When our old washing machine died, I couldn't bear to throw out the motor. So I did some digging and it turns out that they make ideal power generators. This instructable documents how I made an excersize bike that can power any household electrical appliance (depending of course on how hard you can pedal). It can hold up my old 21" CRT TV and a 50W pedestal fan without too much effort.
I either had all of the parts or was able to scrounge them for free, so the whole project cost me nothing. It requires basic soldering and welding skills, but no fancy circuitry knowledge is needed.

  • old washing machine motor
  • old bicycle
  • bridge rectifier
  • old UPS and battery
  • 20ga wire
  • angle iron
  • cheap multimeter

Step 1: Sourcing Parts

The washer I already had, but can be easily found for cheap or free if they're broken. The motors are quite robust, so it is usually another part of the machine that breaks first. The brands that may have the right kind of SmartDrive motors in them are: Fisher & Paykel, LG, and Whirlpool. The most common (in NZ) are the F & P and they say "SmartDrive" right on the button panel. 
 a helpful resource for identifying types of washers
 how to tell what kind of motor you have
 how to get the motor out of the washing machine. Note: I didn't remove the shaft or seals/bearings from the drum, I just cut out the section of the drum that housed the shaft assembly. See 1st photo.

The bike frame I picked up for free at the Green Bike Trust

The UPS and batteries I got for free from my local computer repair shop. It is often cheaper for companies to buy a whole new UPS rather than replace dead batteries, so old ones can usually be found in abundance. This is how to rejuvenate old UPS batteries.

The bridge rectifier I pulled out of an old car alternator I had lying around.
I don't think i can get that kind of motor here in nigeria, or is there any idea of how it can get to me here?
<p>use a washing machine motor</p>
<p>very nice</p>
<p>Hi, Andrew, my question is what does 'UPS' stand for in your article? I know it's not united parcel post. LOL</p>
Hi Joel, no I guess that would be UPP. Un-Interruptable Power Supply in this case. :)
awesome info! I have this exact motor and the 24v ups in the garage wired up to 2 old car batteries. Thank you for posting the link to rewire the thing. I was trying to figure out how to use the high voltage output but, now I don't have to. I rewired a microwave transformer with a new 6ga primary winding. the output was 5v and 40amps with a brisk hand spin.
Great, sounds like you've got everything you need! A transformer would certainly be another way to do it, 200W is pretty impressive!
I like this. I could use this to power a motor that would drive a crank-powered washing machine! Save money from going to the laundromat and get excercise too!
This is so cool, I had to tweet it!
hi Andrew,<br><br>here in the Philippines, we do not have that kind of motor, all washing machine and likewise dryers are using capacitor type induction motors..how ever i found out that food mixers or juice mixers like the ostirizer/B&amp;D brand uses a brushed dc motors like that of portable 220v electric drills. i assume it also can do output a voltage powerful enough to charge a car battery. will try out soon.<br><br>also portable battery powered electric drills or screwdrivers can be used..
my buddy own an appliance store in iowa and this type of motor is not common but not as rare as people think. they are out there, i have 2.
Thank you for this. Here in the USA our washing machine motors appear to be a good deal different than the one you show from New Zealand. Ours are capacitor start squirrel cage induction motors, usually single phase. I always wanted to do something like this, but envisioned using a 12 volt automotive alternator to charge a lead-acid battery connected to a 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC single phase voltage inverter. My idea was to power a small TV so I knew the program would soon go &quot;off&quot; if I stopped pedaling.
Hiya Phil, thanks for the comment! Yeah induction motor washing machines are plenty popular here too. Randy of randysworkshop.com fame claims to have a shipment of motors in the US and he's selling them for $105 apiece, which is quite a deal considering they're new. <br>Your idea doesn't sound too dissimilar from mine, although I wouldn't recommend using an auto alternator unless you can spin it at the thousands of RPM it's designed for. The beauty of the smart drive is that it can be easily re-wired for different applications. Try this link : http://www.thebackshed.com/windmill/articles/gettingstarted.asp<br>about halfway down the page they discuss different types of motors.
How much current does this produce, you may have said but I did not see it.<br>
it depends, how hard can you pedal? The way I have it set up, it's just trickle charging a battery bank, so it depends mainly on the capacity of your batteries and their state of charge, i.e. how much you are trying to draw from them at the same time as you're charging them

About This Instructable




Bio: I work in IT, but enjoy a variety of things. I'll usually do something until I'm almost good at it and then move ... More »
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