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#205138 - 01/06/21 12:40 PM Bio Lite (campstove) troubles, experiences
Jenny Offline

Registered: 01/19/20
Posts: 13
Loc: Earth
Currently on our 2nd BioLite campstove in 3 years.

Nomadic cyclists, so it gets used 1-3x per day almost 365 days/year. So our experience/use of the stove may be outside its purpose (like maybe it's for "weekend warrior" car campers and not nomads).

Problem is: power/fan speed button is only sporadically responsive. Seems to be related to colder weather but misbehaves in warm weather too. Cold weather explanation makes some sense as all electronics are goofy in the cold.

Started in spring 2019, reached out to BioLite to get the usual customer service runaround. The agent you get hooked up with has limited power, it's just a job for them, so when I said I was hoping to get in touch with one of the engineers to discuss the stove's odd behavior (turning on for 7 seconds and off for 2 continuously until the battery was drained), I was met with, "we'd be happy to troubleshoot with you" and took me down the info readily available in their FAQ. They offered to replace the stove, which I knew (from experience) would happen. We received this particular stove as a complimentary replacement for our original campstove (even though we were not eligible, having purchased it thru an unqualified 3rd party (forget what they call that specifically)). The original campstove was suffering the same issue with the motor not responding to the pushes of the power/fan speed button. So since our current stove was their replacement freebie, they gave me a coupon code for 30% off that will never expire. So that's something.

My questions: anyone with a Bio Lite experienced and solved this issue? Also: any tips in general on getting through to someone at the company who might be able to offer constructive assistance? I know a guy who claims to have written directly to presidents of companies when he had a problem, never going through customer service because of their limited capacities (not a crack at cust serv agents, just a statement that they are paid to only do certain things, which are in some cases not at all helpful).

Side note/rhetorical question: Bio Lite donates a stove (a bigger one for a house) to a family in Africa or Asia for every purchase made--are they giving these impoverished people with no water or elec these crummy stoves that last only 18 months? Hopefully they are using better parts/tech in the stoves they donate. Boyfriend suggests that may be the case: give the rich consumers the poopier parts because they can afford to replace them when they break (and let's face it, they probably won't use them enough to the point where they break down) you cut costs by putting less-good parts in the stoves for rich people so you can afford to give the poor people something that will last?

On a bit of a rant now, I guess, sorry.

Anyone else overcome this obstacle yet?

#205149 - 01/07/21 04:45 PM Re: Bio Lite (campstove) troubles, experiences [Re: Jenny]
BZH Offline

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1094
Loc: Madison, AL
I don't own a biolite stove, but I do work in thermally testing hardware for space applications. Electronics are often done in by two environments: 1) vibrations (shaking... bouncing around in your pack) and 2) Thermal cycle. Every time the electronic part goes from hot to cold or vice versa you induce stress in the parts. Over time small defects become bigger and bigger until the electronics fail. Every time you fire that stove up you are inducing significant thermal stresses. Over time it is going to fail. It could be something as simple as a loose solder joint or it could be something deep within an integrated circuit.

I think you have discovered the lifespan of that particular stove and yes it is designed for weekend warriors. I don't buy into the conspiracy theory of giving crap to the rich people. A) Rich people will only keep buying your product if it lives up to there specifications. B) Such a process would be cost prohibitive to implement. A larger stove will spread the heat out more inducing less thermal stress. So it is quite possible a larger stove will have a longer lifespan.

#205157 - 01/08/21 10:03 AM Re: Bio Lite (campstove) troubles, experiences [Re: BZH]
Jenny Offline

Registered: 01/19/20
Posts: 13
Loc: Earth
Thanks for the feedback. We probably have reached its lifespan, and if it is due to thermal cycle, then I think perhaps, better performing parts could have been chosen for the application, especially considering that processors in computers, for example, alternate between very hot and room-temp repeatedly and last well beyond 12-16 months. They obviously want a large profit, so they're going to pick the parts that give them exactly what they want, even if it means replacing a few thousand units outside warranty-terms (like in our case). Picking a cheaper (and probably less reliable) part will help them balance the cost of the replacements they know they will have to make from having picked that cheaper part. Just spitballing.

I don't think that business practices are necessarily conspiracies. More that companies will look at the bottom line and make decisions based on what will benefit that line the most, including, say, offering a free product to an impoverished family with every purchase because that's going to sell more units.

This isn't a criticism of this company specifically, just saying that often times, I believe a company (or even a wealthy individual) really doesn't care about the philanthropy, rather they practice it because it's good marketing and it boosts their image in the eye of the public which leads to more sales and a fatter bottom line. They may have gotten into it (their business and philanthropy philosophies) for the passion, but they have to stay in it for the money if they want to maintain their personal status quo...that's just where we mostly are on this planet right now.


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