Powerful power banks that can be used to charge your laptop and smartphone at the same time are ideal when traveling. ntv.de explains why battery capacity usually does not exceed 27,000 mAh and presents two top devices from Anker and Jackery that convince in practical testing.
A power bank is an ideal travel companion so you can charge your smartphone, laptop, camera or other mobile devices at any time while you are traveling, ideally at the same time. But apparently there are limits to the capacity of these batteries, since the values normally barely exceed 27,000 milliamp hours (mAh). This is not due to technical reasons, but there is a good reason.
Up to 100 Wh in hand luggage on the plane
To be carried in hand luggage on the plane, the nominal power of a power bank must not be more than 100 watt hours (Wh), according to the guidelines of the international aviation authority IATA. With a typical battery cell voltage of 3.7 volts (V), this corresponds to a capacity of approximately 27,000 mAh. The conversion formula is mAh x V ÷ 1000 = Wh.
You can usually carry two battery packs that meet the guidelines. However, these are not general regulations; Rules may vary from airline to airline. It is better to ask before starting the trip, before having to leave the mobile gas station at the security checkpoint. Higher capacity devices are also permitted in certain circumstances. Lufthansa, for example, can (!) approve external batteries of up to 160 Wh upon request.
Solo performance at the security checkpoint.
Basically, during security checks, you should take large batteries out of your luggage and place them in the conveyor box without a case to avoid problems. It is important to be able to demonstrate that the capacity does not exceed the limit if the value is not indicated on the device. If in doubt, ask before check-in what you would like to see from the airline.
Batteries usually do not have a place in checked luggage. Batteries can catch fire in the event of a short circuit. This would be noticeable in the cabin and the onboard personnel would know how to deal with it. However, a fire in the trunk could have fatal consequences.
In general, when it comes to batteries, it is best to avoid cheap products; A short circuit almost never occurs in high-quality branded devices. ntv.de has tested two completely new power banks, which have almost 100 Wh and can be carried in hand luggage on the plane. Of course, mobile charging stations are also practical when traveling by train, car or on two wheels. Thanks to their relatively light weight, you can also carry them in your backpack when you go hiking.
Jackery Explorer 100 Plus
The Explorer 100 Plus is available for about 150 euros. Because the device looks like a cute miniature version of its large portable charging stations, Jackery calls it a power station. However, these have much larger capacities, are much more powerful and, among other things, also have AC outlets.
The Explorer 100 Plus, on the other hand, only has USB ports in its small 12.6 x 8.65 x 8.7 cm case, which are practical for your tasks. Two of them are USB-C sockets that can charge other devices with up to 100 watts (W), one USB-A output offers a maximum of 18W. Together, the USB-C ports can output up to 110W, with the combine USB-C plus 118W USB-A. The three plugs together produce 128W.
100W inside or outside
The 965 g power bank charges automatically via SB-C with up to 100 W, also with a compatible solar panel. The Explorer 100 Plus can draw a maximum of 60W from the car connection with an optional adapter. The power supply is not included in the scope of delivery. Under optimal conditions, an empty battery is fully charged in 1.8 hours.
A small display above the outputs shows how much power the device absorbs or emits. This also shows what the remaining capacity is and approximately how long the reserves will last.
You can use the display button to make the screen permanently illuminated if you wish. According to the instructions, if you hold it for a long time the power saving mode is activated. This is a bit misleading. In reality, this is how to deactivate the automatic system that turns off the power bank if it emits less than 2 W for twelve hours. You need this feature if, for example, you want to charge headphones that consume less power.
Well protected and durable
The Jackery Explorer 100 Plus doesn’t have any special refinement to offer, but why should it? What is asked of it is not only done reliably but also safely. Among other things, it automatically stops if temperatures are too high or too low and is protected against overvoltages, overcurrents and short circuits. The casing is flame retardant and can withstand some impacts (class 9).
You will also be able to enjoy the device for a long time because it has a LiFePo4 (lithium iron phosphate) battery, which has a useful life about six times longer than conventional rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Jackery claims the battery still has 80 percent capacity after 2,000 full charge cycles.
Anker Prime 27,650 mAh external battery
For the AFor the 27,650 mAh Prime external battery you have to spend about 190 euros. But you get, among other things, a battery that comes with it. At 16.17 x 5.70 x 4.97 cm it is significantly more compact than the Jackery Explorer 100 Plus. Its shape makes it easier to pack into carry-on luggage and, weighing just under 680g, it’s much lighter too. Technically, the powerbank also has a lot to offer with its attractive metallic glass look.
First is the battery, which is a lithium polymer battery. Although the technology allows for a particularly compact design and high performance, it apparently does not allow energy storage to be as durable as LiFePo4. In any case, Anker does not provide any information in this regard.
Trimmed for maximum performance
But the manufacturer really pushes the limits when it comes to performance. Because 27,650 mAh is equivalent to 102.3 Wh, which is above the maximum value allowed for on-board luggage. In fact, Anker claims the power rating is 99.54 Wh. This is probably due to losses: no battery in the world converts 100 percent of the energy.
Connections are also difficult. Two USB-C sockets can deliver up to 140W each, while the USB-A output should be up to 65W. This also works at the same time. If both USB-C ports are active, one generates a maximum of 140 W and the other 100 W. The three plugs together have a maximum power of 250 W: 140 + 92 + 18 W.
The 27,650 mAh Anker Prime itself can be filled from 0 to 100 percent with up to 170 W in just 37 minutes if you connect two powerful power supplies at the same time. Alternatively, you can buy a 100 watt charging station for 60 euros, in which the power bank is charged using pins. So that nothing goes wrong with the high performance, there are several protection mechanisms, among them the temperature must be measured up to three million times a day.
But the power bank can also be convenient. So that it does not turn off with less than 2 watts, it also has the corresponding function to keep it running. A multi-color display shows how much power the outputs are delivering or how much the power bank is charging. As with the Jackery Explorer 100 Plus, both are possible at the same time. You can also see the remaining time, capacity, temperature and battery status on the screen.
Bluetooth and app
But the Anker 27,650 mAh power bank can do even more. If you press the large on/off button on the right side once, you have the option to pair the device with a smartphone via Bluetooth. Then you will also be able to see all the statistics in the associated application.
You can also activate optimized charging for the battery and connected devices. Batteries are recharged at specific periods with reduced power to extend their life. It can also show how often you can still charge the devices, but you’ll need to enter the values yourself. It’s nice to have all this, but you don’t really need it. Additionally, the Bluetooth connection costs energy.