The term power bank means a bank you store electrical energy to which you could then bring with you wherever you go and power up any device with energy which makes them very useful.
Power banks are also referred to as portable charges, power stations, or even battery banks.
As you may have noticed already there are different numbers of milliamp hours that differentiate one power bank from the other.
This number is the power banks capacity, so depending on the capacity and the device you’re charging, how many times you want to be able to charge it from low battery to full, and the power bank you choose will reflect those needs.
Power banks are increasing in popularity due to the huge amount of people who excessively use their devices every day. They then turn to power banks in order to keep their devices charged while they use their devices.
Power banks can be a real lifesaver if you’re travelling or you’re not at home. You just have to make sure that you carry a fully charged power bank with you so you can just connect it to your device when it’s running out of battery.
Uses of Power Banks
It can charge small cameras, Go Pros, portable speakers, GPS systems, mp3 player’s smartphones and some tablets. That’s a lot of devices that it can charge. Basically, anything that uses a USB can be charged with a power bank excluding big devices such as computers, laptops and TVs depending on the capacity of the power bank.
Not only are they versatile in what they can charge, power banks are small which means you can store them in your backpack, sports bag, pockets, so on and so forth. There is a wide variety of power banks out there so how are you going to know which one to purchase?
There are only really 4 types of power banks that can be purchased in the markets today. These power banks include:
1. Solar Power Bank – This power bank requires sunlight in order to gain energy. This is very useful when it comes to camping trips as there won’t be any electrical sockets around meaning that you won’t be able to charge a power bank that requires charging via a USB cable.
If you do purchase a solar power bank, you have to ensure that you’ll be using it in a sunny environment unless it’s not going to gain energy and provide power to any of your devices.
Solar power banks also have photovoltaic panels which can trickle-charge the internal battery when placed in sunlight. Solar charging isn’t fast, so they can usually charge via cable as well.
2. Smart Power Bank – A smart power bank is able to recognize your mobile devices and be compatible with them. After they identify your device, it identifies the voltage setting of your device and automatically adjusts the output to fill it so you can charge it at its full speed.
All smart power banks have Smart tech, you do not need to find the most suitable USB port for charging. You just need to plug your devices in any of the dual ports.
3. Quick charge Power Bank – A quick charge power bank will contain quick charge tech. These solutions include MTK Pump Express, TI MaxCharge, USB 3.1 PD, OPPO VOOC Flash Charge, and Qualcomm Quick Charge.
A power bank that has quick charge technology such as Qualcomm means that the power bank will have less charging time which means they are going to charge devices very quickly. The Qualcomm Snapdragon processor only requires 5 minutes of charge to charge your device up to 75%. Qualcomm technology also allows for a faster input which means you can get a quicker re-charge than a power bank with a fast 2A input.
Qualcomm technology is constantly trying to improve its efficiency and charge devices faster. Quick charge 3.0 is the fastest, most efficient charging technology up-to-date.
4. Battery Phone Case – The 4th type of Power Bank is the older-style battery phone case. While they can be handy, this type of Power Bank has very narrow device compatibility.
Charging a Power Bank
The majority of power banks have an input for receiving power through a socket. This is connected by a USB and the USB end can be inserted in a plug to gain energy from a socket or it can be plugged into a large device like a computer which has energy stored inside it.
On some rare occasions, power banks can have the same input and output for charging and discharging. This can be dangerous but it’s also a very rare situation. Before you buy a power bank make sure you’ve seen the specification to ensure they both have an input and output.
There are different types of power banks and each of them takes different times to fill up. Here’s an example: It could take a 20,000 mAh power bank 6 hours to charge up, whereas 5,000 mAh power bank could take 1.5 hours to fully charge.
The majority of power banks should have an LED light which will indicate how much capacity it has. High-quality power banks should have a safety cut-off to prevent it from overcharging and overheating. If you power bank has overcurrent, overheating and short circuit protection, you should be fine when charging your power bank overnight.
Power banks can either come with a Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) or Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) battery. These batteries have the same function but they are slightly different.
- Lithium-Ion – Lithium Ion batteries are much cheaper to manufacture and they do have a high energy density, however, they can have problems when it comes to ageing.
- Lithium-Polymer – Lithium Polymer batteries are much more expensive to manufacture, however, they don’t have a lot of issues with ageing.
The input on a power bank is where the cable is plugged into in order to charge the power bank itself. The speed it takes the power bank to recharge is dependent on the type of wall charger that’s used (device plugged into the socket).
A wall charger with a 1A output would take twice as long to charge the power bank than a wall charger with 2A output charging the same power bank. 2A output is increasing in popularity meaning that power banks are charging twice as fast compared to when 1A was more common.
If you use a 1A output charger to charge a device that requires 1 amp to charge, the device will be charged at a normal rate. However, if you use a 1A output to charge a device that required 2 amps to charge, it’s going to take twice as long to charge this devices which means that the capacity of the power bank is likely to run before its fully charged the device (if it’s a low capacity power bank).
This is because a device that requires 2 amps to charge is going to need a 2A charger just to charge it at a normal rate. High-quality power banks come with a combo of 2A and 1A outputs.
Note: Some Power Banks don’t work well with high-capacity chargers (like the ones that come with iPads). Trying to fast-charge a Power Bank from a 2A charger can result in damage to the internal circuitry.
The current USB technology is USB Type-C or USB C. This USB is special because the head of the USB is reversible which makes it quicker to plug into your device. The Type-A USB is still the most common type of USB used because it has been around for a lot longer. Power banks themselves traditionally use a USB Type-A cable.
As time goes on power banks are now supporting the USB Type-C cable because it’s the latest USB technology for transferring energy and charging devices. A 20,000 mAh power bank that supports a Type-C USB can be charged within 4 hours. However, a charger that only supports a Type-A USB can take up to 30 hours to charge.
Power Bank Protections
Power banks are considered a danger due to the lithium battery. Even airlines limit the power bank capacity you can take with you. Even at that, you can only carry them in the hand luggage, not the suitcase.
Most high-quality power banks come with safety protections in order to keep the users safe when using these batteries. These protections prevent a lot of things with the most extreme case being explosions.
Mundane power banks are protected with over-current, over-charging and short-circuit protection. Extra protects are implemented on batteries with a larger capacity. This includes over-current, high temperature, surge current, surge voltage, a safe reset mechanism, over-discharge, reverse connection, and EMF protection. This is an extensive list but the more protection the power bank is equipped with, the less likely it is for something to go wrong.