Charging your Smartphone while on the move.

Hands up anyone who has had their Smartphone run out of battery just when you needed to make or take that call? Or you turned up at a meeting and you needed to call your boss. Or, more importantly, perhaps your tablet died during the climax of that film or in the final stages of your game.

Or perhaps you're going camping or hiking at the weekend and you want to be sure you can charge your phone while you're away.

I have found a simple solution to all of the above: a charger you can carry with you and use on the go. In fact, all it is is a Rechargeable Battery Pack that you carry with you.
When you get the low battery warning from your phone or tablet simply plug in the battery pack, charge your phone and continue using it. It's so simple.  The battery pack I use comes with a built in short microUSB cable so it plugs directly into my work Blackberry or my own personal Sony Xperia Z2.

If I had an Apple iPhone or iPad I could plug in an Apple cable and charge my Apple device just as easily from the USB port.  I'd like to point you at an Apple micro USB to Lightning adapter, but, as usual, Apple won't let me do that.  You'll have to search for these yourselves - or you could get a non-Apple phone and avoid these restrictions altogether.
The Rechargeable Battery Pack will charge my Blackberry around three times and my Xperia one and a half times. You should get two full charges out of the pack on most phones - including the iPhone.  That should be enough for a couple of days use without needing a charger. The charger has four blue LEDs on the top that tell you how much charge is in the unit.  Four LEDs lit means the pack is fully charged; two LEDs lit shows the pack is about half-charged.  The pack is as quick to charge your phone as a high-power normal mains charger.

And an added bonus for me - this battery pack even runs my Raspberry Pi!

Technical Specifications:

  • Capacity: 5000mAh, Lithium-polymer battery capable of charging two smartphones at the same time.
  • Charges iPhone 2 to 2.5 times, Charges Galaxy S4 about 1.3 times.
  • Max output: 5V / 2.5A.
  • Suitable for Android and Windows Smartphones, iPhones, iPads and Tablets (you will need to buy an Apple adapter as none are included)
  • On a high-power charger the pack is fully recharged in 3.5 hours.
  • On a normal charger the pack is recharged in about 6 hours
  • Size: 5.1" x 2.75" x 0.31".  One of the thinnest battery packs available.  It's designed to stack behind your phone and you can still use the phone with the charger held behind it


There's simply no excuse.  For the little amount this unit costs - and the convenient size - you really should carry one with you at all times.  It will save you - or your friends - time and time again.

Upgrading to LED lamps really pays for itself!

I've been replacing my older tungsten bulbs for years now, starting with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and more recently directly with LED lamps

Although I'm already saving money having switched to CFLs I'm getting fed up with the low light output, the long start times and the noticeable way the light output decays with time so that all too quickly the lamps become next to useless.  An example are the candle lamps I have in my dining room.

The light fitting held eight 40W tungsten lamps so the room was nice and bright, but at a total of 320W was very expensive to run (over £110 per year using the lamps an average of six hours a day).

I replaced the tungsten lamps with eight 7W compact fluorescents and for a while these have been OK but lately the light output has faded and the electronic ballasts used in the bulbs have started to whine, so these replacements have not only become annoyingly dim but also annoyingly noisy!

They have got to go.

I've been looking for a suitable replacement for these for a while - and while it is easy to justify buying LED bulbs to replace tungsten or halogen lamps you do have to be careful replacing the compact fluorescent lamps because the power savings are nowhere near as great.  However, I think I've found a bargain.  I've found a source of a triple pack of Duracell 4w LED Candle Light Bulbs at a very good price.

Not only are these slightly cooler colour temperature than the old compact fluorescent bulbs, but they are cheaper to replace and run at an even lower wattage so I will make savings when these are fitted.  To prove this I knocked up a quick spreadsheet calculator that you can download here

In the spreadsheet I have assumed that a unit of electricity costs about £0.15 and that the lamps are run for an average of six hours per day.  From this:
  • A 40W tungsten lamp costs £13.10 per year in electricity and may need to be replaced twice.
  • The 7W CFL costs £2.29 per year to run and may last five years.
  • The Duracell 4W LED lamp costs a miserly £1.31 per year to run and should last 10 years. 
When you factor in the lives of the other bulbs and their replacement costs the Duracell LED lamp will pay for itself as a replacement for the compact fluorescents in under two years - and as a replacement for the 40W tungsten bulb in about three months!

You can use the calculator to work out how much you can save, but do bear in mind that if a lamp is only used an hour or so a day (perhaps in a cupboard under the stairs) it may not be worth replacing it at all with an LED lamp.  Just enter the details of the lamps you want to compare in the yellow boxes and adjust the electricity costs and hours per day to suit you and the rest of the sheet re-calculates for you (it should be easy to convert to other currencies too but I'll leave that up to you).

The new LED lamps arrived today and they're all fitted. They're bright with a good colour balance and are noticeably brighter than the old 7W compact fluorescents so that's a good start.  They're instant-on, which means I get light immediately I turn the switch on (not 30 seconds to two minutes afterwards) and they're silent.  No more whistling and whining from the lamps!

Technical Data:

Energy RatingA+
Power consumption4W
Colour Temperature2700K (Warm White)
Expected life25,000 hours
Power Cyclesapprox. 40,000