There is a mild thunderstorm that is causing a surprising amount of power outages here. Hopefully I can finish this entry before anything else happens.
Between these outages though, it quickly dawned on me what I have on hand that works and what doesn't in the event of power outages.
For one thing, my relatively cheap cellphone still works, because it runs on batteries, and with it, I can still access 3G for weather information and sense quick texts or emails to friends and family to see if they are OK and if they need anything.
The other is my
Granted, my low-end model still cost $20, so it's not exactly cheap, but in return, you're getting a lightweight LED flashlight that you can wear on your head, so your hands are free to work on other things. Also, on low-light setting, which is enough light for me, it will last for as long as 190 hours out of 3 AAA batteries! Unless you run it constantly, that translates to months and months of usage.
While having the ability to run on standard ni-cad batteries are nice because of their accessibility, the greener and ultimately more frugal option is to also buy the company's core pack. It is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for the light.
Now, I admit the core pack isn't cheap at an additional $40, but the manufacturer guarantees at least 300 charges, and advertises as many as 900 charges during the course of its lifetime. Assuming an equivalent per-charge of 3 AAA ni-cads, and assuming an average recharge life of 600 charges, that's an equivalent of 1800 AAA batteries! That's also more than $1000 worth of AAA batteries that you won't be spending and then throwing into landfills! All for $40!
The other advantage about the core pack is the fact that it's charged through an USB interface. In other words, it can be readily charged through small, portable solar panels. I haven't gotten this part yet, but when I do, I will have a portable light source that is completely grid-free.
It may be strange for me to spend so much time talking about a little flashlight, but if you are looking for a simple, light, and effective flashlight, and if long lasting life is more important than lumens, then I highly recommend the Petzl Tikkina.