How to Keep Cell Phones Charged During a Power Outage

Updated: Apr. 19, 2024

Your cell phone is an essential tool during an emergency. Here are some helpful tips to keep it charged during a power outage.

While some might mock our society’s reliance on cell phones, it cannot be understated how useful of a tool a modern smartphone can be during an emergency.

The cell phone is pretty much technology’s answer to the Swiss army knife. Just one phone with a data plan can give you access to local emergency updates and cutting-edge weather-tracking apps. Crucially, they also allow you to communicate with the outside world when other methods fail.

During an unexpected power outage, prioritizing your cell phone battery level isn’t a sign you’re addicted to social media. It’s a vital part of emergency preparedness.

How to Conserve Cell Phone Battery

The first thing you need to do when your power goes out is make sure your phone isn’t using any more of its battery than it needs to. Shut down any and all applications running in the background and only open an app if you truly need to access it.

Also be sure to turn off your device’s WiFi, location services and Bluetooth, since each draws on your phone’s battery even if they aren’t being used directly. If your phone has the option, turn on “Low Battery Mode” (which should be accessible through the battery settings) and dim the brightness of your screen as low as you can go without straining your vision.

And don’t use your phone to play music or podcasts to pass the time during a power outage. It’s better to be bored than drain your phone’s battery during an emergency.

How to Store Cell Phone Charge

Charge All Your Devices

The best way to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of charge during a power outage is to keep plenty of spare battery power stored specifically for emergencies. If you know a major storm is on the way, fully charge all your devices ahead of time. This is especially important because the USB ports on a fully-charged laptop can charge cell phone batteries for hours.

While it might seem counterintuitive to use one battery-powered device to charge another, it’s better in an emergency if your phone (the device that can connect to a 4G network) has power instead of a device that requires a WiFi connection.

Invest In Power Banks

Another efficient way to store battery power is through portable chargers or “power banks.” These devices can store enough battery power to charge your phone multiple times over.

Many high-quality power banks can store battery power for months without losing any of that charge over time. All it takes is a little bit of planning ahead. Buy a power bank, charge it up all the way up, and throw it in with the rest of your emergency supplies. The next time your power goes out you’ll have a dependable and reusable source of battery power on hand.

Use Your Vehicle’s Battery

Another power source available during a power outage is your car battery. Vehicles made in the last ten years or so will likely have built-in USB ports for your phone’s charging cable. If your vehicle lacks USB ports, USB car adapters are typically inexpensive and do the job just as well.

Crank-Powered Phone Chargers

While they’re definitely not the most efficient method for charging a phone, hand-crank phone chargers are one of the few ways to do it without a battery source. You’ll need to crank really hard to generate a useable phone charge, and it likely won’t last for long. But even a few minutes of battery life can go a long way during an emergency.