbines
An art and science center in Rochester, New York, installed the cardio machines in a gym in 2016 and combined them with its rooftop photovoltaic system and two small wind turbines. One of the most important elements in Imaginarium’s gym is motivation, as power consumption and production are shown on a large screen during workout.
Pedaling electricity bill to zero
The goal is to offset some of the carbon footprint and get the electricity tally to zero, though in the said case the latter goal is remote if the entire facility’s consumption is accounted for. One could also add the energy and greenhouse gas emissions for building the structure, together with everything inside and including the gym equipment. But the monthly power bill can be cut significantly.
SportsArt’s treadmills and spin bikes also come with individual displays. Users see so-called human watts, or how much electricity they generate overall, as well as grid watts or what is delivered to the power distribution system.
The Green Microgym has a similar concept while K-Tor manufactures portable devices with pedals and hand cranks that enable users to, say, activate their phones when the battery dies.