How to Choose the Right Power Bank Portable Charger
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- 22 Dec, 2018
Get the Best Portable Charger:
Don’t Get Caught with Your Power Bank Down on the Journey Ahead
Choosing a portable charger or power bank to charge your phone or tablet might seem like a simple task, but it can prove trickier than anticipated. As you explore your options for power banks, here are some key questions to consider. How many devices will you need to charge and how regularly will you use an external battery? Are there weight limits involved, such as will you be hiking or putting the portable battery in checked luggage? What is your budget? How do you want to charge your portable power bank?
How Portable Power Banks Work
A portable charger or power bank is also often called a portable power pack, portable battery pack or simply a portable battery. Power banks typically store electrical energy from a wall outlet, hand crank, or solar cell and for use that energy to charge another device. Power banks must be charged themselves, sometimes for a long time but will store enough electrical energy to recharge a device several times over. Please note that the lower the charge on your device, the more the portable power bank has to work to recharge it. So, you may not want to wait until the device fully depletes before using your portable charger. When deciding on a power bank for your phone or another mobile device, check your devices for their battery capacity, measured in milliamp hours (mAh). If your portable power bank exceeds the mAh number on the device, you will get a full charge out of it.
Power Bank Size vs. Capacity
When selecting a portable battery charger, be prepared to make a compromise between capacity, or how much juice the charger provides, and portability. More capacity means a bigger, heavier battery pack. If you plan to do a lot of traveling and need to keep a larger device going long term, opt for a large, high-capacity charger, but if you need to keep your smartphone or Bluetooth speaker going until you can get to a wall outlet, then a pocket-friendly charger should suit you just fine. The best battery chargers use an integrated circuit, or IC, which can recognize the state of the battery it is charging and changes the charger’s behavior accordingly. If possible, buy a charger with an IC. Also, think about whether you will need to charge a single device or several at once. Most external batteries offer a single charging port, but some offer many ports for simultaneous charging. Please remember that charging multiple devices will drain the battery faster.
Furthermore, the output voltage of the power bank should be equal to or higher than your device. Below you will find a list of the power bank mAh (capacity) options that are typically available. You can also use this list as a general guideline for which power bank size or capacity you should choose for your cell phone or tablet.
So which power bank size (mAh capacity) should you choose for your mobile phone or device?
- 1500 mAh - 2200 mAh power banks: typically one full charge of a regular sized 4-5 inch cell phone
- 2500 mA - 3000 mAh power banks: typically one or one and a half full charges of a larger smartphone or ‘phablet’ (e.g. Note, XL, Plus versions, etc.) or a smaller tablet
- 4000 mAh, 5000 mAh, 6000 mAh power banks: usually two to three full charges of a cell phone and a tablet to 50% - 80%
- 10000 mAh power banks: usually four-plus full charges of a cell phone and a full-sized tablet or iPad to 100%
- 12000 mAh - 15000 mAh power banks and up: really for 5+ full charges of most any cell phone and 2+ full charges of most any tablet and more
Note that higher mAh products are available as well but will prove more expensive than lower mAh chargers. Also note that these are only common applications, and your specific needs may vary slightly depending on your device, its age and many other factors.
Portable Battery Charger Life Span
Generally speaking, a lithium-ion battery has about 500 available charge cycles, after which, the battery’s capacity becomes significantly diminished. Anyone who has owned a phone for over two years can confirm that over time the battery capacity declines, lasting for shorter and shorter periods between charges. Portable power banks are no exception to this rule. Most chargers take longer to charge the more frequently you use them, so plan to use them only when necessary to protect your investment.
Types of Portable Power Banks
In addition to the traditional wall outlet charged portable power batteries, solar power bank and hand crank portable charger options exist as well. Solar is the most common off-the-grid source of power available and is an excellent option for long trips if you desire multiple charges of your devices. The main variables to consider are surface area and charge time. A larger solar panel can collect more sunlight and convert that light into battery power faster. A smaller panel is easier to pack but takes longer to charge a battery. Charge times vary from four to sixteen hours depending on surface area and available light conditions. Hand crank chargers are an excellent option for emergencies or backpacking. Crank-powered portable battery chargers offer the security of knowing that if you have hands, you can charge your device.
A Final Word on Portable Chargers
Most portable chargers will come with charging cables, but you can usually just use the charging cables you already own. If you want to get new cables, you'll want to make sure the new cable(s) suit your needs, your usage habits and your style. Stay tuned for the next article on the most common types of mobile device charge and data sync cables, and check out our portable power banks available here.