What’s in a… Portable Emergency Light


I have seen the light! Look, it’s on that chair there…

Many years ago, Snail-Mum bought one of these things because where she lives has an, shall we say, uncertain electricity supply. When the wind blows, the mains is not sure whether it wants to be waiting to leap into action in a kettle or a TV, or huddling in the corner of a sub-station, hoping for the storm to pass overhead. More often than not, it is the latter course of action that is adopted.* At Chez Snail, we have a much lesser problem but it isn’t unknown for the electricity to go on its holidays for a few hours a couple of times a year, so we bought one too, for less than the cost of the replacement bulbs.

These lights sit quietly out the way, say under a chair in the hall, or leaning up against a cupboard in the kitchen, plugged in, waiting… then, when the mains supply cuts out, the lights come on and stop you blundering into things whilst looking for candles, flaming torches or flaming anything that-can-be-found-in-the-dark-and-then-lit.

However, eventually, the battery inside gives up, either because it hasn’t been used in so long that the chemicals breakdown or because it is left on and the battery is completely discharged once too often to be saved. Either way, the unit is then useless.

The internal battery is located behind eight screws and some jiggery-pokery (about a finagle’s worth), the latter being needed to actually separate the halves of the casing.



The insides – look, they labelled everything for me (not)

It should now be easy enough to replace the battery with a new one. I would prefer to put in some Ni-MH rechargeables (like I did in our wind-up radio) but then I would have to redesign the charging bit of the circuitry which I may do one day.


A nice old-fashioned circuit board with ‘real’ components!


One Duff Battery – note the really helpful rubber square glued over the technical specs

Right – off to order two batteries, one to fix this one and one to fix Snail-Mum’s. The duff batteries can go to the recycling place and the landfill can be undisturbed.

Whilst searching for replacement batteries, I found this comment on a boating forum:

The problem is that the rest of the family seem to be firmly convinced that all cordless appliances come pre-filled with “electricity” for life so it spends a lot of time sitting there, deeply discharged, waiting for the “electricity fairies” to come and put some more electricity in it and I get fed up buying new batteries. Probably easier / cheaper to educate the family, I guess.

It would appear manufacturers are under the same delusion!


* Yes, I have anthropomorphised electricity but, given what we know about quantum physics, I’m certain that this description of the flow of electrons in wires is not that far from the truth.

Categories: recycling, repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “What’s in a… Portable Emergency Light

  1. Can we have some electricity fairies too? If they were glow in the dark ones, we wouldn’t need a portable emergency light!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pat

    Quantum physics aside, last I heard we really don’t understand what electricity is. Maybe it’s all part of some gigantic, yet invisible, space brain. Be nice to it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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