Managing Battery Power

Managing power, in part by making judicious usage decisions, is a big element of offline usage while homeless because you also will likely be dependent on battery power for large parts of the day or all day on days when the library is closed. So you will need to decide things like if you want to play a certain game for an hour or two or if you would rather do other lower power usage things for several hours (such as read articles and write stuff) to keep you occupied all evening.

This is much less of an issue if you are in housing with electricity, but just don't have internet service at home. That doesn't meant it won't ever be an issue at all in housing. If you are in cramped quarters with a short cord, you may still have some problems here.

I am currently in housing and I spend many hours a day on a cheap smartphone. The cord is short and it is inconvenient to have it plugged in at all times. I sometimes plug it in and leave to run errands so it can recharge without me being in some awkward position while on it.

Some general tips:
  • Turn the screen brightness down. This is often a very large drain on battery power, especially on larger tablets.
  • Turn off wifi, bluetooth and location services when they are not in use. These can be a huge drain.
  • Some games are a huge drain on power. Videos can be a satisfactory substitute that is less burdensome.
  • Try to get the battery to full power when you can get plugged in and do high energy activities at times when plugging in is possible or convenient. Planning to do high energy things while plugged in and lower energy things while not plugged in can help make a tablet or smartphone more productive under challenging circumstances.
There are also apps that can help you optimize usage and figure out where the power is going.

Extra Batteries

If you have a phone with a removable battery, you can buy extra batteries (normally $5 each on eBay) and a battery charger (also $5) to charge two batteries at once. You can carry multiple batteries to extend your battery life to a week if you want. Removable batteries are not common these days. An alternative solution is to buy a USB battery pack for about $20.


Alex Becker said…
I found a USB battery pack very useful back when I was couch-surfing a lot. You can often get small USB battery packs for ~$10, for example on Amazon, which will still give you 1.5-2 extra full charges. I found a small Anker brand charger on sale for $10 which worked well for over a year until I gave it away. One caution is that if you have a newer phone with USB-C a charger, you may need a mini USB charger and a USB to USB-C adapter to use one of the cheap battery packs.