Did you ever think keeping your phone charged during a power outage or grid blackout could be a simple as lighting a candle? Designed by Andy Byrnes, co-founder of Stanford’s alternative energy startup Stower, the Candle Charger is the first emergency power generator for smartphones to make it easier for folks to get essential USB power with just a candle and water.
Based on the Flamestower, a model from one of Brynes’ earlier inventions, the new Candle Charger transforms a collapsible mini-stove into a power source, which can charge a modern smartphone twice over the course of six hours when heated. Using the same thermodynamic principles as the Flamestower, the Candle Charger works by burning a can of Sterno (or jellied alcohol) instead of an open flame, which is safer for indoor environments.
Acting as a high-powered candle, a can of burning Sterno (or jellied alcohol) heats a blade, which then reacts with a reservoir of cool water. The temperature difference causes a thermodynamic effect that generates energy to power your phone.
The device is designed to collapse and fit into most home preparedness kits. Compared to other products like hand-cranked generators, which require a good deal of effort to power up devices, the hands-free alternative energy device is certainly something that should be in your emergency survival kit at home, if only to save your arms from 10 hours of cranking to get your smartphone to 100%. While it can be used to call for help or keep track of disaster and outage updates, it can also be used off the grid or in developing countries without reliable energy sources.
Photos via Stower Candle Charger on Kickstarter
While it might seem like a far off thought that America would experience grid failures as much as India or Africa, you might reconsider when hearing that American grid outages have increased six-fold in the last fifteen years. According to the Department of Energy, aging electrical infrastructure, over population, and more extreme weather due to climate change have led to the increase from 44 in 2000 to over 200 in 2013. That might be reason enough to back the Candle Charger via their Kickstarter campaign, where the device is currently up for grabs for $65.
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