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Powerbank Guide

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

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

If your camera allows in camera charging (via USB) then you can connect a suitable power bank to the camera and charge the battery this way. The cost benefit for cameras is that you won't have to buy a pile of spare batteries "just in case".

What exactly is a powerbank?

A power bank is a portable charger designed to recharge your electronic gadgets when you’re on the move. It's comprised of a special battery in a special case with a special circuit to control power flow. It allows you to store electrical energy (deposit it in the bank) and then later use it to charge up a mobile device (withdraw it from the bank).

What size powerbank  do I need

Powerbanks are sized in mAh (milliamp hours) - this figure tells you how much charge a battery can hold. It’s always tempting to buy the biggest mAh battery you can afford but more power equals more weight equals less portability, so there is a trade-off to be made, especially if you want to be able to fit it easily into your camera bag. Also the bigger capacity battery you go for, the longer it will take to recharge itself

How to charge a powerbank

Most powerbanks 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 adapter to be able to plug into a wall socket. There are some products which use a micro, or mini-USB socket to charge their batteries.
The larger the capacity of the powerbank 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 smart phone. 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.

How to use a powerbank

Once you have fully charged your powerbank you can take it with you when are out and about. When your battery is running low simply plug your device into the powerbank and recharge your batteries – it really is that simple!

How many times can a powerbank charge my device?

Generally, the higher the mAh rating of your power bank the more power it will have to recharge your devices. You also need to factor in the conversion efficiency and device depletion.

Conversion Efficiency

  • When power is transferred, there is always loss due to resistance. Powerbanks are not able to transfer 100% of their actual capacity to a device, so this loss is factored in when calculating how many times an average device can be charged from a fully powered Power Bank of any given size. A quick rule of thumb is to assume that the real world capacity of your power-bank is 2/3 of the theoretical capacity mentioned  on the package. www.powerbankguide.com/powerbank-capacity-explained/

Device Depletion

  • This is the state of the battery in the device you wish to charge. The lower its power, the more a powerbank has to work to bring it back to life. Going from 5% to 100% can take exponentially more power.

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Tips for using your powerbank

Store Powebanks at 40% charge

Many users often store their power-banks fully charged or at very high charge  levels. This wears out the Li-ion/Li-Po batteries very quickly and should always be avoided.

Similarly many users store depleted powerbanks for long after a trip and only charge the powerbanks before their next trip. This should also be avoided as keeping the batteries in depleted state for long periods effectively kills the battery in a few months.

The optimum charging for storage for modern Li-ion or Li-polymer batteries is about 40 to 50%.  You should therefore aim to not discharge the powerbanks below this level for long periods.

On returning from a trip, if you see that your powerbank is depleted, then you should recharge it till half full (2 lights blinking in a 4-light battery status indicator).before storing it for long periods.

Similarly, if your powerbank is charged to near full, you should “bleed” some charge away by charging you phone till the battery status indicators show about 50% charge.

Keep Powerbanks Cool During Use and Storage

Powerbanks use chemical reactions to produce electricity and like all chemical reactions higher temperatures lead to faster reactions. Powerbank degradation is also temperature dependent and keeping powerbanks in a hot storage will degrade them very fast.

Ideally keep the powerbanks at room temperature (60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 20-28 degrees Celsius). Also always avoid storing the powerbanks in enclosed glass cases exposed to sunlight or in overly hot workplaces.

The best-kept-cool rule also applies during use. A hot powerbank will discharge much quickly.

Keeping powerbanks cool does not mean that you should refrigerate them or keep them in cold conditions.  Freezing temperatures will disable the powerbank altogether. A too cold powerbank will also take ages to charge.

Do not Use PassThrough Charging

Pass throughcharging means using the powerbank to charge your devices while the powerbank it self is being charged. This wears down the batteries very fast and should beavoided. Most modern powerbanks disable passthrough charging for this reason.However, even if your powerbanks allows passthrough charging, it is recommendedto use it only when extremely necessary.

 

Use Short and High Quality Cables for Charging Devices

Good cables protect your device and ensure maximum efficiency during charging

Poor quality and long cables waste a lot of current and drastically reduce the usable charge ina powerbank. Long cables cause huge voltage drops and reduce the charging current to a trickle. In fact, one of the biggest reasons behind people complaining about the poor performance of their pwerbanks is that they areusing long cables to charge their devices.

It is highly recommended to use high quality and as short as possible cables for chargingyour devices from powerbanks. Simply replacing a long cable a short high quality cable sometimes triples the usable battery capacity of the powerbank.

6-inches or 12-inches is good enough length for powerbank charging cables. Avoid going beyond 3 feet length. You really do not need 6 foot cables to charge your phone. Also, always use reliable and high quality cable brands.

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