Powerbank Chargers & Cables
Charger cables for me represent a necessary evil in terms of financial investment. In a previous blog, I wrote about the top 5 reasons why you should invest in proper quality charger cables and accessories to prevent damage to your electronic devices.
In this blog, I want to cover some do’s and don’t’s with regards charger cables that most people do not even think about and are often unaware of that make a big difference to your electronic devices.
Staying Cool Under Pressure
Batteries get hot when being charged and naturally heat increases the resistance for current to flow freely. It is in your best interest to prevent the phone or cables from getting too hot.
Most smartphones these days will have a rubber or PVC cover that protects it from damage should it fall and hit a hard surface. The problem with these covers is that it effectively insulates that phone similar to putting a blanket over a person. As the battery charges, the cover will insulate the heat in the phone and prevent it from dissipating effectively. If the heat reaches the upper limit, heat sensors will turn the phone off but this might also lead to long term damage to the device.
It is therefore advisable that the cover of the phone is removed while charging as this will allow the heat to dissipate easier and prevent the negative effects of overheating. This applies equally to the device being left out in the cold. In fact, any extreme temperature fluctuation will negatively affect the performance of the battery and the charger.
The best setup is a room temperature setting(ie ambient temp 23 deg) with the cover removed and open to air circulation. It doesn’t get better than that for optimal settings.
Power Bank Chargers
Power banks have become something of a standard issue item when owning smart devices. Whether you love them or hate them, in a bind, these things prove their worth. I was recently in Frankfurt train station and my battery was almost dead. I really needed a charge as there were some train delays and I needed access to the DB App to purchase my ticket.
I went to the electronic store and there were some power banks, all the shapes and sizes you can imagine. What is great is that these power banks come pre-charged so they are ready to rock n roll from minute 1. The prices of these power banks also varied quite a bit.
When talking to the sales assistant, it was amazing how the quality of these power banks differed. What the most important technical consideration when purchasing these power sources was that it delivered a stable current and voltage to the device. Cheap power banks are not always reliable in delivering a stable charge and may damage the battery or result in a very slow charge.
I hate that standard charger cables are so short. I battle to use the phone while on charge unless I am sitting right next to the plug. It has occurred to me to just join some cables together but is this a good idea?
Cables are designed to be short as the longer the cable, the more resistance to current they become. As described under the heat section increased resistance decreases current flow and slows charging speed down which is the opposite to what we want.
While joining cables are not recommended as the joins also create an increased resistance zone, there are some brands of mobile devices that do offer the extended cables as an off the shelf item. Fewer connections = higher speed. The problem with the longer charger cables, you guessed it…..they tend to be pricey. Some cables can cost as much as a total monthly phone contract. The reason for this, volume. There are not a lot of these cables being sold and therefore a lack of demand pushes the price up. Not that tech companies actually require a reason to charge the premium prices they do, but this is even more gas on the fire for them to do so.
Rapid Charging – Speed Limit Caution
The new cables and chargers are capable of recharging devices within much shorter time periods but have you ever thought of the consequences. While the manufacturers have done their homework with regards the charging capabilities and design, this is not without its limitations.
In order to charge a battery in a much shorter time, the current needs to be increased. Like a hose pipe filling up a tank, the volume stays the same by the flow needs to be increased to shorten the time. This is the same for power cables, the current needs to be increased to transfer the amount of charge needed to charge the battery fully. That is why a cable designed to handle the current should be used for this application.
The battery is put under more stress as it is also forced to accept more charge over a shorter period. While this is catered for by the battery manufacturers, some experts do suggest that a slower charge may prolong the life of the battery as compared to regular high speed charging.
A Word to the Wise
When choosing a cable length, try to stick to the recommended length unless you really cannot live without the cable being as long as a garden hose. This will maintain good performance and will not lead to current or voltage issues. Like with anything, extremes of temperatures will negatively affect the unit and the charger so try to keep things comfortable.
Be careful and research the power bank you want to buy. Make sure the current and voltage delivery are consistent and that the manufacturer has gone through the right quality certifications before buying and exposing your electronics to that power source.
Lastly, just use common sense. When you have read this article I’m sure there was many a time when you thought well duh that’s pretty obvious, but sometimes the obvious stuff needs to be highlighted again. Take care of the type and quality of your electronic accessories and your investments should last you for many charges to come.