Power banks can be real lifesavers, but sometimes they can give us headaches too. One of the most common problems with portable chargers is that their lights might blink in a specific pattern which is not easy to understand. Erratic light blinking can also be associated with other issues such as the power bank not charging. In this article, we’ll be exploring some of the most common causes and solutions.
The LED indicator lights and their functions
Most power banks have 4 small blue LED lights to provide you information about the state of your power bank. When you connect your power bank to a power outlet to load it, one of the LED lights will usually blink, indicating that the power bank is taking up the charge.
So the power bank LED lights indicate the current charge of the battery:
- 1st light blinking means it is charged between 0%-25%
- 2nd light blinking means is charged between 25%-50%
- 3rd light blinking means it is charged between 50%-75%
- 4th light blinking means it is charged between 75-100%.
These lights either are blinking during the recharging process or when the power button is pressed once. Almost all power banks will show the charging status when the power button is pressed. When you check the power bank and you see 4 LED lights glowing steady, it means that the unit is fully charged.
When you connect your mobile phone to the power bank, it starts to charge it, the LED lights on the power bank indicate the following:
- All 4 lights are blinking means it has between 75%-100% charge remaining.
- 3 blinking lights mean it has between 50%-75% charge remaining.
- 2 blinking lights mean it has between 25%-50% charge remaining.
- Only 1 light blinking means it has between 0-25% charge remaining. At this point, you should disconnect the mobile phone, as you should not discharge the power bank completely, as it may damage the power bank battery if you frequently deplete it completely.
LED lights blinking but power bank won’t charge
In some cases, you might notice the fact that the power bank is not charging even though it’s plugged in and the LED lights are blinking, thus indicating that charging is taking place. Even if you wait for several hours or a day, the power bank just won’t charge. It may even be possible that it charges halfway or somewhere in between, with the lights showing it is not yet fully charged. Something is not right.
Does this mean that the power bank died completely or is it something trivial? The truth of the matter is that this situation does not have a simple yes/no answer. There are a lot of different scenarios that might cause this issue. This is why we creating the checklist below, which you can use to self-diagnose the problem.
Possible causes and troubleshooting checklist
The problem may be a minor fault that can be easily taken care of, or it can be a serious issue that requires professional repair. It could be one of the following problems:
1. Make sure that the power cable is fully inserted
It may happen that you simply didn’t fully insert the power plug in the charging port thus creating a faulty connection. Check the plug and see that it fits the socket snugly. Also, make sure that the power connector on the power bank is inserted fully in its socket. Make sure that there isn’t any type of debris in the charging port such as dust, sand, dirt, etc. Sometimes impurities stuck in the socket can cause a bad connection.
3. Try using a different power cable
If the connections are snug and the power bank is still not charging then it is possible that the power cable is bad. Some power cables can be of really low quality, which has a direct effect on the charging rate. Simply change the power cable and try again.
4. Charge the power bank via a wall socket, not via a laptop USB
Make sure that you are charging the power bank from a main electric power outlet and not via a computer, as sometimes the output voltage from a computer USB port is not sufficiently high for the power bank.
5. Try charging the power bank with a different adaptor
It may be possible that the adaptor you’re using to charge your power bank has gone faulty. Try using a different adaptor instead. If this works then you can be certain that the charger is faulty and you should replace it.
6. The power bank battery might have died
If your power bank does not appear to be getting charged as no lights turn on when connected to a power source nor it charges your mobile phone when connected to it, then it is likely that the power bank has suffered an internal failure.
If the power bank suffered a hard shock like a fall or was left in a hot environment for a long time, there is a possibility that its internal circuits have failed.
If you have used your power bank quite frequently, then it is possible that the batteries have completed their life. Power bank batteries have a life of 300 to 1000 power cycles, depending on the brand and model.
In all such cases, the problem is serious and the power bank should be repaired professionally.
What to do if your power bank died
If you made sure that there is no other possible cause for the problem, and the power bank battery died, here what you can do.
- Check your warranty. Most power banks come with a 12 – 36 month warranty. You might be able to get your unit replaced. For this to work, most likely you’ll need to have the purchase receipt and/or the warranty certificate.
- Check with the producer. Bigger companies such as Anker, Aukey, and RAVpower have websites and client service centers that might be able to help you. Get in touch and see if you could maybe get your unit replaced. Unfortunately, smaller producers and subsidiaries such as BlackWeb, Protable Juice or Mophie don’t have such reliable customer service networks.
- Take the power bank to your local electrical repair shop. In many cases, your local repair shop can fix your portable charger within a few hours. It’s always worth going for this solution when you run out of options as it’s better to get an item fixed than to buy a new one altogether.
- If all of the above did not work there’s just one option left: to dispose of your power bank. However, please do so in an environmental-friendly manner, as batteries contain a lot of toxic substances that may harm the environment. Bring it to a local recycling center that has a dedicated service for processing batteries.
Some helpful tips to keep your power bank healthy
- Always use the cable supplied by the vendor or any other short length good quality USB cable.
- Avoid charging the mobile phone with the power bank while loading your power bank from a power outlet at the same time.
- Avoid leaving your power bank in a hot place such as a parked car in summer.
- Only charge devices that are intended to be used for that model of the power bank.
Never overcharge or fully discharge Lithium-ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are designed in such a way that they are charged to just below their full capacity before they attain the full voltage. They can discharge up to a certain voltage below which its internal circuits stop further discharge to protect the batteries. Overcharging or fully discharging reduces the life of the Lithium-ion batteries.
If the power bank batteries are totally discharged due to any reason and the voltage falls below a threshold, it may be difficult to recharge it. In such cases, give it more time, connected to a power source, until it slow trickle charges to a certain threshold level then starts its normal charging sequence.
In case your power bank is not working properly but it can be fixed by changing the cable or the charger, then do it yourself. However, if the issue persists, you should get it repaired by a professional. Do not try to open the case of the power bank and try to repair it yourself, as it will void a valid warranty.