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Review of Trent iTorch 5200mAh External Battery Charger

A few weeks back I bought this Trent iTorch 5200mAh External Battery Charger off of a recommendation from Steven Harris of Solar1234.com (and frequent guest on TheSurvivalPodcast).

I never really thought that I would need something like this. After all, I included a basic AC adapter in with our bug out bags for my wife’s iPhone, we have a DC charger for her phone in the car, and we even keep a charged prepaid phone in the car as well. Why would I need one more piece of electronics?

Well, the more I thought about it the more I came to realize that I couldn’t necessarily rely on an external power source, be it a wall plug or even a car to power our (likely) one and only two-way communication device when we’re bugging out. Who knows if the cell towers would work, whether the phones lines will be jammed, or what, but I decided a lack of power wasn’t going to be my bottleneck.

Anyway, this battery pack is capable of charging a variety of devices, including (according to the description) the “iPhone 4S 4 3Gs 3G, Android, Samsung Galaxy Note S S2, HTC EVO sensation Thunderbolt Nexus, Droid Motorola Razr, LG optimus V, Blackberry Bold curve Torch.” It comes with a cable to charge certain phones (can’t remember which now) but not the iPhone due to apparent proprietary issues (argh!). This is only slightly annoying as it means you will need to include the appropriate cord to charge Apple products with the battery pack. As such, if you intend to keep this battery in your bug out bag (as I do) then you’ll want to order an extra cord. You also need to already have a wall charger (with USB output) in order to charge the unit itself. So, long explanation short, if you have an iPhone then buy a complete wall charger and cable set; other phones probably only need the wall charger and not a cable. Buy an aftermarket from Amazon and save lots of money.

As for the unit itself, it’s rather solid, compact, and comes in a convenient carrying case too. I decided to place mine in a zip loc bag for extra protection from water or rain just in case. Unfortunately, I couldn’t shove the wall charger and cable into the provided carrying case so it all just went in the zip loc bag. Note: I considered vacuum sealing everything for 100% water protection but then I wouldn’t have been able to take it out for periodic recharging.

Besides being able to charge small devices it can be used as a mini light (though fairly dim) and even a laser pointer (not sure why I would want that). When charging (or discharging), the unit has four blue LED lights on the front that indicate state of charge (e.g., 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%). It takes up to 5-6 hours to fully recharge the unit from the wall.

Now the reason why I bought it…

Why I bought this battery pack is that depending on the device you’re trying to charge you should get two to three (or more) full charges out of it (for most smartphones, that is). Think about how useful that is! Never tried it on an iPad or larger devices but that’s not what it’s intended for.

Recharging a device is very straightforward. Just plug in your phone as usual and instead of connecting to the wall charger you use the battery pack.

What I found during my tests…

Over the course of a few days I decided to test the battery charger so I know what to expect out of it.

I started with charging our iPod Touch (2nd generation) which has a 800-900 mAh battery (I never could figure out which size was correct) because my kids use it a lot and really run down the battery. I was able to charge it multiple times, twice when it was 2/3 discharged and once when 1/2 discharged for an approximate total charge of, let’s say, 1500 mAh. I also charged my wife’s iPhone when it was slightly more than 1/3 discharged; because it has a larger battery capacity (of about 1400 mAh) I used another 500 mAh. Added together that’s a total of 2000 mAh (or 2 amps total), which should be significantly less than the 5200 mAh that the battery charger can hold. So, I was confused when the four LED lights seemed to indicate that the battery pack had less than 50% charge left.

Anyway, I decided to keep going and over the course of about two days I charged either the iPod Touch or iPhone at various states of discharge for an very approximate additional charging of about 2200-2500 mAh. Added all together, I believe I used between 4200-4500 mAh of total charge from the Trent iTorch Battery Pack (as compared to the listed 5200 mAh capacity) and because it still hadn’t run out of juice I was satisfied enough that it was as advertised.

So, I recharged the unit, packaged it up, and placed it in our bug out bag. I would suspect that I’ll need to periodically take it out and top off the battery charge but probably not very often (maybe every few months). Overall, it seems solid and does what I wanted, though, I only wished I didn’t have to also purchase an additional cord for my phone.

3 comments to Review of Trent iTorch 5200mAh External Battery Charger

  • Rob Greene (@RGRundeRGRound)

    There is a new class of chargers available, but very pricey and not really portable. Pulse Charging by Renaissance Charge or Tesla Chargers. Same manufacturer I believe, 2 different marketing arms. There are also simpler yet versions online, like the Relay Charger. But, (and this is a Big one) it seems to work on EVERYTHING Except LiIon batteries :(
    I have worked with this style of charging a lot. Best Lead Acid charger!
    NiCad and NiMH really love it too, and it used to work wonders on Alkaline batts, except the manufacturers downgraded the seals and they leak if charged
    up close to a full charge. DuraCell lead this charge. I have not tried Radio Shack alkalines yet, but they would be the only ones that are still good if they work.

    Great website, I will be returning more often!
    Maybe lend some battery experiences. Great to have batteries of all types
    when the SHTF! I also have rejuvenated all types. Most of the cordless phone batts (and other stuff that we replace) just need rejuvenated. High rate
    of success! I got a load (over a dozen) old Motorola batteries, all NiCad and NiMH, and all would not charge. In every case, I was able to get these to charge, but they all had either a reverse polarity protection diode burnt out, or a thermal over load failure. But the cells were all salvageable! GO FIGURE! We throw away millions of batteries a year, and many/most are still good.

  • Rob Greene (@RGRundeRGRound)

    You forgot the charge efficiency. Batteries heat up and also the internal 5200 MAH is running thru a DC/DC Converter that is also around 90% efficient. For ~2600 mah you got ~2000 mah of charging, which is not too bad. Not great, but acceptable.

    I have an iGo at&t sourced charger, (they recommended it) and got a better transfer rate to My iPhone. Your is around 70-80% efficient (by your measure) and mine was more like 90% when it was new, charging a new iPhone battery. Which raises another point, how old are the devices you are charging? That slows down charge rates too. Also increases cell heating during charge.

    Cheers! Good article

    Rob

    • In order to forget I would have to know about charge efficiencies in the first place! As for age of devices, the iPhone is about a year old but the iPod touch is ancient, which could be a reason why I didn’t get the efficiencies expected. Thanks for bringing it up.