As I said in my recent review of the Tactical Whistle, I'm a sucker for a shiny Kickstarter project, and the tPod1, by Tellurex is another such example.
What is it all about I hear you ponder?
The tPod came stands for thermoelectric-power-on-demand. This is a tea-light candle powered unit, (there is also a bigger, propane powered version, the tPod5) but this one runs off the standard tealight candle, which we happen to have a glut of, as it seems we buy a slab of them each time we visit Ikea.
Tellurex tests indicate that a continuous output of 0.25 to 0.35 watts over a 4
hour period using a paraffin candle in an environment of 20oC (70oF)
ambient temperature. The cooler the ambient air the better the tPOD1
will perform, conversely, the higher the ambient temperature, the less output that can be expected. They also conducted trials using bees wax candles
resulting in a higher peak output. Something to look into ....
The thermoelectric effect is coupled to an output port which allows the included 25 LED light to dock, which comes at the end of a swan-necked adjustable metal cable. The base is a silicone shoe, keeping the candle in place and maintaining an easy to transport package, when it is all hot. This adds a safety element to the usual "bare-flame" worries of tealights.
The soup can sized thermoelectric converter's heat-sink fins are encased in a protective plastic case, and delightedly anodized in Ferrari red.
The whole unit is about the size of a can of soup, and only weighs 340g (12 oz).
As well as the LED lamp, the tPod comes with a USB adapter, (along with a warning from Tellurex that they wont be held accountable for changing-related damage to devices charged from the unit), but for purposes of charging a needful device in the event of being off-grid (or as they put is, "denied-grid"), the risk would probably be worth it. Similarly for camping situations, when you had to get a message out on an otherwise unchargable-device. Tellurex indicate however that the tPod will not charge a phone directly however, but will trickle charge a battery recharger and the battery recharger can then be used to charge a a smartphone.
We lost power over Friday night, when a truck clipped our overhead lines, and the power company cut our power for "safety's sake" till lunchtime the next day. This was the perfect time for me to break out my tPod, and you can see here how well it performed in our 35oC (95oF) conditions we have been facing this weekend.
Having the source of electric light, produced by our ample stock of 4hour tealights was a real boon to us, and it would similarly be useful during other blackouts, when camping, or for any other reason find yourself off (or denied) grid. This is a very cool item, and I'm glad to have added it to my stock of alternate power and light sources.