High Tech Charging to Avoid

Saw this item today in Maplin when out http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/brunton-hydrogen-reactor-portable-powerbank-n39dt. It was sheer chance I spotted it as they had it sat next to an unboxed biolite stove and I was nosing at that stunned and just how huge and horrid a thing it was for the purpose (glad I didn’t jump on that wagon when it was originally put out in the market.).

So anyway this thing is labelled as a hydrogen reactor that spits out juice for your phone etc, the basics boil down to a unit around the size of a large battery pack, and a number of fuel cells to supply power. Each cell is a cylinder which screws into the reactor and a charge in the output from a usb slot, with a button to swap between output strengths. When empty you can recharge the cell and use it again and again. Sounds all good and simple, the marketing demonstrates you have either 1ma or 2ma outputs, and each cell can be recharged upto 1000 times before replacing. They suffer zero charge loss over time and can be recharged with water!!!!

Now lets come back to reality for a moment, what isn’t clear is that to recharge a cell requires an additional piece of equipment, that is what is loaded with water from which hydrogen is extracted and used to charge the cell. So you do still have to have a power source for this charging unit to work, in addition you need to use distilled water not plain tap. So you either need a very cheap supply or a method of producing it yourself. Also the only real honest review I have seen spoke of how it took actual phone calls with the company director to verify specifications, these were listed as follows.

Each cell = 4500ma capacity, this is around 1.5 times the full charge of a flagship topline smartphone or around half a full charge of a flagship 10″ tablet.

Actual output value = 0.5ma, this is a huge issue as you may find high power devices such as large tablets simply will not charge when powered up. Or smartphones will require things like wifi/bluetooth etc all disabled to reduce the battery drain, otherwise you are simply maintaining present charge levels.

Ok now the real kicker, the basic reactor pack consists of a reactor unit and two full cells. You can then either buy the additional charge unit or use a postal service to have the company recharge your cells for a surcharge (not stated anywhere the cost of this). So the price for all this wonderful new “green” tech? £140 for the base unit, £12.99 for each extra cell and the H20 Hydrolizer unit I can only find in the U.S at a meaty $270.

Compare all of this to a 12,000ma battery pack that costs in the region of £35 anywhere, has two usb output of 0.5ma & 2ma and charges with a mini usb connection you can plug into anything anywhere.

Even if you go ahead and spend the $400 needed for a full reactor and recharging station, you still need power to make the station work. The most likely option will be a home desk mount where you charge your cells before going away and then charge them upon returning home, this sounds wonderful until folks understand one minor fact. A battery pack operates in exactly the same way, I plug it into my pc the night before a trip to charge, and then do the same to again charge it when I get home. So this hydrogen method still requires the same if not more electricity from a mains/battery supply as the battery pack method, in no way is it any greener than the cheaper/lighter/smaller/more powerful alternative we already have.

But if you really just want something ally I can supply you with 12,000ma power packs that you can buy in pairs and for a small charge I will recharge them for you when needed and post direct to your door. Sarcasm? Yes but no worse than this product in actual practicality.

But in all seriousness unless you have too much money to burn and simply want some gimmick tech, stay clear of this one. It has been done by other firms but they at least have been somewhat more honest about the actual ability of the unit. The entire “it’s green tech” line really doesn’t work either and both methods require mains electricity somewhere to make them work at all. That is before you factor in carbon use in postal miles to recharge them.

This entry was posted in Gear Reviews.

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