July 07, 2014

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PowerPot Emerging Markets Testing - Madagascar

power across borders helping those without the simply amenities of lifeEarlier this month we sent a few PowerPots to Madagascar and we recently heard that someone who received a pot has set up a business using the PowerPot to charge cell phones for people in his village (In rural Africa and Asia cell phones are used not just for making calls – but also for banking and making money transfers to family members). Many families in rural Madagascar live on less than $1 per day, and pay about $.25 every time they need to charge a cell phone.  

Our new friend in Madagascar works as a local church leader and has been feeding a family of 5 on about 75 cents per day. By charging his neighbor's phones with the PowerPot, he has been able to nearly double his family's income as well as eliminate the cost required to charge his own phone.  He also uses a Lithium 4400 Battery to light his home at night, which extends his day by about 3 hours and eliminates the need to use a kerosene lamp – which are known to be dangerous and harmful. 

Lighting homes in rural communities has also been shown to increase the grades of children, as they are able to read and study after the sun goes down (Sundown is typically about 6 p.m. near the equator). The potential to earn money could also help African families afford to send their children to High School, which costs approximately $650 per year. We are excited about the success of our new friend in Madagascar, and we are happy to see our products making an impact in people’s lives.

When we made a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank the potential for our products in emerging markets was a big part of what helped us close the deal.  Since Shark Tank aired in April, we've been able to set up tests in India, Madagascar, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and The Navajo Nation in Southern Utah.  With your help we hope to do more testing, and to figure out the best way to bring power to the most under-electrified corners of the globe. 

March 19, 2014

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PowerPot, The Subject of University of Houston Student Project

The PowerPot was recently the subject of a project by students at the University of Houston for the Sales for Social Impact course taught by Professor Susana Rosas. As a result of their work we have a plan to expand our distribution in developing countries – where access to electricity and affordable lighting is limited. The work of the students was exceptional; they have connected us with some great organizations, and have even met with some of those organizations on our behalf.

Since the early days of the PowerPot we have thought the ability to produce electricity from a cooking pot would be valuable to those without reliable access to an electrical grid – especially those living in rural, underdeveloped counties. Currently, the majority of organizations attempting to address this need are using solar panels, which don’t generate power at night or on cloudy days. We believe the PowerPot could be a valuable source of electricity for those who live in areas where direct sunlight is unreliable (due to frequent clouds, tree cover, or a monsoon season).   

Following up on recommendations made by the University of Houston students is still a work in progress – but we wanted to give a quick shout-out to thank Professor Rosas and her students who did such great work on our behalf.

March 10, 2014

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Free Smartphone Apps for Outdoor Safety

Using a smartphone in the great outdoors might seem backwards to some, but at Power Practical we believe in using technology to enhance your outdoor experience rather than distract you from it. With that in mind, we asked around the office and came up with three free iPhone and Android apps that will help keep you safe on your next outdoor adventure.

 

Knot Guide – iOS and Android, Free

Free Smartphone Outdoor Safety App Iphone Android Knots Guide

Whether you’re pitching a tent or scaling a rock face – you’ll probably need to tie a few knots while camping or hiking.  If you’re like me you might need a reminder about which knot to use in which situation.  The Knot Guide app is a great way to make sure that knot you just tied isn’t going to slip when you’re hanging off the side of a mountain.

 

First Aid by American Red Cross – iOS and Android, Free

Free Outdoor Safety Smartphone App Iphone Red Cross First Aid

On the off chance that someone gets hurt while you’re off the grid it’s helpful to have a resource to treat minor injuries to get you back on the trail.  The First Aid app by the American Red Cross gives step-by-step instructions to treat burns and cuts, and can also help you diagnose more serious problems like heat stroke or a concussion.

 

SAS Survival Guide (Lite) – iOS and Android, Free

Outdoor Safety App Android Iphone SAS Survival Guide Lite

Written by a former member of the SAS (Special Air Service) this app can help you get out of nearly any sticky situation.   Even if you aren’t in a survival situation, the SAS Survival Guide - Lite app can help you find your inner caveman with step-by-step instructions on how to start a campfire without matches.  

 

One more tip: Switching your phone to Airplane mode will help you conserve your battery when you’re off the grid.

January 15, 2014

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PowerPot 10 Funds on Kickstarter

We've done it again. Our third Kickstarter campaign sought to fund the development and production of our new high-powered PowerPot, the PowerPot 10. Back in April 2012, we funded the smaller version of the PowerPot by more than doubling our $50,000 funding goal. This time around, we only needed $30,000 to comfortably spin up this new product. This is because we already have company infrastructure--a fully-equipped shop, most of the necessary tools, trained PowerPot builders, and an executive team to run our company. To expand our product lineup, we just needed to fund the inventory purchases, and buy a couple of new, super-awesome tools! Like seriously, super awesome, see the pics below.

Bigger Is Better

This version of the PowerPot X is bigger, faster, smarter and stronger. It runs a 40-yard dash faster than Usain Bolt, files your taxes AND cooks your noodles. OK, admittedly that's exaggerating... it actually just cooks your food, charges tablets at max speed and powers two devices at once. Our campaign was met with positive reactions across the board. We hit our $30k funding goal in two days, and would go on to more than double our initial goal.

Interested in the PowerPot 10? 

You can still pre-order a unit at our regular retail price. Your pre-order will be bundled in with Kickstarter fulfillment, meaning your PowerPot 10 will ship in May 2015. Get the latest in thermoelectric technology and show off your swag to impress the in-laws, your spouse or the neighbor kids. 

October 24, 2013

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PowerPot 5 receives Editor's Choice Award from Backpacker Magazine

Today we are pleased to announce we have received the 2013 Editor's Choice Snow Award from Backpacker Magazine. The award was announced in the November 2013 issue of Backpacker Magazine, which hit stands last week. Pick one up to check out what they have to say about the PowerPot!

The review was expectedly positive. "When you've got a flat-top wood-burning stove and you're heating up a hut or yurt... you've got a never-ending supply of juice at your fingertips," said one reviewer of the PowerPot V. The magazine also pointed out how cold weather affects batteries and requires constant heat for melting snow-water. The PowerPot "leverages on problem to solve another" by generating electricity while melting snow-water.

Backpacker pointed out that while the PowerPot is ideal in snowy weather, it can work in any condition.

To see the official announcement, check out the press release.

September 19, 2013

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iOS 7 & 3rd-party cables solved with the Practical Meter

By now some of you may have heard of the charging woes users are having with iOS 7 and non-Apple certified cables (which are everywhere). The problems stem from a chip built into the Lightning adapter that gives the iPhone/iPad in question a serial number. Apple can control whether or not that serial number is approved and supported by its devices on the software level. That's exactly what they did in the latest major update of iOS.

Today we took to the office to play with our Practical Meters and the new iOS 7. What we found supports what users are posting online, except for one specific use case. We found that a particular knock-off cable would charge Wafiq's iPhone 5 EVEN WHEN the phone indicated it was on battery power! This absurdity is documented in our photos below. 

While Wafiq's phone was "not charging" it was actually drawing 2.5-watts of power! There's no way the phone could actively consume 2.5-watts continuously, so it had to have been charging. And, sure enough, upon disconnecting his phone's battery had raised from 55% to 62%, even though it showed battery power throughout the 10-minute trial. How bizarre is that?!

Besides this anomaly, all the other reports are true. Some 3rd-party cables bring up the error message and DON'T charge at all. Other cables render the message upon connecting but do manage to charge, and even the phone indicates it's getting a charge. According to our Practical Meter, these cables are doing 2.5-watts and charging quite slowly.

So, in conclusion, if you update to iOS 7 and get the now-famous error message about cable compatibility, don't buy a new cable, buy a Practical Meter!

September 18, 2013

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September is National Preparedness Month

With historic flooding in Colorado and New Mexico, electrical fire in New Jersey and power outages across the country, it’s as though National Preparedness Month couldn’t have happened at a more topical time.

These troubling events remind us that staying prepared is not just for those expecting the end of the world. Instead, it is for anyone who wants to be ready for the unexpected emergencies that are sure to happen at least once in a lifetime. This year holds the 10th annual National Preparedness Month, an event aimed at encouraging people to get involved in community preparedness efforts and be prepared at home.

Importance of Power

Being prepared at home can take many forms, making it difficult for some people to decide what’s important. One thing that is important not to overlook is backup power. The first thing to go in any emergency is electricity. Though some people view it as a luxury, electricity is essential in an emergency. Virtually all disasters are localized, meaning help is bound to come from the outside. Having access to electricity enables people to power cellular or satellite phones. This lets them check on loved ones or call for help.

Steven Harris, a prominent Emergency Preparedness blogger and author, blogged about the importance of cellphones in an emergency:

“During a disaster your most important tool is your smart phone.  With it you can call for help to 911, friends, neighbors and family.  You can let others know you are OK.  You can read and watch the news live, find out what is happening and where you might need to go or how long you need to stay in place.  Your smart phone is also your GPS and a handy flashlight. But all of this is useless unless the battery is charged.”

Stay Prepared with the PowerPot

How then does one keep a phone charged during an extended power outage? Extra batteries are fine, but what if the outage lasts for days or even weeks? Harris has some advice on that front as well. He recommends none other than the PowerPot. “The sole function of the Power Pot by Practical Power is to keep your cell phone battery charged,” said Harris. “One gallon of fuel in a coleman stove will keep an iPhone charged over 140 times.  The power pot even works over a small camp fire.”  

One advantage the PowerPot has over solar and gas generators is that it works on any fuel source, and in any weather conditions. This lets users charge their cellphone in any situation where they can create heat. “There is no more flexible way of keeping your lifeline charged and ready for the next emergency that will happen to you, ” said Harris.

Also be sure to check out Steve Harris’ collection of books online at www.knowledgepublications.com.