Hurricane Irene was barreling towards Virginia Beach from the southeast as we were headed there from the northwest, bringing much needed survival supplies and equipment to our son and his family. His job in the Navy forced him and his family to shelter in place as the storm hit. We beat the storm in both timing and resilience.
We suffered little damage at our son’s house, but were trapped there for several days by downed power lines, downed tree limbs and flooding. Our supplies were sufficient but I have kept looking for items which would have improved our situation for future reference.
Enter the BioLite Stove. I first read about the BioLite after Hurricane Sandy. The BioLite claim is that they’ve developed a natural fuel stove which produces electricity as it burns. Immediately after Sandy, BioLite had set up phone charging stations in hurricane ravaged areas as a public service to the communities impacted by the devastation. BioLite proved their campstove is capable of recharging cell phones and other small electronic appliances as it either boils your water or cooks your food – all very necessary tasks after a weather emergency or while in the field!
Here’s some specs from BioLite:
Packed Size: Height 8.25 inches, Width 5 inches
Weight: 33 oz (935 grams)
Fuel: Renewable biomass (twigs, pinecones, wood pellets, etc.)
Fire Power Output: Peak: 3.4 kW (LO), 5.5 kW (HI)
USB Power Output: Max continuous: 2W @5V, Peak: 4W @5V
Compatible Devices: Powers most USB-chargeable devices including smartphones.
Charging Time: iPhone 4S (2G): 20 minutes of charging provides 60 minutes of talk time. Charging
times vary by device and by strength of fire.
Boil Time: 4.5 minutes to boil 1 liter of water. Varies based on strength of fire.
Fuel Quantity: 1.6oz (46g) of wood to boil 1 L of water
Includes: Firelighter, Stuff Sack, Instructions and USB Cord for internal battery charging.
NOTE WELL – The user must supply the charging cord for each appliance to be charged.
How does it work? In my very simplistic, non-technogeek words – A small fan battery is precharged via USB cord to your computer. Once a fire is started in the stove, the fan is turned on, superheating the fire and coals to power an internal thermoelectric generator which then powers the fan and a USB port for recharging you small appliance. The fire is extremely fuel efficient, very hot and virtually smoke free. My beautiful wife bought me a BioLite campstove for my birthday! I immediately connected the unit to my computer to initially charge the internal battery that powers the fan. Once the initial charge was completed, I packed up the stove with a charger for my cellphone and took it to the Chestnut Mountain (NC) Proving Grounds and Practice What You Preach XII. The stove’s first test would be there. During the trip to Chestnut, I completely depleted my phone’s battery. On the morning of the test, my friend Landy Young and I prepared the unit and a supply of fuel. I read the directions carefully and we fired it up.We had to wait for the indicator light to turn green to indicate the unit was ready to charge an appliance. When I was just about to declare it a failure, the light turned green. We hooked up my phone, which immediately switched on to charging mode. I fueled the fire for 30 minutes. To my surprise, at the end of the 30 minute test, my phone had a half charge and it was searching for the service we don’t have on the mountain. After the test was completed, the stove was left to burn up remaining coals and die out. Once dead and cool, the coals had been burned completely to ash which wiped out very cleanly. To see how durable the phone charge was, I turned the phone off and left it in my Jeep, exposed to the warmth of day and some very cold nights. Five days later, as we headed for home, I powered the phone up and still had enough charge remaining to be on standby for the 13 hour ride and to make two calls to let family know we were safely home.I am very impressed with the performance of the BioLite camp stove and it has become a valued basic staple in our camping / emergency preparedness gear. I highly recommend BioLite! Need more info? Try www.biolitestove.com . Tell ‘em the Monkey sent you…
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