There are many ways to create electrical currents, but charge your phone from a river!? It’s not as difficult as you might think. This post is, in part, a review of the WaterLily turbine.
Alternative Sources of Power
The search for reliable sources of power is a never-ending quest for preppers. A devastating natural disaster rolls through and cuts power to all surrounding areas, or maybe an massive solar flare fries the grid (protect your house from an EMP attack) – whatever the scenario, preppers look for alternative sources of power. Maybe you’re already living off the grid entirely, and you think this post might not apply to you. I would argue it applies to you even more.
The default source of power people go to is typically a portable generator. The advantages are clear. They can be moved from one location to another. Generators can be powered by gas or propane. They produce significant current for their size, enough to power an entire house. The downsides are also obvious. They require fuel to run, and while they are portable, it is impractical to think you’re going to carry one deep into the woods should you need power there.
Solar panels are highly desired for their ability to generate (and with batteries – store) power. They range in size from taking up entire rooftops to smaller panels that can roll up and fit in a backpack. The amount of power they generate is commensurate with their size… and the amount of sun. Overcast days limit the power created, and when it is sunny, solar panels are only generating power during daylight hours. Solar panels have their place, but they are best supplemented with other sources of power.
Hydroelectric and Wind Power
Most people do not have the placement or resources to invest in hydro or wind turbines. They are renewable and clean, but the undertaking is often too big. Not everyone has a home or bug out location where they can install windmills, or dam a river in order to generate current (no pun intended). That is speaking in larger-scale terms, however. There is a more personal-sized turbine available to preppers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Charge Your Phone from a River with the WaterLily Turbine
The WaterLily is essentially that, a small, portable water/wind turbine. It has been used successfully in the field by paddlers, campers, off-gridders, and preppers all across the globe. It won’t power a house, but it can be used to consistently charge cellphones, cameras, batter banks, and 12V devices.
The unit is designed to be placed in a fast-flowing stream or river where the flowing water will turn the turbine, which then send energy through the wire which is then connected to whichever device you need charged. It’s a 10′ cord, allowing plenty of distance to set your device(s) safely away from the water. Some preppers have been known to hide the cord when necessary, a particularly useful strategy when setting up perimeter cameras that you want to keep hidden.
The WaterLily can be used for more than just charging a phone, camera, or other USB device. It has been successfully used by people to:
- power LED lights for camping and remote cabins
- Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
- power trail cameras for hunting or monitoring perimeters
- supplement solar panels
- charge portable Wi-Fi speakers
- recharge flashlights
- charge lead acid batteries
- power handheld GPS units
- charge battery banks while kayaking (using a foam kickboard to keep it in line while paddling)
The turbine will charge almost anything so long as it’s turning. That means you could use wind or crank it by hand. Reviews consistently rank rivers and streams as the best, and most consistent source of power, however. Following are the various parts that make up this device:
According to the manufacturer:
In an average river, WaterLily can charge most small electronics at the same rate as a wall-charger. The faster the water flow, the more power WaterLily can generate, up to 15 watts.
If your WaterLily has a 12V output, you can chain multiple turbines together to double, triple or further multiply your power output.
The good thing about charging with river power is that there is power available day or night, sun or cloud. Rivers flow 24/7, and if you have a large capacity device, charging it overnight with WaterLily will have you ready for the next day’s adventure.
While the WaterLily won’t power a bug out cabin, it would make a good supplemental power source for a bug out location, somewhere remote where you have to lay low for a while, but still want the ability to charge a phone from a river, a game camera, or other essentially equipment.