Emergency Power - Portable AC/DC Power Supply

There are all sorts of categories of emergency power, but I’m narrowing my focus today to a backup battery for lights and small appliances.

Many of you have a backup power supply for your computer. It has enough electricity stored to allow you to shut your computer down safely when the power goes out. If you have a large enough backup, it may allow you a few minutes of using your computer before you shut it down. Depends on the capacity of the battery and how much current your devices draw.

On the other hand, you probably have one or more flashlights. Personally, I have a flashlight everywhere in my house, on my property, and in my vehicles where I could possibly use one if the power suddenly went down. That includes having one on my keychain.

In addition, you might also want something that allows you to run a small electrical device when the power goes out. In that case you would want a portable AC/DC Power Supply. Depending on the power consumption of the device you want to run, you can get 10 minutes to an hour or more of run time. Perhaps even several hours for a low watt light. That may not sound like much time… until you suddenly run out of batteries for your flashlight or cell phone charger or something else you need very much for just a little while longer.

But the best news is that most of these portable AC/DC Power Supplies are rechargeable from a car battery. Just plug it into your cigarette lighter-type 12 volt DC outlet, and run your car for a while. Of course, if you have a car battery, you can also use a power inverter and get AC current directly from your car battery. But that’s a subject for another day.

A portable AC/DC Power Supply that you can easily find in the consumer marketplace can cost between $100 and $150. Two that I’ve tried are the DieHard 1150 and Black & Decker 400. Both are powerful enough to be of some use during an emergency. And they both give a car a good shot of power for jump starting. Actually, they’re worth having around for that reason alone. And they both come with a sort-of-useful air compressor in case you really need one. But it’s not their best feature. They have a worklight too. Again, not a great feature.

Their best features are two AC and two DC outlets for standard plugs. You can just plug a regular room light into the AC outlet, and turn on your light like normal. Or use one of many small appliances. Just check the instruction book to see what sorts of appliances you can and can’t use. Some things need too much of a surge of energy to turn on (like most refrigerators) or run, and they will trip the circuit breaker on these power supplies… which is a real pain in the case of the DieHard, and is a simple reset button on the B&D.

Are you getting the feeling I prefer the B&D? So far, yes, I do. I had a DieHard for just under 11 months when it started not holding a charge. Luckily, the warranty was for 12 months, and I just took it back to Kay-mart for a full refund. I would have tried another, but they didn’t have any more. So I went to Wally Mart and all they had was the B&D. Specifications looked good, and it offered a 2 year warranty, so now I have that one. We’ll see how long it lasts.

There are other pros and cons for these two portable AC/DC Power Supplies, and there are other products on the market, although not many others in the normal commercial marketplace. You can do the research, or just go to your local supplier and get what they have. Be SURE to get one that has both DC AND AC power outlets. Some units have DC only, and I don’t think you really want one of those. Be sure to charge the battery per instructions before using it. The indicator lights may say there is a full charge, but once you plug the unit in to charge it, you will see it does not have as much charge as it initially indicates.

I would not put a lot of faith and trust in these devices. But I really like having one around. It gives me an edge that I like, just in case.

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