In response to my post about a new Bosch 18V USB charging adapter, a couple of readers mentioned that they would just buy a power bank for the same money.
I can understand that. I recently replaced a non-functional power bank with an Anker PowerCore+ unit, which has a 10,050 mAh battery, quick-charge feature, built-in fuel gauge, aluminum construction, and up to 3A output at 5V.
The Anker PowerCore+ USB-charging power bank cost around the same as some power tool brands’ charge adapters, and also comes with its own battery. With a power tool brand’s adapter, a battery isn’t included.
Why go with a power bank? They’re compact and while not always lightweight, they’re not very heavy. Less featured and less capable models can be very inexpensive. Better power banks cost more.
Why go for a power tool brand’s USB adapter? To start, they can be more economical over time. You use power tool battery packs for other things, right? If a battery wears out, you’re likely to replace it anyways. There’s not a lot you can do to rejuvenate a worn power bank battery cell.
There’s also charge capacity. The Anker model I mentioned has a peak output of 18W – I guess 5V at 3A plus a little bit – and 10,050 mAh charge capacity.
10,050 mAh at 5V is 50.25 Watt-hours.
With power tool brands, capacity is dependent on the battery you choose.
A 5.0Ah battery pack at 18V is 90 Watt-hours. I won’t dare guess at the numbers, since either product might be subject to energy losses during charging, but it’s suffice to say that a power tool battery pack can charge a lot more devices than a USB power bank.
There are pros and cons to both. On one hand, a power tool brand’s USB charging adapter might be more jobsite-friendly. On the other hand, a brand such as Anker has a lot more experience designing products for charging personal electronic devices.
A power bank is more than enough to recharge most if not all smartphones. A cordless power tool battery pack with USB adapter can handle larger devices, such as tablets, with greater ease, but in many cases it won’t be very speedy.
Power banks are smaller. Power tool brand solutions pack greater capacity.
You can choose smaller or larger power banks. You can pair power tool adapters with higher or lower capacity battery packs.
There are compelling reasons for both.
Which do you use? Do you have any purchasing decision regrets?
Buy Now(Anker PowerCore+ 10050 Power Bank via Amazon)
I’ve used a ‘Jackery Bar’ that is the large size. That has lived in my truck for the past 4 years which can get up to nearly 130 degrees in the summer. It’s been great.
Powerbanks. I buy ones around 5000mah which is enough to charge any phone at least once. And they’re cheap enough that I can buy a few and leave them in places that I’m likely to want them. One at work, one in the car, one in my backpack, etc.
I prefer my Makita USB adapter and a 5 AH battery. It lets me charge 2 devices at 2 amps each and charges much quicker than a power bank.
Its not all about cost and capacity.
Its also about what I can stand to dissapear and get lost forever when traveling.
Its also about compact size and weight when traveling.
Its also about which one i would rather have during a power outage.
Its also about which one I trust to leave charging unattended without burning down my house.
Me personally, i would like both please. At home for the power outages with larger batteries that charge quickly and something cheap and small that I wont stress about if it gets lost/destroyed/confiscated by the tsa…
For me it’s much easier to plug a powerbank in to charge overnight on my desk or counter, than to make sure I grab an M18 battery from my trunk.
Plus the form factor isnt very convient trying carry even an M12 battery when compared to a usb powerpack.
POWERBANK. A powerbank can (will) cost about the same as the adapters or LESS. Depending on the mAh. A couple single 18650 sticks will charge your phone up easily or at the very least 40% from 0. They also, obviously, come with the battery. Some will output 2.1A for tablets and still cost about the same as the adapter bare-tool. Lighter. Much lighter. Heck; I have a powerbank with a built in self-powered WiFi router and card reader.
The very few pluses for the adapters are if the batteries don’t have a charge meter (kit Ryobi). It’s convenient in a pinch. One less item, but only if it’s multiple of the other, item to carry around. Dust resistance???
And powerbank for one less charge cycle stress reason on your battery packs.
But I do like the convenience part. The adapter would be my very last tool on my list.
I like Anker’s PowerCore Fusion. It looks like an iPad charger (relatively large and with folding AC prongs) but has a built in 5000 mAh battery. So I get both charger and battery in a single package for $25. It beats buying a Milwaukee adapter and then tying up one of my expensive M18 batteries (which has a limited number of charge cycles).
I also wonder the same thing about those expensive bluetooth speakers compared to something like Anker’s Soundcore 2 — water resistant, ruggedized (maybe not to the same extent as Milwaukee), with built in battery and around $25 on sale.
I have some cheap powerbanks and I have a Dewalt adapter. I tend to always keep my Dewalt batteries charged as opposed to the powerbanks and I get a lot of power with a 9ah flexvolt battery.
I felt funny bringing my Milwaukee M18 battery & USB Power adapter into the gym the other day, but I didn’t have any other options. I would have preferred a power bank, as even with the slim battery, it would not fit in my pants pocket.
With all that extra capacity in power tool batteries, it would be nice to see Quick Charge implemented into the charger, which would take away one of the big reasons to go with a ‘better’ power bank.
Ideally, it would be nice to just see more USB ports on more accessories. All the lights, radios, chargers, & fans could add a port. For the adapter to be really useful, it needs to do more than charge USB, like how Milwaukee’s will run their heated coats. I would like to see accessories that use that power port for other thinks, like a personal fan or powered pruners, as they both would be too small to house their own battery. Well maybe the battery for the new USB lights would work in a small fan.
I use an M12 adaptor or the M12 Bluetooth speaker as I have a heap of batteries. I don’t see the point in buying a power bank in my case but certainly would if I wasn’t using these tools.
Both. The Tool adapter includes a fuel gauge, which some tool batteries don’t have, and some variants of the Tool adapter run Heated Gear. In DeWALT’s case they do, anyways. There is a place for the Tool adapter around your tools, but once you drop them for Civilian life, like shopping for supplies or groceries, or just going camping… Power banks are better due to cost, size, and plentiful variations with features that you just flat out don’t need for your tools.
The common, always copied, never the same brand twice, 2600 mAh Charger/Flashlight is something cheap and abundant everywhere. Slip it into a pocket or purse or glove compartment, it’s a spare flashlight. When you’re on your last bar on your phone or other gadget, it’s a quick boost. I have a couple off-brand 11,500 mAh 1.0/2.1 Amp dual USB power banks, and in the summer, I carry one of THOSE around in my pocket, with a small USB cable and adapter for my Bluetooth Headset, and I don’t have to worry about my phone or headset. When I go back to my bench, where my tools are, I pull the USB battery adapter out of my heated gear, and sit it on my bench for the same reason, plugged into a tool battery, just in case.
It’s about the right tool for the right job. This has never been a binary choice situation. No matter the tool brand, you’re not stupid enough to walk into a place they SELL tools with a Tool Battery. Or a grocery store, or a convenience store, or a book store. You’re not picking up your own offspring from school or daycare armed with a tool battery, you’re not visiting your friend and their spouse in the hospital while they’ve just welcomed a new addition to their family with a tool battery, and you’re sure as hell not going to charge onto a job site armed with a Power Bank, expecting anything less than failure at some point along the line.
Remember that we’re all human beings, with lives AS WELL AS tools. Power Banks are for Non-Tool life, and come in so many varieties that they can suit EXACTLY the kind of life you have outside your tool using life. Hell, I even strapped a generic Qi charging pad to MY power bank, and can drop it on a wireless charging cradle for a few minutes when I’ve depleted it. I can’t do that with my Tool Batteries, nor do I WANT that feature. My Power Banks are for my civilian life, and my USB Tool Adapter is for my TOOLS. There’s just no need to choose between them. You can have both and make a huge amount of use out of them.
I managed to snag a Makita USB charger for $10 on clearance at HD. It’s been great and charges significantly faster than my power banks. Plus, it can charge both my tablet and phone at 2A at the same time. The form factor fits right in my drill/impact case, so it’s always right at hand if I need it and it’s definitely less prone to falls and dirt/dust than a powerbank.
That said, I wouldn’t necessarily invest in it at $40. I feel like $20 is more reasonable for such a product. I also would appreciate tool companies starting to combine this with a basic worklight. I know there’d be compromises, but I don’t see why we need a standalone form factor for two USB slots…
Energy (Watt-hours, or Wh) is measured off of the cell nominal voltage, which tends to be 3.3~3.7V, depending on the electrical load and cell chemistry (guessing 3.7V here). Consumer cells of the 18650 size are usually 1.5~3.5Ah. My guess is that your battery consists of 3x 3350mAh = 10050mAh, which also results in 3x 3.7V = 11.1V nominal.
That will give you an energy content of 11.1V * 10.05Ah ~= 111.6 Wh.
The constant 5V output to USB is regulated by a DC/DC buck converter (or in a really cheap design, a linear regulator). This will be 90~95% efficient, leaving you with still >100Wh of energy available. This will also degrade over its cycle life, typically down to 80% of new capacity.
For reference, a standard iPhone 7 Plus 10.73 Wh.
The output is 5V, and the rating is as-given, without additional clarifications. I cannot make assumptions as to what losses are involved in stepping 3.6V or 3.7V up to 5V nominal.
Batteries must be connected in series or parallel, not both.
Let’s say each cell has 3350 mAh capacity – I agree there.
3350 x 3 cells x 5V (remember my point above) = 50.25 watt-hours.
Consider 3350 mAh x 3 cells x 3.6V, that’s 36.18 watt-hours.
You’re calculating 111.6 Wh by saying 3350 x 3 x 3 x 3.7V, which is not correct. This calculation is for 3 groups of 3 cells, or 9 cells. From product images and reasoning, there are just 3 cells.
Thus, the power bank has a calculated rating of 36.18 watt-hours or 50.25 watt-hours. There *should* be an official watt-hours rating, but I couldn’t find one for the particular model I own and was discussing. So I figured to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the charge capacity is a measured rating given the 5V output.
You are correct about the cell capacity: my pre-coffee mistake. Thanks.
I would agree with the rating of 36Wh. The energy is stored in the cells. If I assume 3.6V from the actual cells, it’s probably boost converted to get 5V on the output. The converter does not create any energy, but will in fact lose 5~10%, usually.
Some batteries are constructed in series-parallel configuration, but they have a fairly sophisticated battery management system.
I’ve found you generally won’t find an energy rating from a cell or battery manufacturer, because it involves voltage, which is somewhat of a function of impedance.
I figured that was the case, and was happy that for once it wasn’t me! =)
Having said all that, cells are fickle. I do not trust a fly-by-night portable battery for good reason, especially when its portability means that its likely to get banged around or stepped on (think under the airplane seat, in your bag). Poor welds on the battery terminals can come loose, causing the battery pack to fail. Sometimes, this or poor cell construction or poorly-designed power electronics can short a cell or cause it to otherwise discharge at higher currents. I think everyone is familiar with the consequences of battery fire at this point.
I guess I would prefer a battery designed for rougher environments and might trust something from DeWalt, Milwaukee, etc. a bit more, due to this. I suppose it’s a size, weight, and convenience trade after that. That shouldn’t rule out batteries from companies such as the one from Anker, though. Just be sure to do your homework. As always, look for UL certification, IP rating, and trusted good reviews.
I have both. Two is one, one is none.
My powerbank comes with me in my bag, the tool adapter stays in my tool kit.
My job keeps me traveling in planes & rental cars. I’ve assembled kits to keep all the assorted doodads & cables necessary to keep things running, and power banks are in there too. Rarely do I find myself using a power bank, not sure why, but the “endless” supply from cigarette ports & wall warts are my go-to sources.
All of the above, plus solar charger, etc. My favorite is an Milwaukee M18 USB charger adapter for M18 batteries (aka M18™ Power Source 49-24-2371.) I have an M18 fan in the back of my van to keep my SAR partner (K9) cool on hot days and keep a spare 9AH battery “just in case”. The USB adapter means I can charge my phone multiple times in an emergency.
I have and use both types, I play an augmented reality game that pegs out the GPS on my phone. I like the power bank for the smallish slimmer size but if I’m really using juice I’ll pull out a tool battery and and I’m good.
I keep a few powerbank devices around mostly because I have them. Hell I won 2 of them in a raffle – otherwise I wouldn’t have bought either.
and I have the dewalt charger bit – but I wish they would update it. I might even roll my own soon.
why – like you state – power tool batteries have gobs of capacity today. why then can’t one output Apple and/or Qualcomm’s quick charge 2 protocol. (9V+ at 2 amps on usb). Those circuits exist and can be had – would be nice to have that ability and also to have 2 ports to use at the same time. with a light maybe. I keep regular tabs on my power tool batteries.
I don’t keep tabs on the power banks – I keep on in my car for example – but I have no idea how much charge it has other than to take and top it off occasionally – maybe quarterly if I’m lucky. I pack one with a travel mostly because of convenience. I prefer a mobile with a removeable battery.
SO I end up using both – but I do want a more capable tool battery converter. Would love to see a team up or some company to come out and make a widget that uses ______ or _______ power tool batteries.
All of my powerbanks have been under $20 – my most recent included quickcharge 3.0 and says 16000 mAh – 59.2 Wh. I can’t justify using a $60+ battery plus another adapter for $30 to charge a phone. I’ll use the built in on my M18 lantern in a pinch but would rather use a smaller pack that won’t waste cycles on my expensive pack. Plus, until qc 3.0 is on the adapters they aren’t going to be worth it to purchase now unless you just really need one or can find a deal.
I’ve got a ton of power banks, some small and light for the backpack and other larger ones. For your use you might be better off with this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/162026019363 I’ve bought several and they last a long time. The batteries can be replaced separately and the voltage is selectable. Just make sure you don’t put a battery in backward, my nephew did this and melted one of the terminals! If you are comfortable soldering and have an old laptop battery pack, you can disassemble it and use the batteries in here.
I’ve found this brand to be totally awesome. It’ll recharge my iPhone maybe 6 times and has its own digital readout of its remaining storage capacity. The model I have is a little bigger but not by much.
Polanfo 20000M Power Bank 12000mAh External Battery for Smartphone & Tablets(Gold) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EHKNKPK/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_TtLPzb44Z0TTE
The ratings on those powerbanks are almost never accurate. And the manufacturing is extremely sketchy. It’s foolish to believe some of the numbers people are throwing out.
I bet in many cases they wouldn’t even output half of their rated watt hours if actually measured.
Still useful. But don’t believe the numbers. There is no enforcement for battery specifications. They can tell you whatever they want.
I’d rather use a tool battery with an adapter if at all possible. You know they are using tested high quality cells and that the ratings are close to the truth.
I have a small cheap powerbank that I use when I am traveling. Conference use and hotel wifi can kill my phone so it is small enough I can carry it all day in my pocket.
I also have the M12 adapter and the Bluetooth speaker with USB ports. I view those more as an emergency thing since there are always charged M12 batteries kicking around if there is a power outage.
Why can I not find the “one+ power bank adaptor Model: #R18USB-0” for sale in the USA? I just recently started using the Ryobi one+ system on the recommendation of an acquaintance. He had this power bank at a craft show where we need to have our phones charged at all times to take credit cards. I had seen it for sale on Amazon back in June, and now it is now where to be found EXCEPT in Australia! What’s up with that?