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Power-less: How we extended our battery life

We’ve finally finished a week running power-less; no USB, no mains, just green energy through solar power, dynamos and hand-winding. Somehow we lasted the week, and our Nokia N8 only ran out of battery-juice once.

We discovered early on that the N8 had its own power-saving mode; if you tap on the battery icon, it can be switched on, and hopefully reduce the battery drain. (We were unable to find out exactly how it saved battery, but looks like it affected the phone’s back-lighting.)

Yet after Monday and Tuesday, the phone was reduced to a quarter charge by the second night.

The solar-powered Powapatch, strategically placed just next to the window in the office gave the phone a full charge, but the solar panel does take time to charge, and has a tendency to not charge unless it’s bathed in natural sunlight.

The velcro-ish sticker that came with the Powapatch works well, though we didn’t want to stick it to the window shelf due to paint-chipping and shadow issues. We’d have no problem slapping it onto a tent or our backpack, and letting the sunlight slosh in through-out the day.

The Powapatch (£39.99) was our get-out-of-jail-free card, and having used it early into the week, we had to get even more more frugal the rest of the week.

Breakfast and dinner now included a brief power wind-up for phone-juice, while we began to give out our land-line number through-out the week to reduce the toll on our mobile.

Another thing, though it may sound glaringly obvious, was to start switching off the phone before bed- something we stupidly forgot to do the first half of the week.

The wind-up hand charger was great for taking around, in case of emergency. Some vigorous whirring, and the phone could be substantially charged. Obviously, your mileage may vary, but for £5.99, it’s cheap and small enough to take around if out of the office, or in between charges. 

At the weekend, we were able to make use of the Nokia Cycle charger, as we whizzed between errands. After hooking it up to the bike, it’s easy to plug your phone in and out.

The bike charger may be the best suited to including sustainable phone-charging into your daily routine. For those that regularly commute on a bike, it could prove perfect.

The grips keep your phone pretty secure- we weren’t afraid of losing our phone on our travels, but some more tie-wraps for loose wires would be appreciated.

The Nokia Phone Charger is available here, for £25. Next time, wind-power, with a propeller-hats.

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