Why Do Power Banks Get Hot?

It’s not uncommon for our devices to feel a little warm. After all, a lot is going on beneath those shiny exteriors. Still, there is a big difference between warm and hot when it comes to portable batteries like power banks. 

A power bank may also get hot due to a manufacturing fault, incorrect charging practices, excessive current, and short-circuiting caused by damage to the power bank. A power bank can get hot because lithium-ion batteries produce twice the energy of an alkaline battery and operate at a significantly higher voltage than other batteries. 

While we may not know all the little tricks that keep our gadgets running smoothly, it’s essential to know when something is wrong. If your power bank is overheating, you need to understand why and how to stop it from occurring in the future.

Why Is My Power Bank Overheating?

Unfortunately, cases of power banks overheating are not isolated, and organizations such as the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission have had to recall batches of power banks due to overheating, catching fire, and even exploding (source).

While the chances of your power bank exploding in your back pocket are pretty unlikely, it is still always good to be aware. An overheating power bank is not only bad for you, but it can also shorten the overall life of the power bank’s battery. 

You may wonder why manufacturers choose to use lithium-Ion batteries if they are at risk of overheating. Due to the sheer power needed to run smartphones and tablets, manufacturers need to use lithium-ion batteries because their energy density outmatches both nickel-metal hydride and NiCad batteries (source).

Also, lithium-ion batteries are much lighter and more compact, which makes them ideal for portable devices.

Sometimes when a power bank overheats, it’s due to a fault in the device’s manufacture. While consumer protection organizations are vital to keeping consumers safe, they cannot recall all malfunctioning devices. That is why you need to know the signs to look out for if your power bank is overheating.

The first step is to establish whether it is a fault with the power bank’s manufacturing or something you are doing. There are several possible reasons why your power bank may be overheating, as outlined below. 

Incorrectly Charging Your Power Bank

If you find your power bank is getting very hot when you charge it, then it may be that you are charging it incorrectly. Incorrect charging practices include overcharging your power bank, charging it in the wrong environment, and undertaking dangerous charging practices like pass-through charging.

Charging Your Power Bank For Too Long

It is crucial not to leave your power bank charging overnight or for extended periods of time. If you’d like to learn more about the dangers of overcharging your power bank, you can look at this article entitled “Can I Leave my Power Bank Charging Overnight?

Charging in the Wrong Environment

When charging your device, it’s better to do so in a well-ventilated environment. You should also not cover the power bank while it’s charging.

Practicing Pass-Through Charging

Most power banks that are available on the market do not allow charging and discharging simultaneously. This process is known as pass-through charging.

Pass-through charging refers to the process by which you can use your device, such as a mobile phone, while simultaneously charging it via your power bank. 

Pass-through charging is not recommended. The reason is that the phone’s operating system and the applications place extra demand on the power bank, which can cause it to overheat. 

When it comes to charging your power bank, it is always wise that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Incorrectly Storing Your Power Bank

Overheating is often caused by not storing your power bank correctly, so your power bank must be stored somewhere that isn’t too hot. Ideally, you need to make sure you keep it in a cool, dry place.

Try to avoid leaving it in direct sunlight or hot places such as the car or on top of your computer. Mobile phone companies, like Apple, recommend that people store their iPhones in temperatures between -4° to 113°F (source).

While 113°F may seem pretty high, parked cars are known to exceed this temperature, so it’s important not to leave your phone or power bank in the vehicle.

Allowing Your Power Bank to Short Circuit

Short-circuiting can cause your power bank to overheat. A short-circuit in a device causes excessive current to flow through the power bank. This superfluous current, in turn, causes the device to heat up.

To avoid your power bank from short-circuiting, you need to keep it away from any metal objects like keys, coins, or paper clips. It is also imperative not to insert any metal objects into the USB port, which are not intended to be there.

Damaging Your Power Bank    

Your power bank may start to overheat if it has been damaged in some way. This may have occurred due to dropping the device or by placing any kind of excessive force on it. Any damage to the power bank can cause its internal structures to become unstable, which, in turn, could cause short-circuiting.

The batteries within the power bank are actually quite delicate,  so you need to make sure you keep the device safe. It is also advisable not to let children handle power banks in case they drop them.

If your power bank is overheating, first try to follow all of the proper guidelines concerning charging time, storage, and limiting any kind of damage to your device. You can also give your power bank a break to see if it cools down a bit before recommencing charging.

However, if your power bank is still overheating after trying all of these steps, it may be a manufacturing issue. 

What to Do if Your Power Bank Overheats

The Electrical Safety First Organization recommends that if your power bank is too hot to touch, cease using it immediately and contact the manufacturer for advice (source).

Because overheating power banks may be prone to catching fire or exploding, you mustn’t use the device until it had been accessed. If your power bank feels hot on the outside, you can imagine how hot it is on the inside.

In addition to treating your power bank properly, the other way to avoid an overheating power bank is to purchase a safe and legitimate device that will not overheat.

When purchasing a power bank, always buy a reputable brand from a reputable retailer and ensure it has the correct specifications for your device and needs.

Buy a Reputable Power Bank

If you are wondering how to go about buying a safe power bank, there are a few things that you can do.

Buy From a Brand You Know and Trust

While it may cost you a little more, buying a power bank from a trusted and well-known brand is the way forward. Not only is the quality guaranteed, but there is also more accountability should something go awry.

Power banks from well-known manufactures will also most likely come with certification. UL LLC is a global safety certification company that operates in the US. They are responsible for certifying devices, such as power banks, and making sure they achieve the necessary safety measures (source).

A certified device from a well-established brand is one way you can buy a power bank that you can rely on and which will be unlikely to have any manufacturing issues.

Find Out What Other Buyers Liked and Disliked

Another recommended method is to read the reviews left by other consumers. The technology market is built upon the opinions of its customers. As a buyer, you can easily find out what other people liked and didn’t like, and this knowledge can help inform your decisions.

Websites such as Amazon provide a rating system that makes it easy and convenient to use. 

Be Wary of a Device that Doesn’t Match the Price.

When purchasing a power bank, you should always be aware of scams, especially when the device doesn’t match the price. If you see an advertisement for a 72000mAh power bank for $20, it’s too good to be true.

So when shopping for a power bank, be aware that the higher the mAh and the better features it has, the higher the price tag should be.

Focus on the Safety Features

As portable battery technology has evolved, so have the range of safety features. You can now purchase power banks with a range of safety features, which include things like overcharge protection, high-voltage protection, temperature controls, current regulation, and short circuit protection.  

Final Thoughts

When it comes to power banks, you should remember that while warm is alright, hot is definitely not. A hot power bank can be bad for both you and the device, so you must figure out why your device is suddenly prone to overheating.

Power banks need to be carefully looked after and maintained. Users should also practice safe and recommended methods when operating their device. If the power bank overheats despite being mindful, you should disconnect your device and contact the manufacturer. 

Tim C

An outdoor enthusiast for decades and a science and physics nerd since 1980, I have recently become very interested in using renewable energy sources for home primary power and as backup for outages, as well as for camping, boating and tailgating.

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