Buying Guide: Power Banks
With everyone on the smartphone bandwagon, there is one universal problem everyone complains about no matter how good or fancy the phone might be: quick drainage of battery. No matter how many features a smartphone may provide, having a long battery life isn’t one of them and after a point they start discharging quite quickly which can be highly frustrating.
Power Banks are a good solution to charging a phone on the go, when it is not possible to find a charging point for the phone. They are portable and capable of carrying electric current and can charge our phone without a hassle.
Before investing in a power bank, many of us are quite clueless about its features and functions. Most of us have no idea what exactly does it mean when a power bank says it’s 3000 mAh or 130000 mAh, which power bank will actually meet our needs, which is compatible for phones as well as tablets and there are quite a few other questions that arise.
Here are a few common questions answered that will help you make an informed buying decision about a power bank so that the next time you surf the net you know exactly what those features mean and whether it’s worth investing in.
Common Terms used in Specifications
It stands for mii Ampere hour and it is a notation for capacity. This is the deciding factor of how powerful your power bank really is.
Many a times the USB port of the power bank has a number and symbol saying 1.5 M.A or 2.0 M.A. (milli Ampere). This can be thought of as the speed with which your power bank will charge your device. A smartphone will easily be charged with a 1.5 M.A. port whereas something with stronger battery life such as a tablet will need a 2.0 M.A port or higher as these will be more aggressive in charging your phone.
What factors should you consider before buying a power bank?
There are a variety of factors that come to play and you should keep in mind the following factors when considering to buy a power bank:
- Know Your Phone Battery Capacity
It is important for you to know the battery capacity of your phone so you can optimally choose a power bank for charging it.
- Power Bank CapacityA power bank can range anywhere from 1500 mAh to 220000 mAh. Higher the capacity of the power bank, the more charge it’ll be able to hold. For example, the iPhone 6 has a power capacity of 1810 mAh. A 3000 mAh power bank can give it a full charge one time. However a 1500 mAh will not be able to power the phone to 100% capacity.In short: the power bank battery capacity > phone battery capacity.
- Check the Output Port
You need to check the output port of the power bank and the phone charging phone. For example, the iPhone 6 charging port is 1 Ampere and hence should be plugged into the 1 Ampere output port of the power bank.
(Power Bank Output Port Ampere) MATCH (Phone Charging Point)
- Check how the Power Bank is Charged
A power bank can be charged through AC charging, Solar charging or both. See which product description best suits you and make your choice.
- Number of Ports
You can also buy power banks with one or multiple ports. It depends on your requirement and how many devices you’d like to charge. It should be kept in mind that heavier devices like tablets would need a 2.1 milli Ampere or higher output port. Hence make sure you buy a power bank which has both a 1 or 1.5 milli Ampere port and a 2.1 milli Ampere or higher port for charging larger devices.
- Charger Indication
Power banks either come with or without power indication. Some have a power meter while other have LED light indication. This is another factor to consider whether you would want your power bank to have an indication system or not.
This is another feature you can consider while buying a power bank. Most power banks will not be able to charge your phone while it’s charging too. However some have the ability to charge your phone simultaneously even though it might be slower.
What are the Types of Power Banks?
There are primarily three kinds of power banks and you can select one according to your requirement and budget:
Ultra-Portable Power Banks:
These are extremely light weight and can easily be carried around. They can easily fit your pocket and can also come in the shape of credit cards, lipsticks and keychain. They usually have low power and will be sufficient to charge your phone fully once. If you do not have heavy requirements, this is a good option for your smartphone and also plays a role as a good fashion accessory.
Portable Power Banks:
These power banks are slightly heavier and can be carried around in your jacket pocket or purse. These are good for charging the phone once or twice during the day as they have larger power output. They range from 10000 mAh- 22000 mAh and are aggressive towards charging the phone.
High Capacity Power Bank
They carry enormous charging capacity and can range from 22000 mAh to 30000 mAh and are used for charging phones and tablets and are ideal for places without electricity. This will come in handy when you go trekking or camping and need to charge your phone or tablet.
How Much Time Would The Power Bank take to Charge?
The time taken for a power bank to receive full charge depends on how much charge it can hold. The greater the capacity of the power bank, the greater will be the time it takes to reach a fully charged status.
The general formula for it would be:
(Power Capacity of Power Bank)/(Power Supply)= Time Taken
Lets say your power bank has a 22000 mAh capacity and at the moment is at 0%.
The power supply of the plug is 1000 mA.
The time taken to charge the power bank would be
22000/800= 27.5 hours
(800 mA is considered to take into account that 20% power is dissipated during charging/ discharging as well).
Hence to fully charge a power bank to 100% would take 27.5 hours.
How Many times can a phone be charged with a power bank?
This is again easy to calculate. You can do this by using the general formula:
The power bank capacity is at 13000 mAh. (Let’s assume the power bank is at 90% charge)
The phone battery is at 1810 mAh. (For iPhone 6)
(13000 mAh X 90% X 80%)/1810mAh=~ 5 Times
(Again assuming 80% as 20% power is dissipated during charging and discharging).
Can your Power Bank Charge your Tablet?
In order to be sure your power bank can charge your tablet, buy a power bank of a higher capacity. Most tablets have a battery of 9000 mAh to 11000 mAh and any power bank with 13000 mAh capacity or higher should do the trick.
Also keep in mind, tablets would need to be plugged to ports of 2.1 milli Ampere or higher so make sure your power bank has such an output port facility.
Why is the Power Bank not turning on?
It is a possibility that your power bank has completely discharged and is at 0%. You should put your power bank on charge and it should turn on when it receives ample power.
Another possibility is that your power bank may have gone into sleep mode. Most power banks cut off the power supply to the phone if they detect the phone might have over charged.
Can a power bank charge your laptop/ netbook?
It is not possible for a power bank to charge a laptop and netbook as it will not be able to sustain the power requirement for such heavy duty equipment. It is best suited for mobiles and tablets.
Is it ok if the power bank heats up while charging a device?
Most power banks, the good ones at least, have a built in integrated safety circuit that avoids overheating. However, if your power bank is overheating it maybe because your phone battery can be faulty or you’re charging a heavier device such as a tablet.
How to best maintain a power bank? Does it require continuous charging?
This is a misconception among most people that charging a power bank often will lead to better usage. On the contrary, you should charge a power bank to its fullest capacity and use it till it dies down and charge it again. The battery in the power bank has been built to undergo aging and hence you can use it normally without having to charge it every time it loses a bit of charge.
Can a phone be used while it’s being charged?
Yes you can use your phone while a power bank is charging it. However keep in mind that this will slow down the charging process and will take longer to charge the phone as using the phone will drain its battery too.
Common Power Bank Mistakes to Avoid
- Never go in for a cheap power bank that promises huge power capacity. Such power banks usually come with a refurbished battery to make good profits. Make sure your power bank comes with a warranty and is of a good brand. Do not try save money by buying a cheap one as it would not be fruitful in the long run.
- Choose a power bank by its capacity and not by weight or looks. It might look trendy to buy fancy power banks but they would not carry a high charging capacity. If you require a power bank that will charge your phone 3-4 times, go in for a one with a higher capacity.
- Use the connecting USB cable that came with the power bank as a substitute connecting wire might be of a cheaper quality leading to short circuit.
- When choosing a power bank, make sure to check its specifications. Make sure the power bank comes with features like Over charge protection, Temperature Protection and Short Circuit Protection. It might charge a bit higher but these are the signs of a good power bank.
- Do not expose your power bank to extreme sunlight and avoid using it around water and liquids. If it does wall into water, try sealing it in an airtight bag with rice which should soak the water out but this method cannot guarantee your power bank will work, hence it’s better to take precaution.
With these tips, tricks and information, it should now be easier for you to make a better buying decision when going in for a power bank. It’s a great device and once you understand it’s specifications and what your needs are, you would be able to buy yourself the perfect power bank in the budget that best suits you!