BioLite CampStove 1- Wood-Burning Small Lightweight Stove with Internal Powerbank, Generates Electricity for USB Charging Using Excess Heat, 1st Generation, 5 x 5 x 8.3 Inches, Silver (CSA)
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- Turn fire into electricity! Powers most USB-chargeable devices including cell phones and smartphones on backpacking and camping trips, or during power outages using, sticks or any other biomass
- 20 minutes of charging with a strong fire gives you about 60 minutes of talk time on most smartphones
- During a full burn, the CampStove can boil 1 liter of water in as little as 4.5 minutes.
- CampStove weighs about 2 pounds and is about the same size as a 2-liter Nalgene water bottle
- An internal starter battery helps kick-start the wood fire before the stove begins generating its own power
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The BioLite Wood Burning CampStove combines the benefits of a lightweight backpacking stove and an off-grid power charger so you can cook a meal while charging your gadgets. The Campstove is the perfect solution for both the backcountry campsite and also Emergency Preparedness Kits. No Fuel to Buy or Carry: Our stoves cook your meals with nothing but the twigs you collect on your journey or in your backyard, eliminating the need for heavy, expensive, polluting petroleum gas. Quick to light, fast to boil and easy to use. Charge your Gadgets: By converting heat from the fire into usable electricity, our stoves will recharge your phones, lights and other gadgets while you cook dinner. Unlike solar, BioLite CampStove is a true on-demand source. Stay Green: By using renewable resources for fuel instead of petroleum, you're reducing your carbon footprint. You'll also keep fuel canisters out of the landfill. Be Prepared: The CampStove isn't just for camping; it's great to have when the power goes out in a storm or other natural disaster. You'll be able to cook and keep electronics charged while power lines are down. No need to worry about your local store being sold out of propane, the CampStove is designed to run on any biomass. Support a Better World: We're using the same technology inside the CampStove to bring clean, safe energy to families across the developing world. Have Fun: Like a campfire, you can sit around the CampStove and watch the flames dance as you roast marshmallows and tell stories with friends. How it Works: Using BioLite's patented thermoelectric technology, the BioLite CampStove converts heat to electricity that powers a fan to make the fire ultra-efficient. Extra electricity can be used to charge small electronics like mobile phones and LED lights. At BioLite, we develop breakthrough technologies and empower people to power themselves.
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Wow - seriously. This thing is nuts. It gets so hot that the coals constantly glow red hot inside. On high speed (the fan settings on the outside) I had 4 eggs and bacon strips cooked up and ready to eat in about 8 minutes. Boiling water took a bit longer, but still faster than I feel I could have done it on my stovetop.
After that trip it kind of just sat on a shelf in the event that I ever got around to camping again. I did purchase another unit for my brother that he literally keeps it in his trunk whenever he heads out on a lengthy road trip. My brother has freely advertised his unit to all his friends and has probably helped BioLite sell another 30 units all on his own.
Fast forward a few months to Hurricane Matthew that tore along the east US coast. I was in one of the cities affected by the storm and was without power for about 2 weeks. This was especially difficult due to having 2 adult and two children family members visiting during that time from Europe (not the greatest of impressions for their first experience in America) and cold showers are never enjoyable.
So, I break this stove out after about the 3rd day to start cooking meat that would otherwise go bad due to lack of refrigeration. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner for about 10 days this stove kept 8 people fed, EASILY. I did get the Thermos add-on for the stove which ended up being invaluable for making coffee in the mornings. The entire stove breaks down and fits inside the Thermos, which is pretty nifty and saves space when packing a backpack or storing it on a shelf. As a parting gift I ordered another stove and gifted it to my European in-laws on their way out of town. It was WELL received and appreciated.
Alright, so you know the life story of my BioLite stove, so let me point out a few things for those potential buyers so you know what to expect:
1) This stove is voracious - utterly insatiable. You have to keep feeding it to maintain the heat necessary for cooking things. I will caveat this though. Fire consumes, right? So, it is to be expected that if you introduce a source of fuel to fire, that source will be reduced as it is consumed. The harder the fuel source, the longer it takes to be consumed. That should be common sense, but I didn't come around to the obvious without some trial and error. On my camping trip, I was using pine-cones and dry fuels of that nature (Wet fuel is a no-no and will irreparably break your stove - I'll explain in the next point). But... Lump Hardwood Charcoal (which is healthier to cook with than briquettes anyway) is a very hard fuel source. I have learned that the fastest way to get up and running is to fill the stove cavity with hardwood charcoal, dribble a very small amount of lighter fluid over it, wait a second or two for it to soak in, then light it. Breakfast in half an hour or less - I guarantee it.
2) I do not recommend getting the grill add-on for this stove... It is made of really cheap metal and I've found that putting a skillet directly on top the stove works just fine, and long as you can balance your cooking apparatus. A round pot without a long horizontal handle works even better.
3) When the stove heats up, it trips a sensor in the attached thermal-charging battery/fan that you attach to the side during set-up. At the base of the inside of the stove canister, there is a small port that sits right in front of the little fan in the piggyback unit. Note: The fan blades are PLASTIC. This is why you cannot use wet fuel with this unit and also why after you're done using it and try to turn off the fan it will not turn off. Your stove is not broken, it simply has to spin the fan while there is still a heat source near the fan blades to avoid melting them and making the stove worthless. The fan has two speeds: Keep it Hot Speed, and Burn Your Eggs Speed. I use Burn Your Eggs Speed to boil water - works very well.
4) Once you get the heat going and the fan is on, etc, you can't just plug in a USB and go to town. You must wait for the little green light to come on, indicating that there is enough of a charge being created. Only then will the stove charge an attached electronic device. (We kept two smart-phones charged enough to conduct our daily lives just by charging them during meals. Note: smart phones charge faster if you turn them off before plugging them in.)
The charge generated is a trickle, but is enough to make the difference between an emergency situation and a situation that is merely uncomfortable.
Thanks BioLite for an amazing product - I've freely advertised for you guys ever since Hurricane Matthew!
I paid full price for this stove and have purchased 3 other stoves as gifts for friends and family also at full-price. One emergency and it's worth the money, you'll see.
Back at home a few days later, I decided to start anew and try working with larger pieces of wood that were dry from the get-go. I took a 3/4” x 3/4” x 2 ft. long piece of an old cedar trellis and chiseled it into pieces of various sizes–from about 1/4" x 1" long to 1/2" x 3" long. I mixed the cedar pieces with some leftover twigs I'd collected from the coast. In total, I probably had about 1/2 lb. of material.
This time, I used my own homemade tinder material: dryer lint (with copious amounts of dog hair mixed in!). I built a fire in the stove with layers of lint, sticks, and wood chunks, then ignited it with a single flame from a flexible neck butane lighter. As soon as the lint caught fire, I turned on the BioLite's fan to the low setting, and the fire took off. In less than a minute, I switched to the high fan setting and the fire was a raging inferno, ready for my aluminum pot with 4 cups of water. I stoked the fire about 5 times over ten minutes with increasingly larger pieces of wood, and the water came to a rolling boil within that period (sorry, I didn't measure the exact time). A couple minutes into the fire, the green light around the USB port illuminated, and I began charging my iPhone 5S through the port with a standard USB to Lightning cable. Since I was taking photos and videos of the process the entire time, my phone didn't charge much, but it did go from 85% to 87% in between photos.
This time, the only significant smoke produced by the fire occurred when I introduced a larger stick from the coast that wasn't completely dry. When you add damp wood to the BioLite, it will smoke quite a bit, but once it dries, it will basically reach a flashpoint and ignite, and the smoke will instantly disappear. So, it *is* possible to use damp wood, but be prepared for everything and everyone to get smoked out for a while. If you're camping from Oct to May in Western Washington, for example, you'll have a hard time finding dry material to work with, so you'd probably be better off with a gas stove, unless you don’t mind lugging in dry wood. However, used as an emergency cooking and power source in an urban/suburban environment, most people should be able to find ample wood-based material for for fuel around their homes and in their recycling bins. Cardboard works fine, as does any type of combustible scrap lumber cut into small pieces. Heck, in a longterm power outage, you could always start hacking down your wood furniture and cabinets! A little wood goes a long way with the BioLite.
The BioLite stove is a marvel of ingenuity, but what's really amazing is how little ash is left when you're done using it. From my roaring fire that lasted about 20 minutes from start to finish, there were only a couple tablespoons of ash, which I dumped into my raised bed garden. Also, note that the BioLite cools down very quickly once the fire is out, and the interior is cool to the touch within a few minutes. Thanks to its insulated design, the exterior of the unit never gets even warm to the touch. It’s a very safe device.
For my next fire in the BioLite, I intend to introduce increasingly larger pieces of wood to see how well they burn. Ideally, it’d be nice to spend less time adding fuel to the fire, although it’s actually kind of fun to watch the little furnace in action.
I can’t think of any major negatives to the stove. As someone who deals with product QC issues on a regular basis, it’s obvious the the BioLite stove is extremely well designed and manufactured. It’d be interesting to see what the company could do to turn the stove into a general heating device rather than simply a cooking implement. It definitely puts off heat, but it’s mostly confined to the space directly above the combustion chamber. Perhaps the grill attachment would radiate more heat horizontally. Anyway, I’m in love with the BioLite, and I highly recommend it for gadget freaks, outdoorsmen/women, survivalists, and junior pyromaniacs.