When the power goes out, having the ability to contact others becomes extremely important, and your cell phone can be one of the most important tools to have. But if the power is out for an extended period of time, battery life becomes a constant problem.
Without the ability to plug your phone into a port or computer, it can be pretty hard to find a reliable source of energy to charge with. There are plenty of solar-powered charging builds, but if you are trapped in a low light or rainy area, that wouldn't be of much help.
Even after Hurricane Sandy subsided, there were still millions of people without power up and down the east coast for days, if not weeks. And while natural disasters like this do not occur very often, rolling blackouts and sporadic power outages happen all the time. It never hurts to be prepared for things like this.
Imagine if Rick from The Walking Dead had a working cell phone in that first episode. He could have called his wife and saved himself a lot of grief. So, here are a few ways to keep your phone charged in case of a prolonged power outage (or, you know, the zombie apocalypse).
There are a bunch of cell phone cases available that can charge your battery. These cases may be a little bulky, but they do provide an extended battery life. These cases do not restrict your mobility and do not need any wires or plugs to work.
Mophie and Power Skin are two popular case makers. Mophie claims their newest case for the Samsung Galaxy S III "will provide up to nine hours of additional talk time, up to 11 hours of additional Internet use, and up to 32 hours of audio playback."
Your power pack does not need to be indestructible, but the added protection and waterproofing that the Mophie Juicepack Powerstation PRO provides is definitely a plus. It'll cost you 100 bucks, but when fully charged, this power pack should keep a regular smartphone running for a few days.
Check out this page to see if your device is compatible with the Mophie Juicepack.
There are also tons of portable chargers that will cost you a third of the price. These portable chargers are less powerful than the power packs like the one above, but they are smaller and some are battery powered, which can be a huge advantage.
If you are in an outage area, having batteries available could keep your portable charger running for an extremely long time versus those chargers that need electricity. Of course, the obvious downside is that if you don't have any batteries on hand, these chargers are not going to be of much use.
In case of an emergency, your car is always a great place to find some quick electricity. If you are trapped with no power in the house, your car is probably one of the only places that will be completely unaffected, unless you have a fully electric car, which means you're kinda screwed.
But if you have a car charger for your cellular phone, or a pre-installed dock, you can charge your phone for as long as your car's battery (and gas tank) can handle.
It is advised to keep your car running while you charge your phone, since the motor helps keep the car's battery charged. If you are in a garage or enclosed area, make sure to open a door or window to keep yourself from breathing the fumes. No point in charging your battery if you're not going to be around to use it!
Your car battery can also be used to charge an AC powered device. You could try a converter like this one by Thor ($77), which you can place directly onto the car battery.
Or this one by Digital Concepts ($69.99), which you can plug directly into your cigarette lighter, allowing you to stay within the comfort of your car.
Both of these devices are great backup plans for when the lights go out.
If you have a laptop or tablet, these devices can provide a much needed battery boost as long as they are running. While they could be useful on their own, the ability to contact and be contacted on your cell phone outweighs the benefits of either of these portable devices.
And the best part is that all you need is the USB cable for your cellular device. If the power's out, you won't be getting online anyway, so think of this as a good opportunity to break your Facebook habit.
There is no trustier personal transportation device than the bicycle. While this method of charging would be difficult in a flooded or snowed in area, a bike can be moved indoors for the singular purpose of charging your cellular device.
Bike2Power has a USB Charging Kit for $79.95. The kit comes with everything you need to turn your pedal power into electricity.
This may be a reach, but if there are any emergency lights short enough for you to reach, this lamp socket adapter could help you out. All you need to do is remove the bulb, screw in the adapter, and you can charge two AC powered devices.
Do you have any other DIY power solutions? Let us know in the comments section.