How Pass Through Charging Lets You Use Power Banks In Creative Ways

power bank charged

When movies imagine the future, they fall into two broad categories: sleek and cyberpunk. Sleek is the Star Trek model, where everything is almost obsessively cleanly and the technology is miniature, powerful and self-contained. You seldom see how the communication devices attached to their lapels are charged between uses, for example, or pilots worrying whether they have enough to power to keep their music going through a long interstellar trip. Cyberpunk tech on the other hand is modular, jerry-rigged, various parts slapped together to enhance functionality. The reality of tech falls somewhere between these poles. Our subject today, keeping power banks charged, is an apt example.

Pass Through Charging

One of our most popular posts last year looked at pass through charging. In a nutshell, pass through charging is when you charge your power bank via a wall outlet or secondary device, while simultaneously charging other devices connected to the bank. What’s being passed through, in this scenario, is electricity. Our previous post on keeping power banks charged explains:

“Pass through technology… is in essence a series of power regulating circuits inside a power back that helps match the draw of energy needed by an output device to the amps being pulled from a wall outlet. If done right, pass through will move power directly from the wall outlet to the connected device, via the power bank. This is called prioritization. Depending on load balancing performance in the power bank, the latter should charge at either a regular or slower speed than normal when working with an output device.”

Now, you may rightly be asking yourself why someone with access to an outlet would continue charging their devices through the power bank when they could just plug into the wall directly. And you’d be correct: if you have enough outlets (or a power bar) and enough wall adapters for each device, then you’re better off “passing” on pass through charging.

However, there are plenty of scenarios where this might not be feasible: if you only have access to a single outlet, at a coffee shop for example, you may need to get creative. You may also only have USB/Lightning cables to connect to the bank, but no adapters.

How Does The Tech Keep Your Power Bank Charged Safely?

Pass through charging is not entirely without risk to your devices. Excess heat is battery kryptonite, which is why Rav engineers have taken such pains to develop chips that can regulate temperature by manipulating energy intake. The longer something takes to charge, the more at risk it is of building up damaging heat. Under normal use, even our beefiest models like this gargantuan 27000mAh bank can be fully charged hundreds of times without a significant performance hit.

Pass through tech poses an extra challenge to safely keeping your power bank charged however. The normal charge time is extended because the bank is generously offering a portion of its juice to the devices plugged into it. If you’re only passing through for a few hours, our products are built well enough to take it. Longer than that, though, and you’re risking doing some damage to even top-tier products, regardless of the manufacturer.

 

Going Full Cyberpunk

The nice thing about highly adaptable tech is that it lets users apply their imagination. If you’ve ever watched a hardcore cyclist weave through a traffic jam, you’ll know they have something outside the box in their DNA. That’s why we weren’t surprised that cyclists have been among those really getting the most out of how pass through lets them keep their power bank charged with flair. Look at this biker who uses our rechargeable units to turn their wheels into something straight out of TRON!

Tokyo Shinjuku Cyberpunk Bike LED Mod Pass Through Charging keeping power banks charged
This tron-inspired bike comes from infern0yut0. You can use a portable charger to power the lights.

 

We had a commenter on a past post ask some great questions about using Rav products for a complex rig. He was using one of our 24W solar panel chargers to trickle charge his power bank during a long bike tour. The power bank was in turn keeping his GPS, GoPro and iPhone in the green. Although when you’re in motion variations in sunlight will effect how much the panel is able to capture, it’s still a great way to collect extra charge throughout your trip, and particularly during rest stops. When it comes to keeping your power bank charged and you’re off the grid, every little bit can help.

 

Be Creative Your Way

Are you using power banks in an unusual way? We’ve love to see more of your photos and anecdotes. Send them to us and we’ll try and feature them on our blog, Facebook, or Instagram!

28 Replies to “How Pass Through Charging Lets You Use Power Banks In Creative Ways

  1. The fellow you cite using the solar collectors is in the minority of bicyclists who need pass through batteries. Most touring cyclists use front hub dynamos which power USB chargers.

    1. Ahh that’s interesting. Seems like something like a hub dynamo would be better, however, we wanted to provide a quick example of a set up using RAVPower. Thanks for letting us know for future! 🙂

  2. Hi!

    I just bought the RP-PB055 and try to use passthrough power. I want to start using it with battery power and then connect the RP-PB055 to wall outlet but it shut down when I try. Can I do something to get it to work?

    Thanks, Jonas

  3. Does the RP-PB067 26.8Ah Ace series support pass-through charging?
    It does provide power to a device while also plugged into a charger but I’m not sure whether this is true pass-through (ie charger supplying power straight to the device) or if it’s charging my device from the internal battery.

  4. Hi,

    I have a dynamo setup on my bicycle which powers a USB supply which I use to power a smartphone. Problem is the power cuts in and out as I start/stop/really-slowly-climb-hills and this confuses the smartphone about its state of charge.

    Is there a Ravpower bank that will pass through a consistent power to my smartphone when faced with stop/start power input? Also, is there a supplier for Ireland? I cannot purchase through Amazon UK as they will not ship batteries.

    Regards,

    Conor

      1. Hi,

        Thanks for that, I’ll have to try to be creative in purchasing so…

        Can you address the other part of my question please? The bit about stop/start dynamo input?

        Thanks,

        Conor

          1. Hi,

            Thanks, didn’t mean to pester, just didn’t want the first bit to slip by.

            As far as switching off once device is charged, that’s not a problem. The issue that arises for me is that the phone gets confused with the constant on/off nature of dynamo charging but would not be upset by charge ceasing once fully charged. I suspect also that the satnav app I use means that the phone would rarely get to full charge anyway. I want the power bank to buffer the dynamo so the phone doesn’t see the stop/start.

            The other issue for me is size. I need the power bank to fit into a handlebar-mounted case. It looks like the 5″x3.15″ size of the RP-PB19 is about right. Is there one of similar size with usb-c (mentioned by Dave below)?

            Regards,

            Conor

          2. Hi,

            As I research further, I see the RP-PB078 has both usb micro and usb c port. Will this do pass through charging in the fashion mentioned by Dave below? While that’s only 10,000mAh but looks like being (barely) small enough to fit my handlebar bag, is there a higher capacity usb c bank that would fit into under 5.5 inch length?

            Regards,

            Conor

          3. Hi,

            For some reason I cannot reply to your later comments below so I’m putting it here.

            Thanks very much for your help, I’m off shopping now…

            Regards,

            Conor

    1. Hi Connor, there are a few Ravpower products that provide pass through. I have the RP-PB067 which is an absolute beast.
      What I’ve found is that you if you charge the powerbank using usb micro (let’s call this input) and charge your device using the usb c port (let’s call this output) then output power is uninterrupted when input power is switched on or off.

      If both unit is micro and output is usb a then output is interrupted momentarily when the unit is switched on/off.

      1. Hi Dave,

        Thanks for that info. Just to clarify, my phone takes microusb as input but I should be able to connect to the powerbank usb c with a suitable cable. In that scenario, I should expect output power to be uninterrupted?

        On the other hand, if I take output from the usb a port, my phone will see a momentary power cut. Any idea how long that power cut is and (guessing wildly), would the phone cut its charging that quickly (it appears to take 1/2 a second to light/extinguish the charging led)? Does the powerbank resume output without needing a press of its button?

        Regards,

        Conor

        1. What I’ve noticed is that the phone does stop charging for a second or so.
          There is a 10Ah version similar to what I have which is RP-PB078(B) that might do the trick.

  5. I live out in the countryside and regularly have power-cuts. I was hoping I could use a Ravpower power bank with pass-through as a UPS for my internet router and wireless access point (which require 5v DC). I only want to draw on the internal battery if the mains supply is lost (it typically only goes off for an hour or so). I believe this will work with a passthrough model but the article indicates that this may shorten the life of the power-bank. If the unit is truly ‘passing through’ power then I’m not sure why that’s the case?

    Cheers

    Craig

    1. Hi Craig,
      The power bank can use pass-through charging from time to time without damage to the battery, however if you use pass-through charging regularly, the power bank’s lifespan will begin to cut short. Hope that clears that question up for you.

  6. I was evaluating passthrough batteries for my audio player project.

    Unfortunately I need 5V 2.4A and 12V 2A, passthrough charging and for the two outputs to be isolated.
    So for now I had to settle for a wired solution, I haven’t found any power bank capable of this.
    Any plans on such a product?

  7. Hi–I’m looking to use one of your products as an uninterruptible power supply for some USB-powered devices in my car.

    You mentioned earlier that the power bank will turn off when the connected device has stopped charging. Does that mean when the unit stops drawing power? If so, what’s the minimum threshold for drawing power? Would 1 mA be sufficient, or 10 mA, etc?

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