Buying the perfect portable charger depends on how and when you are going to use it. I have come with top 10 important things to consider before you buy a charger.
People generally buy a portable charger like they are buying tomatoes. The smaller they are the better is the nutrition inside(smaller the power bank = better portability). I do agree with that. But it can barely be applied to battery banks, infact tomatoes do not have USB ports and LED lights on them.
Let’s get into the detail.
Before you make purchasing decision, you need to check whether the battery charger is compatible with all the devices you have in possession. What’s the use of receiving a nice looking package delivered by a delivery man, which contains something which can work with your iPhone but can’t charge your iPod.
What to do: List out all the devices you’ll charge using the bank, including the devices your family members have (don’t worry about the devices your pestering cousin has, cousin’s have a notorious behaviour to break things, so forget them).
2. Charge capacity
The charge capacity is measured in milliampere hour(mAh). It’s the amount of energy a power bank can hold. The bigger the mAh the longer it lasts.
Now you need to understand one important thing, if a charger is rated as 10,000 mAh, “efficient” chargers (chargers by Anker and others) can provide a maximum charge of 8000 mAh because 20% of the energy is lost to reasons like voltage conversion and circuit resistance and self-resistance.
Other chargers have energy loss higher than 20%. For example, luster charger by RAVPower has an efficiency of ~60%.
Hence only less than 80% of the mentioned mAh will help us.
For example, when you calculate the total energy required in mAh by adding all the energy capacities of the gadgets you own- 1,440mAh cell(iPhone)+ 2,100mAh(Samsung Galaxy S3)=3540 mAh.
You got to buy a charger with a capacity of greater than 100/80*3540= 4425mAh. On the safer side I would go with a charger with 6000mAh capacity.
Anker astro E5 15000mAh has humongous amount of charge capacity. It feels like it virtually lasts forever.
What to do: Right now do nothing about the calculation, we’ll cover the math along with the next step-purpose.
The complete buying process boils down to the purpose of the charger. When are you going to use the charger? is it during your office travel? during your hiking trip?.
If you want to use it for a day-to-day purpose while travelling, assuming that you forget to charge your phone(2300mAh) in the night, the morning you get up and find that the phone has almost no charge. If that’s the case a 3000mAh battery will get you through the day.
For your 2300mAh cellphone battery, if you want to have portable charge for your hiking for 2-3 days continuously, you can go for a 6000mAh battery pack.
Remember: Once the phone is charged it can get you through 5-12 hours, during which you are not gonna use the charger. Hence dividing the total time you’ll spend outdoor by the battery charger size will be wrong. Exclude the times you won’t use the charger.
What to do: Determine the purpose and time duration for which you would be using the charger.
Now you can do the math. When you do your math include the energy loss of 20% and shoot for the charger which has more than 100/80 times the total required charge.
4. LED charge indicators
The importance of LED charge indicators can’t be emphasized enough. Charge indicator will help in knowing the charge remaining in your battery pack. Without them it’s just like taking a shot in the dark. Most of today’s chargers have it. But some manufacturers still live in the stone age.
Anker Astro 2nd gen 6000mAh has an exceptional LED indicator, you don’t want to miss checking it out.
What to do: Check whether the pack has charge indicator lights on it.
The charger should be portable and pocket-friendly. It should be lightweight, small and comfortable to carry.
Anker astro mini 3000mAh is an all time star for it’s portability. With the size of a lipstick it finds it’s place anywhere.
What to do: Check whether the charger is the smallest in it’s class.
6. Devices to be charged
If you have multiple devices to be charged at a time, it’s better to pick a charger with more than one USB port.
What to do: Charger with more USB ports for the win.
7. Output current
When it comes to output current of the pack, a charger with 2A output current will charge the devices faster than one with 1A output current. The input current is normally 1A. If you can strike a deal with input current too by finding one with 2A, it’s well and good.
Jackery Bar 5600mAh portable charger shoots for the sky when it comes to output current with super fast 2A current.
What to do: If the output current is 2A, well and good.
8. Customer support
The manufacturer should provide a prompt customer support. The electronics are pesky little things which need a plan B when they do not work. Good chargers have upto 18 months warranty or 12 months guarantee.
What to do: Check for product warranty/guarantee.
9. Connecting cables
Most of the suppliers do give USB connecting cables along with the charger. If you own an iPhone, you need to buy a lightning cable.
What to do: If the cable is not provided along with the charger, you’ll need to buy it separately.
Finally comes the price. Trust me you don’t want to purchase a thing which breaks tomorrow. Once all the above are good to go, you should consider the pricing (don’t worry, price is always between $25 to $50 for a good charger, doesn’t exceed that for an average user).
There goes the 10 things you need to know to choose a good portable charger. I know I listed them all, it can be daunting. Don’t overthink this, just go for it.