Common mistakes that can break powerbanks

In summer, people flock outside. Tablets, smartphones and mobile speakers are a must. To ensure that the devices don’t run out of power while out and about, many people turn to power banks. But they need to be handled with care.

Powerbanks are small mobile power dispensers that can be used to charge the batteries of mobile devices anytime and anywhere via cable or even wireless charging. But in order to use powerbanks safely, effectively and for as long as possible, care is required. Although there are various safety precautions, incorrect handling can lead to short circuits and fires in the worst case, informs the TÜV Association (VdTÜV).

Powerbanks do not like heat

The sun is shining, the temperatures are rising – which drives us outdoors is sometimes very harmful for powerbanks. The mobile power banks don’t like high temperatures and direct sunlight at all. As with smartphones, the optimum operating temperature for most powerbanks is between 0 and 35 degrees, according to the VdTÜV. If they overheat, for example due to a short circuit or external heat, an internal thermal reaction can be triggered. In extreme cases, this can lead to an explosion. So, do not leave the power banks open in the car or even on the dashboard in summer.

It is also not a good idea to charge the cell phone with the powerbank in your pants pocket or another tight space such as a backpack or handbag. The heat generated along with high summer temperatures could lead to burn injuries.

Inspect the power bank carefully after a fall

If the power bank has been dropped or looks damaged in general, the experts also advise caution. Is the housing inflated or deformed? Are there tarnish marks on metal parts or melting points on the casing? In such cases, it is better to dispose of the devices professionally. If the powerbank gets hot without being connected, this is a danger signal. The device should then also no longer be used. Even if the battery discharges much faster than usual, this is an indication of a defect.

In general, owners should never charge the device unattended and will check its temperature every now and then. If the powerbank becomes so hot that it can no longer be held in hands, it should be disconnected immediately. It should also not be left charging for too long, for example overnight.

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Buying tips

In general, lithium-ion batteries such as powerbanks pose a certain risk of fire and explosion, despite safety precautions. When buying, consumers should therefore always look for a CE mark, advises the VdTÜV.

The voluntary “GS mark” offers additional orientation. Those who are primarily active outdoors should also look for an IP67 certification. This means that the powerbank is dustproof and protected against water, among other things. It must be able to withstand temporary submersion of up to one meter for up to 30 minutes.

Inferior power banks can not only damage the device being charged, but also pose a fire and explosion hazard. Especially in the case of devices imported via the Internet, false or misleading CE marks cannot be ruled out. If in doubt, take a close look at the label and make sure that it stands for “Conformité Européenne” and not for “China Export,” as the TÜV association has already discovered with some Chinese products.

Caution is also advised with so-called no-name goods: “If no manufacturer is indicated, it is better not to buy the powerbank,” advises the association. Particularly with extremely cheap offers with high performance promises, skepticism is therefore appropriate.

Models with intelligent charging mode

Anyone buying a device should make sure that the output voltage matches that of the device being charged, or damage could result. Often there are multiple ports, which then charge at different amperages. Some models have an intelligent charging mode and can detect the device to be charged accordingly itself and adjust the charge. All those who do not use the device for a long time should not let it discharge completely, but partially charge it from time to time, which can extend the life.

With material from dpa