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The evolution of technology has brought us from the age of the gas-pumping Coleman lantern, to the battery-powered emergency lights to rechargeables to solar powered gadgets.  Companies like Goal Zero have raised the bar for emergency lighting when the grid is breached.

Rechargeables are one of my favorites because there are no worries about keeping fresh batteries on hand.  Still there is a weakness.

I have a Black and Decker “Storm Station”.  The rechargeable battery powers emergency lighting and even has a built-in inverter to provide 110 volt AC for small appliances (for a short time).  The instructions said to plug it in, and when the need arises, you’ve got emergency power, light, even a built in AM/FM radio.  Now to be fair, the radio runs off D cell batteries.  The rest of the unit is powered by a rechargeable 12 volt battery.  The problem is this;  you plug it in and leave it for say, three or four years.  Come time to use it, the battery is toast.  The reason you bought it was to light your unlighted abode.  And you’re still in the dark.  Fortunately the problem is an easy fix.  You take the unit apart, get the battery number, match it to one on Amazon and bingo, problem solved. Trouble is, that doesn’t help you in mid-disaster.

Here’s what I propose.  Plug in your rechargeable unit.  Once fully charged, unplug it.  After that, plug it in for a day or two at a time every 30 days.  That will keep it topped off without burning out the battery.  Then when the grid goes down, you’re golden.

I even rescued a new-looking rechargeable lantern from a trash can once, took it home, ordered a new battery and voila, it worked like new.  Someone had bought it, plugged it in for a couple of years and tossed it when they thought it was somehow defective.

Earlier I mentioned Goal Zero.  If you’re interested in buying your prepper a great, high quality gift, check out Goal Zero.  From a solar-powered “crush light” ($19.95) to a 3000 watt portable power station, the Goal Zero Yeti is capable for powering up your refrigerator (for a limited time) and sells for a mere $2,399.99.  Powered by A/C or solar panel, the rechargeable battery is rated at 3075 watt hours of storage and has no fewer than ten outlets including USB, 12-volt and 110 volt plug-ins,  Goal Zero also offers a wide range of solar panels, both portable and stationary.  There is a great selection of lighting items along with high-quality power banks and phone chargers.  I have found their products to be well thought out and nicely designed for the prepper/survivalist.

The holiday season is upon us and between slick roads, winter weather and increased fire hazards in the home, it is your responsibility to stay safe and yet be prepared for any disaster.  Now is a great time to check your battery supply and make sure your rechargeables are functioning.

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Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, and other online booksellers.