How much mah do you need in a portable charger?

Portal devices are the new normal today. Nearly everyone in the country uses a smart phone and many more have portable tablets and other devices which help them get work done in an efficient and timely manner. What many don’t know, however, is what kind of charger they need to efficiently charge their devices without breaking the bank.

There are several types of portable chargers and they each function in a different and unique way. There are light chargers which help charge phones for a few hours at a time and “heavier” chargers which charge larger devices for a larger period of time. The use and necessity of these chargers will largely depend on the device you’re charging and for how long and will be determined by the “mAh” of the devices.

The more mAh your charger boasts, the longer it will charge your devices. Here’s a brief guide about what kind of charger works for you, what mAh this translates into, and affordable options for your particular device.

Defining mAh

Portable chargers don’t charge your device forever. The time they’ll work and juice they possess to power your device for any amount of time is based on their “mah” or milliampere hours. This measurement is defined as “the amount of capacity needed to let one milliampere of electrical current flow for one hour.”

In other words, mAh measures the amount of energy your portable charger can store, and, as such, the more mAh in your charger means the longer it will be able to charge your device. There are hundreds of different chargers and many unique sets of mAh, but which one works for you? To answer this, you need to know what type of device you’re charging and for how long.

Light Chargers

“Light” refers to the responsibility the charger will have, not the type of device the charger will work on. Light chargers are great for those who only need the occasional power boost, using their phone or other devices infrequently enough that they only need to top off once or so throughout the day. These are also usually more compact and are not as heavy as more robust and higher mAh chargers.

Because of their weight, these are extremely portable and great to keep in your pocket, car, or purse. They’re also available in a range of brands and mAh capacities, though the most common mAh options range from 5000 mAh to 2000 mAh. Although they’re great for charging one device, lighter options will often not be able to charge more than one device at a time.

Heavier Options

Some need a charger that has a larger capacity. These are a great option if you need to charge a device multiple times or a day or throughout the day, such as if you use a work laptop which doesn’t have a reliable battery of its own. These will be far heavier and bulkier than their lighter counterparts, but this lack of true portability is made up for by the fact that they can charge multiple devices at once and will often last throughout the entire day.

Typically, heavier chargers have mAh capacities of about forty thousand mAh, though this number can change by about five thousand in either direction with and still signify a reliable and trustworthy charger. There are dozens of brands and designs which offer heavier chargers, and many of them are small enough today to fit inside a backpack or suitcase. For those who need a greater capacity, heavier chargers are the way to go.

Looking Through the Data

There are many charts and other sources of information online which tell you the exact charger you need to purchase if you know which device will need charging. The capacity you’ll need changes based on what brand of device you’ll be charging too; for example, iPhones and iOS devices will need different capacities and chargers than Android devices.

There are numerous resources which have detailed and up to date charts telling you which charger you should purchase based on the device you’re using and the number of times per day you’ll want to charge that device.

Knowing Before You Buy

Mobile devices are a great convenience, but their batteries often leave a lot to be desired. Knowing what device you have and how many mAh you’ll need before you buy a charger will greatly aid you in choosing the correct device for you. While there are two distinct “categories” of chargers to choose from in the form of “light” and “heavy” chargers, there are many different variables per charger, including the capacity of each and how many devices they’ll be able to charge at once.

Looking out for specific information will keep you from being ripped off or choosing a charger which will either not meet your needs or go far beyond what you need, meaning you’ve wasted money. To get the most accurate picture of which charger you should buy and the mAh capacity which will work for you, consult a table of values and brands. The topic is complicated at first glance, but there’s plentiful information available to help you choose a portable charger that works for you.

Real vs. Advertised Capacity

As a final note, manufacturers sometimes disguise the true capacity of their digital chargers in order to boost sales and make their product seem more powerful than it truly is. Power loss does occur, and there are manufacturers who will be honest about such power loss in their advertising, but it’s difficult to be certain if the portable charger you’re using truly operates at the capacity it’s advertised to work at.

As a general rule of thumb, you should stick to a formula to determine the capacity that your device truly needs. The most common and helpful formula is as follows: minimum capacity required for one charge = smartphone capacity multiplied by 1/(2/3).

Or, simplified, the minimum capacity required for one charge will be equal to smartphone capacity * 1.5. This equation takes into account the transfer of energy which occurs when you charge your device. Simply put, the charger will need to be about 1.5 times bigger than the capacity of your smartphone to work consistently.

The Bottom Line

If you need to rely on a portable charger, you’ll need to know what capacity will work best for the device you use. This capacity is measured in mAh and you’ll need to increase the amount labeled by 50% to give you a accurate assumption about the true capacity of the charger you’re buying.

There are lighter and heavier chargers you can buy depending on how frequently your device will need to be charged and for how long. To shop wisely, consult a chart of capacities of devices which can be found online depending on which device you’re using and for how long.


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