This BioLite CampStove has been on D’s lust list for quite some time and one he could finally justify buying with the money he received for his birthday. As a lover of gadgets and anything to do with camping, the CampStove is the ultimate off-grid item in his collection.
The CampStove is, like the names suggests, a camp Stove. It’s can for cook food and heat water but it has some amazing technology that enables it to produce power to a USB port. That means mobile phones, tablets and many other USB powered devices can be charged by the power produced from the fuel the Stove burns.
How does it work?
Solid biofuel burns in the canister and converts heat to electricity to power a fan to make the burning process ultra-efficient. The extra electricity produced is sent to the USB port to power small gadgets. This awesome technology uses a Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) to convert heat into electricity. The Biolite produces electricity to power the integrated battery that powers a fan. The fan improves combustion which increases the efficiency of the device and the surplus generated electricity powers the USB port.
How much does it cost and where can it be purchased from?
D bought his for £129.95 from Outback Trading which was around £20 cheaper than many of the other online retailers.
How much fuel does it require?
To keep the fire hot enough for the device to produce electricity via the USP port, the fire needs to be continuously stoked with sticks. This was a novelty for the first 20 minutes of charging a mobile phone but it then got a bit tedious. The canister is so small and the device needs so much heat to produce the power meaning it needs very dry sticks to keep going. After a few unsuccessful attempts to light the Stove using sticks collected from wherever we were at the time, D resorted to carrying around a bag full of dry sticks of the preferred dimensions from home, just in case.
How long does it take to charge a phone?
We tested the following makes and models:
iPhone 4s: It was already partially charged and didn’t see any increase in charge after 20 minutes
HTC Wildfire: The phone was charged from flat for about 45 minutes. The phone gained about 15% battery power.
Sony Experia SP: Didn’t work at all.
How long does it take to boil a kettle of water?
It took about 5 minutes to boil the kettle of water which is quite impressive. The kettle contained enough water to fill 5 mugs with some left over.
Watch this clip to see the CampStove in action
- Fun, off grid gadget.
- Free to run after the initial outlay.
- Can be used at most campsites and festivals as it is ‘off the ground’ and doesn’t use gas.
- No waste compared to gas-run Stoves.
- Carbon neutral and eco friendly (technically but realistically as it is made from plastic and metal and we haven’t replaced the trees we’ve burnt).
- Good talking point with friends (D’s contribution to this review!)
- Requires very dry sticks of a specific size to get going.
- No storage of power for the USB port. It has to be running to charge USB devices.
- Takes a very long time to charge a mobile phone making it unpractical for this purpose
- Runs out of fuel quickly so requires constant stocking.
- The device doesn’t justify the price tag.
It’s a novelty gadget that D has had great pleasure showing to friends that have an interest in off-grid living and/or mechanics but it isn’t suitable for its purpose. It’s not practical for charging phones while ‘in the wild’ because you will be so busy searching for perfectly sized dry sticks that the Stove will have burnt out before you have found any. D does not share my thoughts on the review and thinks it is ‘amazing’ and takes it on every camping trip or visit to friends’ houses. It’s a costly gadget but I love the idea of a Thermoelectric Generator that can run on solid, natural fuel that can power technology. This particular device may be quite impractical compared to other solutions but it does what it says on the tin and it’s great that companies have an interest in developing technology that one day could solve the world’s sustainable power problems.