We all love (ok some of us probably hate) our mobile phones and rely on them more and more each day. From text messaging, receiving and doing calls, video chats, playing games to using various social media outlets, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and etc. These have become the platform for communication in the modern world. Businesses also rely on apps for mobile productivity and connectivity.
The prevalence of gadget owners has increased the use of phones in public places such as streets, restaurants, etc. Everywhere you look, you can see people with their heads down and seems to be very busy using their phones and tablets.
Of course, the challenge is, all these devices run on batteries. And as we all know too well, those batteries run out of juice eventually. And when you’re out of the house or office and on the go, it can be challenging to stay powered up. Public spaces are becoming more accommodating to making charging stations available but depending on where you’re at including out in a remote location, plugging in may not be an option.
Fortunately, with advanced technology, we all enjoy means that battery technology has also advanced. The development of the easily portable power bank has been a boon to anyone who is frequently on the go or traveling for extended periods.
What is a Power Bank?
A power bank is a portable charger which is designed to recharge your electronic gadgets similar to if you’re plugging into standard power. Power banks have become popular as the battery life of our favorite gadgets is outstripped by the amount of time we spend using them in a single day. You can charge your device while far from an outlet by always having a battery backup.
Power banks range in from slim size, pocked-sized up to larger, higher-capacity power banks. This device can charge any USB-charged devices including cell phones, tablets, GoPros, Portable speakers, GPS Systems, MP3 players, and cameras. Note that they are also commonly called Power Stations and Battery Banks.
How Do You Charge a Power Bank?
A power bank comprises an input socket for receiving power. This power will typically come from a USB socket on your wall socket adapter. Although it can come from a socket on your computer, it will take more time to fully charge compared to a wall socket. Most power banks uses a Mini or Micro-USB socket for charging and provide options for USB and other format sockets for discharging.
There are also power banks which are solar-powered banks. These type of power banks are ideal if you’re going on a hiking or a fishing trip. You can recharge them back at the camp site during the day for use during the night.
How Long Does it Take to Charge a Power Bank?
How long it takes to charge a power bank depends on the battery size of your power bank. The larger the capacity of your power bank, the longer it may take to charge. A small portable charger with a capacity of 1500mAh will charge in about the same time as charging a smartphone, while a larger device suitable for laptops will take up to 4 times as long. Charging your power bank through a wall socket is quicker than charging it through the USB port of your computer.
Milliamp-Hour (mAh) is a unit which measures electric power over time. This is commonly used to measure the energy capacity of a battery. Battery capacity represents the maximum amount of energy that can be extracted from the battery under certain specified conditions.
How Long Does a Power Bank Last?
There are two important life expectancies to consider this question:
- How long a Power Bank can retain its charge when not in use
- The number of charge/discharge cycles a Power Bank can reliably perform
The first point depends on the quality of the battery cells and controller circuitry. A good power bank can hold a charge for 3 to 6 months, while lower quality power banks takes you to charge more than 4 to 6 weeks. Most power banks will lose their charge over time, depending on the temperature of environment and their treatment.
The number of charge/discharge cycles a power bank can perform can differ between the models of power bank. Each model has different internal components and manufacturing quality. Good quality and more expensive power banks can last longer, while cheaper ones may fall short depending on how it is treated.
What Type of Batteries do Power Banks Use?
Power banks generally use Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) and Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries. Lithium-Ion batteries are cheaper to manufacture and have a higher energy density, but this type of battery also has issues with aging. Lithium-Polymer is a better choice because this type does not suffer as much aging. However, due to their higher manufacturing costs, this type of battery may not suit all budgets.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Power Bank
Some energy is lost due to voltage boosting or current conversion during the charging process. The rule of thumb is to get a power bank with at least 25 percent more capacity than the battery capacity of your device. The battery capacity is the length of time required to discharge your device. For example, let’s say we have a 3V nominal battery with 1Amp-hour capacity, therefore it has 3 Wh of capacity. 1 Ah means that in theory we can draw 1 Amp of current for one hour.
As an example, the iPhone 6 Plus battery is 2,915 mAh and the standard iPhone 6 is 1,810 mAh. The standard iPhone 6 battery life is round 7 and ½ hours.
Factor in usage patterns and number of ports
Getting a high-capacity power bank has its advantages. It enables you to charge your device multiple times over. Also, bigger power banks tend to come with more than one output port, which means you can charge more than one device at the same time. So, if you always forget to charge your device overnight, or in a place where a power outlet is hard to come by, getting a bigger power bank makes sense.
- Output Power
Every smartphone has a battery, and every battery delivers power in the same way, it’s good to know the time duration of charging your device and get a power bank that supports it. In the past, most power banks had hardwired ports while today, more power banks have smart ports which can detect the amount of power needed, so they can provide the fastest possible charge automatically, regardless of what device goes into which port.
- Input Power
This refers to the power that the power bank is able to accept when recharging it. How fast it charges depends on how high the input. This is important if you have a high-capacity power bank. The measurement used to gauge power input for portable power banks is amperes. This measurement indicates how quickly the bank will recharge from the USB.
- Power Adapter
Most power bank manufacturers don’t include a USB charger. But the thing is, not all USB chargers are the same, and many people use their old USB chargers to charge their power banks, which is a mistake. Find a high-quality USB charger if you have a high capacity power bank. By high-quality, it means you should consider the number and type of ports. How often will you charge your device? Do you need to recharge two or more devices simultaneously? A power bank will also include USB to Micro-USB cord for input.
Lithium-ion or Lithium Polymer?
Lithium-ion gives high energy density and low discharge rate. However, this one suffers from aging even when not used. To ensure the best performance, it is good to use this in fairly warm room temperature.
Lithium Polymer uses solid but flexible polymer electrolyte, which means that thin and lightweight designs can hold slightly higher specific energy and is much safer compared to Lithium-ion.
Choosing a power bank with lithium-ion batteries or lithium polymer ones doesn’t matter a whole lot. Although they have charging/discharging characteristic differences, they are indistinguishable to end users. It’s not so much about what type of battery is used, but who makes it and the overall components.
Quality and Safety
Where to Buy
Batteries can explode, so some power bank manufacturers include on the package where they source their batteries from. The battery is only one of the various components of a power bank. When it comes to safety, the design of the circuit board, chip quality, and how the safety mechanisms are implemented also play a role.
Here are some of the power banks available in the market today.
This power bank has a monstrous 10, 000 mAh capacity, and the fact that they managed to make the PowerCore 10000 incredibly small and light for a power bank makes it more impressive and incredibly rare. The company labeled it as “smaller than a deck of cards and lighter than a baseball”.
Anker is a company which takes safety seriously. The PowerCore 10000 has a proprietary safety system, called “multi-protect” built in. The power bank also comes with a micro-USB cable, travel pouch, welcome guide, and an 18-month warranty.
- High capacity power bank in a small and light package
- Very good safety features built-in
- Incredibly high built quality and durability
- Fast charging via VoltageBoost and PowerIQ
- Battery longevity issues
- Only one USB port
This power bank is portable with a 10,000mAh capacity, and impossibly thin which is 0.37 inches/0.94 cm and super light 7 ounces. The charger also features GETIHU’s fast charging technology and has a dual USB ports which allows you to charge 2 devices at the same time. The portable charger also has built-in intelligent safety protection.
The package also comes with 1 USB charging cable and 1 user manual.
- Good safety features built-in
- 2 USB ports
- LED flashlight built-in
- High 10000mAh capacity
- Good warranty
- Slightly large size in terms of surface area
- Only 1 USB port is 2.1A, the other port is 1A
The biggest benefit of this power bank is it’s large 22000mAh battery capacity. Just for some context, this power bank can charge an iPhone 7 approximately eight times. Aside from the battery capacity, it is also efficient. It contains Li-polymer battery inside and retains 70% to 80% of its capacity after 500 charge cycles.
Its feature includes a large number of ports. This is clearly suitable for a person who owns a lot of gadgets. This device also has a UL94 V-O fire resistant shell.
- Has 22000mAh capacity
- Has more than two high-speed ports
- Good safety features
- Long lasting battery
- The device is quite heavy
This power bank has an impressive capacity of 20,000 mAh. Just for context, this device can charge an iPhone 7 six times, a Samsung S7 five times, and an iPad Mini 3 two times. The best feature of this device is its charging speed. It can be superfast recharged within 6 hours, reducing the charging time up to 50%.
The device also has safety features which prevent devices from overcharging, overcurrent, and short circuits. With regards to the design, the device takes the candy bar shape.
- Has a high capacity 20000mAh
- Super-fast charging
- 4 USB ports
- Flashlight built-in
- 18 month warranty
- Small percentage of customer reported product doesn’t last long
- Overkill for those that have limited devices
This power bank has a 10000mAh capacity which is lot more portable than other devices with similar capacities. The device has two USB ports and a flashlight which is perfect for hikers, campers, and travelers. It also has a small 0.78 x 5.4 x 2 inches.
This device also has “Intelligent Safety Protection” built in, which provides protection from overcharging, over voltage, and over-current.
- Has 2 USB ports
- Great safety features built-in
- Flashlight built in
- Attractive, white interior
- Only one port has 2.1A while the other is a slower 1A
- White color makes scratches visible
This power bank has high capacity of 12000mAh for a device of its size. In context, this device can charge iPhone 7 five times, a Galaxy S7 three times and an IPad mini 1.8 times. Aside from high capacity, it also charges pretty damn fast. With regards to design, this device in minimalistic, clean, and incredibly sleek. It is made of cool aluminum and comes in several metallic colors.
This power bank intelligently power manages IC and also has protection against over charging, over voltage, over the current and short circuit.
- Fast charging 2A ports
- Two USB ports
- Has elegant design
- Has variety of colors
- Good capacity 12000 mAh
- The device is quite long
- Small percentage of customers reported battery issues
This device is a 10000mAh power bank which allows you to change your devices incredibly fast. It also has two USB ports so you can charge two devices at the same time. This device also is reasonably attractive and it has a traditional rounded rectangle candy bar shape.
This power bank has intelligent power manage IC, over charge and short circuit protection.
- Has 10,000 mAh capacity
- Longer battery life
- Has two ports
- Has safety mechanism
- Not the most attractive power bank
- Only one port is high speed, the other is only 1A
This power bank has a large capacity, it can charge iPhone 7 seven times, the Galaxy S6 five times, and iPad mini around four times. It also provides super-fast charging. This device can recharge itself in 10 hours with the 2 Amp charger.
The device has MultiProtect Safety System, which ensures protection from short circuit. This device is also sleek and elegant. It has a long, rounded, rectangle candy bar shape.
- Super high capacity of 20100mAh
- Fast charging
- Attractive, slim design
- Built-in safety measures
- Only has two ports
This power bank which has an impressive 13000 mAh capacity, is the successor to the PowerCore 10400. This device has the combination of Anker’s proprietary technologies, PowerIQ and VoltageBoost built in which delivers the fast charging. It also has two USB ports up to an impressive 3A.
It also has MultiProtect Safety System built in, which gives protection from surging and short circuit. Anker claims that this device is approximately 30% lighter than 13,000 mAh power banks from competitors.
- Good capacity 13000 mAh
- High speed charging via 3A USB ports
- Good security and safety features
- Could have more than two USB ports
The design is most notable aspect of this device. The look of this power bank marks a great departure from rounded rectangle candy bar shape that most power banks have taken. This device closely resembles a Smarties tube, it looks small cylindrical shape looks elegant and portable.
It has the same features as other Anker power banks. The PowerCore+ mini has MultiProtect Safety System built in.
- Incredibly light
- Charges device faster
- Has high safety and security features
- USB port is only 1A
- Some may not like its shape