Power banks are must-have devices for the gadget-loving tech-head. The power they provide can keep all your gizmos powered up for the day, which is an especially useful thing to have when you have a dozen devices on your person at once.
However, there are a few facts about power bank that could help you better understand what you have on your hands and along with its full potential. Here are top 8 of those important points to keep in mind:
1. Input Current Determines Power Bank Charge Speed
The input current rating is measured in amperes (A), with the values ranging between 0.8A and 1.5A. The higher the value, the faster the power bank can be charged using the appropriate charging device. Do note, however, that exceeding this input current rating (e.g. using a 1.5A charger with a power bank that has a 0.8A input current rating) runs the risk of damaging the power bank itself.
2. Output Current Determines Device Charge Speed
On the flipside, the output current rating will determine the amps that the power bank will release when it charges a separate device. Some high-power devices like tablets can only recognize larger output current values, though. This means a power-hungry tablet may not even register the charge from a power bank with low output current.
3. Battery Quality and Protective Circuitry Matters. Ever wonder why some power banks cost so much more than other power banks with similar power storage capacities? The quality of the battery used along with the use of protective circuitry could be the reason why. These include certifications (e.g. UL Certification) for the battery’s reliability and the ‘safety valve’ mechanisms to protect your device, your power bank, and even yourself. Just make sure you’re paying for certifications and safety mechanisms – not big brands and clever marketing strategies.
4. Extreme Temperatures Reduce the Lifespan of a Power Bank
If the battery of a power bank is exposed to too much heat, its maximum charge capacity will go down. Expose it to high temperatures for long enough, and you could end up losing more than half of its charge capacity in as little as six months. On the flipside, extreme cold causes materials to shrink, which will then expand when heated up. Leaving your charger in near-freezing environments runs the risk of damaging brittle components when you use the power bank.
5. Pass-Through Charging Is Not Recommended
Pass-through charging is the practice of charging your power bank while a separate device is drawing power from the power bank. This is generally a bad idea. Remember what we said earlier about extreme temperatures affecting power banks? The heat from charging the power bank plus the heat from charging a separate device will build up in no time at all. The result: a very hot power bank battery that will lose its capacity to hold the same amount of electricity as it used to.
6. Not All Stored Power Is Transferred Directly to Your Device
It takes energy to transfer energy. Generally speaking, almost 40% of the energy is lost in the transfer process. This means that a power bank with a maximum capacity of 2,200mAh will not be able to transfer that 2,200mAh in its entirety to devices. The effective capacity is closer to 1,320mAh. Keep this conversion rate in mind when calculating how much juice you’ll need for your phones or tablets.
7. A Car’s Sudden Ignition May Overload a Power Bank
If you prefer to charge your power bank via your car’s power outlet, make sure to do so after you start your car’s engine. Starting up a car’s engine typically generates a voltage spike. Some power banks are unable to handle such a burst of electricity; significantly increasing the chances that they break down in the process. This is why it is safer to turn on your car engine and let it run for a few seconds before you plug your power bank into the car’s charging port.
8. Your Power Bank Degrades the More You Use It
All batteries in general lose their ability to hold electricity with each ‘ charge cycle’ of power. One charge cycle is defined by the electricity needed to charge the battery to full capacity plus the electricity that the battery discharges to drain its battery. All power banks have a set number of charge cycles before their capacity to hold electricity is degraded to the point that they’re no longer practical to use. High quality power banks will be able to survive more charge cycles, but they’ll all break down as you use them.