You can’t have too many power banks, so stock up

Folks, here’s the bottom line. Everything you care about runs on batteries. I’ve complained before about how batteries aren’t keeping up with technology. Today’s rechargeable batteries are full of toxic chemicals, they only last a few years of heavy use, and they either charge slowly or catch on fire. If we had reliable, better sources of power, our electronics could be smaller, lighter, cheaper, and better for the environment. But the fact is, we don’t.

So, if you want to make sure your stuff stays charged, you have to rely on that battery. Most of the time it just takes a charger and a cord to give yourself a quick topup. But, if you’re traveling or have a power failure, that option isn’t there. That’s where power banks come in.

Power banks are so simple.

Open up your typical power bank and you’ll find something like this. That’s right, it’s really nothing but another rechargeable battery. Or in this case, three of them. There’s a little bit of logic because this power bank is also a flashlight and puts out USB power at two different levels. There’s also some circuitry to make sure that it doesn’t explode while it’s charging, and that’s always a good thing.

But really, power banks are nothing more than big batteries that discharge into your smaller battery. Nothing more to them honestly.

Choosing the right power bank

The big difference between power banks is capacity. Capacity is generally shown in milliamp hours. An amp is one way of measuring the current that can be provided by the battery. (Here’s an explainer.) A milliamp hour is the ability to provide one milliamp of current for one hour, or the equivalent amount of current over a shorter amount of time. But that’s not super important.

What you need to know is that it takes about 2,500mAh (mAh is the abbreviation for milliamp hours) to completely charge the average phone. It takes about 6,000mAh to charge the average tablet. Every phone is different so this will vary from device to device. This means that a 10,000mAh power bank will hold about 4 charges of the average phone.

You also need to make sure that the power bank supplies the kind of power your device needs. Most power banks today will supply 2 amps of power from their connectors, but older or less expensive ones will only supply 1 amp. Most phones will work with 1 amp charging, but tablets and e-readers generally won’t.

Finally, you need to make sure that the power bank has the right connector. Most power banks still use the USB-A connection, the rectangular one you see on your computer. Some will also give a USB-C connection which is designed for newer phones. There are cables you can get to convert one to the other if you need.

Why have more than one?

You can get some truly massive power banks that will supply 25,000mAh or more. But, they’re heavy. It makes more sense to have a selection of smaller ones and use the one you need when you’re traveling. Some power banks have solar cells for recharging, and some emergency radios can also be used for charging using a crank. I personally think the best thing to do is adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to emergency preparedness. Keeping a bunch of power banks charged and ready will keep you connected when the power goes out.

And of course, you can find all those power banks when you shop the great selection at Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.