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

My household was among the many 367,000 PG&E customers hit by a massive power 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 important they’re for contemporary dwelling. Working from house, listening to from colleges and the ability firm, coordinating with my spouse — all of it was squeezed by a woefully inadequate cell phone community connection.

However a number of issues helped me by this tough patch. A few of them have 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 reap the benefits of its cellular community was essential to getting by the ability outage. I am amazed how a lot an individual can get executed with a smartphone lately, however in my case, every part appears to go no less than two instances slower than with a laptop computer. Some duties, like advanced photograph enhancing, 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 throughout the energy outages, I believe the networks have been overtaxed. I bear in mind the crushing feeling when my browser estimated it might take 40 minutes to obtain a 4.2MB photograph 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 method is the place the time period “tether” got here from, in fact, however largely I tether with Wi-Fi lately 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 acute battery saver mode on my Google Pixel 7 Professional to dramatically lower down on its energy utilization throughout an influence outage.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Cellphone battery saver modes

I like my telephones’ battery saving modes and use them typically after I’m at all-day conferences, out on an extended hike, or am unsure after I’ll be capable of cost. I way back customized my iPhone’s Control Center with the low power mode toggle.

I like my Pixel telephone’s method higher, the place you’ll be able to set battery saver mode to interact routinely when the battery cost reaches a selected proportion. I’ve it set to activate at 60%, however throughout 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’ll be able to launch something and use it, however until you add it to the exceptions checklist, excessive battery saver will shut it down once more. In a single day, my Pixel’s battery cost dropped solely 2% throughout 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 vivid LED gentle on its entrance face together with 4 USB ports and 4 energy plugs.

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Anker 535 PowerHouse battery

The Anker 535 PowerHouse is one among a number of hulking batteries that, though costly, might 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 after I wanted my quick community. The show helpfully instructed me that my community tools required 26 watts of energy, which is greater than I would like, however the battery is sufficiently big to final hours.

The PowerHouse additionally has its personal built-in LED gentle strip. It is fairly vivid, and I would have most popular a dimmer possibility.

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 units instantly from the USB ports when you can: plugging a charger into one of many battery’s energy plugs means you will 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.

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

Our child likes little toys as a lot as every other elementary faculty child does, and I used to be delighted when he realized at night time that he’d introduced house a few LED-lit occasion favors. I am unsure 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 got 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 know-how, and what? They nonetheless work. Greater than 10 hours into the ability outage and with no concept when it would finish, I used to be keen to avoid wasting 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 night time dessert.

a candle on top of a can of tomatoes

I dripped some wax onto this tomato can to provide this candle a protected, sturdy perch.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

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