An introduction to Power Banks

Congratulations on that latest new Smartphone! It’s got the latest in operating system, great camera and terrific screen clarity right? How amazing… It also has a fantastic battery of about 3000mAH? Thank god! Otherwise your phone would have died down every 3- 4 hours. We are not joking.  Having a battery of 3000mAh surely will help you avoid mid-day charging but you are not immune to battery discharges halfway through the day if you are person who is heavy user off all the apps in the phone.

Hope you also bought a Power Bank along. Nope? Well, you just might be stretching your luck a bit too far.

A Power Bank, as the name suggests, is your personal bank where you can withdraw power as and when needed and keep your devices charged. Also, just like a money bank, Power Bank needs to be charged/filled-up once, and you can keep on withdrawing as and when you want till there is a power balance left.

A typical Power Bank is a simple device that has four components – A Li-Ion battery, internal electronic circuitry to control the charging and discharging, USB ports for power discharge and a port   for charging. The entire assembly of these four components is fixed in a strong casing to make this device light-weight and portable.

Due to the smart internal circuitry of the Power Bank, it is able to differentiate between the ‘charge vs. discharge’ and also understand the recipient devices power specs before starting the power transfer. The devices are smart enough to prevent overcharging itself, over discharging when connected to a device, over voltage, short circuits, over current discharge and over-heating in either of the activities. For a smart phone to really function smartly, besides internet, one needs to be invest in a Power Bank for sure.

The reliability of a Power Bank is gauged on two parameters – on the number of recharge cycles it can undergo in its lifetime and period of time it can hold the charge between two recharging cycles. Generally, a good quality charger last more than 500 recharge cycles. Hence, if you assume that you are using the Power Bank to charge multiple devices every-day, a Power Bank can last anything more than 1.5 years.  At the same time any Power Bank that can hold its charge for about 4-6 months when fully charged is considered a good device to bank upon. The most important element, hence in a Power Bank is the quality of its battery. The efficiency also depends upon the level of charge in the depleted device. For e.g. it is far efficient to charge a device at 20% battery level to 100% as compared to 5% to 100% . Hence it is advisable, not to wait till your battery goes dead but to recharge it as soon as it hits a 20% mark.

How to use a Power Bank ?

For charging the Power Bank, simply connect the Power Bank with the help of the connecting cable. One end of the cable is placed in the input port while the other can be placed in the wall electric socket or your PC/Laptop. The internal circuitry of the Power Bank takes care of the AC to DC conversion and DC-DC transfer respectively. Depending upon the storage capacity of the Power Bank and the input charging source used, a typical Power Bank gets fully charged in about 3-4 hours. Most Power Bank’s now-a-days have a LED display showing the current level of charge. Once charged fully, a typical 10000mAh Power Bank can charge a normal Smartphone 2-3 times or a tablet about 1-2 times giving you ample time to search for a proper input supply like a wall socket or a PC to recharge both devices.

For charging any device, connect the USB in the output port and the micro-USB port into your device. The moment this coupling is done, the Power Bank starts the transfer of power from itself to the connected device. Most Power Bank’s show this activity with the help of the LED lights and the device screen also shows ‘charging status.’

Typically, a Power Bank needs to be lugged along with the device intended to be charged. A new form of Power Bank devices is making their presence felt recently – Portable Solar Chargers (PSC). A PCB gets charged with the help of the solar panels connected with it. The PSC may or may not have a built in Power Bank. Assuming that a PSC has a built in Power Bank, the Power Bank gets charged every-time the solar panels get exposed to the sun, ensuring that the Power Bank is always charged and is ready for action instantaneously.