The Tech 1 Emergency Charger was found at Dollarama for $3. It takes 2AA LR6 alkaline batteries to supply emergency power to smart phones.
Printed on the back of the box are the following specifications:
- Input: DC 3V (2 x AA Battery)
- Support: LR6 Alkaline Batteries (1.5V)
- Output: DC Max 5.0V/500mA
On the back of the device is the model number CE01-1P0. This is a rebranded made in China device that can be commonly found online. The only notable difference is the white color and labeling of the switch.
The two primary features are the led flashlight and the USB charging port.
Flawed 3-Position Switch
The switch has three positions which are contrary to the two position label. It should be Flashlight/Off/USB. In addition, a gentle touch is required to place the switch in the off position.
Construction and Design
Overall construction is good. The plastic is smooth and durable with minimal flex. It felt solid in the hand.
As for the battery compartment, it was well designed. The cover slides off easily to reveal a well labelled compartment. AA batteries fit snuggly without a problem. Removal of the batteries was also simple due to a groove on the side.
Voltage Ouput (USB)
The emergency charger was tested with fresh AA Alkaline batteries, AA Lithium batteries, and AA NiMH rechargeable batteries. In all cases, voltage was 5.2V which is well in the specification of USB ports.
Of course, due to the step-up conversion, as the batteries are depleted the voltage will slowly drop and the red LED light will dim to reflect this.
Overall, these are pleasing results for the “on” switch.
Fatal Flaw: Off is Still On
When the switch is “off”, voltage is outputted without the step-up conversion. In other words, voltage was the same as the batteries connected in serial (NiMH: 2.4V, Alkaline: 3V, Lithium: 3.4V).
As a precaution, the switch should be “on” before connecting to the USB port. Connecting to this charger when “off” and then switching to “on” may cause the charger to malfunction.
Two AA batteries are not enough to charge most smartphone batteries; however, they are readily available and provide more than enough emergency power.
Given a discharge rate of 500mAH the following capacities are expected with 70% step-up conversion efficiency:
|Battery||Capacity||Wh||Wh x 0.7|
|Alkaline x 2||1.3AH x 1.5V x 2||3.9Wh||2.73 Wh|
|Lithium x 2||3.0AH x 1.5V x 2||9.0Wh||6.30 Wh|
|NiMH x 2||2.0AH x 1.5V x 2||6.0Wh||4.20 Wh|
Looking at a high capacity smartphone battery, the specifications are 1500mAH at 3.7V. Watt-hours = 1.5A x 3.7V = 5.55Wh.
Using the above table, the emergency charger capacity for a 1500mAH (3.7V) battery will be approximately:
Surprisingly, the Tech 1 Emergency Charger works well as an emergency charger that uses AA batteries. However, it can still operate when “off”, which is a significant flaw. In addition, the switch lacks labels for the “off” position and it is sensitive to position. To the left, the flashlight is on. To the right, the charger led light is on.
As a result, batteries should not be stored in the unit until usage is required; which defeats its purpose.
It really is a shame, as the unit is well constructed. In addition, it works well with NiMH, Alkaline, or Lithium AA batteries to output 5.2V. Fortunately for the price of $3 at Dollarama, this is a cheap, widely available, and easily worthwhile purchase for a compact emergency device.
If “off” was truly off, this would of received a much higher rating. Unfortunately, it is not.