Top positive review
118 people found this helpful
This is one fine generator
on July 17, 2011
This bike generator is a gem! I have five (count 'em 5) of these puppies and they have been working for over 4 years and doing a bang up job of providing outstanding lighting for three bikes in our family. I just bought 2 more from Amazon's original vendor for future projects. No, the plastic wheels have not worn out but go ahead and put "O" rings on them if it will make you feel better. It is a good idea however, to "lock" the jam nut on that spinner with a drop of penetrating lacquer.
I finally decided to write a review because there were only 3 good reviews and a couple of crummy ones written by people who apparently, did not know a whole lot about the product they had purchased. At the risk of raising the price, I'm here to tell you that this is the best buy and the best performing bottle generator available ANYWHERE, bar none! Even with the extra six bucks for shipping, it is a bargain.
IT IS IMPORTANT to understand that this well-built unit has two generating windings and that they share a common ground point at the case mounting bracket. The 2 windings are NOT in phase and they are intended to drive two separate lighting circuits! There are THREE electrical connections to this generator. One, marked "H" is for the headlight and this delivers ~12 VAC between the "H" terminal and the case/mounting ground bracket. The other one marked "T" is for the tail light and delivers ~3.6 VAC between the "T" terminal and the case/mounting ground bracket. These windings cannot be combined in any simple way, so don't try. If you do, in series they will "buck" each other, and in parallel they will load down each other. Those two terminals that you see, go to two separate windings of different thickness wire whose other ends share a common connection at the case mounting bracket.
Granted, the instructions are inadequate, but the product itself is superb.
To reiterate, THIS IS NOT A SIMPLE GENERATOR. It is actually two generators of differnt voltages and different capacities, in one package. If you drive incandescent lamps (a 12 V headlight and a 3 V tail light), you will have no problems except periodically replacing the burned out bulbs. Just remember that this is a THREE wire, dual lighting system. The Bike frame is the SINGLE return "wire" for each of the two lighting circuits and connects to the generator through a pointed set screw on the mounting bracet. The set screw is cranked in until it shatters the paint and galls itself into the frame by dimpling it. When fresh, the connection offers a relatively low resistance to current flow but over time, it loosens and corrodes and needs to be cleaned and retightened. Similar connections are provided on the headlight and the tail light.
In practice, I like to attach two well soldered wires to a single large ground lug and, using plated star lock washers, compress it securely onto the main mounting bolt right at the generator, where it will stay put and not deteriorate. Then, with the "H" and "L" terminal wires, I now have FOUR wires leaving the generator, a pair for the headlight and a pair for the tail light. Expect 12 VAC at ~ 0.480 Amps from the headlight circuit and 3.5 VAC at ~0.100 Amps from the tail light circuit. I prefer to run double wires to the lights, say 18 gauge to the tail light and 12 gauge to the headlight rather than the old fashioned and shakey practice of using set screws and the bike frame as the return conductor. Since we are using low voltages, speaker wire works just fine. It is super flexible, easy to find, and looks really spiffy.
THIS IS AN A.C. GENERATOR. So if you are using LED's, when you build your lightoliers, you will be best served by employing Schottky diode rectifiers, super caps, 2 parallel full wave series strings acting as reverse voltage snubbers, proper heat sinking and all the rest of the good stuff that makes for decent engineering. In short, you should really know what you are doing.
The GOOD NEWS is that a generator is ideally suited to power LED's. LED's need to be current regulated, period! An LED is a current SINK. A generator is a current SOURCE. If you set up your LED lightoliers so that they can handle the current output of your generator, the generator will automatically voltage limit to provide it's maximum design current. In other words, an LED headlight assembly that can absorb 750 ma. at 10 volts, will keep THIS generator output (to the // LED strings) at 10 volts up to 750 ma. of current draw. Because this is more than 6 Watts, you can't burn it out! The same design goes for the tail light assembly. Now this means that you will not get all of the lumens out of your LED's that they are capable of producing but you will get all of the light that this 6 watt generator will deliver. Take it from me, with the new Luxeon Stars this is a WHOLE LOT more than you will see from incandescents and your LED's will last longer than many bikeframes.
Write me for particulars about sources and configurations for DIY bike lightoliers. If you build your own, you can light up any trail on the darkest of nights and all the pavement and road signs for a block ahead when you're cruising in town. With such a capability always with you, your 24 hour bike riding gains spontaneity, true safety and becomes more fun. Instead of merely being seen, you can see as well as with a single car low beam, even at moderate speeds.
To recap, this generator will deliver the goods. Mechanically, the bracketting is twice as heavy as any 6 V bottle or those cheapy (but more expensive) 12 V combo packs you see. So disregard the naysayers and grab one of these babies while you can (the price keeps going up but the supply seems stable). Find a Radio HAM to help you if you need it, you won't be sorry and you'll make a new friend. A little timid? Consider the following: By adding approximately $80 in parts to the $34 you spend for AC power, you can easily put those $1600 OTC lighting systems to shame and have a bunch of fun in the bargain. The money and aggravation you would spend on batteries and charging schedules is soon repaid and you can feel as green as the eyes of those who watch you light up the night as you speed on by. KI6W