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  #1  
Old 05-25-2014, 11:37 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is online now
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Interesting stove and recharger gadget

Window shopping some stuff. Okay, ya caught me. Looking at ordering some Mountain House freeze dried ice cream sandwiches for packing along when the wife and I are out on the motorcycle and want to snack away from the crowd. But let's pretend I was just checking gear out okay.

Anyway, I came across this. http://www.biolitestove.com/campstov...view/features/



The Biolite wood burning camp stove that also charges your small USB charged devices like your phone. It burns twigs and even wood pellets.

Normally I'd look at it and go, yeah right. But I can see how it might be handy to have in various situations. Maybe at home in a power outage so you can still heat some water and cook a little outside and still keep your phone charged up while waiting on things to get going again. Kept in a car kit with maybe a coffee or ammo can full of pellets just in case you can't find burnable sticks around in case of a breakdown. Especially one that drained your battery (alternator quit and killed the battery before you realized it) and you are stuck out and can't recharge your phone via the car. Or just camping if you can haul along a little extra stuff.

Use it blackmail the kids when camping. Tell them that they can have X minutes of charging time for their gadgets for Y amounts of wood hauled in or chores done.

I'm not rushing out to buy one, but I did find it a rather interesting little device and thought a few other folks might like to know about it if just to go, "Huh. How about that?"
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Last edited by Amos Iron Wolf; 05-25-2014 at 11:42 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-26-2014, 10:50 AM
EireRogue EireRogue is offline
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I too saw this while browsing for new camping gear. Very interested in anyone's comments/experience with this piece of gear.
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  #3  
Old 05-26-2014, 12:12 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is online now
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The idea got me looking for reviews and I came across a comparison between the Biolite Camp Stove and the Firebox Stove Cup Charger.

http://www.fireboxstove.com/cup-charger

Comparison Vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58b8Acjwtl4

The cup charger seems to charge quicker. Using the Firebox with the Cup Charger much less wood was apparently used. The video states that the Biolite used a LOT of fuel.

There are some interesting charging pots as well as interesting parts for other generation means on this page. https://theepicenter.com/cgi/order.c....html&cart_id=
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  #4  
Old 05-26-2014, 09:37 PM
LWolken LWolken is offline
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You'd be much better off with a roll-up solar panel from Bushnell. The Biolite stove is an interesting concept except that it required hours of wood burning to charge a simple device. Its not really a good stove nor is it a good charger. It also has an internal battery to power the small blower that improves combustion. When left unused for a time the internal battery runs down makes it a royal pita to get the thing started.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:45 AM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is online now
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After seeing the video comparing the Biolite and the Firebox Cup Charger, the Biolite was noted as using a lot of fuel, especially with the fan on high as suggested it be. The Cup Charger took much less fuel, had no fans required and you could boil water at the same time.

What peaked my interest in such devices was being able to get some charging off of them as a by product of using the stove. Not so much as a primary off the grid charger, but as a way to top up a carefully used device while heating your chow or taking advantage of the fire from found wood already burning in a portable camp stove that's still there after you've cooked with it. Once you get the boiled water for a Mountain House freeze dried meal you had packed away the fire is probably still going. Add a few more twigs and make some tea or instant coffee while you continue to top up your phone or similar device.

Handy on the trail or if stuck somewhere. It could even be handy if the power is out due to a storm. A solar panel isn't much use there. Or at night. I think the Cup Charger and similar devices have more to offer than the Biolite stove on looking closer at these types of things. For one you can use the CC on any heat source and not just the Firebox.

The larger devices are interesting, albeit expensive. The one that has no pan that is shown towards the end of the one video intrigues me. It does use a small pump that is powered by the device when in operation to draw water from a source, such as a stream or pond to feed through. I could see it being used in a small, off the grid cabin with a small woodstove. I'm talking a real, backwoods one room cabin, not the luxury houses people call cabins these days.You could be heating the cabin, cooking on part of the stove top and producing electricity on the back part of the stove while drawing water from one barrel and putting out hot water into another in the process. That unit will actually charge a bit more battery than just a phone. Used wisely such a setup could recharge you rechargeable flashlight batteries, handheld radio, and a phone. All of which you would most likely be using sparingly.

Though I will check out the Bushnell solar panel in terms of a pure charger and a purpose specific device.
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  #6  
Old 05-27-2014, 09:05 PM
LWolken LWolken is offline
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Thats the beauty of the Bushnell you don't need the sun to charge your device. They have a built in battery that you charge before you leave. You can then charge your device at night then recharge the internal pack again the next day. The pads seem much better than the biolite. However at those prices I'd be looking else where. The problem with all usb chargers is they trickle charge which means the charger will need to provide power for several hours to get a full charge. That's why the solar is for once a good match for this kind of application. I'd rather use that 4-6 hours looking for food etc. than tending a fire. What about in the rain? What if you can't get fire? What if a fire would give away your location? Just some things to consider. I'm not saying they won't work just not sure how effective they would be in the field.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:34 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is online now
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Yep. It pretty much depends on what your intent and purpose is. I wouldn't choose either as a primary charger. That's not the focus I see or have for it. More of a cooker that can boost your charge a little while you're doing something else like boiling water for chow, drink, or purification.

I've pretty much discounted the Biolite. The Cup Charger kicked its butt in the comparison video. It rained during the test too.

From the description of the vid. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58b8Acjwtl4

Quote:
...To provide heat for the Cup Charger we used the FireBox stove. Two iPhone were used, one for each device. Both phones were completely dead prior to the test....

...The BioLite was fueled constantly. The FireBox stove required little attention....

We ran the test for over 2 hours. The final charge levels were as follows:
iPhone connected to BioLite: 15% charge
iPhone connected to Cup Charger: 50% charge.

In our test the the Cup charger charged it's phone over 3 times as much than the BioLite in the same amount of time. The Cup Charger outputs continuously. All it needs is heat, and water.
I don't think of such devices as primary chargers or your first line of charging defense so to speak. I can see them handy if you are packing for limited space and they enable you to use the heat you are going to produce anyway for topping up your charge.

I could see them tucked in an auto for short duration breakdowns. Around here though you can leave town and have no cell service on any number of backroads. So having a full charge would just mean you could play solitaire, listen to tunes, or record your end of days memoirs while you waited. Being able to cook and heat water would be more important in being stranded then. Since the water in the Cup Charger is purely for cooling to keep the charging going you could use the time to boil and store several cups of water. Dump the boiling water, add ambient temp water for the next boil, and your charging again. This assumes you have something to put the clean water in, but if you have something like a thermoelectric generating device along, you've probably already thought of that.

In a tactical field environment for SHTF I'm not going to worry about keeping my phone or iPod charged anyway. Noise and light discipline would pretty much preclude use of such devices and anything that might reflect light, to include solar panels. I'm not going to count on much in the way of services to be available anyway. I could probably brush off the old map and compass skills enough to find my way. I don't GPS for navigation other than a little on road, and not much of that.

You're right though. It depends on whether you are first and foremost trying to charge stuff, or if the charging is just a side benefit of another process, such as heating water. As a primary charging source I would look elsewhere than the heat transfer chargers. After looking closer I'd skip the Biolite all together even in the later case. Too much fuel usage, the fan requirement, and too slow to charge.

I just find it interesting to be able to use the heat from your cooking or keeping warm to boost your gear. The trick is to figure out where it's appropriate and where it's not.
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  #8  
Old 05-28-2014, 06:44 PM
LWolken LWolken is offline
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It's a very interesting gadget, however I cannot see a practical use for such a device. I have several old freon bottles I've been wanting to build a small wood burning heat with. This might just be the perfect use for such a device. I did some research awhile back and found several 12 volt model thermal chargers which would not be limited to 5V USB gadgets. This would allow greater storage capacity and the use of a small inverter to generate 120 volts for larger appliances/tools. I also agree that the biolite is certainly a no go. I'm not going to worry about charging my phone either but I would be worried about other tactical benefits like charging two way radios, flash lights, steri pen, batteries for night vision etc.
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  #9  
Old 05-28-2014, 09:37 PM
MolonLabeJax MolonLabeJax is offline
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I've got one. Unfortunately it's not very practical in my experience. The theory is good, the implementation not so much. I didn't find it good for cooking or charging.

There's no battery so it only charges the device when you're stoking the flame. You can't store the charge for later use. If you want to sit there and feed the fire continuously then I suppose it'll work but I found it was difficult to keep the fire going enough to keep it charging. If memory serves correctly (I'm too lazy to pull it out) the copper heat transducer is at the top of the stove instead of the bottom.

Cooking. Well, what I found is that you can't really feed the stove with the pot in place since it's a top-feed stove. So unless you have good wood that doesn't burn up too quickly (a little hard since the pieces have to be so small) you're constantly removing the pot to keep the fire going which means your cooking time keeps growing.

I also didn't find that the built-in fan didn't do much to keep the fire burning either.

All in all I'm not too impressed. It's more of a conversation piece. So long as you're not trying to have a conversation on a phone that you need to charge.
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  #10  
Old 05-28-2014, 10:04 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MolonLabeJax View Post
It's more of a conversation piece. So long as you're not trying to have a conversation on a phone that you need to charge.
Well put. It was a conversation starter here. Fortunately I'm not trying to use the phone to be on the forum while relying on the Biolite.

Don't think I'll be getting one either after further research. Though it did lead me to seeing other interesting items and concepts.

LW, I agree. I think the larger 12V units make more sense and have a bit more potential as part of a better plan. The 12V on the back of a stove and a carefully place deep cycle battery (don't want any blowups) could take care of a few LED lights and charging the batteries on handy talkies, etc., and a few other useful tasks. As you noted, with an inverter it could power a few other things when needed.

Interesting concept, but it seems the idea and the implementation don't quite meet in the middle. Though it did cause me to look a little more into what is being done with small thermoelectric units and I think done better the idea has some potential in certain applications. Especially if used in concert with other sources and integrated into an overall plan for small off the grid places or in some limited or specialized mobile situations.
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  #11  
Old 05-29-2014, 07:50 PM
MolonLabeJax MolonLabeJax is offline
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The PowerPot looks equally interesting. It says you can use it over any heat source but the videos I've seen just use isobutane (haven't really looked too hard). At least if this is true you could use a wood fire. Figuring about 10-12 min (based on my experience with other backcountry wood stoves) to boil 1L of water you'd (in theory) get somewhere around 1 hr of talk time depending on the phone (advertised is 20 min charge = 120 min talk).

I'm not a fan of solar but it seems that carrying a large capacity battery with a Goal Zero or similar to recharge it. Unfortunately the solar chargers I've tested were a) way too finicky about sun position or b) useless because I was surrounded by trees. Perhaps the western states do better with solar. Not so much on the east coast.
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