Greener Gadgets
The Inlet-Outlet: Harnessing Energy from Everyday life Carla Diana and Jeff Hoefs, Smart Design (United States)  62 Comments
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1.Feb 2nd, 2009Nora Abousteit

I love it! Great idea.

2.Feb 2nd, 2009Hikaru Furuhashi

I wish this system for my future house!

3.Feb 2nd, 2009Ted Booth

This is a great way to make electricity generation more accessible and engaging for people. Definitely tops!

4.Feb 2nd, 2009John

This is definitely a good idea for gym bikes. All those people pedaling, might as well use that energy that would otherwise be wasted.

5.Feb 2nd, 2009Christopher

Very cool.

6.Feb 2nd, 2009ted ullrich

beautiful idea, makes a lot of sense

7.Feb 2nd, 2009tom huffstetler

great concept, this should be standard in "passive house" designs

8.Feb 3rd, 2009Tarandeep Gill

I am not sure about the others, but the gym thing can really produce good amount of electricity :)

9.Feb 3rd, 2009Joe Pasquale

I could use this now! We need this!

10.Feb 3rd, 2009Chandan Dasgupta

This is a neat idea! Never thought of "giving back" energy to the grid... but it absolutely makes sense.

11.Feb 3rd, 2009Michael

This is an interesting concept, but since all the appliances to generate the power are going to need circuitry to standardize on an output voltage anyway, why not just put a little more circuitry in the appliances to synchronize to standard plug in p

12.Feb 3rd, 2009June Connor

Great concept!

13.Feb 3rd, 2009Anna Kim

Great IDea!!! We definitely need this!!

14.Feb 3rd, 2009Karen Davies

Great idea. The possibilities are endless!!

15.Feb 3rd, 2009Abir Mullick

Great project. Congratulations.

16.Feb 3rd, 2009Devan Kansagara

Great idea - would love to see this come to fruition

17.Feb 3rd, 2009Mark Wieczorek

*LOVE* it.

18.Feb 3rd, 2009joe

we need this !!! ... so hurry up and make it.

19.Feb 4th, 2009Stephen Walsh

An idea anyone can grasp on to. The inlet speaks like a subtle setting component to a utopian Asimov novel. However, from an engineers prospective, how will a simple converter harness energy from such a variety of output sources? An invention to harness energy from a waving flag is concept enough. Plugging it in is the easy part. The same in my mind goes for the trampoline, oven, and variety of other places I think about energy being used. Yet, knowing that the potential to "plug it in"

20.Feb 4th, 2009Brendan G

Nice concept, but I don't know if of those ideas would really work. The gym one is obvious and already in use. As for the heating, probably not very efficient due to the laws of thermodynamics.

21.Feb 4th, 2009Uncle B

Post (GRD) great republican depression houses will, out of necessity, be built this way, because we will have no oil. I love it! Add super-insulation, solar heating orientation, a windmill or two, a "dry" toilet (perfected and used in Sweden), composting, gray water recovery, greenhouse for veggies, ground heat, LED lighting, and you have a "Zero running cost, Zero upkeep" ideal life-shelter for humans on earth, regardless what the government is going through! For the off-g

22.Feb 4th, 2009Kevin

The energy generated would never make up for the materials needed to support such a system. It's a gimmick, not a feasible solution.

23.Feb 4th, 2009Toddy France

You don't get much energy from an exercise bike. You have to keep pedalling very hard just to light up a light bulb.

24.Feb 4th, 2009Erik

I don't know if you guys (in the comments) ever watch HGTV or Planet Green (both are TV Channels) but there are actually quite a few people who do this already. When they give power back to the grid the power company cuts them a check every month. It is a great idea. Just can't wait for it to become more standard. Also, Michael, as far as i know, those that are doing it, do use standard plugs. The beauty of AC power, it goes both ways... kinda like my ex-girlfriend.

25.Feb 4th, 2009William White

Apart from the wiring, think about the cost of all those little generators and converters. Most sources would be minuscule at best. The best answer is conservation, enforce strict building codes to stop building thermal slums, restrict house sizes and put a curb on the Rich with their greedy planet destroying gimme gimme gimme attitude.

26.Feb 4th, 2009jack hidary

great idea! we must think two-way not just the home but also with vehicles. next step with this is to integrate the plug-in EV into the system Jack

27.Feb 4th, 2009Chris

Aside from the political diatribe and his odious class envy and control issues, William White nailed it in his first two sentences. (If only he had stopped there!) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Little generators and converters" are expensive, and so would be the wiring and retro-fitting of these things to existing electrical outlets. Not to mention the safety issues involved: when power is turned OFF

28.Feb 4th, 2009Crackergabl

This is a good concept, however I don't see why the standard plug in cannot be used for the same purpose if the equipment which it is powering has to be rewired. Seems like it would be cheaper to continue to use the standard plug in type, and only rewire the equipment. On another note, have you ever tried to hook a tred mill up to a light bulb and to get it to turn on? It takes a LOT of running to turn even the lowest wattage light bulb on. While the idea is to offset the current usage of el

29.Feb 4th, 2009Annalee

Electrical systems designed to allow a home owner to sell electricity back to the 'grid' are already widely available. The prohibitive aspects are the costs of such circuitry and the costs of the home power generation systems. Because of the safety precautions and the resulting complexity of the circuitry, a homeowner would not want this circuitry duplicated throughout the house. And because of the costs associated with power generation systems it is unlikely that a homeowner would have such

30.Feb 4th, 2009Josh

An average person can put out ~500W with strenuous physical exertion. The average computer consumes about that much, meaning you can power your computer for a length of time that you work out strenuously. How much time do you spend a week working out? How much time is your computer on?

31.Feb 4th, 2009mc

Have any engineers seen this? The power generated (movements of a FLAG?!?!) is so minute it's not worth capturing. How do you attach a power generator to each object? Is there a separate generator and plug for every single object that moves in the house? IF THE cost of the inlet and generator/energy capturer/magic box costs $10, the trampoline will probably generate $0.10 cents worth if you keep on jumping on it for a year, so it would make sense after 100 years, assuming, the box never break

32.Feb 4th, 2009cohheo

The cost to produce a product that can output electricity would probably cost much more energy than it would produce. The only one that might work is the exercise machines, but all you owuld really get is a lightbulb per machine.

33.Feb 4th, 2009dumbass inventor

UHMM, you don't need a separate outlet to put power back to the house, if you plug a generator into the normal outlet and its output is equal to you demand then you draw no power from the grid even if you are tied to it.

34.Feb 4th, 2009Marisa Topping

Capturing lost energy in your home would be amazing. If energy captured from working out puts a little dent in my energy bill, I would probably work out more. An interesting thought to promote healthy living too.

35.Feb 4th, 2009Willxx

I don't really care how little this would contribute, if we could encourage everyone to use something that gives a little back we wouldn't be looking to build more power stations, if you can offer 5% from everyone then you can start making reductions. I love the concept of small things making a difference, ie how big a solar panel would you need to power your bathroom light? Whe you think of how long its actually on then theres no need to draw that power from the grid, if it saves a couple of p

36.Feb 5th, 2009carolyn

A very interesting idea. Every little bit helps!

37.Feb 5th, 2009Matt

great idea - there is so much passive energy that gets wasted.

38.Feb 5th, 2009Reza M

A thoughtful idea!! This would encourage appliance companies to build their device having this concept in mind. Hopefully =]

39.Feb 5th, 2009scott gibson

Solid, engages us to put back directly. gives us a portal to start contributing now. (forget about having to require your wall) opens doors to whole new group of products to be developed, and not end up in land fills. IT IS A PRODUCT ENABLER, BRING ON THE WORK OUT POWER GENERATING GUT BUSTERS!!

40.Feb 5th, 2009Mark J Warren

It will work well with a home we are designing at this time.

41.Feb 5th, 2009John Q.

Great idea to return energy from something we use actively (ie.excercise bikes). You should work with the people developing Piezoelectric energy tiles. I think both of you got the idea of taking energy from what we already do and applying it usefully.

42.Feb 5th, 2009Chris

I've been saying for YEARS that exercise clubs (YMCA, etc.) need something like this.

43.Feb 6th, 2009Jess Funaro


44.Feb 7th, 2009Peter

I think mouse wheel or keyboard should be one of the input devices.

45.Feb 9th, 2009alan

From an Engineer's point of view, the energy required to produce the equipment that would transfer the kinetic energy of these appliances would outweigh any actual voltage produced from them. This is why we get paid more than you.

46.Feb 10th, 2009Generation 7

Sorry to say, but it's a no go. Capturing waste heat to turn it into energy... just make the appliances more efficient. Reuse the heat of the oven to cook. Refrigerate with high efficiency and the excess heat is gone. It's the right emotion, but the wrong direction. Keep dreaming!

47.Feb 10th, 2009David Govett

Need piezoelectric chips in bed, so that when one rolls over during sleep, the energy is captured. (Not to mention other gyrations.)

48.Feb 11th, 2009Nick Hodge

Wouldn't take much to make this hackable. I'd make an outlet to inlet converter, and have the 110v outlet going into Inlet, straight back into the grid. Then I could get money back from the electricity used. Or just suck the electricity grid into an electron black hole.

49.Feb 11th, 2009áron, sánta

EXCELLENT! <br> The only thing can make our lives better is the fact that if we give more, we'll get more. <br>This could help us making the balance between working (training ourcelves) and having a break (resting). <br>With this system, we could make our lives more much active and stirring. <br>Excellent : )

50.Feb 11th, 2009Angel

great idea! hopefully, the more people embrace concept like this, the harder it will push appliance manufacturers and residential developers to change their product standards.

51.Feb 11th, 2009Susan Hines

Bravo! If I had one now, I could convert my new-years-resolution time on my elliptical machine into free juice for my laptop! Just one or two in a room could facilitate all kinds of personal innovations in energy productions (and conservation). I'll alert my green friends. Keep me informed if it goes into production. I'll invest!

52.Feb 12th, 2009Russ Klettke

There is a gym in Portland, Oregon that already is putting available technologies to work to redirect human-generated electricity back to the grid. It's The Green Microgym, and I've detailed it along with other eco-exercise developments that wed a sustainability consciousness with a concern for one's own personal health in my blog, (search for The Green MicroGym). Proprietor Adam Boesel is a leading entrepreneur in this movement (

53.Feb 12th, 2009Djarada

My Idea!!! Brill,only to wire up an old building would be expensive.

54.Feb 12th, 2009Tyler

While some of the suggested applications are a little whimsical (the hamster wheel generator) and probably wouldn't be worth anyone's while to install your system, some of these devices - the bike generator, and the oven heat-to-energy converter - sound very interesting. An obstacle is that this device is a bit ahead of its time since other than the forms of alternative energy that most people are already familiar with (wind power, solar power) there are no commercially available (that I know o

55.Feb 13th, 2009Sammy Coleman

Oh my God! I just got done explaining this idea to my husband and then he sends me to this page. I've had the idea for a long time that exercise centers somehow derive energy from the exercise machines people workout on. I always knew it was a great idea. But in my head, it wasn't doing anyone any good. So I'm glad that someone else had a similar good idea and putting it, hopefully, into action. SOON!!

56.Feb 13th, 2009amanda

sounds like "make room, make room" (or the novel that the movie 'soylent green' was based off of. a very novel concept, especially in a gym setting, the wall i always come to is getting it to the grid, when i think about all the alternative energy out there. but yet for now it will be the electric and gas companies that will control who gets on the grid.

57.Feb 13th, 2009Karen Sisco

Yes yes yes!!! Look up examples of "heel strike power" - several architecture firms in the UK and Holland are experimenting with using the energy created when the foot strikes the surface of a walkway or a stairway into building.

58.Feb 13th, 2009Gloria

I like it.

59.Feb 14th, 2009Evan

Just remember that when you sign your power provider contract and you don't feel like exercising, you will have to make up the difference for the power you didn't provide by buying power from another provider which will likely be on the spot market. Spot market power costs significantly more per Mw/hour than you will be getting for the power you produce from the "inlet" power you provide. Power "into" the grid has to be predictable so that the grid stays balanced.

60.Feb 17th, 2009Rob

Intriguing...but not practical. The energy generated would never offset production/implementation. :P

61.Feb 17th, 2009rexmo


62.Feb 22nd, 2009Terry

Those of you who speak of the "great republican depression" miss the mark. This is a "great government-created depression", devoid of partisanship. Those of you who endorse mandating this concept, welcome to big brother and bigger government (see above). We are not a socialist country folks. Private property and the 4th amendment still apply, at least for now. No telling what Nobama will do.

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