A Smartphone Charger That Runs on Candle Flame and Water

The ‘Candle Charger’ by Stower can charge your Smartphone with candle flame and water

Now you can have a Smartphone charger that runs on water and candle flame, helping you stay charged even during power outages!

Imagine a scenario of power outage, say due to some storm and the first thing which one would do is to keep their phone ‘OFF’ so as to be able to use it only in emergency. Smartphone would be the only solution which will help people to stay connected with family and friends in this situation. Batteries drain much faster and hence the first thing which one would think of is to make use of Solar chargers, right? But what if this scenario occurs during night, the solar chargers will not be of any help.

San Francisco-based startup, Stower presents a precise and reliable solution to tackle the issue of power outages. A dozen of iterations, has finally led the company to introduce their unique and novel Candle Charger which is the first indoor generator designed especially to charge the Smartphones and keep them charged continuously for a long time.

The Candle Charger, is a small, portable charging system by Stower, that has been launched on the crowd funding website Kickstarter yesterday and the product is now available for $65.

The Candle Charger unit is basically made up of a small bath which holds the water and a candle which is placed below the water bath for heating it. The unit has an attached USB port which shows a green light once the unit is ready for charger, normally it would take only 10 seconds for the unit to get ready. User just needs to connect this USB port to their smartphone and thus the gadget gets charged. The Candle Charger is a compact, effective miniature power plant which is safe and provides electricity on demand to charge the USB devices. It can be used indoors as well as outdoors.

Working of The Candle Charger:

The Candle Charger is made up of a Thermoelectric module, known as Peltier cooler. Thermoelectric modules basically are semiconductor devices which takes the advantage of the temperature difference between the area closer to the flame and the area near the water in the pot which is cool. This difference in the temperature gradients leads to diffusion of electrons between the hot and cold sides of the semiconductor which ultimately results in production of voltage. A non toxic bismuth telluride semiconductor has been used to develop this charger.

Another important aspect of the charger is its ‘smart circuit’, due to this the power generated by the unit matches the power requirements of the device (smartphone) which is being charged.

The ‘Conversion Efficiency‘ of the charger, its ‘Electrical Strategy’ and ‘Focus on the design‘ is what makes The Candle Charger to be a great innovation. Stower has taken lots of efforts in designing the product in such a way that the power output can directly charge the smartphones and that too by using low-cost analog circuitry. Andrew Byrnes, founder of Stower says: “Our magic is being able to charge phones reliably from a variable power source.”

Stower’s Candle Charger is able to produce a steady 2.5 Watts of USB charging that continues for 6 hours at a stretch. Usually the portable unit uses a standard Sterno candle which can fit under the pot, however one can even use ‘votive candles’. Byrnes and co founder of Stower, Adam Kell, claim that the charger is able to fully charge 2 iPhone in matter of 6 hours.

Byrnes further also added that the water which has been heated can also be used to make a cup of hot tea while the user waits for the phone to get charged up!

The power supply from this charger can be generated for an indefinite period of time by just replenishing the water and maintaining the heat source under the water bath.

Stower is known to develop products which can charge devices by using fire. Two years back Stower demonstrated their Flamestower, at the Stanford University’s Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES). Flamestower is a device which can convert any pot on any cooking into a charger. Then, Byrnes and Kell were graduate students studying materials science at Stanford.

Prior to entering the grad school, Byrnes was involved with utility scale wind and solar energy projects. On the other hand, Kell had worked on silicon wafer technology at a clean tech startup. It seems, Byrnes always had a desire to work on technologies that were directly concerned with the common people. Byrnes, a resident of Florida had faced the power outages during hurricanes Katrina and Wilma and definitely felt there was a need for smartphone chargers during such power outages and thus Stower came into existence.

Stower unveiled their Flamestower last year and it is now available for $99, in United States and Canada. Stower is further working with Grupo EBIS to develop Eco-Stove clean burning cook stoves which it plans to distribute in Central America and then in collaboration with French Telecom giant Orange it has a goal of developing a version of this technology that can be put in to use in Africa.

According to the statistics of Department of Energy, the power outages in U.S. has seen a steep rise since 2000, on the contrary the use and dependence of cellphones in the developing countries, too has increased tremendously. Thus, Byrnes feels that the Candle Charger would have a much broader demand in comparison to the Flamestower.

The product is expected to be shipped in December this year or early next at a retail price of $100.

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