Nick Rosen | |

By Ken Torino of K-Tor – Human-power expert

Ken Torino - hand cranking
Ken Torino – IBM Retd – older than he looks

My story began 15 years ago when I was looking to buy a
human power generator and had trouble finding one.

I was an an avid hiker and a believer in self reliance during the 30 years I lived in Vermont.

When I retired from IBM, I started a company focused on human powered generators.

Pros and Cons

You might ask “what is the role of human power energy in the modern age” — gas power generators and solar panels are available. The answer is they all have their roles and plus and minuses.

Human power: of course you need to pedal and it is limited in the amount of power by the human being, typically about 75 watts. On the plus side human power always works and can be used in sheltered locations and stored inside as well as is portable.

Solar charges mainly between 10am and 2pm and stores this in
a battery for use. So the solar panels need to be out in the open and there needs to be sunlight, under tree canopy of cloudy skies reduces power, and you need a battery pack large enough to store the energy of the four hours to be used over the next 20. It can generate lots of power as you can scale the surface area of the solar panels and battery pack size. Usually they are not mobile.

Gas generators generally come in a power range but 4000
watts is a typical size, although larger sizes are available. Gas generators also must be placed outside away from dwellings. They
are not easily portable. They make a lot of noise; give off noxious exhaust and of course you have to have a source of gas. Gas is usually pumped from the ground using electricity so is typically in short supply in times of emergency.

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As an example in the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean most
of the solar panels that were on roofs were destroyed and gas was hard to get for some time. Human power of course could not run refrigerators or air conditioners. The best strategy is a complimentary strategy. As they say, two is one and one is none.

After K-Tor was founded, the first two years were spent researching
human power energy and developing the first product.

Currently the company has three main generator products, the
Pocket Socket 2 a USB 1 Amp hand crank generator and two pedal generators, a 20 Watt model and a just released a 50 watt model.

Over the past 10 years K-Tor has acquired a lot of expertise in the area of human power energy and the uses of electrical energy and its devices in off the grid and emergency uses. We have many people come to us for advice on a wide range of related subjects and we are happy to help.

Send your questions

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a Q and A forum.

We are looking forward to the interaction. Send your questions to news@off-grid.net and we’ll schedule a time and write back to all those who submitted questions

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