Emergency EV battery power banks are a lifeline as backup chargers for EV owners in emergencies, either on a long drive or where they can’t plug in a traditional EV granny charger.
As more drivers in the UK shift to electric cars, the need for reliable backup battery options is increasing. These portable power bank batteries are a great emergency option for long road trips away from familiar charging points or unexpected power outages.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of having an emergency portable charger, explore the best emergency portable battery power banks available for EV owners in the UK, and provide insights to help you choose the right power bank for your EV needs.
Can You Charge an EV from a Portable Power Bank Battery?
It is possible to charge an electric car using a portable power bank battery, but there are no affordable consumer products on the market in the UK right now that are suitable to do this.
Portable power bank batteries for EVs are specifically designed to provide emergency power to electric vehicles. They are not meant to replace regular charging stations but rather serve as a backup in situations where standard charging options are not available. Typically, these power banks won’t provide a full charge, but they can offer enough power to get you to the nearest charging station or safely home.
They are designed to provide a significant boost in a relatively short amount of time, ideal in emergencies or during longer journeys where access to public charging points might be limited.
It’s also important to consider the size and weight of the portable charger, as it needs to be practical to carry in your vehicle. Advanced models are becoming increasingly compact and lightweight, making them more convenient for everyday use.
How do Portable EV Battery Power Banks Work?
Emergency EV battery power banks are basically large-capacity batteries designed to store energy and then transfer it to your EV when needed.
- Storage Capacity
These power banks contain high-capacity batteries, often lithium-ion, known for their efficiency and longevity. The capacity of these batteries is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), which determines how much charge they can hold and subsequently provide to an EV.
The distance an EV can travel on a single charge is measured in miles per kilowatt-hour (mi/kWh), so if you understand the mi/KWh of your EV you will be able to determine how much charge your emergency power bank needs to get you home.
- Charging the Power Bank
Before a portable power bank can be used to charge an EV, it needs to be charged itself. This is typically done through a standard electrical outlet, some advanced models might also support solar charging.
- Compatibility and Connection
Portable power banks are equipped with connectors compatible with standard EV UK charging ports so they can be used with a wide range of electric cars.
Once connected, the power bank transfers its stored electrical energy to the EV’s battery. This process is managed through an in-built charging system within the power bank, which regulates the flow of electricity to ensure safe and efficient charging. The system takes into account the specific charging requirements of the vehicle, such as voltage and current limits, to optimise the charging process.
- Portability and Convenience
What sets these power banks apart from standard home chargers is their portability. They are designed to be compact and lightweight enough to be carried in an EV, ensuring drivers have access to emergency power wherever they go.
How Do I Choose a Portable EV Battery Power Bank?
In order to choose the best portable EV charger for your needs, have a look at our checklist of product features to look out for:
- Battery Capacity
The capacity of the portable charger, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), determines how much charge it can deliver. A higher capacity charger can provide more range per charge but will be larger and more expensive.
- Size and Weight
Portability is key. Consider how much space the charger will take up and how heavy it is, especially if you plan to carry it regularly.
- Ease of Use
Look for chargers with user-friendly interfaces. Features like LED indicators, touchscreen displays, or companion smartphone apps can make the charging process more convenient.
- Safety Features
Safety certifications are crucial. Look for chargers with built-in protections against overcharging, overheating, and electrical surges. CE marking is a must for chargers sold in the UK.
Safety is paramount when dealing with high-capacity batteries and electrical transfer. Portable EV power banks are designed with multiple safety features to prevent issues like overheating, overcharging, and short-circuiting. They often include thermal management systems, circuit protection, and auto-shutoff mechanisms.
- Weatherproof Rating
If you plan to use the charger outdoors or in various weather conditions, check its weatherproof rating (like IP65 or IP67) to ensure durability and safe operation.
The Best Emergency Portable EV Battery Power Bank Chargers
Currently, the UK market for practical emergency portable EV battery power bank chargers is limited. While the concept of portable charging solutions for electric vehicles is gaining traction, the availability of such devices that are tailored for consumer use in the UK is pretty much zero – unless you have a serious budget.
Most of the available models are either targeted towards commercial use or come with limitations in terms of cost, size, or charging capacity that is not right for every day EV drivers. This gap in the market reflects an area of opportunity and innovation, as the demand for emergency portable charging options is expected to grow! Here’s a selection of the emergency portable battery power banks you can currently find in the UK:
The most exciting potential addition to the UK market is the ZipCharge Go, a suitcase-sized portable charger that should have been released in 2023, but we are still waiting for it!
Developed by a UK start-up, the ZipCharge Go is designed to address the needs of those without off-street parking or easy access to public charging points. It is currently in the production-representative prototype stage and promises to offer around 20 to 40 miles of range in approximately 30 to 60 minutes.
The charging speed is going to be similar to a typical home wall box, at around 7.2kW. Its compact design, resembling a wheeled hand luggage suitcase, makes it highly portable and suitable as an emergency backup charging source.
With planned capacities of 4kWh, 6kWh, and 8kWh, the ZipCharge Go represents a massive breakthrough for EV owners who need a convenient, portable charging solution.
Rolec’s contribution to this sector is the CubiCharge Portable EV Charger, specifically targeting electric car owners.
The CubiCharge is versatile and suitable for temporary recharging and emergencies. It comes in various configurations, including a 1-way, 2-way, or 3-way unit, allowing for the charging of up to three vehicles simultaneously.
This makes it ideal for use in car showrooms, events, and emergencies. The CubiCharge is easy to transport and set up, offering a cost-effective alternative to its competitors. However, it lacks a smart charging app and does not specify the range it offers, which might be a consideration for some users.
SparkCharge is a portable charging station for electric cars with an innovative design, which splits into two parts: the top half serves as the charger and the bottom half as the battery pack.
Together, they form a handy portable recharging component for EVs. One of the most striking features of the SparkCharge is its modular design, allowing users to connect multiple batteries – much like Lego blocks – to extend the charging range.
With the capability to add up to five different modules, each providing an additional 10-15 miles of charge, the total range can reach an impressive 75 miles. This capacity effectively eliminates the need for towing if an EV runs out of power on the road.
Additionally, the SparkCharge Portable Charger can be charged in various ways, including solar power, offering an eco-friendly option. Alas, at the moment, it has a high price tag of £7,000 for the smallest model and its current unavailability in the domestic market.
Another model in this market is the EV Rescue Portable Electric Vehicle Charging System by Charging Solutions, a Shropshire-based British company.
This model stands out as the UK’s first 100% portable device that doesn’t require a trailer for transportation. Designed as a non-tethered recharging station, it allows drivers to recharge cars using either a Type 1 or Type 2 charging cable. While slightly slower than the SparkCharge, charging at the rate of 1 mile per 3 minutes, it effectively replaces the need for breakdown assistance by offering up to 15 miles of charge.
This makes it an economical solution for recovery vehicles, although its size may not fit into a standard car and it mainly targets the commercial market.
The current options for portable EV chargers in the UK are somewhat limited, but as the market evolves, we can expect to see a wider range of choices.
Are Portable EV Battery Power Banks Worth It?
Portable EV power banks are worth it for the flexibility and confidence they give EV owners who are concerned about running out of charge. While they may not replace the efficiency and speed of regular chargers, they are worth it for providing that emergency power to get you out of trouble!
For those who frequently travel off the beaten path or live in areas with limited public charging, a portable emergency power bank is a great backup. Yes, there are considerations like cost, charging speed, and additional weight, but the security they offer makes portable EV power banks a worthwhile consideration.
Pros of Portable EV Battery Power Banks
- Emergency Charging: They provide crucial backup power during emergencies or in areas with sparse charging infrastructure, ensuring drivers are never stranded.
- Increased Range Confidence: Portable chargers reduce range anxiety, allowing EV users to travel longer distances without worrying about running out of power.
- Convenience: Ideal for long trips and areas without reliable access to charging stations, offering flexibility and peace of mind.
- Easy to Use: Generally user-friendly, with straightforward operation, making them accessible even for those new to EV technology.
- Portability: Compact and designed for easy transport, they can be carried in the vehicle, ready for use whenever needed.
Cons of Portable EV Battery Power Banks
- Limited Charging Capacity: They usually offer limited charge compared to stationary chargers, providing enough power to reach a charging station rather than a full charge.
- Slower Charging Speed: Portable chargers typically charge slower than conventional granny chargers, making them less suitable for quick top-ups.
- Cost: High-quality portable chargers can be very expensive.
- Additional Weight: Carrying a portable charger adds extra weight to the vehicle, potentially affecting efficiency and range.
Can You Get a Spare Battery for an Electric Car?
In theory, you can get a spare battery for an electric car, but it’s not straightforward. Unlike the cars we are used to where you might carry a spare tyre, electric cars are designed with integrated battery systems that are not easily swappable.
These batteries are complex, large, and integral to the vehicle’s structure and operation.
While the concept of having a spare battery, akin to a spare gas can for a gasoline car, is appealing, it’s not currently feasible due to the size, weight, and technical complexities involved. However, the industry is evolving, and there are ongoing developments in battery technology and modular design which might change this in the future. Chinese EV company Nio is looking to be the first to bring battery swap technology to the UK.
For now, EV drivers looking for backup options can consider battery power banks, which, while not replacing the main battery, can provide enough charge to reach a charging station or safe location in case of a low battery situation.
The Final Word on Emergency EV Power Bank Batteries
The landscape of EV charging support is evolving, especially when it comes to dealing with the dreaded scenario of a depleted battery.
Traditionally, portable power banks for EVs have been a tool predominantly used by EV breakdown and recovery services. These are typically large, high-capacity units capable of delivering substantial charges to get vehicles to the nearest charging station or safe location. Their size and technical complexity made them more suited for professional use.
However, the growing popularity of EVs has spurred innovations tailored to the everyday consumer. Recognizing the need for more accessible emergency charging solutions, manufacturers have begun to develop smaller, more user-friendly portable power banks designed for individual EV owners.
Most everyday motorists deal with a flat 12 V battery with a jump starter pack or a solar-powered trickle charger because they simply do not have the space in the car or budget to buy a portable battery power bank. But when these smaller power banks finally hit the market they should be a real help to EV owners who worry about range anxiety.
They are designed to be compact and lightweight, easily fitting in the trunk or boot of an EV. This shift towards consumer-friendly models means that EV drivers now have the option to carry their own emergency power supply.
As of now, the availability of consumer-grade portable EV power banks in the UK market is somewhat limited. While the concept is gaining traction, the range of options for individual buyers is not as extensive as one might expect given the rapidly growing number of electric vehicles on the roads.
However, as the market for electric vehicles continues to expand and evolve, the demand for portable charging solutions is expected to rise. This increased demand will likely spur innovation and production, leading to a wider array of portable power bank options for EV owners.
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John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.