Emergency power for cellphones

One of the items I felt was sorely lacking in our emergency kits was the ability to recharge our phones during a power interuption. Sure we have a generator, but if we’re on the move I’m not carrying the genny.

AA USB Charger

As a stopgap (at about $2.00 each) I threw two of these into our kits. Testing them, however, showed that the unit would kill two AA batteries in about an hour, restoring only 20% capacity to my smartphone. I’d need a bundle of AAs to charge my phone properly, and that’s not happening.

Leading up to our vacation I went out looking for some sort of portable external battery to extend the life of my smartphone (notorious for lasting a max of 12 hours or so), and happened across the Boost Turbine 2000. At about $50 the unit has a 2000mAh battery and a crank so it can be recharged when no outlets are readily available. Perfect, both for our vacation and to be added to the emergency kit on our return.

Boost Turbine 2000

Initial impressions are favorable, the unit charged my phone from 14% up to 95% in just over an hour, in the process draining the Boost Turbine to almost zero. Plugging the unit into a USB port recharged it in just over two hours (I experimented with the hand crank but have no real sense of what I was accomplishing and will have to give it another run when the internal battery is depleted.)

Edited to add: 07 Sep, 2013
Tested this during our recent vacation. The internal battery will recharge my cell phone once. Using the hand crank on the unit is a tedious process that quickly becomes tiring, but that does allow recharge the phone. The unit was useful when we were on a plane or sitting in an airport.

It has now been added to our emergency kit.


  1. Madeye says:

    Surprising amount of ‘transmission losses’ there, eh? In that thee 2000 mAh battery gets all used up, recharging the 1600 mAh battery in your phone.

  2. Mugwug says:

    Not so shocking… I’ve got an aftermarket High-Cap battery (notional 2430mAh), so it’s about right. Battery to battery seems right, am REALLY curious about the charging crank.

  3. Madeye says:

    Well … Doh! Of course you’d have an aftermarket high-capacity battery – why didn’t I think of that? ;-)

    I suspect that, if the generator attached to that crank is anything like the other ‘wind-up’ devices I’ve played with over the years, you’re going to have to do one heck of a lot of cranking to charge up a 2300 mAh battery … LOL!

    Then, again, this will be a ‘Hail, Mary!’ option in any case. Last I checked, most hotel rooms n North America had 120 VAC outlets which could be used to recharge personal electronic devices ;-)

  4. CMac says:

    Don’t you have a car charger for your cell phone? That and one of those cig lighter sockets hooked to a couple of spring clamps let you charge from any car battery or vehicle.

  5. Merle says:

    Another possible option would be a solar panel. Plus I have seen a write-up of a power cell(?) that operates from salt water. It was in the Cheaper Than Dirt blog, IIRC.

  6. Erik says:

    Cmac: Um, yep… got car chargers, in this case was looking for something that would help when I’m not with the car. Hedging the bets as it were. The car would be prefered, but this should do in a pinch.

    Merle: I looked into USB Solar panels, but stumbled across this in the former radio shack and it seemed like a better option for our immediate needs (the built in battery combined with the ability to manually recharge it) – will definately have to track down the cheaper than dirt power cell you’ve mentioned.

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