HOW THE POWER BANKS COME ABOUT?
It was around 2017 while walking around ChongQing in China that we first came across “power banks”. Unsure what they were at the time yet in need of extra mobile phone power, (( after a little on the spot street haggling )), we purchased our first power banks.
We bought 2 palm sized 5600 mah (pic) which took a about 12 hours to charge, though were pocket friendly, durable and kept our phones charged for much of the day.
If memory serves, we used them almost everyday for about 18 months, taking them on business trips, traveling and all sorts. It was just one of those products that turned out to be better than expected. In fact, as a family, we began to debate who was going to use the power bank, and it was this that led us onto the search for bigger, better and longer lasting ones.
Though for anyone who’s manufactured or bought goods on a regular basis from China knows only too well the ratios of hit and miss, the good vs the bad, and the pitfalls in product effectiveness. In polite form, China can be a perilous place indeed. Yet it kept crossing our minds, if we had manufactured heavy duty industrial telecommunication products (for 18 consequtive years), was it possible to do the same with retail products? That answer we honestly didn’t know.
This was a challenge yet that challenge was not linked to money, profit, or kudos. We just wanted a new challenge in life and the power banks happened to be in the palm of our hands.
During the summer of 2019 and while in China for one of our industrial factory production runs we came across several power banks advertised from 50,000 to 100,000 mah, though upon closer inspection these numbers turned out to be theoretical and used solely for slick marketing purposely. The reality was such that 30,000 mah was the maximum in terms of manufacturing capabilities and what we understood as “legal“.
Over 30,ooo mah (120 watts) and the batteries were deemed unsafe for portable travel which meant airlines and delivery companies would not entertain them.
THE LEGAL STUFF
Legal in the sense that as mentioned above, over 30,000 mah (i.e, over 120 watts) many countries deem them to be too hazardous to be taken onto a plane, or to be transported by courier.
From our own experience and when traveling we found that 30,000 mah was acceptable for the airlines in China, Thailand and UK (though as airlines constantly change their policies, please check before traveling)
So back to the power bank story: One day during the summer of 2019 we were browsing around ChongQing China and came across several 30,000 mah power banks, though as China can be rather notorious for inaccurate advertising, natural doubt prevented us from impulse buying. Yet after a few days trawling the internal taobao directory we decided to take the plunge and ordered various power banks ranging from 10,000 mah to 30,000 mah, from pocket to palm-held (10,000 mah sample in pic)
Upon arrival one particular power bank stood out. Albeit the sample version was larger, heavier and made for the Chinese market (i.e. Chinese internal micro-chips and materials that are considered unsuitable for export), it felt solid in the palm of our hands and overall it looked pretty impressive. We then put it to the test charging our children’s iPads, our mobile phones and so forth. What became apparent was the extent of its large capacity. Unlike other 30,000 mah we had tried and tested, nothing compared to this one. Compared to others, the drain was slower allowing it to last longer, and the recharge was constant and and cooler. We contacted the factory to arrange a meeting, which in turn led to a new specification fit for the export market (( upgraded micro-chips and materials to adhere to British Standards )).
For those familiar with importing, “it’s no walk in the park“. Legislation, conformity and traceability all factor high when importing battery powered electronics and while there are occasions Britain can appear to relax with certain items, power banks don’t fall into the that category. Being British with a British registered business meant the power banks would need to pass through rigorous checks, customs and HMRC with the all the relevant documentation/materials and specifications etc, which meant re-engineering the entire power-bank.
THE END RESULT
The end result was 3 almost same (different colour and casing) yet all three were smaller, lighter, slightly smarter version of the previous, finished with a slightly thicker more durable casing. Internally the circuitry has been changed to accommodate upgraded micro-chips which in reality cost £4 extra to manufacture. Our goal is to make products that last, products that represent value for money, and in adopting this, manufacturing these power banks is our attempt to do just that. Yet we will let you decide whether or not we have accomplished that goal, as we don’t know, we honestly don’t. But this was our aim.
The power-banks rolled off the production line, arriving in the UK November 2019. They went on sale with both Amazon and Ebay and we told ourselves that the value of the product should come from the voice of the customer and not from our personal opinion. Good, bad or otherwise, it was important for us to stand back and allow the voice of feedback to speak for itself.
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