Storm's a Comin'- Time to Prep!
It seems lately that storms are forming earlier , and growing stronger. As I type this, my area is bracing for a potential overnight tropical storm working it's way through the region. Having lived through hurricanes Irene and Sandy, I always find myself with a bit of PTSD when storms are approaching. I've written in the past about generators and handy gadgets to get through power outages- whether you're in an apartment or a house. It feels like a good time to refresh that list and add a few new cool things I've been loving.
This list is in no particular order, so I'm starting with my most recent favorite. For years I've owned several 40V Lithium batteries from Ryobi. They can power a variety of tools, and last a good long time before needing to be recharged. During power outages, I've often found myself starting at them wondering if there was any way to harness that power. It turns out there was, and when a neighbor recently showed me, I was really impressed. Ryobi makes a 300 Watt inverter for about $79 on Amazon. It gives you one AC outlet, both a USB and USB-C connection, a combo emergency light/ strobe, and a convenient carrying handle. It's perfect for camping or to endure a power outage. If you have multiple batteries, you can just swap them out as they die. I haven't tested it thoroughly to know just how long it can power certain items. We lost power for about four hours the other day during 97 degree heat... so I'm most curious how long it can run a fan.
Speaking of fans, I received THIS awesome piece of camping gear a few years back. It's a combination tent lantern/ fan, and runs on 2 D batteries. I've used mine continuously for two nights of camping with power to spare. It's great to keep the air moving in a tent on a summer night. When you lose your air conditioning during a blackout, this little guys is a lifesaver! You can position it any number of ways to light the way and cool you off! The AGPtek 2-in1 18LED Camping Fan Lantern sells for $19.99 on Amazon, and is worth every penny.
The Tough Light LED Rechargeable Lantern boasts 200 hours of light from a single charge. It claims to hold it's charge for up to 9 months- so it can always be ready to go in an outage. It can be charged from the included USB cable and adaptor, or from your car's USB port. It can also be used as a spare charger for your phone in a pinch. It's military grade rubber, plastic molds and 0-rings give it IPX-6 water resistance, making it as useful in the rain as it is inside the house.
Let's be honest. Besides your refrigerator and maybe sump-pump if your house has one, the most important thing to power is your phone. The Anker PowerCode 26800 is a 26,800mAh external battery with a dual input charging port and 3 USB ports to charge all of your devices at once. This is an upgraded version of a product I've owned and continue to use for the last 7 years. While there are plenty of less expensive alternatives, this one is solid and gives a lot of bang for the buck. It sells for $69.99 on Amazon and will give you days of phone use.
Amerelle Emergency Lights for Home are a GREAT way to get lights on the moment the power fails. I've written about these before, and really love them. They didn't age well, however. I actually need to replace all of ours. But when the power goes out, these come on. I keep them in all of the main rooms and hallways. Not only does the bright LED light clear the way to get around in the dark- but you can grab it off the wall and switch it to flashlight mode as well! The internal battery is always charging while it's in the outlet, giving you area lights when you need them as soon as the power goes it. They're sold in 2 packs or 5 packs.
With so many of us still working from home, having backup power for computers and peripherals is a no-brainer. This APC UPS 1500VA battery backup and surge protector has already saved my butt several times during the pandemic. The rear of it gives you 5 outlets with battery backup plus 5 additional outlets with surge protection. It's got a handy display to show you how the power is doing, and how long you can expect to use it should the power fail. In a recent blackout, we used it to keep our phones charging. It is a heavy and solid unit, and worth it's weight in gold... but only costs $164.99 on Amazon.
There are so many more items you can consider to give you some sanity and peace of mind during an outage. The links in the first paragraph will take you to me previous articles about this both on my own website and for the NY Observer. I hope this helps you as we get into hurricane season. Feel free to comment below with thoughts or questions.