Portable chargers can be an absolute dream come true. Long gone are the days where you’ll have to run to somebody’s house or into the store to plug in your devices to the mains.
The problem is, this convenience can sometimes be inconvenient.
You’ve taken your portable charger with you and you finally have cause to use it. You need some charge and bam! Your portable charger is dead.
So, what’s the answer? How do you choose a good portable charger that lasts? How long do they actually last on average anyway and is it worth buying? Let’s plug in and find out.
What Is A Portable Charger?
A portable charger or as it is otherwise known, a power bank is a mobile/portable device that allows you to charge other portable devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops.
They normally come with a USB port, as the most common devices require a USB to charge them. Failing this, adapters for USBs can be purchased.
The charge measurement for a portable charger (as with most portable devices) is mAh (milliamp hours.) When identifying how long these devices will last, this is the area to look at.
How Does A Portable Charger Work?
Portable chargers have a rechargeable battery that is usually pocket size, so no problem with taking it out with you and your other devices.
It will save or “bank” energy that has been taken from a wall socket (or solar power) and remains ready to use when required. The three most common types of power bank you’ll find are:
- “Phone case”
The circuitry within these power chargers is designed specifically to control the flow of power, allowing it to last longer.
Depending on the way you choose to recharge your power bank and which one you have, will also depend on the length of time it will take to recharge.
And of course, it depends on how much charge is already existing on the power bank.
How Long Will A Portable Charger Last?
This is a complex question. It depends. If you’re asking how long will it last before it dies (after charging) then that also depends on the power bank!
On average though, you’re looking at around 3 months if you haven’t used it.
If you’re asking however, how long the portable charger will last overall - then we need to look at the mAh and charge cycles.
A charging cycle is when a device goes from 100% capacity all the way down to 0%.
As most of these devices are made with a lithium-ion battery, we can say that between 500-800 charge cycles, the overall capacity to hold a charge will be reduced by about 20%.
All of these numbers however are hugely dependent on the person, device and charging accessory. However, we can look at the average.
If your portable charger is a 5000 mAh and fired up at least once in every 2 days; it would require 1000 days to get itself to the 500 charge cycle that reduces its capacity by 20%.
So, as a general rule - you can expect your portable charger to last on average about 2-3 years depending on usage. There are however many other things to think about.
Ensuring A Long Life
It goes without saying that you’ll want your portable charger to last as long as possible, so here are some tips to keep in mind when buying your next power bank.
Beware Of The Weather
If it is too hot or too cold where you are, the cells of the battery will become negatively affected. Ever had a laptop or video game’s console overheat on you?
Starts to get really darn slow doesn’t it? Same applies here. Try to avoid using power banks in extreme temperatures!
Don’t Run On Empty
I’m sure you wouldn’t risk letting your car run out of gas before filling it up again, would ya? No. Then why do it with anything else?
Letting your portable charger shoot down to 0% is a bad decision. It will lead to degradation in the battery and shorten its capacity to hold a charge.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, try and give it a charge at around half (50%.) Don’t panic if you sometimes charge on less than this, but bear in mind that 50% is the magic number for a longer life.
Keep It Well Ventilated
Some people decide to put their devices on charge with the power bank and then put them both in their bags or pockets.
This is best to avoid because the generated heat from charging will be difficult to release. This trapping of heat can cause problems with the battery cells.
Buy The Right Stuff
Going back to the car analogy, you wouldn’t put diesel in your gas.
Using the wrong charging accessories to save a buck or two may lead to irreparable damage to the battery and you’ll find the life of the charger quickly begins to fade.
Always purchase compatible equipment from reputable manufacturers.
Water + Electronics = Bad
This should be clear to most of you that it is probably a smart idea to avoid water with these portable chargers.
They are not waterproof and will almost certainly be destroyed forever if submerged in water.
Don’t Rely On The Bank
It’s all about usage when it comes down to it. The less you use it, the longer it will live.
So if you’re at home, it’s worth using the wall sockets rather than draining more life out of your power bank.
As a guideline, if you are out with it - try to charge your devices only to around 80%, as charging any further will take longer and likely reduce the capacity to charge quicker.
What To Remember
We’ve got down into a lot of detail here, but removing all the technical jargon - you’re looking on average a portable charger life-span of around 2-3 years. Not too shabby right!