I Need Amps! Give Me Electricity!

29 Nov
2011
Posted in: Adventure How To, Travel
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Amps amps amps amps amps amps amps amps amps amps :::::::::::::: AMPS! We can buy gasoline at a gas station and food at the grocery store, but what I need is electricity. I’ve got a craving for electrons I can’t kick! Give me amps, man! Amps! I need ’em!

My phone eats them. Just devours them. Sucks them down like a 7-Eleven Slurpee. GPS, Facebook, email … they all need amps. And Lisa’s phone too and our laptops and our flashlights and, my god, my watch. My watch died 3 weeks into the trip and needs some amps to get back to life but who needs a watch anyway on a trip like this with Arizona’s crazy refusal to honor daylight savings time and Lisa and my inability to stick in one time zone for longer than a week so who cares what time it is anyway on my wrist because I can just look at my phone because my phone has a clock but it needs amps to charge and tell me the time.  I NEED AMPS!

We bought a 2.1 amp charger so that we could charge our phones faster while driving, but that means we have to drive to charge. We have to be confined in our metal box so that we can be free of it. We need another source, man! My god — it can’t go on like this. We can’t go on like this. We need email! We need Angry Birds! We need internets!

That Electricity Thing
Creative Commons License photo credit: garryknight | Do you have a 12V hook-up?

My plan is to wire our old deep-cycle boat battery to use as a reserve power bank while we’re off-grid. It’s an 80 amp-hour battery. It’s lead-acid, so I can safely drain it to about 50% capacity. Our cell phone batteries are about 1,500 milliamp-hour (1.5 amp-hour) lithium ion batteries. We can get about 30 cell-phone charges (as long as we don’t full discharge) out of our reserve deep cycle battery … if I can wire it right. That’s DAYS of freedom. But they deep-cycle will need to be replenished too.

We can sneakily charge when we see free outlets in the campground bathroom or laundromat. And we recharge when we’re at the library, sucking down their bandwidth and internets. But the deep-cycle — that’s a thirsty beast if there ever was one.

I could get a solar panel and leave it in the sun. That may work, but we’ll still need another source. And a solar panel will take up space we don’t have. I’m too afraid to charge it off the van’s alternator for fear of running down the van’s starter battery and leaving us stranded and waiting for either Toyota Roadside Assistance or AAA. But 30 phone-charges could last over 15 days and maybe we can sneak the half-ton battery into a hotel room now and then and charge it there while we melt our brains with TV and tiny soap. Now I need a 120V charger.

Goddamn amps.