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Chris Martin
(hope_for_gorilla) - F

Locale: Finger Lakes
mini Bic on 04/09/2012 20:48:37 MDT Print View

Just to clarify, the electric Bic does not use a battery. The piezo ignitor strikes a quartz crystal when you push the button, which creates an electric current. The ignitor will eventually wear out, but you'll probably deplete the fuel long beforehand. I've never had a Bic piezo ignitor fail, and I've used up a number of lighters.

That said, it is not necessarily true that the piezo Bic holds more fuel than the flint model. The added bulk and weight may be entirely due to the piezo ignitor.

We could test to see: buy one of each model and weigh both. Tape the button down to jettison the fuel. (Blow the flame out so it doesn't melt, and do this outside!) Then, subtract the empty weight from the full weight to determine fuel capacity.

This might be splitting grams, but consider that the flint is slowly consumed with the traditional model, further reducing its weight.

For low-altitude trips, I'm ambivalent about which to take. For the PCT thru that I'm planning, I'll avoid piezo ignition due to its unreliability above several thousand feet. In my experience, a wet flint Bic will work again once it's dry.

Edited by hope_for_gorilla on 04/09/2012 20:50:07 MDT.

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: Electric Bic on 04/09/2012 21:46:37 MDT Print View

I would rather have a lighter that works in wet and cold and at mid elevations very reliably than a lighter that doesn't work well/or at all in wet and cold but works at high elevations. I don't tend to start fires or cook up a meal on the top of passes or above treeline that often, and if I do I use storm matches anyway. Bic has had the big piezo lighters for many years, these mini ones look promising for backpacking.

Edited by KalebC on 04/10/2012 08:34:11 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: RE: Electric Bic on 04/09/2012 22:07:04 MDT Print View

"I'll avoid piezo ignition due to its unreliability above several thousand feet."

Piezo ignitors on stoves seem to be problematical at elevation due to lower oxygen levels. (Brunton) A secondary issue is maintaining the proper spark gap, which on a stove is just hanging out there waiting for a bump.

Has there ever been a study, versus collected opinions, of electronic Lighter issues?

There are significant operational differences that could influence efficacy.

Just wondering....

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: RE: Electric Bic on 04/09/2012 22:15:40 MDT Print View

We could always go back to the venerable Zippo.

--B.G.--

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: piezo altitude on 04/09/2012 22:31:28 MDT Print View

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=315

Old school thread stating piezo worked from 1800-4000 meters. Let's do some more testing.... Time will tell

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: Re: RE: Electric Bic on 04/10/2012 08:04:33 MDT Print View

These piezo lighters are very common in Europe. I find them much easier to use than the old flint type (due to huge fingers/thumbs). I have used them at 2000m (6000') with no problems at all.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
something new from Bic on 04/10/2012 10:27:40 MDT Print View

That's cool! I didn't know of the piezo mini-bics, so there's something to look for after my current batch expire. The ease of firing is nice to see, having fumbled with cold fingers in the past.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Bic Mini Electric = Bic Clic? on 04/10/2012 14:19:49 MDT Print View

I just found these at my grocery store ($2.79 for the 2-pack):
"Thumb Friendly" Bic Clic

They're obviously labeled "Thumb Friendly" - but are they what you're calling "Electric?"

I haven't put one on my scale yet, but they look to be the same as in the OP's photo.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: Bic Mini vs. Bic Mini electric on 04/10/2012 15:12:40 MDT Print View

Suprised hiking Jim has not tested one yet.
Yeah, where is that guy when you need him? Sheesh.

Looks like a nice lighter, but piezo electric lighters do have problems with altitude. I've had them fail as low as 7500' in winter and work as high as 10,000' in summer. I consider a piezo ignition on a lighter pretty much hit or miss above 7000', and the higher you go, the more likely it won't work. Now, if you're hiking the AT, maybe that's no big deal, but if you're hiking the CDT, then it's something to consider.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Bic Mini vs. Bic Mini electric on 04/10/2012 15:31:52 MDT Print View

"I think it has to be piezo. Does it keep working at altitude? I can't remember at what altitude they begin having problems or if I read wrong"

I share this concern. I've had terrible luck with piezos from ~10,000' on up.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Bic Mini vs. Bic Mini electric on 04/10/2012 16:04:03 MDT Print View

Idea.

If the piezo ignitor won't work reliably in low air pressure, then we produce a teeny tiny Gamow bag for it, made out of cuben fiber, of course.

It might be more trouble than it's worth.

--B.G.--

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Bic Mini vs. Bic Mini electric on 04/10/2012 16:14:37 MDT Print View

I've had terrible luck with piezos from ~10,000' on up.
If you've been able to get your piezo lighters to work consistently up to 10K, then consider yourself lucky. I've had them fail (just) below 8000' in winter. I descended later in the day, and the lighter worked as though nothing had ever happened.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Re: Re: Re: Bic Mini vs. Bic Mini electric on 04/10/2012 18:48:46 MDT Print View

HJ. And this was an emergency too.

Good to 7000 feet? A Michigan friendly lighter.
still looking. Going to hit the head shops if all else fails.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
piezo and elevation on 04/10/2012 20:43:35 MDT Print View

What's the theory(ies) on piezo crystals at elevation? We still strike them, it still deforms and it still bursts electrons, right? Is it temp or altitude? Calibration of the air-gap? Odd.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: piezo and elevation on 04/10/2012 21:10:58 MDT Print View

Erik,

I believe it has to do with the density of the air. Something about the air being insufficient to transmit enough spark to cause ignition.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: piezo and elevation on 04/10/2012 21:47:39 MDT Print View

According to Brunton -

Q:Why won't my piezo ignition start my stove at higher altitudes?

A:As you get higher in elevation, the air becomes thinner and less oxygen is available in the air. When there isn't as much oxygen in the air to help ignite a flame, a wider electrical arc is necessary to get an ignition. We do not recommend bending the piezo igniter to achieve this. At a certain point it is reccomended to use a match to light your stove.

So the question is, do piezo lighters suffer the same operational issues?



Edit: added the piezo qualifier

Edited by greg23 on 04/10/2012 22:04:30 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: piezo and elevation on 04/10/2012 22:01:36 MDT Print View

I've camped as high as 19,500 feet, and an ordinary Bic lighter had no problem working there.

--B.G.--

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: piezo and elevation on 04/10/2012 22:16:59 MDT Print View

As you get higher in elevation, the air becomes thinner and less oxygen is available in the air. When there isn't as much oxygen in the air to help ignite a flame, a wider electrical arc is necessary to get an ignition. We do not recommend bending the piezo igniter to achieve this. At a certain point it is reccomended to use a match to light your stove.
Now, that's interesting. It suggests that there's a way to mod a piezo ignition to make it work at altitude. That would be handy for Sierra trips. Hmm.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

steven franchuk
(Surf) - M
Re: Re: piezo and elevation on 04/10/2012 23:21:00 MDT Print View

"What's the theory(ies) on piezo crystals at elevation? We still strike them, it still deforms and it still bursts electrons, right? Is it temp or altitude? Calibration of the air-gap? Odd."


I just put a piezo in the freezer and after it was ice cold it still could make a spark 1/4" long. However as it warmed up condensation started to develope. At that point most of the time it worked normally. However occationally it would spark not from the tip of the wire but it would from the base of the ceramic insulator on the wire to the metal frame.

When you go up in altitude you move to colder conditions and depending on the weather some condensation may develop on the piezo. Water is conductive. Water could cause the energy from the piezo to not reach the burner, where it is needed to light the fuel.

It wouldn't take much water to cause a failure. You might not even be able to see it. It could be in a hidden location or a thin film that you cannot see.

I don't see how air pressure alone can cause the problem. My oldest stove is the only one I have that had a piezo and it would work fine at 10,000ft. If air pressure was an issue the piezo would always fail at altitude. However based on what I have read it sometimes happens and sometimes does not. Intermittent operation is more consistent with condensation instead of air pressure.

Edited by Surf on 04/10/2012 23:29:13 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: piezo and elevation on 04/10/2012 23:46:48 MDT Print View

As you go to higher elevation, the air gets very dry, not moist. So, forget about the conductive problem.

That is why high altitude climbers routinely get a hoarse, high altitude cough. The air is incredibly dry.

--B.G.--