Introduction: Candle-Powered Electric Candle

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

After seeing news reports about Hurricane Sandy and hearing the ordeal that all of my family and friends in New York and New Jersey went through, it got me thinking about my own emergency preparedness. San Francisco - after all - sits atop some very active fault lines. As local geology fans always like to point out - statistically speaking - we are long overdue for a large quake.

This forecast is bad news for me, because I don't think that I am very prepared. I might have a few gallons of bottled water in the back closet, but I was ordered not to look in there until after Christmas... so... I am really not sure. Hopefully we will not have an earthquake before then. Anyhow, in the meantime, I have no real emergency supplies to speak of.

I have been thinking a lot lately about being more prepared, and what supplies we should have on hand for when the 'big one' hits. After prioritizing the three most obvious things to have in a severe emergency - water, food, and a fair-sized crowbar - it came down to figuring out what else one needs to survive. It did not take me very long to conclude this item was electric lighting. I use that all the time. How can I live without that?

After assessing the problem, it became apparent to me that after a few days of constant lighting, all of my batteries will be dead. This means that either I need rechargeable batteries, or a way to generate electricity without them. Not needing batteries to begin with seemed most sensible to me. I explored different options and finally figured out a low-cost, long-term, and portable, method to keep my electric candles lit.  I am going to use heat generated by tea lights. The nice thing about this solution is that they are dirt cheap, small, and will last forever. You can buy about 1,000,000 tea lights at Ikea for $1.99. With a fair-sized stock of small candles, I can keep my electric candle lit indefinitely. Thanks to my candle-powered electric candle, I know that I will never be left in the dark.

Do not leave this contraption unattended. Always have a fire extinguisher on-hand. This is probably less than ideal for normal day-to-day use.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x1) electric candle
(x1) Peltier heat sink assembly
(x4) 12" x 3/16" aluminum rod
(x4) 3/16" shaft collars
(x1) candle

(Note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects. If you would like any suggestions for alternative suppliers, please let me know.)

Step 2: Drill

Drill 3/16" holes in the corners of the larger "cool" heat sink. This is the heat sink that gets cold when electricity is applies to the module.

Make certain that the 3/16" rod will be able to be inserted through the hole, between the grooves, and out the other end.

Step 3: Attach Shaft Collars

Slide the shaft collars about 3" to 4" up the aluminum rod and fasten them into place.

Step 4: Assemble

Slide the aluminum rods through each of the corner holes, such that the heat sink is resting on the shaft collars, and the cool heat sink is facing up.

Adjust the height of the shaft collars until the bottom "hot" heat sink is elevated high enough off the table to allow you to place a candle comfortably underneath with about an inch of clearance (for the flame).

Trim away the excess aluminum rod material, such that all four are flush with the top of the "cool" heat sink.

Step 5: Wire It Up

Connect the red wire from the peltier junction to the positive terminal on the candle. This is the terminal the little nipple on the battery normally touches.

Connect the black wire, the ground terminals where the flat side of the battery normally connects.

Step 6: Insulate

Apply electrical tape (or insulator of choice) over each connection. This will keep the circuit from shorting out on the heat sink.

Step 7: Cover the Sensor

Take a small piece of tissue and jam it into the candle's light sensor hole. This will make the candle believe it is always night time, and not wait until it is dark to turn on.

Step 8: Fire!

Light your candle and place it below the "hot" heat sink. In a few minutes, the electric candle should light.

Adding an extra candle should speed up the amount of time it takes to glow.

If you blow out the candles, the electric candle will stay light until the heat sink cools off.

Do not leave this contraption unattended. Always have a fire extinguisher on-hand. This is probably less than ideal for normal day-to-day use.

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