Charging MacBook with battery packs

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Mike Boreham, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    When I got my 2016 MacBook last year I also bought an Anker Powercore+ 20100 USB-C battery pack to charge it from. This seems to be the most recommended battery pack for the MacBook and works great.

    My question is that I also have an older Anker Astro E5 2nd Gen model A1208 16000mAH battery pack. This is rated at 5V 3A output and when I connect it to the MacBook through a Drok USB power meter it charges the MacBook at 2.7 A. This is only about 0.1A than I see with the Powercore+ which is rated at 5V 6A output.

    Questions:

    1. Is there a reason why I shouldn't use the Anker E5 to charge the MacBook?

    2. What is special about the Powercore+ that it seems to be the go-to battery pack for the MacBook, apart from the fact that it has more capacity and USB-C input?

    Thanks
     
  2. kylera macrumors 65816

    kylera

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Seoul
    #2
    I can't answer both questions specifically, but if I were to guess, the reason why the PowerCore is recommended is because it's Anker, and Anker developed a good reputation for their products.

    I also use an Anker power bank for charging the MacBook on the go, but I actually got a higher capacity PowerCore+ 26800 instead of the 20100. It eschews the USB-C and has three USB-A instead, so I had to get a separate USB-C to USB-A cable. No issues on my end.
     
  3. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    Thanks. Anker have replied that the Anker E5 is fine to charge the MacBook. Obviously lower capacity and needing a USB-C to USB-A lead, which I have anyway for the Powercore 20100 USB-C.

    I am really not sure what the benefit of the USB-C port on the Powercore 20100 is, except mild convenience. The Powercore 20100 does not support USB-PD so it can only supply 3A (15W) to the Macbook, and is similarly limited when being charged.

    I have just ordered a 26800 RavPower which has USB-C which does support USB-PD so will charge the MacBook with the full 30W same as the Apple wall charger, and will recharge quickly through the USB-C port.

    Incidentally, all these quoted mAh values are highly misleading because of the transfer efficiency which affects all brands and types. EG I just charged my completely flat MacBook from a completely charged Powercore+ 20100 through a Drok USB power meter. The Powercore 20100 delivered 12,101 mAh before it stopped charging the MacBook. On recharging it needed 17,263mAh to fully charge it. I have experienced similar on every battery pack I have investigated (several). It is like buying a one pint drink in a bottle but only a bit over half can actually be drunk.
     
  4. objektør macrumors regular

    objektør

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Location:
    At home
    #4
    Thanks.The RavPower looks very interesting. Theoretically it could charge the rMB 5 times. So in real life maybe 3 times?
    Nice if you could do some more testing after you've got yours and share the results here.
     
  5. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    Will do!
     
  6. peass macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2010
    #6
    Just a tip: I have the Anker PowerCore 10050 which is much lighter than these other options and it can charge my macbook 40%. It is a pretty good option for those who want to travel light and just to be able to keep the macbook up all day long
     
  7. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    I agree, this is a good point. There is a tendency to think because the battery is to charge a computer it must be as big as possible.
    There is also a tendency to think because the computer is USB-C the battery must also be USB-C, but unless the USB-C supports USB-PD (charging at 30W, 15V 2A) then USB-C confers no advantage. There are very few USB-PD chargers available yet.
     
  8. Mike Boreham, Mar 8, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017

    Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    I have had the RavPower for a day now and done a full charge-discharge-recharge cycle on it using the Drok USB meter.

    Because the Drok is a USB-A device I can't use it to measure USB-PD 30W charging, which will need a USB-C meter like this Satachi which I have on order. I will try and do some simple comparisons of charge time using the USB-PD capability of the RavPower next week.

    I have used the Drok to measure the RavPower capacity, which I have also done for the Anker Astro E5 and Anker Powercore+. The results are shown in the table below.

    As expected they all tell a very similar story, which I have also had confirmed by Anker that this is normal and my Powercore+ is within spec. As I said before I wouldn't be very happy to go into a pub and order a pint of beer, only to find it was only possible to drink a bit over half of it! These things should be marketed based on their usable capacity.

    Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 17.15.09.png
     
  9. objektør macrumors regular

    objektør

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Location:
    At home
    #9
    Thanks. 15.000mAh for the Rav. It will charge my rMB more than 3 times since its battery is down at 4100mAh after 450 cycles in almost 2 years.
    It is what I expected but I agree that only 56% of its rated capacity is still disappointing.
    I might go for it anyway since my only other power source is a windgenerator so this Rav might come in handy on quiet days. And I extend the rMB's batterylife a bit so I don't have to swap it in the nearby future which is nice because there is no Applestore/service where I live.
     
  10. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    I think we just have to lower our expectations of these devices. But it annoys me that in this day and age we can be so misled by the marketing information.
     
  11. Truefan31 macrumors 68040

    Truefan31

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #11
    so it does charge the rmb at full speed then through usb c? that's a big benefit imo.
     
  12. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Without a USB-C power meter I can't make direct measurements in USB-PD mode, which only happens when connected with a USB-C to USB-C cable which complies with the USB-PD spec (not all do, and cable not supplied with the RavPower).

    The best I can do is observe charging rate with Coconut Battery app connected by USB-C and USB-A. With USB-C the rMB is charges with at 20 W and with USB-A with 5 W. See screen shot below. This is the correct difference of 15W. The reason the values are not the max values of 30W and 15W is that the rMB is running and Coconut Battery can only show the net charging rate, i.e. difference between power input and current power usage.

    One very disconcerting thing I found when I first connected the RavPower with the USB-C to USB-C cable was that the rMB was charging the RavPower, not the other way round. I had seen something about this in my reading up and the solution was to press and hold the button on the RavPower to reverse the flow. This did not happen on subsequent occasions, even with a charge in between. There is nothing about this in the "manual" (tiny leaflet) which came with it or on the RavPower website. I can't find a proper manual on the website, but will ask RavPower.

    Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 05.24.47.png
     
  13. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    I have sent all my Anker measurements to Anker. The Powercore+ will also only charge the rMB via one of the ports. They say the Powercore is faulty and have issued me a full refund without requiring the still usable item back. Good Customer service!

    The product I would really like is the Anker equivalent of the RavPower, i.e. with USB-PD, but Anker have told me it is discontinued. This seems a bit odd for a new technology (PD) and confirms my feeling that the whole USB-PD thing is bleeding edge at the moment. Also the fact that there is only one PD product (RavPower) in an otherwise crowded market.
     
  14. Truefan31 macrumors 68040

    Truefan31

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #14
    Hmm that is odd. Wonder if anker found issues.

    AC Portable Charger, RAVPower 27000mAh 100W(Max.) Built in 110V AC Outlet Universal Power Bank Travel Charger (Type-C Port , Dual USB iSmart Ports , 19V/1.6A DC Input) For Macbook, Laptops, Smartphone https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LCFS9S6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_zurWybBBX8XGC

    Might just have to get this. Ac power up to 100w. Even charge the new mbp 2016
     
  15. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #15
    Wow.....impressive!....but big! For some people could be a godsend, but bigger than I need or prepared to carry around. The RavPower 26800 is as big I want. Incidentally, on our Kitchen digital scales the RavPower and Powercore+ weigh the same.
     
  16. Truefan31 macrumors 68040

    Truefan31

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #16
    Here you go

    AC Portable Charger, RAVPower 20100mAh 65W(Max.) Built-in AC Outlet Universal Power Bank Travel Charger (Type-C Port, Dual USB iSmart Ports, 19V/1.6A DC Input) For MacBook, Laptops, Smartphones https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LYONAT8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_jMNWybTP0T29H
     
  17. objektør macrumors regular

    objektør

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Location:
    At home
    #17
    I used an Anker Astro E5 to charge my rMB and it worked fine for a while.
    For some reason it doesn't work anymore. Instead the rMB is charging the E5 now and I can't reverse it. I rebooted the machine but it did not help.
    I wonder whether it is an rMB flaw. Some of the reviews on Amazon also mention rMB's not getting charged by the RavPower.
     
  18. Mike Boreham, Mar 11, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017

    Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #18
    Thanks again! I don't (that I know of!) have a need for portable AC power, and that one doesn't seem to have USB-PD, i.e. it doesn't list 15V 2A, 30W as a USB-C output.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 11, 2017 ---
    An update to this. The need to reverse the flow has been necessary a number of times, not just the first. The button sometimes needs to pressed a few times to get the change of flow to "stick".
    RavPower have replied to my email saying this is quite normal, but didn't answer my question about a proper manual or any mention of it in the leaflet supplied with it....but they "got my concern"!
    --- Post Merged, Mar 11, 2017 ---
    I have not so far experienced the RavPower not charging the rMB, but I can well imagine that the need to reverse the flow, and that sometimes this takes two or three attempts, would cause some (many) people to write that, especially with it not being mentioned in the instructions.
     
  19. objektør macrumors regular

    objektør

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Location:
    At home
    #19
    Thanks for the update.
    I also used to charge my rMB through a 2A car charger connected to a 12V battery bank. This used to work but not anymore. Now my rMB is charging the battery bank.
    I really like the RavPower but I want to be sure it will charge the rMB with 30W (or at least 15-20W) before I pull the trigger.
    How many times have you managed to charge the rMB on a full RavPower?
     
  20. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #20
    I am confident about the 20-30 W based on above. When I get my USB-C meter I will be able to measure directly.

    I have not so far done a series of flattening the MacBook and recharging from the RavPower without recharging the RavPower in between so can't answer directly. But I am confident in the measured delivered 15056 mAh from the fully charged RavPower. The MacBook design capacity is 5500 mAh so even if it actually accepts this much the RavPower should do 2-3 charges.
     
  21. objektør macrumors regular

    objektør

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Location:
    At home
    #21
    Thanks.
    I'm sure I would be pleased with it. But since my rMB for no apparent reason is not being charged anymore from my Anker E5 and the 12V/2.0A car charger but instead is charging them, I am not so sure anymore.
    First I want to figure out how to reverse the charge before I get another device that maybe won't do the job.
    Any suggestions will be appreciated.
     
  22. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #22
    No ideas there I 'm afraid. I guess I am pretty surprised the Anker E5 can reverse since it has separate ports for input and output, unlike the RavPower where the one USB-C port can be used for input or output. Have you tried asking Anker? Their support is very good. They told me the Anker E5 was fine for charging my MacBook.
     
  23. objektør macrumors regular

    objektør

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Location:
    At home
    #23
    Since both the Anker E5 and the car charger stopped functioning I tend to believe it is something with my rMB.
    I noticed also that I don't get the 'charging sound' anymore when I plug in my Apple charger.
    I might do a clean install to see if that makes a difference.
     
  24. Mike Boreham thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #24
    ....
    .....or reset the SMC controller is usually a good thing to do in such matters:

    https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201295
     
  25. objektør macrumors regular

    objektør

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Location:
    At home
    #25
    Thanks, I didn't know that.
    It helped to get the 'charge sound' back. No improvement on the E5 or car charger.
     

Share This Page