power bank safety tips
Photo Spring-Cass Pte Ltd

We sought expert advice from Vincent Chua, Business Development/Product Manager at Sprint-Cass Pte Ltd on why it's so crucial to purchase quality power banks, how to pick the right one, and how to take good care of it. Sprint-Cass is a distributor of Energizer and Noontec Power Banks.

BUYING

What's the danger in buying poorly made power banks?
Poorly made power banks may cause your phones and tablets' battery lifespan to be shortened, or spoil the devices' charging input such that you can't use them anymore. These inferior power banks may also short-circuit and melt or burn, which turns them into fire hazards. 

What are the recommendations in buying portable power banks?
When it comes to power banks, the old saying of “you get what you pay for” usually holds through. Better power banks usually hold their charge better, with a larger charge cycle. It is always wise to do your research properly before purchasing a power bank, and a reputable brand is less likely to damage your device’s internal circuitry as well.

How do I know if my power bank is safe to use?
As of 1 January 2016, only power banks that have safety certifications of IEC-60950 and IEC-61233 are allowed for sale in Singapore. Although there are no labels or stickers on the box to indicate the certifications, it should be fine as long as you purchase from a reputable brand or retail shop. 

What kind of battery cells are more suitable? 
There are two different types of battery cells: lithium-ion and lithium-polymer. While lithium-ion cells are generally cheaper, they also tend to be limited in capacity (mAH). Lithium-polymer cells are larger and are less likely to suffer from memory effect over time.

The battery memory effect is a reduction in the capacity of the battery’s charge due to incomplete discharge in previous uses. This means that for subsequent charges, the power bank can no longer be fully recharged to 100 per cent. It’s mostly prevalent in lithium-ion cells and other inferior cells.

If I buy a power bank for my tablet, can I use it on my phone?
Just like you can use your iPad charger for your iPhone, it is possible but not recommended because the output charge capacity can be damaging to your phone. There are power banks that can charge both, so look out for those if you want to invest in a single power bank. A 1A-1.5A output port is designed for smartphones, while a 1.5A-2.0A output is meant for tablets. Most of the power banks nowadays can support charging for both tablet and phone as they are designed with a smart chip that can detect the different voltages and currents required by each device.

MAINTENANCE

Is there a risk of overcharging if I leave my phone connected to the power bank even after it's fully charged?
Some power banks automatically cut the power supply when it senses the phone is fully charged so you can purchase a power bank with that feature.

What about if I leave my power bank to charge overnight or longer?
Power banks usually have both an LED indicator to show charge levels, and a safety cut-off to prevent overcharging and overheating. Whenever possible though, it is best to remove the power bank from charge when it is full. 

Can I leave my power bank in a parked car through the day?
We wouldn’t recommend leaving your power bank in a parked car all day. The environment affects power banks, and since the temperature in a parked car can fluctuate, that can shorten its lifespan.

If the power bank feels hot, is it a warning sign?
It can be a sign that your device is being charged with an input current that is higher than the required current. Ideally, the power bank's output should match your device's charge input. That said, you can purchase power banks which come with smart detectors to regulate the charge to match devices'  required input current. 

If I haven't used my power bank for a few months, can I still use it? If not, what's the problem?
You can still use it, but there might be a decrease in the total charge as the power bank will slowly lose its charge if it has not been used for a long time.

What are the restrictions when carrying portable power banks on airplanes?
According to airlines, power banks exceeding 100Wh cannot be checked in as luggage; they must be carried on as personal effects for safety reasons. Energizer and Noontec power banks have Wh lower than that (i.e. 74Wh and below), so they are safe for carry-on as well as check-in.

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