Written on: 12/03/2006 by Elephas Maximus (2 reviews written)
Self-contained, Portable, well-designed, durable construction, dependable power. The battery is an AMG type so it is totally sealed and will not leak even if cracked. 2 year warranty( except battery - about $40 to replace yourself).
Somewhat Noisy. Charger is not regulated so you can not leave it plugged in all the time as an emergency backup. You need to periodically (5% discharge/month) top off the battery for max. battery life and emergency readiness. I wish they would just charge $10 more and throw in the multi-voltage transformer for small electronic devices.
If you want to see what the Freeplay Weza stand-by generator looks like, you can see it at the Freeplay website.
Freeplay finally released the WEZA. They had a problem with the quality of the foot pedal, and they had to replace them on all the units that were originally shipped back in Sept/Oct 2005. I give credit to the U.S. distributor for refusing their first shipment of 1000 of these because of this weakness. The distributor told me this was very unfortunate, because this was at the time that Katrina was tearing things up, but they could not sell them, even though they had many inquiries about them.
I got mine last week (3/6/06). It comes in a very rugged water-proof nylon carry bag. It has a 2 inch, rubber bottom, so if it sits in water it will not ruin the generator. There are internal pockets for the included heavy duty jumper cables, the AC/DC battery charger, the cigarette lighter plug with seven different sized adapters for different electronic devices, two wrenches, and there are three other pockets for whatever else you might want to keep with the generator. There are also six outside pockets. The bag has 1 inch reflective tape sewn around all four sides. Very professional looking. The zipper used on it is a large toothed heavy duty design too. This bag will take the wear and tear of transport, and protect the generator as well. Very professional looking - blue with yellow lettering.
The generator weighs 18.7 lbs. The size with bag is comparable with a 20 bowling ball bag. The shell of the generator is a very heavy plastic. Contact surfaces on the bottom and on the pedal where your foot rests is a rubber type material, so the unit will not slide around, or your foot won't slide off the pedal. The rubber feet also wrap up the back, so it could be set against a wall or object and not scratch things up. The only metal exposed on the outside are the screws and a bar between the fold-out legs, which appear to be stainless steel. The pedal, by the way, is very solid.
There is a panel opposite the pedal side for battery/generator, input/output, and a simple 6 green LED meter that tells the level of battery charge or the amount of current you are producing as you push the pedal. The meter is not specific as to voltage or watts, but is general a guide. There are two input/output terminals to attach the jumper cables/battery charger, a cigarette lighter type female plug, and a small 1/4 inch female input plug for the supplied ac/dc recharger. I purchased a 12 - 3 volt transformer that plugs into the cigarette plug to power different voltage electronic devices (radios, CD player, cell phones, and GPS etc.) This is really a must to have to take full advantage of this generator in emergency situations. They only cost about $12. I think C.Crane Radio on the internet has a nice one, but I got mine at Best Buy. Freeplay also sells one. The plug they provided with the unit is very well built, so it might be worth checking theirs out too. It might even be wise to get two. I also have a couple of solar panels (10 watt) I can use to keep it charged if power fails. The battery will take an input voltage of 13 - 21 volts. A wind generator is also a recharge option. You can recharge the battery with the generator of course, but I think I read somewhere that a 50% discharged battery will take 3 - 4 hours of pedaling - don't quote me on that. There is a switch that disconnects the internal battery from the generator so you can charge other 12v batteries directly. (EX. charging a battery on a car/truck for starting, which requires about 5 minutes pedaling to get a sufficient top charge for cranking the engine - NOT a full recharge of the battery by any means)
I was surprised at the level of sound it produced. The low speed gears and the high speed gears and generator rotor produce enough noise to knock out a whisper. You can talk above it without any problem, but it's not something to take to the library or movies. It's not like a bike where the pedal goes around, but it is pressed down and springs back up. Therefore the output is not a consistent level. Assuming each light of the meter is a little over 3 watts and they start at 25 watts, I can sustain a constant 25 - 34 watt range. It takes a fair amount of muscle to do this. It is more the awkwardness of sitting and pedaling than the amount of energy expended. It is easier to stand, but that gets awkward too. I don't think I could sustain it for more than 10 - 15 minutes without a rest. IF you are only charging/powering small electronic devices, you will not use much of the 7 amp/hour reserve in the battery. I made a small plug in 4 LED light for the cigarette lighter. If my Freeplay flashlight can power seven LED's for 20 minutes (on low setting) with only 30 seconds of winding, this thing must be about 20 - 40 times or more power. I want to make another light with one to three 1-watt LED's. I have a flashlight with a 1-watt, and it is very bright.
I plan on keeping this little puppy. It will do exactly what I wanted. It is a source of emergency power that will keep small electronics up and running indefinitely. I also purchased a 12 volt battery charger for AAA - D sized rechargeable batteries. I was affected by the multi-state power grid failure about three years ago. I realized that if something like that lasted more than about 5 - 7 days, there will be no gas for generators. Solar is a very good option, but it is not easily portable, and is of course sun dependent and needs a storage battery. For real emergencies , this unit would be easy to transport, and should be ready whenever needed.