Whether you're buying a high capacity power station or a pocket-friendly portable charger, any power bank you buy is essentially a big battery sitting in a shell that you don't use often. And when they're not used, power banks can slowly waste away, steadily losing charging capacity. We want your awesome power bank to last as long as possible. These three, easy-to-remember rules will keep yours from turning into a time bomb that betrays you and leaves you with a dead phone at the worst possible time.
1. Do NOT leave it at 100% or 0%
Batteries are under the most strain when they're closest to completely full or completely empty. This is why years ago you were told not to leave your phone on the charger overnight since it would shorten the life of the battery. These days, battery technology has improved, and features like Adapting charging are being used more widely to charge intelligently and prevent the strain when a battery is above 80% or below 20%.
While phones and laptops can use intelligent charging to only charge a device the last 20% right before you're supposed to wake up, power banks aren't used that frequently and thus can't use it. You have to charge it back up manually before you use it, and this leads many owners to leave portable batteries plugged in all the time.
Do not leave a power bank plugged in for extended periods
Leaving a power bank at 100% can damage its ability to hold a full charge, turning your 10,000mAh portable charger into 9,000mAh or even less if it's left on the charger for weeks at a time. Granted, power banks will inevitably lose some capacity over their life cycle because rechargeable batteries don't last forever, but leaving them perpetually plugged in speeds that process up.
Conversely, if you leave a power bank on a shelf for months or years, it can slowly run completely, irreversibly dead. If your battery drops below its minimum threshold and stays there long enough, no amount of charging will ever bring it back to life.
Instead, we need to charge power banks most of the way up to help minimize strain on the battery. Then, we have to ensure that the battery is recharged every so often to prevent it from dying forever, which brings us to our next rule.
2. Use 'em once a month, whether you're on the go or not
You might not be taking a vacation or an extended day trip every single week, but even if you're home, you still need to use your power bank every now and again. Seriously, set a reminder on your phone to recharge your phone — or other device, depending on the charging speeds/capacity — once a month.
Running the battery down a bit and then charging it back up to the 60-80% range once a month gives you a few benefits:
- It keeps the lithium-ion battery cells inside from failing due to over-discharge.
- It ensures that on any given day, your power bank is at least over 50% charged and full enough to recharge your phone at least once.
- It reminds you that you have a portable battery that you can grab on your way out the door. (Yes, really; it does no good for your power bank to sit at home when you have a night out on the town or a long day.)
Charging it once a month also just gets you into the habit of using a power bank, allowing you to be more familiar with its controls, charging speeds, and battery level. This'll help you notice any significant changes or excessive heat build-up during regular charges that will let you know when the bank is failing so you can replace it, rather than when you're relying on it.
3. Store away from high heat, intense cold, and sunlight
In between these periodic charges, you need to consider your power bank storage location. Some people like to keep them by the front door so they're easy to grab on the way out, while others hide them on those ridiculously overstuffed shelves in the home office. Personally, both are fine so long as they're out of direct sunlight and in a room that is temperature-controlled.
Extreme temps are not kind to batteries, so for the love of sanity, never store a power bank in your car. They get super hot in the summer, super cold in the winter, and that will lead to faster degradation of the batteries. If you live somewhere with triple-digit summers, leaving your power bank in a car for days on end could very well cause it to bloat, break, or catch fire.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with storing a power bank in the box or in a drawer, having the power bank either visible on your desk or on the shelf in the shade allows you to glance over and notice if anything starts to bulge or bow out over time.
Pick a proper power bank
Proper power bank storage can help your current one last as long as it can, but if yours is already losing its capacity, choosing the best bank for your charging needs can help ensure the new one lasts a while. We have a detailed guide for buying Power Delivery power banks, but for starters, you should only buy power banks that support Power Delivery because they have wider compatibility and have faster recharge rates than power banks with micro-USB or mini-USB charging.
If you're in need of some suggestions for great USB-C Power delivery portable chargers, we have plenty for your perusal, from pocket-friendly power banks up to beefy, laptop-capable battery packs. For most users, I recommend something in the 10,000-15,000mAh range, as that'll recharge a smartphone 2-6 times, depending on your particular phone's capacity, and they're still light enough to easily pocket or throw in your bag.
Colorful, easy carry
Zendure SuperMini 20W (10,000mAh)
Able to recharge your phone at least twice on a single charge, Zendure's SuperMini is only slightly larger than a deck of cards and easy to pocket before you head out the door. USB-C Power Delivery on one side and USB-A Qualcomm QuickCharge on the other ensure you can charge any phone or accessory you need.
Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.
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