Posted by Eric Berger at 10:00 AM
During Hurricane Harvey I hunkered down with two fully charged laptops, a mobile phone, and several power banks to keep the phone charged. This was perhaps not the most professional setup, but I was living in a third-floor apartment at the time (we were building a home), and frankly I did not think sustained power loss would be a major concern. Fortunately, the power never blinked off during Harvey, and I was able to remain connected at all times to the Internet and this site. The power staying on, however, is the exception rather than the norm during a hurricane. So I knew I needed a better solution for future storms. Fortunately our sponsor, Reliant, had a solution and provided me with a portable power station—the Yeti 1000—from their sister company, Goal Zero.
I am not a particularly handy person, so technology like this intimidates me a little bit. One box arrived with the power unit, and the other a solar panel about one meter in length and diameter. What was I supposed to do with this?
It turns out that the Yeti is ridiculously easy to use. The first step was to plug in the power unit—about the size of a 12-pack of beer, but twice as heavy—into an electrical outlet. Within about six hours the battery was fully charged. This was a month ago. I checked the unit just now (which is tucked behind a chair in my office), and it remains at 100 percent. I understand the battery will maintain a full charge for nearly a year so I can simply put the unit away and forget about it until the power goes out.
And what happens if the power goes out? This unit could literally power two laptops and several mobile devices for days, and days, and days. It could also power a medium-sized refrigerator for about a day, before the battery runs down. In that case, one could use the solar panel (which is also plug and play) to recharge the power unit during the daytime. Of course, during a hurricane itself, you’re not going to get much sunshine. But after the storm, certainly, this could probably keep a medium-sized refrigerator going intermittently for several days with the use of the solar panel. I can’t speak to this for every refrigerator or larger appliance, but if you have questions they can be answered by [email protected]. Additionally, the unit itself has a digital display that regularly updates the amount of power being used, and the battery time remaining. It is all incredibly intuitive.
This unit is not meant to replace the full-home functionality of a large outdoor generator. That is not its purpose (nor its cost). Rather, it is meant to provide some peace of mind during a storm, to keep a few lights on, a fan running, power a television, or to keep your electronics charged. Moreover, it does so in a compact package, with absolutely no noise or mess. And when it’s not storming? This is an amazing unit to bring tailgating, camping, to the beach, or anywhere else you don’t want to entirely leave the comforts of civilization and connectivity behind.
But mostly, for me, it brings piece of mind knowing that during the next storm I’ll be able to remain plugged into Space City Weather, and provide timely information and weather updates to all.