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The Human-Powered Home: Choosing Muscles Over Motors Paperback – November 1, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

What if I could harness this energy? An unusual question for anyone putting in a long stint on a treadmill perhaps, and yet human power is a very old, practical and empowering alternative to fossil fuels. Replacing motors with muscles can be considered a political act-an act of self-sufficiency that gains you independence.

The Human-Powered Home is a one-of-a-kind compendium of human-powered devices gathered from a unique collection of experts. Enthusiasts point to the advantages of human power:

  • Portable and available on-demand
  • Close connection to the process or product offers more control
  • Improved health and fitness
  • The satisfaction of being able to make do with what is available

This book discusses the science and history of human power and examines the common elements of human-powered devices. It offers plans for making specific devices, grouped by area of use, and features dozens of individuals who share technical details and photos of their inventions.

For those who want to apply their own ingenuity, or for those who have never heard of human-powered machines, this book is a fine reference. For those who are beginning to understand the importance of a life of reduced dependency on fossil fuels, this book could be a catalyst for change.

(2008-05-07)

About the Author

Tamara Dean is a technical and environmental writer who lives in Wisconsin, where she and her partner David human-power their grain mill, blender, coffee grinder, and assorted electrical gadgets.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716018
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.7 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book's illustration are very poorly drawn, distorted, distracting, confusing and not to helpful. The photos are also too few and do not show enough detail. The book seems like a slick marketing tool since it keeps referring you to visit certain website for more info, and some of those website charge you a fee for the info. Then there are whole chapters devoted to off the shelf expensive human powered tools for example $1,899 for a bike powered blender . In a few years those website may not be around providing the info - then what ? When discussing lawn care the book disregards the very practical and affordable scythe and instead devotes 3 pages to expensive reel mowers that are finicky about the height of the grass/weeds, the thickness of the grass/weeds and the lay of the land.
For example - was hoping to find plans for a pedal powered washing machine - what I found was how to take a modern style washer and convert it to bike power. But suppose you want to make a washer from scratch using drums and such - no info on that. What about the spin cycle - no luck here either. What about a human powered winnower - no plans.
I have been "green" for decades and I what is sickening is watching capitalism highjack the movement. It almost seems that if you want to be green you have to move to a "third world" country to be able to access affordable appropriate technology because in the USA it will cost you an arm and leg to get it.
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Format: Paperback
Good overview of the history of foot pedal & hand crank devices, & what is being used again today in our times. For example, foot pedal sewing machines, lathes for cutting, emergency radios, etc. Also how to generate some of your electricity needs by foot pedal power. Borrowed this from the library & then decided to buy my own copy. Plenty of references in it for further reading also.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will definitely keep this book in my collection. I would have liked more diagrams of parts for construction of more things. The construction descriptions were great and useful. The Vitagoat is prototype #2 from the Rodale Press "Pedal Power" book from 1977. (still available from Amazon)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
..for anyone who wants to understand more about pedal powered and other human powered devices. I was looking for this book thirty years ago, but it hadn't been written yet!

This book is excellently written. It is both readable and complete. This year, I taught a group of middle schoolers how to adapt a bicycle to generate electricity. This book helped me to prepare my course work, and I hope to use it again to teach kids about intermediate technologies and their use in the carbon-free, nuclear-free future.

I plan to build more pedal powered devices, and this book will be my first and most essential reference.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved that the book told me all about different human powered events all over the world, and the description of how electricity is made was basic enough for me to understand. However, all of the devices suggested in the book involve bicycles. Maybe it's true that it takes a pedal to make something run or make electricity, but I was thinking of other ways to power things.

The book is very well written and friendly.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is fun and empowering! Full of interesting history, with good clear directions and diagrams for all the projects. Living in a rural area with spotty electricity, these contraptions have saved me so much time and grief!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Couldn't get this book from our library system, so had to have it. It's good ... it shows ways on not relying on electricity, etc. It's a good reference book ... because I can't remember all the different products they use to maintain an easier life style ... just in case there may be interruptions to our expensive utilities.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book because the author included plenty of technical explanations for her subjects. It helps to know how and why her projects are useful. I also like her historical references for different human powered machines.
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