There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re out and about with your laptop and you run out of charge. But if you have a good battery pack on-hand, then you’ll be able to recharge your laptop even when there are no power outlets nearby.
You can use a battery pack to recharge your laptop when:
- You’re traveling
- You’re working in the field and have little access to power
- You lose your primary laptop charger
Let’s discuss some of the ways you can use an external battery pack with your laptop.
What’s the difference between a power bank and a battery pack?
There’s no difference between a power bank and a battery pack. Both of these devices do the same thing in basically the same way, although they go by different names - they act as an external power supply for your laptop when you can’t plug into an outlet. Battery packs/power banks are pre-charged, so you don’t have to plug them into an outlet while you’re using them to recharge your laptop.
Although there’s no difference between a power bank and a battery pack, there is a difference between a power bank/battery pack and a removable battery. A removable battery is a battery that can be easily detached from your laptop without you having to disassemble the laptop in any way. Most removable batteries can be recharged separately, and you can buy extra ones so that you’ll always have a fully charged battery to swap in when your laptop dies. Removable batteries are a different piece of hardware because they can be fully integrated into your computer.
Say, what makes a good battery pack, anyway?
Obviously, the best battery pack for you starts with compatibility. You need to find a battery pack that’s compatible with your laptop. These days, there are lots of battery packs that are compatible with a wide array of laptops. But every computer manufacturer builds their computers in a different way, so don’t assume that one battery pack fits all.
Compatibility aside, there are a few different factors that determine the quality of a battery pack:
- Size and weight
Voltage refers to how much charge a battery pack can hold. The more charge it can hold, the more it’ll be able to recharge your laptop. The best battery packs have voltages around 100W (watts).
Voltage can be a pretty tough category to gauge because laptops have all sorts of different kinds of batteries. Let’s say that you have a 30W battery pack and a laptop that can hold 30 watts of power. That’s a good battery pack to have: 1 fully charged battery pack = 1 full laptop recharge.
But what if you had a workstation laptop that consumes 60W? In that case, your battery pack wouldn’t be so helpful because it could only recharge half your laptop’s battery. And you’ve also got to remember that how much wattage your laptop consumes depends entirely on what you’re using your laptop for. PC games are going to drain your battery more than browsing the web, for instance.
When you’re evaluating a battery pack for wattage, you should always take into account:
- How much charge your laptop can hold
- What activities you use your laptop for
These will help you determine whether or not a battery pack’s wattage is sufficient for your needs.
Battery packs come with different kinds of connectors. A compatible battery pack should be able to plug into the power port on your laptop.
If you have a laptop with USB-C ports, you might want to get a battery pack with a USB-C connector. High-capacity connectors (like USB-C and Thunderbolt) can transfer a larger amount of power quickly, which means they can charge your laptop faster.
You also might want to find a battery pack that has additional connectors. For instance, if you’ve got a battery pack that also had USB connectors, you could use it to charge your cell phone, headphones, tablet, and any other USB devices you might have. These types of battery packs are great to have when you’re traveling.
Size and weight
Size matters, and so does weight. While it’s nice to have a battery pack with high wattage and plenty of ports, a heavy battery pack might really weigh you down if you’re traveling, tempting you to leave it behind. Think carefully about what your needs are when you’re choosing a battery pack. The best one is the one you’re willing to take with you.
In a perfect world, money would grow on trees. Alas! It doesn’t. That’s why you should do your best to consider your budget when you’re choosing a battery pack. Battery packs with higher wattage and more connectors are going to be more expensive. If you’re on a tight budget and you truly don’t need the extra power and ports, then you should look for a lower wattage battery pack that’s more budget-friendly.
Keep in mind, though, that you never know when you’ll need all that extra voltage - especially if you’re a power PC user. You might have a job or travel adventure that requires you to keep your laptop well-charged at all times, and in those cases, you should look for higher-tier battery packs.
Top ways to use an external battery pack with your laptop
Do you have a battery pack, but it’s gathering dust in your electronics bin? Or maybe you’re weighing whether or not you need to buy a battery pack in the first place. Here are some of the top ways you can use a battery pack with your laptop.
1. Go traveling
Break away from your computer desk and go on an adventure! And don’t forget to bring your convertible laptop
with you. Whether you’re going on a weekend getaway or month-long backpacking trip through Europe, an external battery pack can be the ultimate travel buddy when you’re on-the-go.
There are so many different reasons to bring your laptop on a trip:
- You want to play games or watch movies while you’re in transit
- You want to edit your photos and videos while you travel
- You want to Skype your friends and family to give them travel updates (an important safety practice if you’re traveling solo)
- You need to answer business emails (not healthy for your work-life balance, but we admire your dedication)
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to forget your laptop charger in your hotel room, on a train, or at the little Parisian café where you updated your blog over a cup of coffee. If you need to use your laptop while you’re traveling, it would be a major bummer to lose your laptop charger
. That’s why having an external battery pack could really be a trip-saver. An external battery pack would also be helpful if you were traveling through an area that had few outlets in which to plug your laptop.
If you need a battery pack for traveling purposes, size and weight are very important - be sure you get one that’s compact enough to fit easily into your luggage.
Pro tip: If you’re lodging someplace that has available outlets, remember to charge both your laptop and your battery pack while you can.
2. Do business
When you’re in business, you might need to travel across town to attend a business conference or to meet with partners or potential clients. You might need to take your business laptop
with you to take notes or give a presentation. And, you might be in for a business disaster if you’re packing up to go and you suddenly realize that you only have a 10% charge on your laptop battery.
If you have an external battery pack ready to go, then you won’t have any reason to panic. You snag it as you leave your office, and you plug it into your laptop while you Lyft over to your meeting. By the time you arrive, your laptop has just enough charge (if not a full charge, depending on your battery pack) to give your presentation. A battery pack could also get you some brownie points if anyone else in the conference room needs a charge.
Pro tip: Always keep a charged battery pack in your office so you’ll have one when you need it.
3. Go glamping
Turn your camping trip into a glamping trip by bringing your laptop along for the adventure (all right, maybe that’s not the exact
definition of glamping, but an HP laptop
can make any campsite way more glamorous).
Unless you know of a wilderness that we don’t, we’re going to assume there won’t be any outlets available to charge your laptop. That’s okay! Use an external battery pack to keep your laptop charged throughout your nature excursion. Remember, battery packs don’t need to be plugged into a power source to charge your laptop. Just be sure to charge your battery back before your adventure and it’ll be ready to replenish your laptop battery even where there’s no electricity but lightning.
If you bring a battery pack with extra ports, you could also charge your cell phone, Bluetooth speaker, and electronic camping gear. While you’re roasting s’mores over a campfire, you and your friends can rock out to your favorite music, play PC games, and watch DVDs.
4. Do field work
Just because you’re a working professional doesn’t mean you spend all day at a desk. Maybe you’re a civil engineer, or a production manager, or a telecommunications expert, and you’re always doing computer work away from your office and from electrical outlets. If you’re in that line of work, you might really benefit from having an external battery pack.
An external battery pack is an invaluable tool to have in your arsenal because your laptop will probably run out of juice if you’re using it all day or if you’re using power-draining applications.
4. Charge all your devices at once
Whether you’re away from the office or chilling at your desk, an external battery pack could be a helpful device anywhere because you can use it to charge all your small devices. A standard laptop charger is cool and all, but can it also replenish your cell phone and wireless headphone batteries?
An external battery pack with extra connectors is basically a powered USB hub
. It won’t connect devices to your computer, but it can charge your devices without even having to be plugged in.
Best battery packs
Best budget battery pack
The HP 90W Slim with USB AC adapter
is the best-budget battery pack you can buy. This is a very compact and lightweight battery, but don’t let its small size fool you - it packs an impressive 90W voltage and is able to charge your notebook and USB-based devices. The small size also makes it optimal for travel.
Best overall battery pack
The HP Laptop power bank
is the best overall battery pack you can buy. What’s most impressive about this battery pack is that it’s compatible with a huge variety of HP notebooks, including HP ProBook, HP EliteBook, HP Spectre, and HP Chromebook models. It’s equipped with 2 USB-A ports and, best of all, a USB-C port
so you can enjoy high-speed charging for your USB-C laptop.
This battery pack is slightly larger than the HP 90W Slim, but it’s still ultra-compact so you won’t have any problem taking it with you wherever you go.
Best battery pack for tablets and 2-in-1 laptops
The HP USB-C Notebook power bank
is the perfect battery pack for 2-in-1 tablet laptops and tablets. This battery pack features 2 USB-A ports and 1 USB-C port for lightning-speed charging. Unlike the HP Laptop power bank, this battery pack is built primarily for 2-in-1s and tablets, like the HP x2 612, G2 Tablet, HP EliteBook x360, and HP Chromebook x360.
How to increase your laptop battery life
A good battery pack can help you recharge your laptop when you’re low on power, but there are a few easy habits you can pick up that’ll help you conserve battery life on your laptop:
- Turn down the brightness on your display
- Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when you’re not using them
- Use only 1 application at a time
If you practice those three habits, you might not have to use your battery pack as often.
About the Author: Zach Cabading is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Zach is a content creation specialist based in Southern California, and creates a variety of content for the tech industry.