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In a power outage, I’d take this Xiaomi fan over a phone. Yes, really

Tropical Storm Isaias left a mess in its wake last week as it rolled through the East Coast. For any major storm, preparation is key — so that meant having a flashlight on hand and my smartphone juiced up ahead of time. While many would agree those are lifesavers, it turned out that a fan made by Xiaomi proved to be the biggest godsend. Here’s why.

Necessity you wouldn’t expect

As it turned out, Tropical Storm Isaias had more of an impact days after the storm actually rolled through New Jersey, where I live. Power intermittently went off throughout the storm, but for no more than 10 minutes at any given time. In fact, I thought it was an easy storm compared to the destruction of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

As much as I was prepared, I was caught off guard the following day, after the storm passed, when power was deliberately cut for an extended period of time. I speculated that the power company had to shut it off in order to clear downed lines that were affecting distribution to nearby townships. Regardless, this was unexpected.

Xiaomi SmartMi 2S outside
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Summer nights are grueling, more so when the humidity hovers close to 100%, so it’s not fun at all trying to work or go to sleep. That’s where the SmartMi 2S, a smart fan from Xiaomi, came to the rescue. Yes, you could argue that a smartphone, or perhaps a battery bank, would be far more critical in a situation like this, but the SmartMi 2S alleviated my biggest concern at that moment — the crushing heat and humidity!

It’s not just another battery -powered fan

You really wouldn’t think of Xiaomi as a maker of fans, but the Chinese brand has a robust portfolio of smart home gadgets consisting of LED lights, lamps, and robot vacuums. The SmartMi 2S, is very different from other battery- or USB-powered fans. For starters, it’s connected for remote operation, which is useful in certain situations. I’m able to adjust its settings and fan speed all through the Mi Home app — available for Android and iOS. And when there’s no connectivity, such as the case during power outages, you can still rely on the physical controls on the fan.

Without question, it’s the SmartMi 2S’ battery life that’s most outstanding. Other portable fans I’ve used never seemed to exceed a few hours of use before they’re exhausted. Connecting them to a battery bank may extend their use, but it still pales in comparison to my experience with the SmartMi 2S. You wouldn’t think that a battery-powered pedestal fan would last more than a couple of hours, but the SmartMi 2S’ lithium-ion battery is rated for an astounding 20 hours. And I’m talking about a fan that’s Wi-Fi- connected and can oscillate as well.

Xiaomi SmartMi 2S top view
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The power outage lasted for almost 16 hours. Fortunately, the SmartMi 2S powered through uninterrupted — proving to be a bigger godsend than my iPad was for entertainment. Even more amazing is that I didn’t bother to charge it for the storm. Knowing that, though, I kept the fan’s speed at level three (out of four), just to ensure it wouldn’t tap out before power was restored.

The cost of convenience

Convenience comes at a cost, and with the SmartMi 2S, that turns out to be $130. Sure, you can pick up other cheaper alternatives at a fraction of the cost, but it’s one of those things that proves itself in unpredictable situations. I can’t tell you enough how it made a difference in getting to sleep at night. Without it, I would’ve been roasting slowly like a Thanksgiving turkey in the oven, but the cool and refreshing breeze produced by the SmartMi 2S kept it bearable.

If you’re put off about the cost, it’s still nowhere as exorbitant as what you’d expect from a Dyson. There is a non-battery version of the fan, too, but given that there’s only a $30 difference, you’re still better off getting the battery-powered one. It’s versatile enough to bring the convenience of staying cool just about anywhere. I’m talking about outdoor settings, family gatherings, or in my case, a power outage during a storm. Having it on hand will help you sleep easier at night, that’s for sure.

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