FireBee Power Tower Expectations, Use, Specifications and Installation Instructions
What to Expect from the FireBee Power Tower
The Power Tower can charge phones, run USB-powered devices, and charge 12V batteries. You can power it with heat from small stoves, propane burners, stove chimneys or steam pipes. NOT FOR CAMP FIRES: The Power Tower is not designed for use with open fires or firepits. It needs intense heat directly into the radiator, as detailed below.
The Power Tower will produce up to 1.6 Amps of 5 Volt power (= 8 Watts) from its USB 3.0 port, and 125 mA of 12 Volt power from the wire terminal, suitable for slow-charging car batteries. The amperage or current depends on the heat source. To measure power output we recommend the MeterBee USB Power Meter.
Water is used in the Heat Sink of the Power Tower. The water will warm up as power is produced. With an alcohol or propane burner, it will start boiling in about 45 minutes. The water tap on the side of the Power Tower lets you drain the hot water for use.
The Power Tower needs the cooling water. Without it the chips will overheat and fail. The water in the reservoir must not fall below the level of the water tap. Eventually the water will evaporate, more quickly if it is used at full power generation. Therefore the Power Tower should not be used for hours without monitoring the water level. This means the Power Tower should not be used in stove or furnace chimneys that are constantly in use, unless the cooling water can be checked and refilled regularly.
Heat Sources: Stand-Alone
A can of Sterno fuel gel will produce about 400-500 mA of current. This is enough to charge an Android phone or a battery powerbank. It is NOT enough to charge an iPhone directly. iPhones need a full 1 Amp of current to charge. A more powerful heat source is needed to create 1 Amp current.
A small alcohol stove such as the Trangia Spirit Burner works very well and produces the maximum power.
A small camp stove may fit under the radiator. There is 3 inches / 7.5 cm of clearance between the bottom of the radiator and the base plate. Many small camp stove burners will fit there. Taller camp stoves can fit if the base plate is cut back (a hacksaw can readily cut the aluminum plate).
A propane burner is an excellent heat source. We have a burner designed for use with Power Tower that operates with a 1 lb propane canister. Read this Brochure for more information.
WARNING: Do not use other fuels such as white gas, kerosene, unleaded gas, etc. that can potentially cause an explosion and serious injury.
Heat Sources: Chimney and Pipe
CAUTION: The Power Tower is not suitable for unmonitored use over several hours. The Power Tower’s water reservoir must not be allowed to evaporate and run dry. This will overheat and destroy the power modules. The water will evaporate at a rate depending on usage. At typical high power output, the water will need to be topped up every 2-3 hours. If this cannot be done then the Power Tower should NOT be installed in a chimney or steam pipe that is hot for a longer time.
CAUTION: The Power Tower radiator will protrude into the chimney to absorb heat and make electricity. This will reduce the air flow up the chimney. A 6-inch or larger pipe will have no problem. A 4-inch chimney will have significantly reduced flow. This may or may not be a concern depending on the heat source and use.
To install the Power Tower in a chimney pipe, first the Power Tower base plate is cut back with a metal saw so the Tower body fits up against the chimney and the radiator can stick into the chimney. Then a hole is made in the side of the chimney that fits tightly around the radiator base. Insert the Power Tower into the hole, and secure the unit to pipe with a 12″ metal duct clamp (click here to order) that wraps around the chimney and Power Tower. Aluminum tape for ducting, or flame-proof sealant, can be used around the edges of the hole to prevent air and smoke leaks. Because the air pressure in the chimney is negative, and air is being sucked in, smoke leaks should not be a problem with the Power Tower.
Fill the reservoir with water and the unit is ready to use. MONITOR THE WATER LEVEL periodically to ensure it does not fall below the level of the water tap. To make more power, refill with colder water.