Introduction: Charge Your Phone With a Candle!

Picture of Charge Your Phone With a Candle!

In this instructable I will show you how to make a device that will charge your phone and give off a soothing light with a candle. If you like this instructable then please be sure to vote for me in the make energy contest

Step 1:

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To make this, here's what you will need:



Step 2:

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To start you Will take the cans and cut the lips off the top, so they can fit on top of each other. Then I cut three slits equally spaced apart. I also you Will need to poke some holes in the sides to allow air flow.

Step 3:

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I tested mine out and found that I needed more holes so hooked some in the top. Before you continue be sure light the candle to see if it goes out. If it does then you will need to poke more holes. This step is all about trial and error.

Step 4:

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In this step we will build the circuit. Just follow the scamatic and you should be fine. Other wise, I added the pictures of me building the circuit. Use them for reference when building it.

Step 5:

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next I took my heat resistant epoxy and glued the cooler to the top can. I recommend placing something on top to prevent it from falling off as it sets over night.

Step 6:

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this step is pretty simple, I trimmed down the circuit board.

Step 7:

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To finish is simple, light the candle, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. If it didn't start charging right away then give it a moment becuase it takes time to heat up. Thanks for viewing, and don't forget to vote.


vem777 (author)2017-03-08 induce other kids in error..peltier element produce current ONLY from temperature difference...your device is a toy... in one minute is heated and stop produce whatever..

nitrojon (author)2017-01-25

I like it! Maybe combine this with a DIY Beautiful Candle and just put a USB socket in the base. Light the candle and it gives off light and USB voltage! All lights should be replaced with these!!!

LP5 (author)2016-03-11

How many watthours can a single small tea candle produce? can someone kindly explain how to get the answer?

AndIToo_17 (author)2015-12-20

Hi, I'm a high school student and I want to create this for my school project. Sadly, I'm not very familiar with electronical components and I'm not a native speaker. Can please someone explain the schematic of step 4 or recreate the scheme for me? Thank you.

Conor M (author)AndIToo_172016-02-19

#AndlToo_17 the bits saying 100 uf and the 10 nf are capacitors. You just need to solder all the pieces onto a perf board and it should work.

FabianR13 (author)2016-01-06

Cool !! Can you cool down one side of the peltier with a heat sink to make it more efficient / draw more amps out of it ?? I think it makes electricity out of the difference in temperature, no the heat itself right ? Also could you wire two of these in parallel on the same can, to draw more amps and charge the phone faster ??

FabianR13 (author)2016-01-06

Cool !! Can you cool down one side of the peltier with a heat sink to make it more efficient / draw more amps out of it ?? I think it makes electricity out of the difference in temperature, no the heat itself right ? Also could you wire two of these in parallel on the same can, to draw more amps and charge the phone faster ??

Lilybugcrafter (author)2015-12-30

Very impressive

Olek410 (author)2015-03-13

Do you know what would be a great idea is that if NASA used this concept. Because the heat from the rocket engines goes to waste but what if they could be used to charge the batteries used to power the craft. There is a downside to this; you would need a industrial version of this and it would initially be a bit heavy. Hey one question what is the rate of heat per second to watts per second produced. Because this could revolutionize renewable power as we know it.

MykeP1 (author)Olek4102015-12-16

Incredibly inefficient process and metals kinda have to be pure not super strong heat resistant alloys. It only works here since there's so so so much waste heat, but probably about 1-2% is actually turned into power here.

kedwa30 (author)Olek4102015-03-19

That is a great idea. Another great idea is if every person covered their auto exhaust system with these devices to generate electricity with them instead of using the alternator. That would allow the engine to not be slowed by the pull of the alternator, so the car will feel more peppy.

and that idea has the added perk of possibly doing away with these stupid glasspaks

Errol1951 (author)kedwa302015-03-22

one of the european car maker already do this

madvic (author)Olek4102015-03-17

in trans-atmospheric use perhaps, but the batteries are already charged, in the vacuum of the space forget it. peltier devices generate electricity from one differential in temperature not the temperature itself, and its extremely complicated to cool a thing in space without cooling media: The space void is the most insulating "thing" around the universe.

3DVinci1 (author)madvic2015-03-17

At least in 'near-solar' space, many man-made objects are designed to rotate... the temperature in our neighborhood seems to range from -250 degrees to 250 Fahrenheit... 500 degree differential.

Having something like this on the surface on all sides seems like it could help maintain a charge, at least while not in the sun/moon's shadow... just set a rotation to accommodate the best temperature change

awesome instructable. great to have while hiking/camping. and VERY light.

madvic (author)3DVinci12015-03-17

Sorry but near all man made space objects are not made to maintain a rotational position. Why? In almost every satellite you have 3 inertia discs in order to position the object helped solely from inertia conserved momentum (a smart and very old technology that could move a satellite only with electric motors, and 0 fuel). this mechanism is incompatible with rotational objects or satellites.

The rotational movement that we every see in space news and films is due to moving objects, and this rotation is used like a giro effect in order to gain linear movement precision and pinpoint the path accurately.

Anyway supposing that you have a rotational satellite, it will behave like a roasted chicken in an oven... he will attain a stable thermodynamic equilibrium (due that the satellite in a perfect vacuum insulation behaves as a isolated system). In order to use the seebeck effect you need to have a thermal flow, aka a thermal sink, and in the space I repeat this is a terrible issue (check the ISS thermal sink, and you will be flabbergasted of the tech required and bulkiness, and yes the ISS doesn't rotate)

Or you could use a tiny solar panel, (NASA and ESA boys use it for a reason)

3DVinci1 (author)madvic2015-03-18

thanks Madvic for the info! l love this place and always learn.

So, please bear with me here... for a thermal sink to perform it's job it requires a medium for the heat to be passed into? and the vacuum is essentially nonthing tangible for the heat to be passed to?

I never thought of the thermal properties of vacuum, just thought heat 'radiated away'...

a quote from an googled explanation of temperatures in space (just past the upper atmosphere) put it simply:

*This means there is almost no matter to transfer energy*

it sounds like what you are explaining... =D

madvic (author)3DVinci12015-03-18

Yes In fact it is..!!

You need a media "taking the heat" from the sink, if not the sink only performs like a condenser performs in electricity; it will take longer to reach the thermic equilibrium due to the mass addition of the sink, but when he reach this equilibrium no more cooling/heating.

The heat is transferred by Convection; Conduction and Radiation. The 2 first need mass or matter to transfer heat. In vacuum you are right, you could only play with radiation.

You have used the vacuum as an almost prefect insulator, several times in your life I bet: Every time that you have used a thermo for the coffee, soup or whatever you have used it, google "Dewar flask"

All people think that going to space is like going to grandma freezer but worse, but in fact the huge problem is the overheating that you have in near space, sunshine does no good up there.

And thank you to you to ask! its a pleasure!!!

anv (author)Olek4102015-03-17

Be sure of the NASA people knows this effect very well. It is uses in many space ships and robots. BUT, remember that the rocket engines wastes it's fuel after a few minutes of work. And in this minutes, the energy is not a problem. The energy is a problem after months in the space, specially when the ship goes far from the sun and the solar panels can't generate enough energy.

freak0vnature (author)anv2015-03-18

They do recycle the heat off the rocket engines, they use a different system because of the extreme heat.

rwcrocker (author)Olek4102015-03-17

NASA uses thermoelectric generators in deep space where the sun is too faint for solar panels. The heat they use is from radioactive decay of Pu238. On the cold side, the heat radiates away as infrared light into the cold dark void of space (3K). The Viking, Pioneer, and Voyager probes used them, as well as many others.

mad_b (author)Olek4102015-03-17

Don't forget the added weight that a lot of peltier devices would add to a rocket...

Olek410 (author)Olek4102015-03-13

Just saying if you will want to present this idea or use this idea you will need to give me credit for the idea.

MykeP1 (author)2015-12-16

Essentially this is mixing a car phone charger with the thermoelectric effect.
It does work yes, but to the people saying use it on's actually very inefficient compared to using an alternator. It might do okay as a post-stage in a catalytic converter.....You can also cool objects to crazy temperatures using this too (before electrical resistance gets too high and must be taken into account). It's a cute idea but certainly not a radical invention. A turbocharger is a much more "efficiency" option to get more out of your car.Look up the flame that is something else.

Yash Vats (author)2015-05-23

i can't beleve it worked. My phone charged 100%.

dzikriyana (author)2015-04-16

what you use for convert 1.5DC to 5DC ?
why on cool side peltier, you don't use almunium ? if the cold side is not balanced by the heat, peltier would be easily broken?

ajmal hassan (author)2015-04-15

What is the voltage and current generated in your case

Cambenora (author)2015-03-21

Cool instructable!

I think these Peltier cells are the way forward in generating electricity.

I think your device would work more efficiently if you put a heatsink on top of the Peltier cell to help dissipate the heat.

ukhan14 (author)2015-03-21

I didn't saw any replies so far!
but anyway my question is about how this setup cools the other side of peltier??? coz peltier only works with temperature difference on its both sides.
p.s. the peltier you mentioned above and the peltier you showed bellow in pics looks different.
I think you used a powerful, high temperature and expensive one instead of that 'tec1-12705' you mentioned above.

FM-5 (author)2015-03-17


This is possible!!!!

oh my god

How about using a solar panel instead of the thermoelectric Cooler?

Would that work?

kedwa30 (author)FM-52015-03-19

Well I think solar panels are more specific to converting the visible light spectrum while peltiers work better with the heat spectrum. You probably could combine the two to convert both the light and the heat from the candle to electricity.

FM-5 (author)kedwa302015-03-19

Cool thanks

I really appreciate your positive comment


gadsden (author)2015-03-19

Very impressive and cool!
How long does it take to charge an iPhone?

Johenix (author)2015-03-14

Epoxy a third cat food can on top of the Peltier Siebek Device to be filled with water to cool the junction and make the device more efficient.

JohnC20 (author)Johenix2015-03-14

A standard CPU heatsink will do the trick too.

GeorgeS4 (author)JohnC202015-03-17

off of an old PC ? might work

kedwa30 (author)GeorgeS42015-03-19

A cpu heatsink is an ideal size because the peltier is designed to be used as a cpu cooler. But any metal should conduct the heat better than air, and so even just an empty tuna can would be an improvement if the epoxy used to attach it doesn't act as an insulator. I would probably make a way to clamp the peltier device between two cans rather than epoxy the cans to the peltier device. Of course you could go all out and use a $5 tube of thermal compound on it, or just try some toothpaste. I hear it works well until it dries out.

mostrokol (author)Johenix2015-03-17

Or some ice cubes even. :)'

Where can I get free energy icecubes? Drive them down from the arctic? The net energy would still be negative.

Nowhere does it say 'free energy', but if it happens to be winter you can get some snow from outside or if you are out camping and you happen to need to charge your cell phone and all you have is a candle or maybe some coals from a campfire then maybe you have some ice in the cooler. I think it's a good idea to make another level for a cooling medium to improve the production of electricity. I'm not gonna say it improves efficiency though, because I don't know about that.

But I think you bring up an interesting topic. We could build a pipeline from the north to bring down supercooled liquid to use in the production of electricity on a massive scale. Steam generated from solar concentrators could go through turbines then piped north in such a way that condensing water would flow down. It would look like a sawtooth with solar concentrators heating the condensed water that flows down to it from the station to the south, sending the steam up through a turbine then north through a descending pipeline such that condensing water will flow north. The result of many of these pipelines will be a lot of electricity generated from solar, plus an over-all migration of heat to the north. With enough of these pipelines, we could alter the climate in such a way that it would be more temperate. Of course it would never be 'free'. Building and maintaining the infrastructure takes a lot of effort. Certain types of people would sabotage this effort because they want to be able to sell their energy product, and they don't like competition.

come up to Canada they are just laying around everywhere most the year.

Johenix (author)Johenix2015-03-18

The boiling water will limit the heat sink temperature to 100*C/212*F, much lower than an air cooled or fan cooled heat sink.

Shanethefilmmaker. (author)2015-03-18

Do you think with the right amount of materials, you could make say a 20 pound candle generator?

manuka (author)2015-03-17

Check the outstanding coverage of historical thermoelectric approaches =>

Some date from 130 years back when mains electricity & off the shelf batteries didn't exist! Although VERY inefficent,the waste heat could perhaps be used for cooking & winter warmth.

Although the modern Lufo lamp may look tempting, it's prone to damage, burns & fire in just the sort of hurricane conditions it's intended for. Fuel supplies will be an issue too.

Modern cheap, efficient & safe solar cells are generally now a far better option - if you have sunshine!

Jamjma (author)2015-03-17

The epoxy is insulating - you could sandwich the TEC chip between a bolted on metal plate and the top of can with some thermal interface gunk in between. This is usually used for computer heat sinks. Or, sandwich the chip between the can and another can bolted on top, with thermal paste on both sides for extra efficiency.

TechPaul (author)2015-03-17

NASA does use these, slightly better. They use radioactive material as the heat source as it decays heat is generated. It would be easier to use "square" cans spam or tinned meat, the only problem is what to do with the contents.

The slab sided cans would allow a heatsink to be attached and be in cooler air.

TEG thermo electric generator, nearly always use switching regulators as they make the most efficient use of the limited power generated rather than simply turning it back into heat as the linear regs do.

eugen.wilhelm.102 (author)2015-03-17

WOW! Great Idea!

Have you measured the power? How much mA you get out of it?

Vettel (author)eugen.wilhelm.1022015-03-17

power output please????

alcurb (author)2015-03-17

Very nice idea.

I have a few questions and comments:

What temperature does peltier needs to reach before it starts charging the phone? I'm thinking that something like this could be used for other waste heat sources, but if it has to get as hot as candlelight a few mm away, it might not be that practical. Every candle you use is like using a cheap non-rechargeable battery. It's not renewable.

Can you sandwich another peltier on top of it and get more current or voltage depending on whether it's wired in parallel or series respectively? I wonder if doing that would increase efficiency so that you can work with lower temperatures than candlelight.

I suggest that to increase the efficiency of the existing design install another can (opening side up) on top of the peltier to act as a heatsink. You can cut that top added can vertically in strips every few degrees then bend the strips to create vanes for heatsinking. The peltier is like a heat pump, you can help the pump by cooling the other side.

Also, another user's comment about replacing the circuit with a cheap DC to DC buck converter is a great idea. They are very inexpensive and they are pretty small. I've used them before. I found it very useful. But I can understand if you want to DIY the whole thing, circuit and all because you get a better sense of satisfaction knowing that what you created works.

Very nice. Thank you for posting your project.

alcurb (author)alcurb2015-03-17

Sparkfun has a 15USD boost converter (#PRT-10255) that will accept as low as 0.3VDC and boost it to 5VDC at 600mA max. It's designed to charge Lipos but I don't see any reason why it couldn't be used for charging phones.

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