What is a power bank? Power banks explained

What is a power bank? Power banks explained

A power bank is a portable charger designed to recharge your electronic gadgets when you’re on the move. Ranging in size from slim, pocket-sized devices up to larger, higher-capacity power banks – they can be used to charge cell phones, tablets, GoPros, portable speakers, cameras and even laptops.

As technology keeps on improving, we are increasingly finding that running out of battery can be a big problem. Smartphones now come with large, energy-sapping screens, popular apps like Waze, Tinder and Google Maps all place large drains on our batteries.

That’s where purchasing a portable charger can really be a life-saver! If you’re traveling or out and about and you won’t have a chance to recharge your device, simply plug in your power bank and charge it right back up again.

How to charge a power bank

Most power banks and portable chargers come with a USB input port which you can use to connect to a wall socket, or a USB port on your computer to charge their batteries. Some also come with a supplied adaptor to be able to plug into a wall socket. There are some products that use a micro, or mini-USB socket to charge their batteries.

There are even solar-powered power banks such as the Anker 21W 2 port USB charger which are ideal if you’re going on a camping, hiking or fishing trip.

Make sure to also read our guide on how to use a power bank for the first time.

What are the different types of power banks?

  • Phones/tablet chargers
  • Solar chargers
  • Phone case chargers
  • Laptop chargers

Power banks come in many different shapes and sizes to suit different budgets and power needs. There are portable chargers for just about every device. Most people use power banks for their cell phones, tablets, and laptops.

New external chargers are coming out every day with new technologies. Some portable chargers work by harnessing solar energy from the sun while others double as a case that also charges your phone.

How long does it take to charge a power bank?

This is largely dictated by the size of your power bank’s batteries. The larger the capacity of the power bank you decide to purchase, the longer it may take to charge. For instance, a smaller portable charger with a capacity of 1500mAh will charge in about the same time as a typical smartphone. A larger device suitable for laptops may take up to 4 times as long. Charging via a wall socket is also generally quicker than connecting your power bank to the USB port of your computer.

What is the mAh rating of the devices I want to recharge?

The mAh rating of your device is important when deciding what kind of portable charger to buy. All of our power bank reviews come with a handy table to help indicate how many times you will be able to recharge the most popular devices. Check this chart below to see the mAh rating of your device!

How many times can a Power Bank charge my device?

This comes down to the capacity of your device and the power bank/portable charger. A power bank is measured by its capacity, which is rated in mAh (milli Ampere hour.) Generally, the higher the mAh rating of your power bank or portable charger, the more power it will have to recharge your devices. A good rule of thumb is to look at the mAh rating of the devices you want to charge, and purchase a power bank that has an equal rating (preferably higher).

For example, the iPhone 6 has an 1810 mAh rated battery. Anker Astro E1 has a mAh capacity of 5200. This would safely charge your phone back to 100% battery. However it is not an exact science, there are factors to consider such as the power bank’s efficiency rating and the condition of the battery in the device you are charging. Read more about the real battery capacity of a power bank.

The following set of figures can be used as a rough guide to what kind of recharging capacity a power bank may give you.

Device Charge Times

Power Bank Rating Mobile Phone Tablet
2000mAh Approx. 1 full charge Approx. 25%
5200mAh Approx. 2 full charges Approx. 50%
10000mAh 4 full charges At least 100% full charge

Is a Power Bank and a Portable Charger the same thing?

They are one and the same. Portable phone charger, external battery, it doesn’t matter! If it’s a battery that you can use to power a device with its own battery without using a wall socket, it’s a power bank.

What type of batteries do power banks use?

Power banks generally come with Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) and Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries.

When it comes to batteries, not all are created equally.

Lithium-Ion batteries have a higher energy density and are cheaper to manufacture, but can have issues with aging.

Lithium-Polymer batteries do not suffer from aging to the same extent so are a better choice. However, due to their higher manufacturing costs, they may not suit all budgets.

Are you allowed to take power banks on flights?

Yes, you can take power banks and other batteried on flights, however, some conditions apply:

  • you can only take them in your cabin luggage
  • the battery should be under 100 Wh
  • batteries that are between 100 Wh and 160 Wh need a special permit
  • ideally, the output should be clearly labeled on the device

Read our detailed article for more information about power banks on flights.

Here are some recommended power bank models

Xcentz 5000mAh Portable Charger With Flashlight

Xcentz 5000mAh portable charger with flashlight is a rare find. Ultra-compact and light, it also comes with fast charging technologies (PD and QC 3). It has enough power to charge the average smartphone 1 to 2 times.

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iHome Power Bank 10000mAh

The Ultra Boost 10000mAh is maybe the most practical iHome power bank. Small, with a sleek design, it comes with 4 different ports, among which USB-C with Power Delivery.

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Soaraise 25000mAh Solar Powered Power Bank

The Soaraise 25000mAh Solar Powered Power Bank is a perfect companion for long outdoor trips. Solar-powered, waterproof and shock-proof, its an unit you can truly depend on.

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