New Device Uses Fire To Charge Phones – Startup of the Month

We always feature hot startups in our “startup of the month” series, but this is the first one that’s literally hot. FlameStower, a recently funded kickstarter project, turns the heat from campfires, stoves, and Galaxy S4s (exploding ones anyway), into power for your phone or tablet.

According to the FlameStower pitch, FlameStower’s charging is just as fast as charging from your laptop’s USB port, and much faster than solar energy as well.

Why We Chose FlameStower

Within 5 days of FlameStower’s Kickstarter campaign, they’ve already raised ⅓ above their goal ($21,000/$15,000), and there’s no sign they’re slowing down, and seemingly for good reason. Their pitch is popular, and they’ve marketed it quite well.

If you read this blog regularly, you’re well aware of the time that I got caught on a mountain in the pouring rain with my gadgets and a pound and a half of battery gear, and you’re aware as to why this appeals to me. On the day in question, I happened to be carrying a pound and a half of battery gear in my backpack, and that was only around three charges of my iPod. I refused to share my equipment with more than one of my friends, because I didn’t want to get caught iPodless. Being limited by a battery sucks, and the FlamesTower seems to get around that unlike any camping gadget I’ve seen.

The idea of limitless, reasonably fast, renewable energy thrills me, as does the idea of getting to start a campfire. Renewable energy solutions have been popping up more and more recently, but I love these microscale solutions to actual problems.

But in all seriousness, this device will thrill all modern campers. At $80, it’s not going to break the bank, and it’s insanely useful (I assume. I don’t have one).

How FlameStower works:

The FlameStower uses a thermoelectric generator. In non-geek terms, you put one end of the Stower onto the fire, which heats it up, fill the other end with water, and the heat difference produces an electrical current, which the FlameStower captures and turns into energy for your phone (read more about the seebeck effect).

 

Check it out in the video for yourself

What Worries Me About the FlameStower

The only negative thing I’m positive about (get the pun), is that some schmuck is going to light his phone on fire, and blow up the lithium ion battery. I’m curious as to how the company plans on idiot-proofing this, because people and fire don’t always mix so well.

Another potential issue is that this has to be constantly attended. At a lot of camp grounds, they’re not too keen about people leaving fires going into the night. I’ve been yelled at by more than one national park ranger for leaving some coals burning. Considering that phones still take hours of fire to charge, and that you’ll probably have a busy day at any camp site, this could be taxing on you. You’ll also need to keep the fire/heat source going for as long as you charge your device.

Still, This Product is Hot

The FlameStower is still amazing in my mind, despite these potential issues. It’s a beautiful compact device that provides efficient, renewable power to phones and tablets. I certainly won’t be sad to trade in my old external battery gear for this baby. What could be better?

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Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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