Hamster Power!

Just because you can, doesn't you mean you should...some renewable power ideas fall squarely in that category.

Although does a Hamster Powered Generator (HPG) make any more sense?

Before we explore, let's establish a few realistic baseline numbers:

  1. Hamster runs typically 8 miles per day, which is about 28,968 rotations of a 54cm hamster wheel.
  2. Averaging 50RPM, equals roughly 8 hours of running per day.
  3. While running, your hamster produces approximately 2V/0.2mA (0.4W) per hour
  4. Hamster eats ~1 tablespoon per day, or about 15 grams of hamster food...making 1lb of food good for a whole month ($2/lb in bulk)

Hamster Power!

Now with our baseline numbers from above, let's calculate how much usable work our hamster can produce:

  • Food: $3 / 30 = $0.067/day
  • Power Produced: 8h * 0.4W = 3.2Wh/day
  • Energy Cost: $0.067 / 3.2Wh = $0.0209/Wh ($20.90kWh).

Obviously, we've left off a few numbers, such as vet bills, cages, the generator itself, and other little things like that...but with the food numbers alone, $0.0209/Wh is what you could expect your HPG "fuel" to cost.

Solar Roadways!

Let's look at the cost for "Solar Roadways". First, a few baseline numbers:

  • Each panel produces 36Wh in ideal/peak lab conditions.
  • Subtract 7.5% to account for real world dirty solar panel losses, and substract another 2.5% to account for additional losses from panels actually being in the ground (and therefore much dirtier than roof-mounted panels). Bringing Real World losses up to 10%.
  • Subtract 25% for DC/AC conversion, and energy storage losses.
  • Each panel produces roughly 24Wh/day of usable electricity.
  • Roughly estimating, each highly-complicated self-networking panel (including supporting roadwork and electronics) could cost around $1,000/each.
  • A typical solar panel is expected to last about 20 years (7,300 days), although performance will typically degrade 1% each year, we'll ignore that reduction of efficiency for now.

Now with our baseline numbers from above, let's calculate how how much power each panel would produce over its expected lifetime:

  • Food (sunlight's cost): $1,000 / 7,300 = $0.137/day
  • Power Produced: (36Wh * .9 ) * .75 = 24Wh/day
  • Energy Cost: $0.137 / 24Wh = $0.0057/Wh ($5.7/kWh)

Obviously, we've left off a few numbers, such as costs of regular cleaning, equipment service/repairs, technical support, and such...but then your poor hamster isn't being taken to the vet either, so it's all fair.


Well, there you have it. Each Solar Roadways panel costs $5.70/kWh, whereas a hamster generator costs almost four times as much at $20.90/kWh.

Perhaps if we fed our hamster vegetable and fruit scraps...we could get costs down to around $10/kWh, or even $5/kWh...oops, sorry Solar Roadways.

Perhaps we could start a hamster-poop methane collection plant, that might even further reduce hamster costs? Can you imagine hamster-poo powered bikes? Cars?

Or perhaps we could look at a slightly more efficient energy source, such as Solar Thermal ($0.03/kWh), or wind ($0.01/kWh).

Naa, let's rape the earth for the sake of putting Solar PVs in everyone's driveway.