K-TOR Human Powered Generators – Power to the People and Power by the People

This Week’s DestinySurvival Radio was about power to the people. And power by the people. But no political solutions are involved. What’s it all about?

Imagine a family sitting around the dinner table, eating a carefully prepared meal from their survival pantry. The electricity has been out for days, and they’re debating the merits of hand cranked power versus pedal power.

My DestinySurvival Radio guest knows all about those methods of generating electricity. He’s Ken Torino, President and Founder of K-TOR, a company that makes human powered generators.

Perhaps you saw the review of the Pocket Socket and the Power Box by Captain William E. Simpson II. If you missed it, view it here.

Who started this power thing anyway?

Ken Torino has degrees in electrical engineering from Cornell University. He spent 30 years with IBM in their technology division as engineer/manager/executive at their Vermont facility. He retired from IBM at the end of 2007. Then he founded K-Tor in 2008.

K-Tor and its line of human powered generators are Ken’s vision. He created K-TOR based on the idea that bio-mechanical energy created by every person could be easily and efficiently converted into electrical energy and made available on a personal level worldwide.

Ken is married with five sons and lived in Vermont at the time of our conversation.

Do you know what it means to be powerless?

If you’ve been camping or on a long trip when your cell phone or GPS unit died, you know the need for a way to charge it up. But what if you can’t get to a reliable source of electricity? And what will you do in the advent of a major catastrophe that knocks out power for days or weeks at a time?

That’s when a hand crank or pedal power generator would come in handy. But aren’t there limitations? Hand crank emergency radios sometimes come equipped with flashlights and a way to charge phones. But those can only do so much. Plus, there are so many gadgets with different power requirements and a multitude of adaptors.

As if that weren’t enough, how long can you turn a hand crank? Or how long can you pedal to generate power? So how is it possible that even a human powered generator could fill the need of the moment?

Socket to me!

One of the greatest attributes of these generators is that they’re equipped with a recepticle like a wall outlet. That means you can plug in the wall wart charger meant to work with your gadgets for charging.

The generator uses high efficiency electronic circuitry, and puts out 120 Volts. You can also charge deep cycle 12 Volt batteries.

It’s about power to the people!

Why not power your electronic devices and get some exercise at the same time?

The K-TOR pedal powered generator is durable and portable, too. It’s the size of a shoebox in storage mode and weighs less than five pounds. It’s easy to operate and can produce 20 Watts of power. That’s a reasonable rate, considering a human can work hard enough to generate up to 75 Watts.

But let’s not forget about the hand cranked generator. It puts out 10 Watts and 120 Volts. It’s a great exhibition tool, too. It has been used in demonstrations for school science projects and by museums.

Ken says K-TOR generators are made with a modern design for economical mass production to keep the cost down.

Fill in the power gaps.

Human powered generators can be complementary to solar power, too. The sun’s not out all the time, but these generators work when you do.

Also, it seems to me any of the K-TOR generators would serve well overseas for Christian missionary organizations or other groups working in countries where electricity isn’t readily available.

K-TOR means business for power.

When you listen to my conversation with Ken, you’ll note he’s conscientious about producing a quality product that works. He constantly tests and is always thinking of ways to make the generators even better.

He’s receptive to customer input, too. He welcomes e-mails at info(at)k-tor.com. Replace (at) with @ in the address when you write. During our interview Ken thoroughly answered a reader’s question I shared with him concerning the price difference between the Pocket Socket and Power Box.

I feel the power!

After we recorded DestinySurvival Radio, Ken graciously sent me one of each of the generators to use and review. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity.

I tried the hand crank generator first. It requires no assembly and is easy to use. However, I discovered I must be a wimp because I have a hard time cranking for three to five minutes as the directions say to do. It really gives the arms a workout.

Ken told me using the hand crank generator is a little like riding a bike. You have to get a rhythm. It’s important to go fast and go smooth, and go three minutes at a time. It takes some practice.

As a result, some people like the pedal powered generator better. That’s because it’s very easy, and you can crank for a long time. Ken said everybody loves the pedal generator.

You should sit on a stool or chair and pedal straight down to keep it from moving. It’s best if it is screwed down so it won’t move. You might want to try putting it against a wall or sturdy piece of furniture, too. But you must be seated, not standing, when you pedal.

It took my wife and I about 45 minutes to put the pedal generator together. We used both written instructions and the video online. It wasn’t as easy as Ken makes it look on the video, but then he designed it and knows it inside and out. I suspect most people won’t want to disassemble it and reassemble it, unless it’s necessary.

Both generators powered up a cell phone for me, using the phone’s charger. I forgot Ken said the generators put out DC electricity, and I soon discovered AC adaptors don’t work with the generators.

Here’s the paragraph about compatibility as found in the directions for the pedal powered generator.

“The K-TOR Power Box pedal power generator provides DC power and has been designed to be used with devices that accept DC current. Modern consumer electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, digital cameras, etc., fall into this category. Appliances like a TV, Microwave and Refrigerator require AC power and are not directly compatible with K-TOR generators. To run devices that use AC power or more than 20 Watts of DC power, refer to the advanced charging guide on k-tor.com.”

I’m looking forward to putting these generators to practical use. No doubt I’ll strengthen my arms and legs in the process.

You can feel the power, too.

As always with my programs, Ken and I talked about much more than I can cover in a blog post, so I encourage you to hear my conversation with him when you listen to DestinySurvival Radio for February 6, 2014. (Right click to download.)

Watch the short videos below for demonstrations of how K-TOR products work.




Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.