|Waka Waka Power: Product Link|
12V Power Sources
A 12V outlet normally takes the form of a so-called cigarette lighter. Devices and chargers that can use 12V have the big, telltale plug on one side and usually a DC in plug in the case of chargers, and a micro USB port in the case of modern electronics.
Examples of devices you can plug into a 12V power source are:
1. Power inverter to give you power for any household appliances and chargers you only have with 110V house plugs.
2. Battery chargers like my Nitecore i4 which can plug into a cigarette lighter plug directly.
3. USB widgets which allow you to plug in 5V USB devices.
4. Older devices such as phones, tablets and GPS which have their own dedicated 12V plug. My Acer tablet for example, came with a 12V charger instead of a USB charger, and I can't seem to find the right plug for it to charge from one of my USB chargers.
The first and best mobile power source most people have is their car. It's basically a rolling power generator. Depending on how much gas you have, your car could supply you with emergency power for weeks or even months. It's useful being able to charge your phone from your car, and it's very useful to be able to charge universal USB devices, but it's supremely useful to have a power inverter, which will let you plug standard 110V appliances and devices into your vehicle. Now you can power your TV!
There are lots portable 12 V devices out there, such as uninteruptible power supplies (UPS), jump start boxes and tire inflators. I happen to have a tire inflator with a 19 amp hour battery. And using the same power inverter or USB widget I would use for the car, I can harness the charge in the tire inflator for anything I want. And unlike my car, the tire inflator fits in my tent. I could also plug a USB dongle into my tire inflator and charge my kindle inside my tent.
|Campbell Hausfeld 12 Volt Tire Inflator And Power Supply|
In an emergency, you probably won't have city power, which would be one of the reasons it's an emergency in the first place.
|400 Watt Inverter Charging My Laptop|
Inverters aren't very efficient, but they work for most devices. They work by converting DC to AC, so you definitely don't want to use it for something like a battery charger if it can use something else like 12V or USB. This is because to plug an AC USB charger into your inverter, it has to convert DC->AC->DC which is very wasteful. You are much better off plugging a USB widget into your cigarette lighter plug instead of the inverter.
USB 5V Chargers
Most modern mobile electronics these days take a 5V USB port, and there are lots of ways to get that for your devices.
1. There are 110V USB wall chargers, though again, it is an inefficient way to get a USB plug if you are going through an inverter, and should be used only as a last resort.
2. A 12V USB widget can plug into your car or portable 12V device's cigarette plug and give a 5V USB plug to your devices. This is one of the most efficient and easiest ways to charge your phone during an emergency.
|Charging my Android Phone|
|Ruinovo 4x18650 battery pack|
|Charging 1st Gen Kindle Fire|
|Charging a couple AAA NiMH batteries|
4. Another variation is the solar USB battery pack, like my Waka Waka and lots of cheap alternatives as shown below. With one of these, suddenly you have a way of charging your phones, tablets, headphones and other devices when nothing else has power.
|Waka Waka Power slung from my SwissGear backpack|
|Waka Waka charging an HTC One|
|Cheap solar charger I paid about $20 for|
5. Yet another last ditch USB power source is the little crank flashlight/radio/charger made by Duracell. It's a lot of cranking just to talk on the phone, but it can be invaluable as a last ditch backup. Not to mention it has a built in flashlight and AM/FM/Weather radio. And theoretically at least, it can charge all your USB power packs to store some of the energy from all that cranking for later.
6. There are hybrid chargers/packs that let you charge a battery and then use it as a power pack for other devices. Some power packs can be used in this role as well since they have a battery compartment which pops open. For example, I can charge a power pack, pop it open, and take one of the 18650 lithium-ion batteries out, and use it in one of my flashlights. Some of these lights will give me 100 hours on low, so with 4 batteries, yeah, that's a lot of light.
7. And lastly, they make some nifty USB AA/AAA chargers. Being able to easily charge AA and AAA batteries in an emergency is yet another great capability. I still have lots of devices which take these common batteries that I would want to use in an emergency, like walkie talkies and hiking GPS units. And flashlights, of course. In an emergency, you can be certain our house will have light. If it puts out power, I can make light out of it.