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A neat design that'll give you a bit more power for any small device, whether it's USB or needs a wall socket. It's not largest of battery packs out there, but it's a good size for travelling, and the included case is appreciated.
Like most of us, I take the availability of electrical power completely for granted. But as recent events have shown, disaster can strike at any moment and leave us without power for weeks at a time. Given our increasing reliance on mobile devices that can barely last a day, it’s a sobering thought.
Whether it’s for an emergency, camping, or travel, RAVPower thinks they have a great general purpose solution for our portable power needs: the RAVPower 20,100mAh charger with AC output.
Let’s take a closer look, and at the end of this review, we’ve got one to giveaway to one lucky reader! Keep reading to find out what we thought, and how to win one for yourself.
Design and Specifications
- 2.76 x 2.76 x 5.7 inches, 570g.
- 20,100mAh Lithium Ion battery.
- Type-C USB port, 5V @3A.
- Type-A USB port, 5V @2.4A (“iSmart”, or “fast charging”).
- US model: up to 65W 110v, two-prong plugs.
- UK model: up to 65W 220v, standard three-prong plug.
- Charges from 19v @1.6A wall adaptor.
- Package includes hard case for everything, soft case for cables, charger, and two micro-USB cables, as well as a small carabiner.
Looking more like a smart speaker than a power bank, the RAVPower stands 5.7 inches tall and weighs around 570g. The airflow grills on the top and base only serve to enhance the speaker-looks, though they are in fact used for passive cooling. The entire body is covered in a sleek, rubberized coating that feels great and doesn’t suck up fingerprints. However, it is strictly only a thin coating – this isn’t a rugged device.
The design is split around the midriff by a set of 5 blue LEDs, with band continuing all around the device. There are no sharp corners to speak of anywhere, and minimal branding. It looks great, feels great, and breaks out of the typical battery pack form factor of a large rectangular slab. (RAVPower’s higher capacity model, which we reviewed earlier this year, is indeed a large rectangular slab).
Another rubberized cap covers the AC socket, but it’s very easy to pull off because of its flexibility; the other ports lie exposed.
Included in the package is a large hard shell case that houses both the battery pack and the wall adaptor – and there’s a soft mesh fabric case just for the cables. RAVPower also include both a short and long micro-USB cable, though given the ubiquity of those, I’m not entirely sure it was necessary. Presumably, you already own charging cables for your devices.
You’ll find a standard USB, and a USB type-C port. The standard port is great: it provides fast-charging 2.4A, which is the maximum you’ll find anywhere.
The type-C port goes up to 5V@3A, but the decision to make it a rounded type-C port rather than simply a higher rated standard rectangular USB (type-A) port is curious. Differentiation for the end user could be the reason for this, but coloring the port red would have sufficed. I have a few devices which charge over type-C, but they all start from the standard USB plug and terminate in a USB type-C. In order to make use of this, you may need to purchase a type-C to type-C cable.
Both of the USB ports can be used simultaneously. Depending on the capacity of your device, you’ll get about 4-5 recharges for a phone, or 1-2 charges for an iPad or other large tablet.
The AC output is limited to relatively small devices. The U.S. listing states 65W as a maximum, though the UK documentation says anything over 50W may have issues. Most modern laptop chargers lie in the range of 29-60w, though a Macbook Pro wall plug goes up to 80W, as do some older or larger laptops. Thats not to say you wouldn’t be able to charge your a Macbook Pro: you could use the USB type-C port instead, but it would be slower than usual.
However, you certainly couldn’t plug larger appliances or something like a kettle into it, which may peak at around 2,000W. All devices should have an electrical power rating on a sticker somewhere, so if in doubt, check before plugging it in.
I wanted to test a non-laptop device, so I tried both a room fan and a motorized turntable, both rated below 50W. While functional, they did run a little slower while plugged into the RAVPower compared to a wall socket. I confirmed this with a watt-meter. When plugged into the wall, the fan drew about 32W, but only 28W from the RAVPower plug. I suspect this is due to some quirk of alternating current when converted from a DC battery source, rather than a defective device, but RAVPower offered to investigate further. Charging a laptop worked fine, no slower than when plugged into the wall socket.
Another quirk I found with the fan was that the battery remaining indicator was wildly inaccurate. In total, we managed to run the fan for just over two hours – but after the first hour, the battery indicator had dropped to a single LED. At a continuous draw of around 27/28W, this gives us a realized battery capacity of about 55Wh (watt-hours). The stated total capacity is 74Wh, however, there will always be some inefficiency when converting voltages to such a degree.
Given that it’s a big power bank, you wouldn’t expect any complex usability issues. The USB ports work as expected – the only thing you might slip up on is that the AC output needs to be activated by holding down the power button for three seconds. A small green LED indicates when this is on, though obviously this would obscured if you actually have something plugged in already. The port also has an auto shut off, so if your equipment does randomly stop working, it’s likely you need to reactivate the port.
Recharging the battery can only be achieved using the included 19V 1.6A DC charger. It took us about 5 hours to fully charge the unit, and did get quite warm during the process. The speed is to be expected, but I was disappointed that it couldn’t accept a wider range of input voltages. If you were to lose access to the electrical grid and didn’t have a converter – or even if you were just to lose this cable – you wouldn’t be able to use a more common 12V source, for instance.
Should You Buy the RAVPower?
The truth is that battery technology has changed very little over the past 5 years. When a product does come out with a longer battery life, it’s either because they’ve crammed a bigger battery in there (perhaps even with disastrous consequences), or because they’ve made the components use less power. It’s not because the battery itself is inherently any better than last year’s. The same is true of the RAVPower charger: it offers nothing revolutionary. And while not quite the perfect emergency energy store due to limited recharging options, the RAVPower 20100 portable charger with AC output does exactly what it says on the box, in a nice package and a fair price. The form factor and aesthetics of the device are unique in a sea of similar looking options, and it’s something that’ll certainly give me peace of mind to keep around. I don’t think we can ask much more of a battery pack.