What is an Emergency Charger?

B. Miller

An emergency charger is a device used for charging the battery of a cell phone or other device when it is not possible to plug the phone into a traditional wall outlet. An emergency charger may be useful to keep in a car or boat, or it may be used during power outages, while camping or hiking outdoors, or while traveling in foreign countries. Most people think of emergency chargers as those that are plugged into a vehicle's cigarette outlet, and while these certainly can function well in an emergency, it may not always be possible go get power from a vehicle.

Emergency chargers are typically designed for use with specific cell phones.
Emergency chargers are typically designed for use with specific cell phones.

Instead, emergency phone chargers exist that use hand-crank power, solar power, or power from additional batteries. In addition, USB chargers are quite common. A USB emergency charger may be able to be plugged into a computer or laptop, which will then provide power for the cell phone. Of course, for that to work, the laptop or computer will also need to be receiving power from somewhere.

Having a travel charger that can plug into a vehicle's cigarette lighter is a good idea.
Having a travel charger that can plug into a vehicle's cigarette lighter is a good idea.

One popular type of emergency charger is a hand-crank charger. Most of these are designed to be universally able to connect to cell phones, and many include extra adapters. To use this type of charger, simply plug it into the cell phone and turn the crank. Of course, to fully charge a cell phone may require cranking for a long time.

Many hand-crank chargers also feature included flashlights and radio capability as well, to listen to any emergency radio transmissions. These are the simplest types of emergency chargers, and feature the obvious benefit of never breaking down or running out of power. A hand-crank charger may be used no matter the temperature, weather situation, or location in the world.

Another common type of charger is one that holds a removable battery or two. Two batteries often used are AA batteries or 9-volt batteries, which are again connected directly to a cell phone through an adapter. It is important to follow any included directions when using these, regarding the order of plugging the battery in and connecting it to the cell phone. This type of emergency charger may work well, though there is a potential that even the replacement batteries could be dead as well.

Finally, a solar charger is another type of emergency charger that is becoming more common. These feature a small solar panel and an adapter to connect to the phone; the solar panel is charged, obviously, by placing it in the sun. Therefore it will not be of much use at night. No matter which type of charger is chosen, it is important to have at least one type of backup power in case of an emergency.

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Discussion Comments


There are charging "bricks" now that allow people to charge the bricks, then charge their phones from them. I think that's a great idea, since you can usually get two or three good charges from one fully charged brick. That may mean you only need to charge your brick once a week or so, and many bricks will charge from a car.

Oh gosh, Grivsangel, that weekend after the 2011 tornadoes was awful. We didn't have any direct damage either, thank the Lord, but we were out of power from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday morning. I packed my mom up and we went to stay with my sister in Rome, Georgia, where they had power and television and hot water! We saw a lot of damage, though. It was very sobering.


After the April 27, 2011 tornadoes that hit Alabama, I don't know what I would have done without my car charger for my cell phone! We were out of power for four days. The few places that did have power did open up to the public so they could charge phones and laptops, but I could charge my phone in my car. It was a godsend.

Phone signals were spotty, but I could get online and let my friends and family know we were OK, and help relay messages for other people, to let them know their own families were all right. My town was OK, but there was damage all around us, so people wanted to know about their loved ones.

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