Off The Grid, Keep 6 Useful Bits OF Tech Handy
Whether a power cut hits or you’re in the wilderness for work or play you don’t have to forgo your tech. These 6 handy gadgets make sense off the grid
11:32 14 May 2020
People can be OTG, or “off the grid”, for a variety of reasons. We’re not all hardcore survivalists fleeing the evils of society, real or imagined: sometimes, we end up OTG temporarily. When there is a power cut, for instance.
Or when we head out into the sticks on work or vacation, in places with no power outlets; even camping out at festivals. None of these scenarios should leave us bereft of our favourite gadgets. Here are 6 handy helpers to have around when you go OTG, whether it’s a planned excursion or a suburban surprise.
Portable power stations comprise a strong lithium-ion battery, recharged via mains, generator, car port or portable solar panel, that in turn can charge a whole range of 110V, 200W devices simultaneously. If the lights go out, or you’re temporarily living in a tent, you can still charge laptops, phones, speakers, drones and even mini coolers on a model like the Jackery Portable Power Station.
When the lights go out without warning, though, first you have to find your portable power station; and before that, a flashlight. Both tasks get simpler with a Bluetooth tracker like Tile Pro. They’re not just for keys anymore. They’re a handy way to track down all those small gadgets that are useful, but easily lost in a tent or in the dark.
Yes, your phone has a flashlight, but that then limits what else you can do with the phone. If you’re searching in the dark for stuff, in a car full of luggage or a furniture-filled apartment, a flexible telescoping LED torch helps you see into every nook and cranny. Vibelite make a version that not only twists to shine in corners, but has a magnetic head too: dropped tools, keys or phones can easily be retrieved from tight spots.
Like your portable power station, you can charge the batteries of Bose Portable Home Speakers and similar devices from mains electricity or solar panels. Then you use them wirelessly, connected to your laptop via Wi-Fi. Go deejay a set out in the wilderness or make them your go-to speakers at home when playing Bingo games for money: either way, you can keep a party going without grid power.
Multiport USB Hubs
If it means losing Wi-Fi, going OTG is as much of a challenge to connectivity as it is to your power supply. Even if you’re using a portable power station, you may have more devices to charge than USB ports available. Multiport USB hubs that let you plug in one USB cable to get 3 or 4 outlet ports are the answer. Gadgets like the Sabrent 4-Port USB 3 Hub, plugged into a portable power station, can keep several devices connected and powered at the same time.
Sounds low-tech, but nothing is more infuriating than a whole system set up and unable to run because of a worn, shorting cable. Rather than carrying a bunch of spares with different connectors, something like Sugru Moldable Glue can seal worn cables instead. It also helps customise and tweak wearable tech for your comfort.