Tuesday Tip - Phone Charging at a festival

Ah Tuesday. Time for a Tuesday tip.

This week I'm off to a festival and so are many others so I thought I'd refresh your memories about electronics in fields. We all love to get away from it all, when 'all' doesn't mean our mobile phones! I'm as addicted to the online world as the next person and so when I camp I have several options to keep my smartphone charged up (and my tent lit so I can read after dark)

An alternative to using apps and smartphones but still having the ability to stay in touch is of course to take a cheapy phone with a new preloaded SIM (no panic then if you lose it or drop it into the toilet)

For example the Samsung E1200 is available on Pay As You Go (PAYG) for just £5 (when you top up £10 credit) on Virgin. The 800 hours of standby battery life will probably last longer than you do and losing it won’t ruin your whole weekend. It’s the ideal festival phone!
Available from: http://www.mobiles.co.uk/pay-as-you-go-mobile-phones.html
But assuming you really do need that power hungry smartphone... First off check your car, many cars have a charger (what was in the olden days the cigarette lighter) some will work to charge a phone via the appropriate cable when the car is switched off - some will not - so check yours. My Fiat for example loses all electric connection when the ignition is off, while my husband's Ford has 2 charging points (one in the boot) that work when the ignition is off.

But maybe 5 days of draining your car battery (and the trek to and from the car park) is not for you. In which case you could try taking a precharged battery power pack, the one I use will charge my phone about 4 times. There are various types and prices, in general the more you pay the more power you'll be storing. Check the output too as some smartphones (and tablets) need quite high amp ouutput. My power pack has two output options via two usb ports, 5V/1A and 5V/2.1A . These power packs need to be fully charged via a plug socket before you leave home.

A third option is a solar back up battery - these too can be charged prior to going away and then refreshed and topped up via the sun. The only problem with them is that to be able to get power on a dull day you need a fairly large solar array. The smaller versions are great but only really work on a sunny day, last year I tested a tiny one and it was hopeless, while my Sun Bell (light and charger) worked well, the Sun Bell has a larger solar panel and can be left to charge even under glass (eg in a car or a conservatory) , it provides a great light and also has a charger point.

Don't for get that some festivals (Camp Bestival included) also offer a charging option, this can cost money though, and you will need to be prepared to leave your phone with 'strangers'.

This year at Camp Bestival I'll be using a few of these options I expect! I normally take the solar lamp away fully charged and the battery back up, if the battery back up charge fails, I move on to the solar. Are you going to be mobile free at festivals this year? Or are you attached to your phone?

Oh and one last thing. The mobile phone signal at Camp Bestival (and many other festivals) can be quite terrible, so power or not, keeping in touch with home or your online friends can prove tricky!

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