Charge your iPhone with a tea candle

Kickstarter project is the first step in turning tea candles into a source of thermoelectric power for recharging smartphones and small USB devices.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
iPOD1 system
The optional companion battery is on schedule for the fall. Tellurex

Think of all the things you can do with a tea candle. You can light a jack-o-lantern, set some mood lighting, or keep food warm. Soon, you'll be able to use one to recharge your iPhone or other small electronic device.

The tPOD1 stands for "thermoelectric power on demand." It's a Kickstarter project from Tellurex that aims to turn tea candles into a handy source of electricity for those times when you're off the grid or the power goes out.

Apply heat from a candle to the tPOD1 and hidden thermoelectric modules transform that heat into energy. A single candle can power an LED light for four hours.

The 12-ounce device is around the size of a soup can, so survivalists can toss it into the backpack with all the other wilderness supplies. A $79 pledge will get you a tPOD1, 16 tea candles, a USB-LED reading light, and a carrying case.

The Kickstarter version of the tPOD1 is optimal for generating light, but a rechargeable companion battery is under development, with expected availability in the fall. That battery pack will make the tPOD1 practical for powering small electronic devices. Right now, it can't directly charge a phone.

If you just can't wait to goose your iPhone with the power of thermoelectricity, then you can check into the $139 tPOD5, the tPOD1's more powerful cousin. The tPOD5 requires a stove or camp fire, rather than just a tea candle. Its 5W power generation is enough to keep you gabbing, even if you've been out in the woods for a week.

The tPOD1 is about the size of a soup can. Tellurex