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#188202 - 11/13/09 02:37 PM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: Stoney]
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA

Yah, I was reading the reviews on Amazon of the various Brunton solar chargers, and it sounds like anything below the 12W version people were unhappy with. It suggests to me that you might need to get something over capacity in order to be reliably effective.


#188223 - 11/13/09 05:39 PM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: JohnN]
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
Great work there John, I like that kind of forethought. I need to figure out a plan like that for my comms.

#188232 - 11/13/09 06:32 PM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: JohnN]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3077
Most folks will be able to charge their phones easily with a 6 Watt panel. The I think the poor feedback on the Amazon reviews that is attributed to the Brunton Solaris foldable panels is really just a lack of understanding the limits of how the technology works. The Apple iPhone uses a hefty lithium ion cell (3.7 V 1219 mAh, the original iPhone had a 1400mAhr), which compares to a 3.7V 700mAh for my ancient Motorola E398 so the battery capacity is almost double that a normal handset. So it takes twice as long for the iPhone brigades to charge their handsets compared to the Luddites with their old fashioned cell phone technology using the same solar panel. Its just that the iPhone users cannot come to terms to criticise their iPhone so they just end up blaming the Brunton Solar panels for just being too wimpy.

The Freeplay Energy FreeCharge 12V should get a mention as well. With this I'm able to power a 120 Watt inverter and a 7W 500 lumen LED bulb table lamp. It is robust and it works, but it takes a lot of effort to keep hand cranking the device. Most folks have a lot of trouble just realising how much energy their kit uses and how much energy is actually stored into todays modern rechargeable lightweight lithium ion battery technology. Using the FreeCharge hand crank for any length of time to get their cell phone recharged will make them quickly realise just how impressive modern lightweight flexible folding solar panel technology actually is.

Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (11/13/09 06:40 PM)

#188260 - 11/14/09 12:28 AM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: Eugene]
Tarzan Offline

Registered: 02/02/08
Posts: 146
Loc: Washington
Verizon had their portable cell towers up during the California wildfires. They have a robust network and are very aware of how critical cellular communication will be following a large scale disaster.
I have no doubt a major disaster would put landlines out of commission for quite a while. Cellular traffic will skyrocket but SMS texting will probably still go through faster than making voice calls. Being able to text family and friends in a disaster zone may be the only reliable method of communication for the critical first 72 hours.

#188281 - 11/14/09 03:16 AM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: Tarzan]
UpstateTom Offline

Registered: 10/05/09
Posts: 165
Loc: Rens. County, NY
Having a car charger is a great idea, not even for disasters but for minor emergencies. It's easy to let your phone run down, and kinda silly to find yourself with a car with plenty of electricity, a flat tire or other vehicle problem, and a cell phone you can't use because the battery is dead.

For major emergencies, a cell phone might work. A ham radio will work. To me, depending on a cell phone for communications is exactly like depending on any other utility - gas, electric, etc. Eventually service will come back, but it may be a while.

#188332 - 11/14/09 09:52 PM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: Tarzan]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
It will be interesting to see what happens on the west coast after a major earthquake.



#188348 - 11/15/09 12:18 AM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: Susan]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6291
Loc: southern Cal
[quote=Susan]It will be interesting to see what happens on the west coast after a major earthquake.

After the 1994 Northridge quake, our electricity was out for a day. We are about 45 miles from the epicenter. The only phone in our office that worked was a plain no frills landline that connected to our regional office in San Francisco. Everyone in the office got admin leave - after all, computers and phones were down. What could you do? I was on San Miguel Island where life was relatively normal.

Cell phones were not in common use then, but I would not expect them to work very well. If the system survived the shock, they would probably be overloaded.

Geezer in Chief

#188350 - 11/15/09 01:38 AM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: hikermor]
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2822
I have found cell phones to be more reliable than land lines, a few yea ago the local Telecom became part of at&t and the quality of service dropped to their level. The only way around the monopoly was to get phone service through our cable provider to get off the attention owned lines.

#188472 - 11/17/09 12:41 PM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: Eugene]
ratbert42 Offline

Registered: 05/31/06
Posts: 178
Loc: Florida
Working after Hurricane Charley, the SAR task force in Port Charlotte had found one good spot to get Nextel coverage and would drive back and forth from the staging area to make calls.

Text messages are great for spotty coverage. You can send one and then let the phone retry sending the message until it finally finds coverage.

For charging, I'd make sure to have a car charger and probably a cigarette lighter socket "splitter" to charge multiple things from one vehicle.

#188482 - 11/17/09 03:24 PM Re: Verizon posts 7 cell phone tips for disasters [Re: ratbert42]
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
Does anyone know of a prepaid cellphone service (on a reliable network) where the minutes do not expire if you don't use them within a certain timeframe? I'd like to toss a prepaid phone using Verizon's network in my bag as a backup to my usual phone, but all of Verizon's prepaid plans expire if you don't use them pretty quick.

I'd really like to use Verizon's network because it is a stout one, but if you have good alternatives please post them.

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