Power from Heat: The Candle Charger

This device can power your phone in a blackout or when you are camping: ‘When the power is cut, modern life is thrown into disarray. But thanks to a new project you may not have to worry about your smartphone dying. The Candle Charger is described as an “indoor power plant for smartphones,” providing USB charging capabilities with just a candle and five ounces of water.’ Gizmag Candle Charger Also see: Gizmag Flamestower

Update: Was available from here: Stowerenergy or try the Ajirangi Camping Thermoelectric Charger

The Candle Charger

The Candle Charger

The Flamestower

Build your own Thermoelectric Charger

I had long ago seen that you could buy the Peltiers here: Custom Theroelectric & here Tegmart plus the circuits to stabilise output voltage and provide USB power. I was speculating about simply attaching one to a platypus bottle (of cold water) and sitting it near the fire so that its two sides had different temperatures. Some current must be created. I can see that a metal tongue which will get one side hotter without warming the other side is an improvement on this, but at 198 grams! My simple set-up would weigh perhaps 50 grams. Still on my To-Do list. If there are others out there with a little more electronic nous than me who want to get into this, please message me.

PS: I have now (2022) finally bought a 22 watt (7volt) TEG and the USB circuits to stabilise it (from Aliexpress). Tim Tinker has pointed out to me that a billy of water ever goes over 100C. The 22 watt TEGs can stand 330C (even 400C for a while) so that if I can put one on top of a stove in such a way that the temperature is in the range 100c to 330C with a billy of water on top it will charge at up to 22 watts (giving me a fully charged phone or 18650 battery in about a hour)! I have bought a digital thermometer to assist with this. This should solve my wilderness charging problems forever. Watch this space!

I also need to perfect my stove set-up. It will be nice if the charger can just fit on my 20 Gram Roll-up Titanium Hobo Stove but when I perfect the chimney, my Ultralight Tent Stove will be useful for this as well particularly in cold, wet weather when no other charging option is even feasible (excepting hand-cranks). Hopefully all these projects will finally come together.

Some other proprietary devices exist (if you Google ‘charging hiking pot’ or similar you will find some. eg Biolite & Powerpot. Mostly they are heavy and underpowered. DIY will be better.

NB: I have experimented with solar too but it is very difficult to get any charge during the day when you are walking and even if your are camping the sun might not be shining. I experimented with a Tyvek Solar ‘Reflector‘ which doubled the output of the panel with almost no increase in weight and I tried out a lot of different panels. They are almost all rubbish. There is a way to test them with this KeweisisUSB Ampmeter device. See the post Amps are Everything Wind, water – neither of them cut it either. Power from heat is the way forward.

First Published Jul 20, 2015

See Also Xionel Solar Charger

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