Introduction: Building a USB Type-C PD Powerbank the Super Simple Way
In this small project I will show you how to create a DIY USB Type-C PD powerbank the super simple way. To do that I will firstly test a powerbank PCB based around the IP5328P IC I got from Aliexpress. The measurements will show us how suitable the PCB is for creating a DIY powerbank. Afterwards I will then show you how I created a Li-Ion battery pack and a custom 3D printed enclosure before I will put all the components together to form the powerbank. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Watch the Video!
The video gives you pretty much all the information you need to create your own USB Type-C PD Powerbank. During the next steps though I will present you some additional information.
Step 2: Order Your Components!
Here you can find a parts list with example seller (affiliate links):
Step 3: 3D Print the Enclosure!
Here you can find the.stl files for my enclosure! 3D print them!
Step 4: Do the Wiring!
As soon as you got your battery pack, enclosure and PCB, it is time for the wiring. You simply connect the plus terminal of the battery pack to the B solder pad and the minus terminal to the B- solder pad and you are done.
Step 5: Success!
You did it! You just built your own USB Type-C PD Powerbank!
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Комментарии и мнения владельцев
Does anyone know the maximum voltage for the Powerbank PCB?
Hi,I want to charge my laptop using this power bank, and also charge this power bank using my laptop, how will the board detect if it should charge the battery from the laptop or vice versa? If not, can you suggest how can it be possible? can I use this board with 3S lithium battery.
How does the battery bank charge? I don’t see where the charge plug in goes to.
It charges through the USB c male connector in front of it. when drawing power out of it the c connector acts like a outlet and when charging the c connector acts as a inlet
Can lifepo4 batteries be used or voltage and charging method will be an issue?
can i get the dimensions of the 3D printed encloser
Hi there! The 6x NCR18650B Li-Ion Cell: http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_BfiUCF06 does no longer redirects to a listed project. Can I use any 18650 alternative? for instance a 18650 Battery Lithium 3.7V 6000mAh? Could it be used for powering a raspberry pi 4?
Hello! Any 18650 cell should work, as long as they are matched. So be sure to purchase them all frome the same manufacturer, and test their reference voltage before mounting them. Alternatively you can also use a LiPo battery.
But be ware of 6Ah cells. Chinese sellers on AliExpress tend to inflate the advertised capacity of their cells, as Great Scott already showed in an older video: https://www.instructables.com/ID/DIY-Constant-cur. Personnally I consider anything above 3.5Ah as shady.
however I had good experience in the past with products from this seller: https://liitokalahongkong.fr.aliexpress.com
I havent tested it on a Raspi4 yet, but should work just fine.
Thanks a lot for the answer! Sadly I already order them, but I guessed that the stated amperage was not the true capacity and mostly hopping for a real 2.5. 3A from each of them. If they can provide that, then I’m most than happy. Once I receive them I will test them and post here the results in case it is useful for anyone else.
Review: RAVPower Pioneer 20,000mAh 60W PD Power Bank
Even though there are many power banks to choose from, I will almost always recommend getting a power bank that uses Power Delivery. Most portable devices we use daily are compatible with a USB-C port. If it charges using USB-C, there is a good chance that it’s also compatible with Power Delivery for faster charging. In this review, I’m looking at this RAVPower Pioneer 20,000mAh 60W Power Delivery power bank. This is quite possibly the plainest, simple, and powerful portable charger you can own; it is not the most powerful, but it fits most charging needs.
So 20,000mAh capacity of this RAVPower Pioneer power bank isn’t breaking any limits. Still, for the size of this power bank, it’s surprising it has a 20,000mAh capacity because it has more of a form factor of a 10,000mAh power bank. That said, a 20,000mAh capacity is still good and can get most phones to full power about two or three times; when it comes to charging tablets or laptops, devices with larger batteries, you can expect full charge with some spare capacity left over.
Overall, this Pioneer power bank’s capacity will fit into charging most devices, which is why I think it’s a great all-around power bank. You likely won’t have to recharge it for a few days because the capacity is high enough.
There are two ports on this RAVPower power bank; one is a USB-C port, and the other is a USB-A port. The USB-C port has a 60W Power Delivery output; the other is a USB-A Quick Charge port. So charging power is excellent, especially because 60W Power Delivery can fast charge most USB-C chargeable phones, tablets, and laptops. You can even use the USB-C port on this power bank for fast charging iPhones if you have a USB-C to Lightning charging cable.
The USB-A port can fast charge Android Quick Charge compatible phones and charge Non-Quick Charge phones. Also, charging power is dynamic with this power bank, meaning that you can use the full power of either port when charging a single device. However, when charging two devices simultaneously, the USB-C port will output 45W, and the USB-A port will output 15W, not 18W.
For testing, I plugged a Lenovo Flex 5 laptop into the USB-C port, which could charge at about 30W, the laptop’s max charging speed. Then I plugged a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 into the USB-A port, and it was only able to standard charge because two devices were charging, which means that the output of the USB-A port was 15W. So I unplugged the Lenovo laptop from the USB-C port, and the Note 9 began to charge fast.
So fast charging a laptop and standard charging a phone can be done, but you won’t be able to fast charge two devices simultaneously. This isn’t a big problem, as being able to charge a laptop with a power bank is still pretty awesome, and the charging speed for the Lenovo laptop didn’t change even when I had the Note 9 plugged in.
I also wanted to test if the USB-C port featured a Programmable Power Supply (PPS), so I plugged in a Galaxy S20, and unfortunately, this power bank does not use PPS from its USB-C port.
This power bank has a max 30W input speed from its USB-C port, and I used a 100W UGREEN PD wall charger to recharge it. The power bank was able to recharge at about 28W to 29W, so I highly recommend using a 30W wall charger to recharge this power bank as fast as possible, as it can get the power bank back to full power within an hour and a half from 0% to 100%.
Size and Weight
As I mentioned before, this is a small power bank. It has a length of 5.9 inches, a width of 2.6 inches, and a thickness of 0.9 inches. The power bank weighs about 13 ounces. So you can easily fit this charger into your or hold it in your hands.
Charging automatically starts when plugging a device into any of the two charging ports. A power button off to the side checks the remaining capacity via four blue LED indicators. You can also hold down the power button to stop and restart charging.
Structure and Material
The build quality of this RAVPower Pioneer power bank is solid. Sure, it’s made of plastic, so I recommend not dropping it, and of course, don’t expose it to water. Other than that, it’s built for daily use.
When I had my Lenovo laptop and Note 9 charging simultaneously, the power bank was only warm, which happens with all power banks. I didn’t find any problems with the technical build.
If you have a USB-C chargeable laptop, this RAVPower Pioneer power bank will be very reliable. It can charge larger devices to full power about a single time, and the 60W of Power Delivery or 45W of PD, depending on if you’re charging one or two devices, can fast charge most laptops, tablets, or phones.
Also, you even get a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box.
The RAVPower Pioneer 20,000mAh 60W Power Delivery power bank is a decent high-capacity and high-power portable charger. It has the capacity and charging power from its ports to fit most charging needs, and I honestly couldn’t find anything really negative about it. It would have made the deal sweeter by adding a 30W wall charger in the box.
The Best Power Banks of 2023
We tested power banks from Nitecore, Goal Zero, Anker, and more, to help you find the best model to keep your phone, tablet, laptop, or other gadgets charged.
The BioLite PD power bank in action on a camping trip in Tennessee; (photo/Honey McNaughton)
In 2023, nearly every gadget and gizmo that we use has a battery. Our phones are the primary example, but nearly everything — from headlamps to headphones — has built-in rechargeable batteries.
As a result of our rechargeable world, portable power banks have become a standard part of everyday life. When traveling, power banks offer convenient on-the-go charging that eliminates the need to hunt down an outlet. For outdoor enthusiasts, compact power banks go along on every camping trip, thru-hike, and bike-packing journey.
In recent years, power banks have improved exponentially. As we all grow increasingly reliant on our electronic devices, power banks have become smaller, lighter, and more capable than ever before.
To compile this list of the best power banks, we combed the market for the most popular, innovative, and well-regarded models — and then conducted extensive testing at home and in the field to determine the best model for every need and budget. We charged phones, cameras, laptops, and even other power banks. We dropped and lightly abused over a dozen models to determine durability and longevity. In the end, we were left with a clear understanding of which models are worth their weight and price tag. These are the best power banks on the market today.
To learn more about what to look for when purchasing a power bank and our rigorous testing process, check out our comprehensive Buyer’s Guide, Comparison Chart, and FAQ sections below.
Nitecore NB10000 Gen II
- Impact-resistant and generally durable
- Lightweight with a thin profile
- Charges quickly
- Low-power setting for sensitive devices
Now in its second generation, the Nitecore NB100000 (60) is a lightweight, no-frills power bank that seriously impressed during testing. This minuscule unit is one of the smallest 10,000 mAh banks on the market. It fits easily in any. and it weighs just over 5 ounces — excellent stats for a power bank that fully charged an iPhone 13 to 100% two and a half times — exactly as the brand claims.
The NB10000 isn’t the most heavy-duty or luxurious power bank on the market, but it simply performs well in every category without any major flaws or weaknesses. Sure, the battery power indicator light isn’t the most precise, but that’s a nit-picky criticism in a compact power bank. Ultimately, the NB10000 provides reliable portable power for charging small devices.
Our 2-foot drop test didn’t leave a scratch on the Nitecore’s carbon fiber exterior, so we especially recommend this power bank for outdoor use. It’s light and packable enough for ultralight thru-hiking, and it contains enough power to keep a phone charged for quite a long time — depending on phone use, of course.
Compared to the first generation of the NB10000, the second generation offers increased USB-C output for faster charging. It also has a “low current mode,” which is useful for sensitive devices with small batteries such as Smart watches and Bluetooth earbuds.
If you need to charge two devices at once — the NB10000 has you covered. Additionally, it has “pass-through charging,” which allows users to tap into the NB10000’s outputs while it is plugged into a wall outlet.
Charmast 10400 mAh Power Bank
- Capacity 10,000 mAh
- Weight 6.6 oz
- Size 3.56 x 2.44 x 0.87
- Outputs USB-A (2x), USB-C (1x)
- Inputs Micro USB, USB-C
- Included cables USB-A to USC-C, USB-A to micro USB
- Versatile charging configuration
- Good value
- The power bank itself recharges quickly
For 23, this.sized Charmast power bank is an excellent affordable option for recharging small devices around the house and during weekend getaways. Sure, there are less expensive power banks of this size on the internet, but this one actually works and has great quality for the price.
With two USB-A outputs plus an in/out USB-C and a micro USB output, this Charmast works with all sorts of cables. It can theoretically charge up to three devices at a time, though it will drain very quickly under that kind of strain. During our testing, it delivered power to headphones, smartphones, and smartwatches in a timely fashion. It pumped an iPhone 13 from 0 to 100% and again from 0 to 92% in a single full charge. Compared to similarly-sized power banks, the Charmast reloads quickly when plugged into a wall outlet with its included cable.
Though this unit is a bit bulkier and heavier than our top overall pick, it still fits easily into a without fuss. The plastic casing doesn’t boast any listed waterproofing stats, but it held up perfectly well to our drop test with only minor scuffing.
Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD
- Capacity 25,600 mAh
- Weight 1.5 lbs.
- Size 7.7 x 3.81 x 1
- Outputs Wireless, USB-C (1x)
- Inputs USB-A (2x), USB-C (1x)
- Included cables 39 USC-C to USB-C cable
- Powerful enough for charging laptops and tablets
- Durable casing
- Wireless charging
During our testing for this roundup, we focused primarily on compact.sized power banks in the 10-20k mAH range. Though these small devices are great for charging small devices on the go, they aren’t suitable for larger devices like laptops.
The Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD (199) is larger than most power banks on this list. It weighs 1.5 pounds, and it won’t fit in a That said, it’s still relatively compact, and it’s the perfect choice for airline travel or car camping, especially when a charged-up laptop is essential.
Compared to the smaller banks we tested, the Sherpa boasts several significant upgrades. First, it offers wireless charging. Just set a compatible smartphone or another device on the charging pad and it’ll power up sans cable.
A small display screen keeps the user informed on outgoing wattage, remaining battery life, and more. It’s far more informative than the standard series of indicator lights that most small power banks have.
The Sherpa charged an iPhone 13 from dead to 100% a whopping seven times using a USB-C to USB-C cord. The brand advertised eight full charges, but this figure depends on many variable factors. In any case, the Sherpa is about four times more powerful than most 10k mAh power banks in this regard. Using the wireless charging surface, the phone fully charged in about 100 minutes.
The Sherpa fully charged a MacBook Air over two times before it ran out of steam — more than enough for a weekend of off-grid computing.
Dark Energy Poseidon Pro 10200
- Capacity 10,000 mAh
- Weight 9.6 oz.
- Size 6 x 3.25 x 0.63
- Outputs USB-C (1x), USB-A (1x)
- Inputs USB-C (1x)
- Included cables 3′ USB-C to USB-C cable
- Extremely durable
- Built for extreme conditions
- Waterproof and fully submersible
In terms of durability, the Dark Energy Poseidon Pro (120) is miles ahead of nearly every other power bank. According to the brand, it can be fully submerged in water for up to 45 minutes, frozen for four weeks, and dropped from 75 feet in the air. Though we didn’t test these bold claims exactly, we used and abused the Poseidon Pro for several weeks, dropping it in the snow, tossing it loose into a backpack, and making no attempt to protect it from harm. It continues to look and perform like new.
This power bank’s bulletproof nature does come with a slight weight increase. It’s about 3 ounces heavier than other power banks with comparable capacity. Still, that’s a small price to pay for reliable power in extreme conditions. If you’re heading to the ends of the earth, this is the right power bank to pack.
All power inputs and outputs on the Pro are hidden beneath a rugged mini door. A small LED flashlight sits next to the USB-A and USB-C ports. Four battery indicator lights relay the key information that users need.
We managed to squeeze two full charges out of the Pro with an iPhone 13 — competitive stats in the 10k mAh category.
Goal Zero Flip 24
This Goal Zero Flip 24 (30) is one degree smaller than the common 10k mAh power bank size class. It’s about the same size as a 15-pack of gum, and it charged an iPhone 13 twice (almost, 81% on the second charge). It’s great value for 30, and it adds valuable peace of mind on long hikes and bike rides.
Unlike most power banks on this list, the Flip 24 only has USB-A input and output. It’s not surprising for such a small bank, but it might be annoying for folks without a compatible cable. Plus, USB-C charging tends to be faster than USB-A. The Flip 24 will charge your phone slower than most other options on this list.
On the plus side, the Flip 24’s built-in USB-A stick is quite convenient. It plugs directly into compatible ports and charges right up without a cord. The battery indicator lights light up when the user pressed the USB stick, which doubles as a button — product design panache.
For phones, earbuds, and smartwatches, the Flip 24 is a nifty little backup battery. If you need to charge larger devices, go with a power bank with greater capacity.
Anker PowerCore III Elite
- Capacity 25,600 mAh
- Weight 1.3 lbs
- Size 7.22 x 3.24 x 0.94
- Outputs USB-A (2x), USB-C (1x)
- Inputs USB-A (1x), USB-C (1x)
- Included cables USB-C to USB-C
- Lots of power capacity in a small package
- Simple design
- Intuitive single-button interface
Anker has a solid reputation for simple, long-lasting, and fast-charging power banks. The PowerCore III Elite (160) boasts an impressive 25,600 mAh of capacity — an excellent figure for a power bank that’s only about seven inches long.
Most power bank users can get by with 10k mAH — a perfectly suitable capacity for a weekend’s worth of phone and earbud charging. The PowerCore III Elite is a major step up — it contains more than double the capacity of most of the power banks on this list. It’s potent enough to charge laptops and tablets, and it still manages to fit into most pants s.
Of course, the extra capacity has to come from somewhere. The PowerCore III weighs 1.3 pounds. That’s a bit heavy for backpacking. Still, compared to similar capacity power banks like the Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD, the PowerCore is relatively svelte.
The PowerCore III fully charged an iPhone 13 just over six times. Anker claims it can charge three devices simultaneously. During testing, it easily charged two smartphones at the same time.
The PowerCore dented easily during our 2-foot drop test, but it went on working without issue. It’s a great compact choice for photographers or remote workers on the go.
Hinovo Magnetic Charger
- Capacity 5,000 or 10000 mAh
- Weight 4.5 oz. (5,000 mAh version)
- Size 4.09 x 2.75 x 0.35
- Output Wireless charging via magnetic connection
- Input USB-C (1x)
- Water resistance Unknown
- Included cables USB-C to USB-C (1)
This compact power bank magnetically adheres to the back of compatible smartphones to deliver power on the go. Instead of waiting while your phone remains plugged into a cable, the Hinovo magnetic power bank (39) goes where you go. It’s fully mobile, and highly convenient.
Our Editor-in-Chief has been living with the Hinovo for months, and he appreciates its ease of use and straightforward design. The slim 5,000 mAh version immediately doubles a smartphone’s battery life without much-added bulk. The major downside of the Hinovo is that it’s only compatible with certain phones that are MagSafe compatible.
If you’re in for a long phone-intensive workday or cross-country Wi-Fi enabled flight, the Hinovo provides reliable assurance that your phone will survive the trip.
Otterbox Fast Charge
The Otterbox Fast Charge (35) is available in three sizes: 10k, 15k, and 20k mAh. We tested the 10k version, though all three models have the same design and two-port layout. With just one in/out USB-C and one USB-A put out, it’s a simple and effective power bank that works best with smartphones and small devices.
The “Fast Charge” Moniker sets up high expectations. This power bank fully charged an iPhone 13 from dead to 100% in just over 90 minutes. While this stat is competitive for a small power bank, it’s about the same as several other top performers on this list. This Otterbox is a reasonably fast-charging product, but it’s on par with its peers on this list, not necessarily superior.
Compared to the more durable options we tested, the Fast Charge has an all-plastic casing that feels a bit delicate and cheap to the touch. It survived our drop test and continued to function, but it just doesn’t have the feel of excellent build quality. Still, it’s a perfectly usable power bank.
The 15k version (45) is a nice middle ground between common power bank sizes. We expect it could charge a newer iPhone three or four times, a meaningful improvement over the 10k version.
BioLite Charge 80 PD Powerbank
- Battery indicator is not super precise
- Battery indicator doesn’t turn off while charging
This unassuming powerhouse came to be one of our tester’s favorite power banks by accident. After getting his sleek, lightweight Anker charger stolen on a recent climbing trip, the BioLite Charge 80 PD (80) — his backup bank — found its way into his backpack on several ultralight treks and long road trip adventures.
It takes a lot for a power bank weighing over a pound to end up in a backpacking kit, but for super remote excursions where energy efficiency was a must, this thing was a lifesaver for our tester. Despite its 16.4-ounce weight, it can charge a smartphone over 5 times (tested with an iPhone 11), a tablet twice (tested with an iPad Pro), and even a computer once (tested with a MacBook Pro).
While you don’t need all these devices on a backpacking trip, this is a welcome power source for road trips, wilderness photo/video shoots, or international travel. And, for those backpacking jaunts that have you off the grid for five days or more, it’s hard to beat the power-to-weight ratio that this delivers.
The two USB-A Quick Charge and single USB-C PD ports offer exceptionally fast charging. The bank also only takes 4.5-5 hours to soak up a full charge, which is better than some other models with similar capacity we’ve tried. Its durable plastic shell gives this an indestructible feel, and we haven’t noticed a scratch on it after many miles of rough use.
With a 20k mAh capacity, it has the inherent cons of being quite heavy and comparatively large, but is on par with other banks in its category. We do find the battery indicator to be somewhat lacking. It is a bit hard to gauge exactly how much power is left, and we don’t like that the light remains on while charging. Some energy could be saved by having it switch off after it’s been plugged in for a second, and it can get annoying at night if it’s not covered up.
These slight gripes aside, we think that the BioLite Charge 80 PD delivers reliable power in a packable, durable design. If pure ultralight minimalism is what you’re after, there are better options out there. But, for the adventurer in need of a bit more juice on their excursions for multiple devices, this would be a solid pick.
This ultra-slim 10k power bank (26) is marketed as a power source for electrically heated outerwear, but it also works perfectly well for all sorts of small electronics. It charged an iPhone 13 to the brims three times before needing a recharge itself — a great showing for a bank that weighs just 6.8 ounces.
We found that the C10002Y gets warm to the touch when plugged into the wall, but this is likely just a result of the thin plastic casing — not a major concern. Speaking of the casing, this definitely isn’t the most rugged power bank on our list. It feels like one significant chest-height drop onto a hard surface would be the end of it. We held our breath during the 2-foot drop test, and though it did survive, it sustained minor visible damage.
Four indicator lights convert battery levels — including one light that turns green when “fast mode” is engaged. Interestingly, this light turned green while charging an iPhone via the USB-C port, but not when charging earbuds via a USB-A port. It seems there is some kind of sensor in the OKZU that engaged fast charging mode when the receiving device has a compatible battery. Neat.
Generally, this is yet another sweet little power bank. It’s mega thin, and hardly detectable when sitting snugly in a Plus, it’s affordably priced at just 26.
Lion Trek Portable Solar Generator
- Capcity 27,000 mAh
- Weight 2.1 lbs
- Size 8.54 x 5.47 x 1.57
- Outputs USB-A (2x), USB-C (1x), 12V AC (1x)
- Inputs USB-C (1x)
- Included cables Wall outlet to USB-C
- Features an AC outlet for charging larger devices
- Durable casing
- Easy-to-read display
In both size and capacity, the Lion Trek Power Bank (229) is the largest power bank on this list. At 2.1 pounds and 8.5 inches long, it takes some liberties with its self-described “portable” nature. Still, this power bank justifies its size with a massive 27,000 mAh of capacity and a handy AC power outlet. Unlike most of the options on this list, the Lion Trek packs enough power for laptops, tablets, and small appliances like lamps, TVs, and coffee grinders. It’s the perfect size for a long-term solo road trip — especially when paired with a compatible solar panel.
We’ve been testing the Lion Trek for several months. Though it’s a bit too big and inconvenient for airline travel, it’s been our go-to power bank for car camping. On a single full charge, the Lion Trek recharged an iPhone 13 nine times. It kept a MacBook Air alive for three days of frequent use. According to its display, the Lion Trek only used 5% of its total battery life to fully charge a pair wireless earbuds.
For some folks on the go, an AC outlet is a must-have. The Lion Trek is one of the smallest banks to include one. Additionally, the unit houses two USB-A outputs and one in/out USB-C port. For mobile remote workers, the Lion Trek can function as an ultra-compact solution for the solar-powered off-grid lifestyle.
Power Bank Comparison Chart
|Nitecore NB10000 Gen II||60||10,000 mAh||5.3 oz.||4.8″ x 2.3″ x 0.4″||1x USB-A, 1x USB-C|
|Charmast 10400||23||10,000 mAh||6.6 oz.||3.6″ x 2.4″ x 0.9“||USB-A (2x), USB-C (1x)|
|Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD||68||25,600 mAh||24.0 oz.||7.7″ x 3.8″ x 1.0″||Wireless charging pad, USB-C (1x)|
|Dark Energy Poseidon Pro 10200||120||10,000 mAh||9.6 oz.||6.0″ x 3.3″ x 0.6″||USB-C (1x), USB-A (1x)|
|Goal Zero Flip 24||30||6,700 mAh||4.6 oz.||3.7″ x 1.6″ x 0.8″||USB-A|
|Anker PowerCore III Elite||160||25,600 mAh||20.8 oz.||7.2″ x 3.2″ x 0.9″||USB-A (2x), USB-C (1x)|
|Hinovo Magnetic Charger||40||5,000 mAh||4.5 oz.||4.1″ x 2.8“ x 0.4″||Wireless charging|
|Otterbox Fast Charge||35||10,000 mAh||8.1 oz.||5.6″ x 2.9″ x 0.6″||USB-C (1x), USB-A (1x)|
|BioLite Charge 80 PD||80||20,000 mAh||16.4 oz.||6.7″ x 3.2″ x 1.0″||USB-C (1x), USB-A (2x)|
|OKZU C10002Y||26||10,000 mAh||6.8 oz.||5.3″ x 2.7″ x 0.6“||USB-C (1x), USB-A (2x)|
|LionTrek Portable Power Unit||229||27,000 mAh||33.6 oz.||8.5″ x 5.5″ x 1.5“||USB-A (2x), USB-C (1x), 12V AC (1x)|
Why You Should Trust Us
Every power bank on this list has earned its place through rigorous hands-on testing in the same real-world scenarios you’re likely to face. In the winter of 2023, author Austin Beck-Doss didn’t plug his phone or laptop into a single wall outlet for several months. Instead, he charged his devices exclusively via power bank. Through daily use and a series of standardized tests at home and in the field, Austin assessed the durability, performance, and capacity of innumerable brands and models. The recommended products on this list are the very best money can buy.
Power bank brands make lots of lofty claims about capacity, durability, and performance. Instead of simply trusting the statistics written on the side of the packaging, Austin put manufacturer claims to the test. Every power bank was fully charged to determine exactly how many times it could fully charge an iPhone 13 before depleting. Austin also measured the total time that each depleted power bank took to fully recharge once plugged into a wall outlet.
Our durability test involved prolonged regular use indoors and out, and a standardized drop test. Every bank was dropped exactly 2 feet onto a hard concrete surface to simulate the classic electronics fumble that we all experience from time to time. Some power banks ceased to function after a single drop. Of course, none of those models made the list.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Power Bank
For better or worse, most folks today feel a wave of concern when their smartphone battery drops below 20%. Phones, tablets, laptops, and other portable electronics pack a lot of utility — and we’ve grown reliant on them to conduct our everyday affairs.
Power banks are physical stop gaps that prevent dreaded cases of DPS (dead phone syndrome). Whether you forgot to plug in overnight, or you’ve been traveling all day without access to an outlet, power banks are a lifeline for you and your portable electronics.
These days, power banks come in all shapes and sizes — from mini units that can dangle from a keychain to 25-pound behemoths. On this list, we focused on the most popular category: personal-use portable power banks. Portable is a subjective term. For this list, we only considered products that weigh about 2 pounds or less and fit easily into any backpack.
In this comprehensive buyer’s guide, we break down everything you need to know about power banks; capacity, charge times, inputs, outputs, solar capability, you name it. Our hope is that by using this guide, you’ll be able to hone in on the perfect portable power bank to suit your everyday needs.
What Is a Power Bank?
A power bank is a rechargeable battery that can transfer power to other electronic devices. Power banks are like wall outlets that you can take with you. Simply plug in your phone or laptop via a standard USB-A or USB-C cable, and boom, you have instant portable power. People carry power banks for the same reason remote freight drivers carry extra cans of gasoline: If the main supply runs out, there’s extra fuel on board.
Size and Capacity
Powerbanks are available in many sizes. The smallest power banks are small enough to fit on a key chain and typically will only deliver a quick hit of power per charge. The largest power banks in existence can charge EVs — but those aren’t exactly portable.
Generally, power bank capacity is measured in milliamps per hour — mAh. This unit indicates how many milliamps of electric current a given power bank can deliver per hour.
All smartphone manufacturers utilize different batteries and charging systems. The working capacity of any power bank entirely depends on the device it is charging. Most fully charged smartphones contain 3,000 to 4,000 mAh, That means, on paper, a 10,000 mAh power bank can recharge a smartphone about three times.
Most of the power banks on this list hold around 10,000 mAh — a standard size for recharging small devices like smartphones, Bluetooth headphones, and smartwatches. Though brands often claim their 10,000 mAh power banks can recharge smartphones five, six, or seven times — they rarely live up to those claims.
Smartphone batteries are becoming larger and more efficient. In our experience, 10,000 mAh power banks will charge a modern smartphone between two and three times. On this list, the Nitecore NB10000 is the most impressive 10k mAh power bank that we tested. It fully charged an iPhone 13 two and a half times.
If you are looking for a power bank for something like a long backpacking trip, it’s important to find an appropriate weight-to-capacity ratio for your adventure. You’ll also want one that fits comfortably in your backpacking backpack, and doesn’t add too much bulk to your kit.
Compact 10k power banks are rightfully popular. They fit easily into most s, and they have plenty of capacity to keep a small device or two alive for a few days.
The next standard portable power bank size is 20,000 mAh. Not all power banks in the 20k range will have a capacity of exactly 20,000 mAH — that’s just a handy benchmark figure. Naturally, 20k power banks are bigger and heavier than their 10k little siblings. Most 20k banks weigh at least one pound and are roughly the size of a small tablet or jumbo candy bar.
Though 20k power banks are a bit cumbersome for everyday carry, they offer much more utility. Most banks of this size can fully recharge a smartphone six or more times. Plus, many 20k power banks can charge multiple devices at the same time. If you’re looking for a power bank to charge multiple personal devices over the course of a multi-day backpacking trip, 20k is your best bet.
Power banks above 20k mAh start to get fairly heavy and less portable, but they’re great for folks looking to charge a larger device such as a laptop on the go. If you’re searching for a bank that can handle the demands of laptop charging, around 20k mAh is the bare minimum capacity you should consider. On this list, the Goal Zero Sherpa has an impressive capacity of 25,600 mAh. The Lion Trek is another excellent high-capacity power bank — and it even sports a standard three-prong AC outlet.
Charge Times and ‘Fast Charging’
The best power banks are quick to store power and equally quick to dispense it. Combined with the appropriate modern charging cable, all of the power banks on this list perform well in this aspect.
These days, many devices including phones, power banks, tablets, and cables claim to support “fast charging.” In reality, there is no universal standard for what “fast charging” really means. Each individual device has specifications that determine how much wattage delivery it can handle. Every element in the charging system — phone, power bank, and cable — plays a role in the rate of power delivery.
All batteries operate with a specific amount of voltage and can input and output a maximum amount of current. Fast-charging power banks have the ability to quickly pump more power into the receiving device.
For example, early iPhones came with a 5W power adaptor in the box. Those 5W adaptors took over two hours to charge standard smartphones. On this list, the speedy OtterBox Fast Charge delivers 18W power — it can fully charge an iPhone 13 in just over 90 minutes.
In general, any charging source that can deliver around 15w or more could be considered “fast charging.”
While fast charging is highly sought after, it can also be a detriment to your long-term battery health. Certain small devices such as headphones and fitness watches have relatively low maximum tolerable power delivery.
If you charge a pair of earbuds with a superpowered fast-charging wall port or power bank, it can cause irreversible damage to the battery life of those headphones. Many modern power banks — such as the OKZU C10002Y and the OtterBox Fast Charge — can decrease their output to meet the needs of a small device or fragile battery.
To choose the perfect power bank for your personal devices, check the device’s USB PD (power delivery) Power Range. For example, if a device’s USB PD Power range is 15-27W, pick a bank that delivers power within that range.
Types of In/Out Ports
Nearly all small electronic devices including smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, earbuds, headphones, and laptops charge via one of three standard input ports: Micro USB, USB-A, and USB-C.
Micro-USB ports are growing obsolete, but they’re still relatively common on power banks today. USB-A ports are typically used as outputs, though some small power banks such as the Goal Zero Flip 24 do have USB-A inputs, which eliminate the need for a charging cable.
The most common kind of input port is USB-C — the same port found on all modern iPhones. USB-C ports are easy-to-use, efficient, and durable.
Power banks only need a single input charging port, but it’s handy to have multiple types of output ports. On this list, the Lion Trek Power Bank has an impressive variety of outputs including USB-A, USB-C, and an AC outlet. Though it’s great to have plenty of output options, power bank users will mostly use USB-C ports.
Wireless Charging and Magnetic Power Banks
Some larger power banks are equipped with wireless charging capability. On this list, the Goal Zero Sherpa 100 PD comes with a wireless charging pad that can deliver up to 15w of power to compatible devices. In general, wireless charging from a power bank will be slower than using a cable, but it’s highly convenient in certain situations.
Some power banks attach directly to smartphones via magnetic connection. These power banks are compact units that typically pack just enough power to recharge a compatible smartphone a single time. On this list, the Hinovo Magnetic Charger is a highly functional and convenient option. It essentially doubles your phone’s battery — no cable required. Of course, only some smartphones are magnetic charging enabled.
If a power bank has “pass-through charging,” it is able to take in and distribute power at the same time. Pass-through equipped power banks can charge devices while plugged into a wall charger — a handy feature when you’re in a hurry. Many power banks on this list have pass-through charging, including our top pick the Nitecore NB10000.
Durability and Waterproofing
Depending on your needs, durability and waterproofing may be top priorities. If you plan to use your power bank for outdoor applications such as hunting, backpacking, and off-roading, we recommend that you pick one that’s built to withstand more rugged use. On this list, the Dark Energy Poseidon Pro 10200 is a rugged standout. It is waterproof, drop resistant, and immune to extreme temperatures.
Unlike the Poseidon Pro, most power banks aren’t built to withstand harsh treatment or exposure to the elements. For longevity’s sake, we recommend keeping your power bank relatively warm and fully dry. To preserve the integrity of the battery, power banks should be plugged in and charged once every few months.
If treated properly, the power banks on this list should perform reliably for several years. All batteries degrade with time and regular use. Most modern power banks can be fully charged and discharged about 1,000 times before they no longer function. For most users, this equates to 3-5 years’ worth of use.
All of the power banks on this list are relatively small and portable. The majority of power bank users pick 10,000 mAh power banks, a good choice for recharging a personal smartphone. Compact 10,000 mAh power banks like the Nitecore NB 10000 offer a nice balance between utility and portability. They fit in a pant. and they pack enough power to keep a smartphone alive for several days without a wall outlet.
If you plan to charge larger devices like a tablet or laptop, we recommend sizing up to the 20,000 mAh range. These power banks typically weigh 1-2 pounds, and they’re still compact enough for hiking, traveling, etc. On this list, the Anker PowerCore III Elite has a strong battery that easily recharges a laptop — or multiple small devices at once.
Most small portable power banks can be carried onto an airplane. According to TSA, power banks cannot be kept in checked luggage. Certain airports don’t allow passengers to travel with more than 27,000 mAh in total battery storage.
USB Power Delivery explained: What you need to know about ubiquitous charging
Fast charging is a godsend when our gadgets run low on juice. However, there are numerous fast charging standards in existence today, making it difficult to pick the right charger for your smartphone, laptop, or even external monitor. Furthermore, while most gadgets historically shipped with an adapter in the box, many manufacturers are now asking you to bring your own. Luckily, USB Power Delivery (USB PD) is a universal charging specification that allows you to sidestep the fragmented charger market altogether.
Here’s everything that you need to know about USB Power Delivery and what it means for your gadgets.
USB Power Delivery: What you need to know
USB Power Delivery is a common fast-charging standard that can be implemented in all USB-powered gadgets. USB PD has actually been around since 2012, around the same time that the USB-C port was unveiled. Prior to that, the only universal option was the (significantly slower) USB Battery Charging specification.
Modern USB-C ports are complicated beasts and actually support several levels of charging. And that’s before manufacturers add proprietary capabilities on top of that.
USB Power Delivery is much more powerful, supporting up to 240W of power to charge up even the most demanding gadgets such as laptops. It’s also safer, as gadgets and chargers communicate with each other over the USB cable to confirm the optimal charging power level. This handshaking approach supports voltage steps at 5V, 9V, 15V, 20V, and beyond for power outputs ranging from 0.5W to 240W.
The newer USB Power Delivery Programmable Power Supply (USB PD PPS) standard supports configurable voltages too, enabling more optimal charging. If two devices fail to communicate a suitable power rule, USB Power Delivery will default to the next power option supported by the relevant USB protocol, such as USB-C 1.5A.
USB Power Delivery is now commonly used to fast-charge smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets. Examples include the entire line-up of Google Pixel handsets and Apple’s iPhone and MacBooks. Even Samsung’s Super Fast Charging is based on USB PD PPS.
A huge range of other smartphones support the standard too, often in addition to their faster proprietary standards. Many OnePlus smartphones, for example, support between 18 to 27W charging over USB PD. That’s in addition to the company’s own Warp Charge or Oppo’s SuperVOOC technology.
Is USB Type-C necessary for Power Delivery?
While the first revision of Power Delivery did technically work with standard USB Type-A ports, very few devices supported this functionality. These days, you’ll find most devices that rely on Power Delivery use USB Type-C or USB-C on both ends. This is also why most smartphones these days ship with USB-C to USB-C cables in the box. You can still use a Type-A to USB-C cable for charging but expect slower speeds.
USB Power Delivery versions compared
With USB Power Delivery now in its third revision, the standard is broken down into devices with slightly different capabilities. Although modern versions of the standard are backward compatible with older gadgets and chargers.
USB PD 1.0 was a little more basic than the modern version. It simply offered six fixed power profiles for different device categories. This version supports 10W (5V, 2A), 18W (12V, 1.5A), 36W (12V, 3A), 60W (12V, 5A), 60W (20V, 3A), and 100W (20V, 5A) of power exclusively. That’s OK, but not exactly flexible for a wide range of gadgets, including small smartphone batteries that prefer lower voltage charging.
The more modern USB Power Delivery 2.0 and 3.0 variations drop fixed profiles in favor of more flexible power rules. These rules keep fixed voltage brackets but allow for a wider range of negotiated current levels. The end result is a standard that’s better suited to a wide range of devices. USB Power Delivery 3.0 also extends the communication protocol to support features like battery condition, enhanced security, and fast role swapping.