We talk about a lot of different ways to get electricity you need while off grid in the simplest, most reliable set-ups. Most of these designs rely on solar cells or wind-up mini-generators. However, here is a design that promises to get an LED lamp to light up using something even easier, smaller, lighter, and more reliable than even solar: a tea light.
The Kickstarter project, which is currently a bit over $30,000 from its goal, states, "Born and made in Traverse City, Michigan USA, our revolutionary patent pending device converts heat into electricity. A single tea candle will power a bright 25 LED bulb lamp for up to four hours or provide an electrical charge to an auxiliary battery pack. We call this device the tPOD1™, which stands for thermoelectric Power On Demand. The Tellurex tPOD1 is powered by tea candles commonly available throughout the world which can be made from green, natural, and renewable resources. When placed beneath the Tellurex tPOD1, these inexpensive candles provide the right amount of heat needed for the thermoelectric modules in the tPOD1 to generate around one-quarter watt of power."
The tiny tea light candles can be bought for pennies, and will last for a couple hours depending on their quality. However, is it enough to power an LED lamp for four hours? Maybe, but we can't wait to see the final product out being tested by those Kickstarter backers. We're a bit (okay, a lot) skeptical that it works in the way it promises.
The project is not just for campers, but hopes to be a smart solution for people in developing areas as a way to have better quality lighting as well as a way to charge cell phones. This seems to be the better application of this product, as it's far more useful in areas that currently rely on unsafe and environmentally harsh fuel sources like kerosene for light and areas that have few reliable sources for power for devices like cell phones. According to
Richard Harmon, engineering manager at Tellurex tells Mashable that at first he figured the tPOD1 would be useful in developing countries such as Africa. He read that a lot of people in Africa walk miles to charge their basic cellphones at community places with electricity.
“I developed a product where they could charge the cellphones over their cooking fire,” he said. “I started doing a lot more research….one of the downsides is I would be encouraging people to burn wood.” He decided to use tea candles instead.
It sounds quite promising, but what do you think about this design? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out the Kickstarter page.