Sandy: charging phones with wood stoves

NewImage The other day in Brooklyn, BioLite set up a mobile phone charging station using their wood stoves that double as thermoelectric generators. John Del Signore snapped this photo for Gothamist. "Oh, Just Brooklyn Survivalists Charging Cell Phones With Camp Stoves As The National Guard Rolls By" (Thanks, Anthony Townsend!)


    1.  Ask and you shall receive… their website under tech specs for the camp version: Max continuous: 2W @5V, Peak: 4W @5V. So 400mA continuous and 800mA if you can get it snorting. Good enough for most phones.


    These look really amazing and I want one for the zombie apocalypse.

  2. Ah, heck no.  The Curiosity rover RTG puts out more than a hundred watts – easily 20 amps at 5 volts.  And runs for decades on a half litre of fuel!  Beat that, BioLite!

  3. it looks like we’re running our elections like a 3rd world country in many states, so we might as well power ourselves like one too… soon FEMA will be providing people with mobile Gers (aka Yurts) for semi-permanent housing. Tyler Durden didn’t even have to take out the credit card companies.

  4. In Arizona, where I live, we use that thing called the sun (which I notice is shining) to charge our phones. 

        1. Not even close to the temperature of Mercury. Phoenix has only been 91° for the last two days. We’ve been 95°.

    1.  I’ve just bought a solar-powered phone charger (with one of just about every type of connector included) from Energizer, it even works on cloudy days, and everything fits inside a ziplock back that came with it. I don’t normally go camping long enough to need this if I’ve charged my phone, but for extended trips or days where I was caught out, it looks nice.

      1. Out of curiosity, have you confirmed that it works well? I bought one, don’t remember the brand name, and its absolutely pathetic. I can leave it on my dashboard in full sun that would cook a potato and it takes a full week to charge.

        And are you sure that it works on cloudy days? That would make it the only solar panel I’ve ever heard of that does…

        I went on a long bike ride with a couple of thousand people who were using these things (the AIDS Lifecycle bike ride from SF to LA) last year, and in talking to lots of people who had them, it seems that none of the ones with integrated batteries would charge the batteries in any reasonable amount of time (i.e. less than two days in full California summer sun). What got the best reviews were the somewhat larger panels that plugged directly into the cellphone.

    1. In some neighborhoods in NYC right now folks are comparing the walls of trash to the piles that faced Wall-E in his eponymous film.  Also some folks are so powerless in the aftermath of the storm they are burning furniture for heat.

      The future is… NOW!

  5. I’ve been expecting the Professor and Gilligan to have rigged up a dynamo attached to a bamboo exercycle to charge New Yorkers’ phones (and heathfully burn off them calories to boot).  Has the technology since regressed from that of the typical 1960s castaway?

    1. I’m not sure what exactly your point is, but if its that burning wood is an inefficient way to generate power, let me tell you as someone who’s STILL stuck in NYC after Sandy that there’s *plenty* of wood to burn all over the street. Both of the flotsam and jetsam variety. In other words, efficiency really doesn’t matter much in this type of situation.

      This is such a brilliant idea it almost brings a tear to my eye.

      The Solar 1 Club on the East River was also kicking some serious phone charging booty after the storm, even though there wasn’t a whole lot of sun to go around:

        1.  if it’s jetsam, then it may have washed ashore and possibly dried out. Flotsam would definitely be pretty wet since it’s still floating.

          1. Isn’t it still flotsam if it floated to shore, but has ceased floating?

            It really is astounding how much of that there is by the way, especially along the East River. There’s a distinct high water line formed by construction debris, most of which would burn nicely.

            And to Saranocal: I’ve used a hand crank gizmo to make power before, and they’re also inefficient, and the problem with its brand of inefficiency is that you have to sit there cranking a dial instead of warming yourself to a nice flame and chit chatting over hot drinks… But don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have one of those too.

  6. While I managed to get out of NYC on one of the last trains out of there on Sunday afternoon, this is precisely the reason why I got a dynamo on my Brompton folding bicycle along with iDevice charging system plugged into said dynamo. I was thinking more along the lines of “Angry Birds during zombie apocalypse,” but this is also a good scenario.

  7. To clarify on the BioLight — I believe it does have a battery to run the fan. Once it’s going, the battery recharges and extra power is used to power the USB out port. You can also run it in reverse — plugging it in to a power source to charge the battery prior to use. (I just got one recently and found that the fan worked out of the box. I have not had a chance to try it in the real world yet, though.)

    1. I assume AGW is Anthropogenic Global Warming. If so then I have to tell you that burning wood doesn’t particularly affect the net carbon in the air, since it is made from the CO2 in the air captured in photosynthesis, so you just end up returning the CO2 that was in the air a few years ago when the wood grew. The big problem is the fossil fuels, that returns the CO2 to the air from the Carboniferous period (when the earth was much hotter and giant amphibians roamed the earth).

      The hand crank would also release CO2 (from respiration), but again not a net contributor since it comes from what you eat which ultimately comes from CO2 captured in the fairly recent past

    1. Your snark is deeply misplaced. Having just returned from NYC where there was a total blackout in all of lower Manhattan but still cell reception if you found the right spot, I’ll tell you that yes, absolutely, cell reception is pure survival. Its a link to tell people you’re ok, to find out information about what’s going on, when you’ll get power back, how your friends are doing, and conceivably to get help if you or someone needs it, etc.

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