Keeping Your Devices Charged

Having alternative ways to charge our devices is important in case of a power outage. This ensures that we can still stay connected and have access to important information and communication during an emergency. It also provides peace of mind and a sense of security knowing that we have a backup plan in place.

Loss of Electricity
Device Charging Options
Device Charging Options

Laptop Computer

Your laptop has USB ports that can charge your cell phone. Of all USB port charging options, this method appears to provide the fastest charging time. Make sure you are prepared to take advantage of this type of phone charging by having the correct cable and adapter to match the USB port with your phone. An iPhone will need a compatible charger or an adapter. First, turn on the laptop but don’t unlock your screen. This will keep your laptop’s battery from draining faster than it needs to while you are charging your phone.

Also, improve the ventilation around your device to prevent overheating, which can cause the battery to discharge at a faster rate. Then, simply plug a USB cable into your phone and then into your laptop’s USB port. Once it is powered up, it will begin to charge your phone. It should take between 1 to 2 hours to charge a typical smartphone using this method.

While you can charge your phone using any USB port, the charging speed may vary depending on the power output of the USB port. Laptops seem to provide the fastest charging of all methods.

Car USB Charger

Newer cars

Most newer vehicles have USB ports from which to charge your phone. Make sure you are prepared to take advantage of this type of phone charging by having the correct cable and adapter to match the USB port with your phone. An iPhone will need a compatible charger or an adapter. If you would like to be able to charge two devices at the same time, purchase a dual USB adapter.

Older cars

If your car does not have a built-in USP port, you can buy either an inexpensive “car cigarette lighter to USB adapter” or a power inverter that plugs right into your car’s cigarette lighter found in the dashboard.

How to charge

Simply turn on your car and plug in your phone. Do not do this while in your garage or even with the garage door open. Drive the car around to avoid the buildup of carbon monoxide both in the garage and near your home.

Car Battery Charger w/ USB

Some car battery jump-starters are designed with USB outlets, so not only can they jump-start your car battery, but they cab also fully re-charge cellphones, tablets, and power banks as well. Some models come with two USB ports that are optimized for rapid recharging of devices. If you are going to shop for one, just make sure that the car charger is compatible with your phone and any other devices you will want to charge. If it's not, all you have to do is purchase an adapter.

Some jump starters include an internal battery with high reserve capacity. Purchasing one of these units as backup power for your car and devices is a smart idea. They vary in specs and pricing and are available online and at automotive stores.

Portable jump starters themselves can be charged with an extension cord, wall-plug adapter, cigarette lighter-style 12-volt male adapter, or a USB port from a running vehicle.

Wood-Fueled USB Charger

This option may surprise you. Besides cooking your dinner, it can also charge your phone, tablet, or other device because it generates electricity. A Biolite Camp Stove is known well in the prepper community. It is a portable wood-fired camp stove that runs off almost any flammable biomass like twigs, sticks, pinecones, etc. This stove has a USB port that derives its charging ability from the fire itself. It’s a bit pricey but may be worth the price for its ability to pull double duty.

It is marketed as the complete camp kitchen so if you throw in a USB port too, the low to mid $200’s price tag may be worth it. Of course, this must be used outside.

Device Charging Options
Battery Power

Portable Charger

A power bank and a portable charger are essentially the same thing. The terms are often used interchangeably. They are also referred to as battery packs, fuel banks, and backup charging devices. There are many to choose from on the market, but they all do the same thing. They are devices that store electrical energy in a battery that can then be used to charge other devices. They are lightweight USB-enabled portable chargers that you can carry anywhere and are used to power other devices when no electricity is available.

Charge more than one device

They are large enough to fully charge two phones, but small enough to store in a small space like a backpack.

A fully juiced backup battery can easily hold a full charge for months, making them a great alternative for any grab-and-go bag. Remember to occasionally recharge them. An average power bank takes between 3 to 8 hours to recharge. They vary in specs and pricing. They are available online and at all electronic stores.

Uninterruptible Power Supply

A UPS is a power strip/surge protector/battery backup, all in one device.

When the electricity goes out, the battery kicks in and provides temporary backup power to whatever is plugged into it. This could be a computer, other critical devices, or even appliances like a fridge and freezer. You can find models with multiple outlets that allow for multiple devices to be plugged in at one time. Each unit also has one to two USP ports for device charging. When you are done using it, simply recharge it for later use.

It is important to choose a UPS with a high enough capacity to provide backup power for whatever you are trying to run with the backup battery. Only use devices and appliances that do not exceed the watt rating of the UPS itself. Check the watt rating of all devices or appliances before you plug them in.

How long can it run?

Simply put, the amount of time that a UPS can provide backup power depends on the capacity of the battery and the power consumption of the devices connected to it. While a UPS can provide temporary backup power to keep your computer or appliance running during a power outage, it is not designed to provide continuous power for an extended period.

These come in different sizes and strengths. For home and office use, units with a capacity of 1500V are available at a cost between $150 to $300.

Device Charging Options
Solar Power

Solar Power

Solar chargers provide great reliability because all that’s required is access to the sun. Even a bit of an overcast day should produce enough energy to charge your devices. Not all solar chargers are created equal so beware. Smaller capacity units don't seem to work that well.

There are two main types of solar chargers for phones and tablets: the solar panel charger and the solar battery charger.

Solar Panel Charger

Portable solar panel chargers come with ports so you can plug your electronic devices directly in to the charger. The energy produced by the panel goes straight to your devices’s battery. While a solar panel charger can directly charge your phone when exposed to sunlight, it does not have the ability to store energy for later use.

The watt range of solar panel chargers without battery integration is between 10 to 20 watts. This works best for small devices and battery pack charging.

Solar Battery Charger

The battery bank solar charger includes a solar panel and a battery where it stores energy for later use. This allows you to charge your phone even when there is no sunlight available or when you’d like to charge your phone indoors. In full sunlight, the battery on a standard solar power bank (25,000mAh) will be fully charged in 50 hours or so.

Portable solar chargers come in a range of watt capacities. Basic chargers offer less than 5 watts of power (enough to charge your phone), whereas the most powerful offers just over 100 watts. They cost anywhere from $20 for a basic model to $300 or more for a high-end model.

Device Charging Options
Manual Power


Hand-crank chargers work as you’d imagine. You crank away and your physical effort creates a charge via a magnetic field, that is then transferred into power that charges your phone or its own internal battery. They will not charge quickly so patience is required. Most modern smartphones will require a few minutes of cranking before they have enough charge to send a text. A phone call may require a good 10 to 20 minutes of cranking. This option may be used as a last resort but is worth having because you will always have a charge.