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Low Current Charging in Power Banks (aka Trickle Charging)

Low Current Charging in Power Banks (aka Trickle Charging)

The majority of power banks do not charge devices that require low voltages. Gadgets such as fitness bracelets, smartwatches, Bluetooth headphones, etc., are the most common examples of such low current devices.

In this article, we will explain the reason for this issue, talk about some power banks that offer a way around it, and enable low current charging in your power bank.

Let’s begin.

What Is Low Current Charging? 

Not all batteries are the same, and they all require different amounts of current to recharge them. Even though power banks can usually charge batteries of all smartphones irrespective of their specific capacity, they are not always suitable for small devices like Fitbit bracelets, Apple Watch, BlueTooth headsets, etc.  

This is because these devices are equipped with a very tiny battery that requires a very low current to recharge them. The process of charging these devices with tiny battery packs using a very weak current is known as low current charging.

Another term that you’ll see people online use for describing this process is “trickle charging”. Although trickle charging can refer to other things as well, in relation to power banks, we can use it interchangeably with “low current charging”.

Why Do Some Power Banks Fail To Deliver Low Current Charging?

Before any power bank starts charging a device, it first reads the amount of charge remaining in the battery it is supposed to charge. To do that, analyze the voltage readings of the battery and then sets and output voltage accordingly. 

In the case of low current devices, the voltage reading that they give out is below their minimum voltage threshold, so the power bank is unable to detect the presence of any battery at all. And therefore, it does not send out any output current. It causes the power bank to shut down in order to conserve battery life automatically. 

In some situations, if you are using a cheap power bank, chances are that it does not have any smart voltage reading function and is simply designed to dish out a specific amount of voltage. Using such power banks to charge your low current devices can instantly damage them as they would give out a current of much higher capacity than these devices can handle. 

On the other hand, sometimes the power bank may detect the low voltage and think of it as an over-discharged smartphone, and it will increase the power output. This increase in power can damage the low current device connected to it. 

This is why it is very important to select the right power bank that can even charge low current devices if you have any. 

Some Power Banks With Low Current Charging Feature

Even though the market is filled with countless power banks to choose from, it is challenging to find options that suit low current charging devices. So, to help you, we found and tested a few power banks that are ideal for your small-capacity gadgets. Let’s take a brief look at them. 

Anker Powercore Essential 20000mAh

As the name suggests, the Anker Powercore Essential has a high capacity battery of 20000mAh, encased in a compact, easy-to-transfer body. It is marginally larger than the average smartphone case, and you can easily carry it around in your pocket or backpack all day. Furthermore, it only weighs 12.1 ounces, which is twice the size of an iPhone. 

Now that we have established that the Anker Powercore is a highly portable power bank let’s look at its ports and charging features. This power bank operates on the innovative PowerIQ Technology that automatically adjusts the voltage to meet your devices’ requirements. It helps the power bank recognize low-current charging devices to deliver appropriate output to them.

Its high battery capacity is enough to charge an iPhone 11 over five times. However, the battery output is limited to 12W only, which means you won’t be able to charge your laptop with it. Moreover, it does not support pass-through charging, so you’ll have to keep the power bank charged beforehand most of the time. 

AUKEY Basics Pro

The AUKEY Basics Pro power bank has a 10000mAh battery that can deliver a maximum output of 10W for charging your regular devices such as smartphones and tablets. On the other hand, it delivers a 5W output for low-current charging gadgets such as Bluetooth earphones, smartwatches, etc. 

This power bank takes a little over three hours to charge entirely, and it can charge an iPad in about two hours. It features Quick Charging 3.0, Power Delivery, and Qi Wireless charging, and all these charging technologies make the AUKEY Basic Pro a great choice to support all your gadgets. 

Speaking of its portability factor, this power bank is relatively compact and is only 0.6 inches thick. It weighs only 8.5 ounces, and similar to the Anker Powercore, you can easily carry it around in your pocket without discomfort. Furthermore, it feels sturdy to use, and it can withstand ordinary shocks and drops with ease, so you won’t have to worry about taking it on outdoor trips. However, if you’re looking to charge your laptop with this power bank, it might set you back to know that it is not fast enough for it.

Zendure Supermini

If you are looking to charge a wide range of devices, the 10000mAh battery of the Zendure Supermini is more than enough to support it. You can use its USB Type-C output to charge gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, speakers, etc. And it is robust enough to charge a 2018 iPad Pro, Nintendo Switch, or even Microsoft Surface Pro with an 18W output. 

This power bank features a single button on its chassis that you can double press to switch it to low charging mode. When you’re done charging your wireless earbuds or Fitbit bracelets, you can simply double press it again to revert to original settings. However, since this power bank only features one output port, you’ll be unable to charge multiple devices at once. 

When it comes to its dimensions and weights, the Zendure Supermini is one inch thick and weighs a little over 6 pounds. To put it into a better perspective, it is as wide as four iPhones 8 stacked together, which might make it a little hard to carry it around in your pocket. But you can store it in your backpack, and it won’t make much difference on your shoulders. 

How to Enable Low Current Charging in Your Power Bank

Some power banks have a built-in low current charging feature, but you will need to enable it first. Follow these steps to enable it. 

  • Connect one end of the data cable to the low current charging device of your preference and the other end to the USB-A port of your power bank. 
  • To enter the low current charging mode, double press the power button on your power bank. (This mode will be active for two hours, and your power bank will return to regular charging mode after that. You can also press the power button again to quit it manually)
  • The LED indicators on your power bank will flash in a sequence, indicating that low current charging mode is currently active. You can now charge your device.
  • Once your device is charged, it is recommended that you manually exit the low current charging mode. If your device is not charged after two hours, double press the power button again to re-enter low current charging mode.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about low current charging in power banks. 

Is it Safe to Charge Low-Current Devices With a Power Bank?

It is safe to charge a low current device with a power bank only if it is designed to charge such devices. Most power banks are not compatible with low current devices and treat them just like any other smartphone. This may cause them to send a high-intensity current which can damage your device. 

Why Do Power Banks Charge Low Current Devices for Five Seconds and Then Stop?

Most power banks have an inbuilt power detection feature where they send out a charge to the device they are supposed to charge to read their current status and charge holding capacity. When you connect a low current device such to a power bank, it sends out a charge for a few seconds and then stops because it is not able to detect the presence of any battery due to its small size. 

How to Charge a Low Current Device With Any Power Bank That Does Not Support Trickle Charging?

In some cases, if your power bank has two USB ports, you can connect your smartphone to one of these ports and the smaller device to the other port and charge alongside the smartphone. Even though this is not the safest way to charge your low current devices, it works most of the time.