Need a power source when you’re camping? If so, you might consider this pot that turns heat into useful electricity. It will power lights so you can see what you’re cooking, recharge a cellphone, or run a little Bach while you’re contemplating the flames (or really whatever music you’re into).
The PowerPot is the invention of two graduates from the University of Utah, David Toledo and Paul Slusser, who built the original prototype using materials from EBay and an old pot donated by Toledo’s mom. Since raising $126,204 on Kickstarter last year, the company has since sold 1,000 units, and raised $750,000 in seed funding.
The pot works by converting the temperature difference between the water inside the pot and the hot surface underneath–the thermoelectric effect. And the big advantage, says CEO Matt Ford, is that you kill two birds with one stone. You can cook and power at the same time, and you don’t need to carry two sets of equipment.
“What makes it unique is that it’s dual use,” he says. “If you’re camping and making coffee, at the same time you are charging things like headlamps or water purifiers, or you’re storing the power in a battery.”
There are plenty of portable off-grid power units these days, including foldable solar panels and hand-cranked chargers. But Ford says they either involve a lot of work, or don’t work at all times. “This is one of the best five watt generators, because all you need is a heat source.”
The PowerPot is available at stores such as Sportsman’s Warehouse and Eastern Mountain Sports, and the company is working on bigger 10 and 15 watt pots. At $149, the five watt version isn’t cheap–it’s hand assembled in Salt Lake City–but Ford hopes to bring the price down soon. If he does, a device like this could make a huge difference in the developing world, where dangerous, smoky cookstoves and a lack of charging infrastructure are both huge problems.
“It’s a considered purchase, which why we also want to work with single door retailers who can explain how it works, and give a little education.”