More Emergency Power

Eton has apparently released, but not shipping, new Emergency products which are upgrades of sorts to the ones I’ve tried so far..

I’ve tried the Eton FRX2 and FRX3 Emergency Hand Crank and Solar radio, LED flashlight, and USB charger this summer and my biggest complaint with both of those models was the use of a tiny (usable replaceable at least) NiCad battery. The not-shipping-yet new models (FRX4 and 5) with similar form factor aim to solve this with Lithium Ion batteries. I couldn’t find a capacity listed anywhere, but it claims to be able to 50% charge to “most smartphones”, whatever that means. The FRX2 and 3 don’t technically support USB charging unless you’re actively using the crank. The MSRP’s are also around double… I hope it’s worth it.

Although I just use a lead acid 12V scooter battery and clamp on what I need with alligator clips, exposed wiring and alligator clips aren’t for everyone. The reason I’ve been following Eton’s products is because they’re something I can potentially recommend to my family members. Even with my family using only LED flashlights and lanterns, after the first four days power loss from Hurricane Sandy replacement batteries were getting impossible to come by, and my power stayed out for another week.

In other news, we’ve added a Prius c to our lineup of cars. The advantages of a hybrid drivetrain in emergency situations were meaningful – not burning gas idling for an hour in gas lines (yes, that happened), no worries of draining the bigass battery with 200 watts of devices plugged into it, the fact that a 9.5 gallon tank is 450+ miles of range… I couldn’t resist getting another. Unfortunately, neither my apartment nor job can accommodate charging for an EV or plugin hybrid, plus a straight EV would be quite screwed in a 2 week long outage anyway.

The FRX4 has a 1000mAH battery and the FRX5 is 2000mAH. Some iOS device capacities:

Device mAH
iPhone 5S 1440
iPad Mini 1 4440
iPad Mini 2 6471
iPad 2 6944
iPad Air 8827
iPad 4 11560

So should have no problem recharging a single iPhone with the bigger FRX5 on a daily bases on solar power alone. All other combinations of Eton and Apple devices will require cranking – not that that’s necessarily the end of the world. Alkaline AAA batteries (of which it accepts three) are typically 860-1200 so three is 2580-3600mAH total but I would avoid wasting non rechargeable technology for that and keep your AAAs for your Maglites.