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5 Issues That Helped Me Survive a Huge 24-Hour Energy Outage

My household was among the many 367,000 PG&E clients hit by a large energy outage within the San Francisco Bay Space this week. Excessive winds introduced down bushes and energy strains, leaving us with out electrical energy, web entry and warmth for precisely 24 hours.

It sucked.

The outage made me admire simply how superior energy and web entry are, and the way crucial they’re for contemporary residing. Working from residence, listening to from colleges and the ability firm, coordinating with my spouse — all of it was squeezed by way of a woefully inadequate cell phone community connection.

However a number of issues helped me by way of this tough patch. A few of them had been fairly excessive tech, however there’s nonetheless a spot for pre-internet merchandise in your emergency equipment. This is what I turned to.


Connecting my laptop computer to my telephone to benefit from its cellular community was essential to getting by way of the ability outage. I am amazed how a lot an individual can get performed with a smartphone today, however in my case, all the things appears to go a minimum of two occasions slower than with a laptop computer. Some duties, like complicated picture modifying, require a laptop computer. So for me, tethering was important.

Sadly, the networks my telephones use (I’ve a Google Pixel 7 Professional and an iPhone 14 Professional) aren’t terribly quick, and with so many others’ web entry down in the course of the energy outages, I believe the networks had been overtaxed. I keep in mind the crushing feeling when my browser estimated it might take 40 minutes to obtain a 4.2MB picture file.

Professional tip: On Android, you’ll be able to tether with a USB-C cable that may be extra dependable than Wi-Fi and that retains the telephone charged, too. It works with iPhones and Lightning cables as properly. This strategy is the place the time period “tether” got here from, in fact, however principally I tether with Wi-Fi today as a result of it is easier and extra versatile.

a screenshot of Google's extreme battery saver mode, which dramatically cuts power usage

I used the intense battery saver mode on my Google Pixel 7 Professional to dramatically minimize down on its energy utilization throughout an influence outage.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Cellphone battery saver modes

I really like my telephones’ battery saving modes and use them usually once I’m at all-day conferences, out on a protracted hike, or am unsure once I’ll be capable to cost. I way back personalized my iPhone’s Management Middle with the low energy mode toggle.

I like my Pixel telephone’s strategy higher, the place you’ll be able to set battery saver mode to have interaction robotically when the battery cost reaches a selected share. I’ve it set to activate at 60%, however in the course of the energy outage, I simply left it on on a regular basis.

Android goes a step farther with excessive battery saver, which shuts down all apps besides some core ones and those you specify. You may launch something and use it, however until you add it to the exceptions record, excessive battery saver will shut it down once more. In a single day, my Pixel’s battery cost dropped solely 2% in the course of the energy outage.

Anker's 535 PowerHouse, a large portable battery, with its front-facing LED light strip turned on

The Anker 535 PowerHouse has a vibrant LED mild on its entrance face together with 4 USB ports and 4 energy plugs.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Anker 535 PowerHouse battery

The Anker 535 PowerHouse is one in all a number of hulking batteries that, though costly, may be actually helpful in an influence outage. I used it to cost my laptop computer and telephone, to make use of an LED lamp, and most crucially, to run my broadband modem once I wanted my quick community. The show helpfully instructed me that my community gear required 26 watts of energy, which is greater than I might like, however the battery is large enough to final hours.

The PowerHouse additionally has its personal built-in LED mild strip. It is fairly vibrant, and I might have most popular a dimmer choice.

This mannequin comes with standard energy plugs in addition to one USB-C port (not sufficient) and three USB-A ports (too many). You are higher off charging your gadgets instantly from the USB ports for those who can: plugging a charger into one of many battery’s energy plugs means you may undergo effectivity losses changing from direct present to alternating present and again.

A flashlight toy with hundreds of glowing fiber optic strands glows in the dark

This fiber optic flashlight toy proved helpful throughout an influence outage.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

My child’s frog flashlight and different LED-lit toys

Our child likes little toys as a lot as another elementary college child does, and I used to be delighted when he realized at evening that he’d introduced residence a few LED-lit occasion favors. I am undecided what to name them, however they’ve a glowing cylindrical deal with with a brush of plastic fiber optic strands sprouting from one finish. They’re meant to be novelty merchandise however turned out to be useful flashlights, too.

My kid's frog flashlight toy has a lever behind its head; pushing it down opens its mouth and turns on an LED light

My child’s frog flashlight.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

I used to be happier with one other gimmick, although, the frog flashlight we received him at REI to attempt to cajole him into tenting journeys. Its carabiner design let me clip it to my belt loop, and it was nice for fast lighting at bedtime.

A candle

Candles are millennia-old expertise, and you understand what? They nonetheless work. Greater than 10 hours into the ability outage and with no concept when it’d finish, I used to be keen to save lots of any battery energy I had left.

I pulled some mushy ice cream out of our not chilly sufficient freezer lit a candle from our emergency equipment, and had a late evening dessert.

a candle on top of a can of tomatoes

I dripped some wax onto this tomato can to present this candle a secure, sturdy perch.

Stephen Shankland/CNET


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