How To: Charge Your Cell Phone with Fire

Charge Your Cell Phone with Fire

There are plenty of times when we need to charge our phones but don't have access to electricity. Whether the power is out do to storms, you're camping and run out of juice, or you're in a Tom-Hanks-like Castaway situation, it's important to have a charged phone in case of an emergency.

So how can you get a charge without good ol' electricity? With fire! In the video below, famous tinkerer Kipkay shows you just how it's done. Skip below for the written steps.

What You'll Need

You'll most of this stuff lying around or easily accessible (except maybe the first one in the list).

  • 1 Thermoelectric Peltier Generator
  • 1 empty coffee can
  • 1 metal hanger or bendable rod
  • 1 phone charger
  • 1 large hose clamp or wire
  • Kindling
  • Power drill
  • Utility knife
  • Soldering iron

How to Build It

The build is actually fairly straightforward and simple.

  1. Remove the label of the coffee can and cut a 4-inch square on the side of the can.
  2. Drill two holes on the side of the can—about 3 inches apart—then drill two more holes on the opposite side.
  3. Bend the hanger into a U shape and pull it through the drilled holes on each side.
  4. Drill five or six holes on the bottom of the can, all around, for ventilation.
  5. Take the phone charger cable and cut off the USB connector, then take the red and black wires and solder them to the thermoelectric peltier generator.
  6. Take the hot side of the thermoelectric peltier generator and attach it to the coffee can using the hose clamp or wire (if using the wire, be sure to tighten it very well).
  7. Put the kindling into the coffee can and start the fire, then plug your phone in and wait for the heat to build up.
  8. Charge that sucker!

No Fire? Try a Flashlight

If there's no way you can use the fire technique, you can always try a hand-cranked flashlight, which Kipkay shows off in an older video.

What You'll Need

  • 1 hand-cranked flashlight
  • 1 car charger
  • Soldering iron

How to Build It

  1. Take apart the shell of the flashlight.
  2. Cut off the end of the car charger that plugs into the AC socket, then solder the red and white wires to the two button-cell battery contacts.
  3. Be sure to drill a hole at the bottom of the flashlight to fit the charger cable, then put the flashlight back together.
  4. Plug your phone in and start cranking!

Neither of these methods will charge your phone particularly fast, but they'll do the job. And the next time you BBQ, outfit your grill as a charge station, just make sure those devices don't get too close to the heat.

1 Comment

How about having this setup installed on a motorcycle in close proximity to an exhaust pipe? If the installation applies constant heat to the generator, this could mean easy charging without converting 12V to 5V.

How many mA does one generator provide?

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