The best power banks can power our devices in any location. We expect more and more from our electronic devices when we’re out in the field. An astronomer or astrophotographer’s kit bag will feature an array of electronic devices like headlamps, lens heaters, GoTo Mounts and star trackers. Even smartphones are used for star-tracking apps and remote shutters. None of these things hold their charge forever, and no one wants to cut their observation session short because they’ve run out of power.
This is where power banks come into their own. We’ve scouted the market for the power banks that we think are most appropriate for astronomers and astrophotographers.
Given that such activities occur at night, it’s dark, we don’t want to damage our night vision and we’ll often need multiple devices charging at once. It’s good to know how much power is left using an accurate power indicator and that the power bank should to continue to operate reliably in cooler, possibly damp conditions.
We also need something that charges up quickly and is a good size and weight for carrying to and from dark skies. Of course, we need enough capacity in the power bank to see us through our night(s) skywatching. Additional in-built functionality such as a LED torch or a handwarmer is a bonus.
Here’s our round-up of all the best power banks for astronomers and astrophotographers. Be sure to also check out our other guides to the best headlamps for astrophotography, best star trackers for astrophotography and discover what equipment do you need for stargazing in a city?
Best power banks in 2022 for skywatchers and astrophotographers
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Designed with the astronomer in mind, the Explore Scientific USB Power Bank with Red LED Flashlight will ensure you have enough power to see your electronic devices through the night. The integrated LED with red cover will ensure you can see through the night too. It won’t light up vast areas like some of the best headlamps for stargazing but it will allow you to read star charts or locate knobs and buttons to tweak your astro setup while keeping your valuable night vision intact.
This device is by no means as ‘sleek’ as some of our other picks. It wears a substantial rubber armor that protects the electronics from minor impacts and seals the power switches from dirt and moisture ingress. It can operate in temperatures from -4 to 140F (-20 to 60C), so there is no need to worry about protecting it from extreme temperatures.
The flashlight is turned on and off with a tactile toggle switch and there is a two-point attachment point so you can hang the device from somewhere convenient, say your tripod frame. The five LED indicators show the amount of power that’s left so you don’t get caught out.
Not only is the Celestron Elements FireCel Mega 6 a 6000mAh power bank, capable of approx 2.5x smartphone charges or 4.5x sport camera charges, but it is also an ergonomic and practical hand warmer and four-mode flashlight.
It is IP65-rated water resistant, dustproof and drop tested, making it a fine outdoor companion ready for any astro adventure. Should you encounter any problems, you’re covered by Celestron’s two-year warranty.
The red LED function is ideal for adjusting your stargazing setup or reading maps while preserving your night vision. It also has white LEDs for when night vision preservation isn’t essential.
In our Celestron Elements FireCel Mega 6 power bank review we found that the hand warmer was extremely effective and it is capable of giving your hands up to eight hours of continuous heat. The ergonomic aluminum body helps enhance heat transfer across your whole hand. Unlike catalyst hand warmers, there is no smell (from burning fuel).
The FireCel Mega 6 ships with a paracord strap and a carabiner to attach to your keys, belt, tripod etc. It also comes with a soft carry bag and a USB charging cable. The blue LED battery indicator helps you track how much power you have left.
If you need more capacity, Celestron also has the Elements ThermoCharge 10 (opens in new tab), which, for a few dollars more, gives you 4000mAh more, and an additional 1A USB-A port but doesn’t feature the flashlight function.
As we discussed in our best headlamps buying guide, using a red light rather than a white one is crucial for preserving your night vision, and while in that guide we give various hand-free lighting options, the fact that this small red LED torch, with three levels of brightness, doubles as a 5000mAh power bank, it would make a fantastic gift for a newcomer to astronomy or astrophotography and it is a handy bit of kit to keep in your bag.
It ships with silicone mount straps to attach the device to somewhere useful, like your tripod leg. It also comes with a wrist strap.
It comes with a minimum of 500x charge cycles and has overcharge protection for maximum longevity.
This is a product for a beginner or someone who doesn’t need the best of the best kit, it does what it’s supposed to but might have a limited lifespan the more you develop your skywatching prowess.
BioLite has three versions of ‘Charge’ power banks. Here we’ll look at the Charge 80 as it is the most powerful with the biggest charge capacity.
BioLite is best known for creating affordable and ruable products for life outside and off-grid. So it’s no surprise the BioLite Charge 80 PD fits this bill. Moreover, we’re fully on board with BioLite’s mission to provide 20 million people with clean energy and avoid 3 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2025. By purchasing a BioLite mission, you are, in part, helping with this mission.
It is rugged, and simple to use, and the capacity-to-size ratio is spot on. It has enough capacity to charge multiple devices, multiple times, over a couple of days. It can charge the BioLite HeadLamp 425 (which features on our best headlamps for astrophotography list) approximately 16 times. It is produced with a rubberized finish, with a hard orange plastic casing where the ports sit.
One of the standout features is the Quick Charge 3.0 Protocol which is needed to activate fast charging modes in compatible devices.
We don’t think an LCD screen showing exact numbers is necessary. It has an LED indicator which does what it needs to. Four bars let us know how full it is (25%, 50%, 75% or 100%).
The Charge PD ships with a USB-A to USB-C cable, but you’ll have to supply your own USB-C to USB-C cable or something with multiple ends to be more of a universal fit.
The operating temperatures are -20C to 40C, so unless you’re going to the most extreme environments, you won’t have any problems with it not working, though you’ll need to keep it somewhere dry.
The Anker PowerCore+ 2600 is one of the more cumbersome power banks in this guide (7 inches long and 3 inches wide). That said, Anker is one of America’s Leading USB Charging Brands, and we are big fans of Anker. We can happily vouch for the reliability and performance of their products, so if you’re not too concerned about having the smallest or lightest power bank, don’t let the larger size stop you.
It doesn’t offer much in the way of features — there is no flashlight or handwarmer, but this is an extremely high-capacity power bank that can charge three devices at once. It charges from empty to full in just over four hours with the included Qualcomm Quick Charge wall charger.
It has intelligent PowerIQ technology, which identifies the connected devices and delivers the optimum high-speed charge to all devices.
It has ten tiny LEDs that indicate its level of charge. Before March 2022 the device shipped without a wall charger or cables, so we are pleased to see that post-March 2022, a USB-C to USB-C cable and a wall charger are included as standard, as is a no-fuss 18-month warranty.
Zendure is one of the fastest-growing EnergyTech start-ups with a mission to make energy available and accessible.
The vast capacity Zendure SuperTank Pro 100W power bank is about as big as you can legally carry in your hand luggage on a flight. It is encased in anodized aluminum with ABS plastic, which gives it a rugged, but premium feel.
The Zendure SuperTank Pro 100W charges in a phenomenal 105 minutes (in lab conditions), so perfect if you’re planning a last-minute night of stargazing. You can power four devices at the same time with a total 138W output. Have your lens warmer, headtorch, star tracker and smartphone all plugged in simultaneously. Amazing.
The OLED screen gives you real-time information about your power usage and remaining charge, meaning you can plan and adapt your setup accordingly.
The downside of this power bank is that there is no USB-A port. While USB-C is becoming the standard, many devices still require USB-A charging. Adaptors are an option, but this adds to what you must remember to put in your kit bag.
While the initial financial outlay is relatively sizeable, the promised firmware updates should keep the power bank relevant.
The SuperTank Pro 100W has a two-year limited warranty for added peace of mind.
The Otterbox 15,000mAh (also available as 10,000mAh) is a reliable outdoor companion. At 450g, it’s pretty heavy for its pocketable size, but that is largely down to the dense, protective rubber shell. It is waterproof and drop-proof, giving the most clumsy or careless skywatchers peace of mind.
A basic LED indicator shows when the power bank is charging, and when it is fully charged. It ships with a 150mm long USB-A to USB-C cable. The device delivers up to 18W Fast Charge. There is also an easy alignment QI wireless indicator pad for wireless charge-compatible devices.
The IP54 rating means it is totally protected from dust ingress and allows for some water ingress. No need to worry about the elements.
It comes in three colors; Twilight Black, New Blossom Pink and White Sands. The latter two make them easier to see when amongst predominantly black photography gear.
Another model from Celestron, first and foremost, it’s a night vision-preserving red flashlight. However, as with the FireCel MEGA 6, it also operates as a hand warmer and low-capacity power bank.
Although it has a fairly small capacity compared to other models in this guide, it has enough juice to keep your phone and other small devices charged for a night of stargazing. The hand warmer function provides up to 4 hours of continuous heat, and can be used with the torch simultaneously. The internal battery charges within two hours, so it’s ideal for last-minute adventures.
There is also a white LED version of this model, so make sure you choose the Astro version for the red light capability.
With a luggage-inspired design with a telescopic and fixed handle mounted on industrial-grade wheels, this 47lb power station is a serious bit of kit. It has 2096Wh Capacity with 2,000W Output (that can be boosted to power up devices that typically need 3000W using the AmpUp feature).
While it’s obviously not something you can pop in your backpack and trek to a dark sky area with, it is an ideal companion for multi-day/night off-grid bouts of sky-watching and camping.
You will have absolutely no problem charging your devices for several days — laptops, camera gadgets, drones, plugging in a mini-fridge or heater, this thing can even give an electric car enough power to drive five miles.
The body is reinforced with a shock-resistant outer shell and it has a reinforced interior. Its optimum operating temperature is between 59°F to 95 °F (15°C to 35°C) but it will still work — but drain quicker — from -4°F to 14°F (-20°C to 40°C). It won’t accept a charge below freezing and, unsurprisingly, you can’t get it wet.
When not used in astronomy and astrophotography, this can be an emergency backup power source in your home.
Like the rucksack-friendly SuperTank Pro 100W, this product comes with a Zendure two-year limited warranty.
Best power banks in 2022: What to look for
From key-ring-friendly portable devices to see you through the night and give your devices a few charges, to huge capacity power stations capable of charging an electric car, hopefully, something on this list will make it to your kit bag.
Not all power banks are created equal, however. If it’s a pure power bank you need to charge devices then by all means find the best value, highest capacity power bank available so that you have the juice when you need it. But for astronomers that spend a lot of time setting up in the dark an in-built flashlight might be handy indeed. Especially if you can find one with a red light so as not to disturb night vision while stargazing.
Additional comforts come in the form of hand-warming capabilities for skywatchers that will be observing in colder climes. This can be more cost-effective than catalytic hand warmers so during the cost of living crisis it may make more economical sense and save you money. But be conscious that this will also use power that would otherwise go into charging devices.
The capacity of batteries is indicated as XXXX mAh (milliampere/hour). The higher the number, the bigger the capacity — the more power you can draw from it. A higher mAh usually means a bigger and bulkier device. So it’s important to find a good balance dependent on your needs.
If you’re going to be traveling on a plane with your power bank and plan to have it in your hand luggage, it must not exceed the 100Wh (27, 000mAh) limit set by the Federal Aviation Administration, something else to bear in mind.
All of the power banks listed here have been selected as being good value-for-money with features that are especially helpful to astronomers and astrophotographers above anything else. We will review and update this guide often and keep an eye out for discounts and deals to help you save money.
How we test the best powerbanks for skywatchers and astrophotographers
In order to guarantee you’re getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best power banks to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every power bank through a rigorous review to fully test each device. Each power bank is reviewed based on a multitude of aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as a power bank and its performance in the field.
Each power bank is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each power bank and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use.
We look at how much capacity each power bank has, whether it includes a built-in flashlight and if there’s a red light option for night vision protection and even whether they have in-built hand warming capabilities.
With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on power banks, whether you should purchase a device or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.