I tend to have a feeling of helplessness in a power cut, as they nearly always seem to occur in the dark. I usually go around lighting candles and then feeling bored as it is still too dim to do much. But I’m glad we don’t get as many here in the UK as some countries. I remember having a few in Spain, one of which was on our last evening when I was trying to pack. That was not a fun experience, as I knew I had to finish the packing before bed, since we were going to need to leave the villa around 4am.
Well I have just received another free product from Epica to review. This time it is a Survival Radio / Flashlight, which is a really useful item to possess in case of power cuts, so long as you know where you keep it, and I have just the bag waiting for this purpose. It has been on my “To Do List” for some time to fill this Emergency grab bag, so now that I have started with the Flashlight, hopefully that will spur me on to add the other items suggested on the bag.
Luckily we don’t get many power cuts here unlike our previous house which was in a more rural location, and they mostly tend to be fairly short duration, but it is always best to be prepared. Also it will be very useful each time a light bulb blows, as nearly every time, it trips the rest of the lights and it is not much fun trying to avoid all the hazards in the garage in the dark to reach the fuse box in order to reset the lights.
This is a rechargeable item, so there is no worry of dead batteries when you actually need to use it in earnest. There are three ways to charge it, either via a USB connection or via its in-built solar panel or by turning the hand crank.
The product arrived uncharged so I firstly tested out the hand crank, as if you had allowed it to discharge, this would be the quick way to get sufficient charge in a dark emergency to get the light working. I turned the hand crank for about a minute and then turned on the light. It worked perfectly.
The instructions say that if it had already been partially charged that my one minute of hand cranking would have been sufficient for 30 minutes of light and 20 minutes of radio, depending on the volume. It also recommends that you crank under a speed of 130 revolutions per minute to avoid overheating. Plus another recommendation that after a few minutes cranking, to stop for a few minutes before resuming cranking.
I then charged it fully for 2 hours via its USB port, using the mini-standard USB cable which came with it. I cheated and charged it from the mains, but I could have charged it in the car or via my computer.
Next I tried out the radio. I found it had 3 bands, namely FM, AM and WB. I had never heard of WB which stands for weather band. I thought this sounded an interesting feature until I visited the National Weather Service website mentioned in the instructions and found it purely related to the US, so no use at all here in the UK.
Instead I tuned it into my favourite station on FM. Even with the antenna aerial fully extended, there was quite a bit of background hiss, but if there was a lengthy power cut, I’d happily put up with the hiss. At least you have a radio to listen to. I also noted that it remembers the last station you have tuned into when you switch the radio back on. Plus there is a button for backlighting on the radio LCD display.
Whenever the unit is being charged, a red indicator light will illuminate. So the next day I took it outside in the garden and saw it illuminate as it started to solar charge.
It also has functionality to charge mobile phones off it, having come with three different adaptors. Unfortunately none of them fitted my iPhone, so I wasn’t able to test this out.
On Amazon, it is listed as an Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger with NOAA Certified Weather Alert & Cables. However with all that hiss on the radio, I believe it is analogue rather than digital. Perhaps it is just referring to the digital display.
Also the instructions haven’t been proof-read very well as the warranty section is all about a totally different product, namely the Epica EP8144 Wireless Weather Station. Oops! This model number is Epica WR-257.
This radio / flashlight currently retails on Amazon for £23.95 compared to an RRP of £39.95, a 40% discount. A useful gadget in my opinion but I’m not aware of how much similar products retail for. Although a shame that we can’t utilise the Weather Band functionality here!
And as well as in power cuts, this would be a great addition to camping holidays. I would love to hear when you would use a product like this?
I previously reviewed the Epica kitchen thermometer and you can read that review here.
Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.