My $150 Portable Charging Setup

My $150 Portable Charging Setup
Photo by Lucian Alexe on Unsplash

Keep your devices juiced up when traveling or going off the grid.


All of us love talking about new iPhones and Macbooks that come out every year.

Every corner of our life today is filled with technology — smartphones, earbuds, headphones, smartwatches, laptops, computers, etc. Different devices solve different problems.

However, there’s one thing that’s common across all devices — power.

Every device you possess requires some means of charging. That means, without careful thought, the number of chargers and cables will proportionally increase with every new device you purchase.

Well, at least that’s what happened to me last year, when every time I traveled I was carrying the following things with me:

  1. Personal laptop — MacBook Pro 16
  2. Work laptop — MacBook Pro 16
  3. Phone — iPhone 12
  4. Tablet — iPad Pro 12.9-inch
  5. Watch — Apple Watch SE
  6. Earbuds — AirPods Pro
  7. Headphones — Sony MX3
  8. Drone — DJI Mini 3

That’s 8 devices every time I travel! 8 things that require charging most days.


Trouble

Can you guess what’s the biggest worry when you are traveling with 8 devices? Charging, sure, but there’s something worse.

Airport Security.

It’s an absolute nightmare to take everything out and put them in separate bins. Most of the time, I need three or four bins. And this doesn’t even account for my backpack or carry-on.

However, I digress. That’s a blog post for some other day.

For now, let’s switch our focus back to the charging setup.

Even if you have half the devices that I do, you still need an efficient charging setup to stop you from going crazy when traveling. If you have dedicated chargers and cables for every device, not only will you have a tremendously difficult job carrying them, but it also gets very expensive.

So, to summarize, there are three major problems:

  1. Energy — you have to put a lot of thought into remembering to carry every charger/cable
  2. Space — your limited backpack and carry-on space will get even more restricted
  3. Money — buying charging accessories is expensive

Let me walk you through what I did to remedy the situation.


Photo by Bao Menglong on Unsplash

Experience

In the past few years, I have been traveling a lot within North America — San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, and Calgary — just to name a few.

So the setup I will preach here has gone through some rigorous testing.

Even outside traveling, very often I work from local cafes. Working long hours outside my home means I need a way to keep my everyday carry devices juiced up.

That’s where the same setup comes in clutch.

So, regardless of whether I am traveling internationally or locally, I have come up with an efficient setup that works for me.


The Setup

To charge my 8 devices (and more when friends are around), I have created a setup consisting of 4 charging accessories.

  1. 4-Port UGREEN 100W USB C Charger — $75
  2. 100W 2-pack USB-C Fast Charging Cable — $15
  3. USB C Multi Fast Charging Braided Nylon Cables — $15
  4. 3-in-1 Magnetic Foldable Wireless Charger — $30
  5. 10,000mAh Anker Portable Charger — $22

That’s a total of $157, to be specific. But with constant Amazon discounts, and for a nicer title, we will round it down to $150.

Note: None of the above are affiliate links.

(1) 100W USB-C Charger

At the heart of the setup is UGREEN’s 4-port 100W charger. Without this, the setup won’t work.

You can charge 4 devices simultaneously using this charger. The more devices you connect, the 100W is divided into them based on the different ports.

For maximum performance — let’s say you want to charge your 16” MacBook Pro quickly — you want to use only one port at a time.

However, most consumer laptops charge at 65W, which frees up the remaining 35W to fast charge your other devices without any performance tradeoff.

The charger is foldable, lightweight, and compact. If you put it side-by-side with an Apple laptop charger, you will be amazed!

So, not only do you get a smaller charger, but you also get the power to charge 4 devices simultaneously. If you want, you can charge more at once. I will expand on this in a bit.

(2) USB-C Fast Charging Cable

Most devices have moved to USB-C at this point. Even stubborn Apple finally gave in to the EU’s pressure and implemented USB-C for the new iPhone 15s.

When you are talking about typical consumer devices — laptops, phones, tablets — one USB-C cable can theoretically charge them all.

That’s why it’s ever so important to have a handful of high-quality cables. No matter what charging bricks you use, with poor-quality cables, you will get inferior charging speeds, slow data transfers, and most importantly, the cable will start peeling off just after a couple of months.

The “peeling off” part is the most frustrating for me. Even when you shell out north of $2,000 on a brand-new Apple Macbook, with it, you get some of the worst USB-C cables.

I use UGreen’s braided nylon USB-C cables. For the price you pay, you get high-quality cables that easily punch above its weight class.

With it, you also get the following:

  • Fast Charging with max 100W output
  • Data Transfer speeds of up to 500Mbps

I will note one glaring issue that these cables have though: they don’t support video output. So if you want to get both charging and video output to your monitor with one cable, look elsewhere.

Other than that, these cables are great!

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

(3) Multi Fast Charging Nylon Cables

Ah, the dongle life! It’s the absolute worst.

Whether you have the previous generation iPhones requiring lightning cables, or your car supporting USB-A only, it’s very common to need a dongle at the worst possible time.

After running into these situations a handful of times, especially when traveling, I decided to do something about it.

Carrying a bunch of arbitrary dongles wasn’t the solution.

Instead, I got this multi-fast charging cable with “multiple heads”. Each head is a different type, so you can just swap them in and out depending on your situation.

It has the following:

  • Lightning
  • USB-A
  • USB-C
  • Micro USB

Most likely these will have you covered unless you have some proprietary cable need which is very difficult to solve for.

The cables also support fast charging and have a respectable 480Mbps data transfer speed.

Above all, similar to the previous USB-C cables, these are braided and made of Nylon, so you get excellent durability for the price you pay.

Photo by UNIBOA on Unsplash

(4) 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Station

Remember I told you that you can charge more than 4 devices simultaneously using the 4-port USB-C charging brick? Let me explain how.

Like me, if you are into some ecosystem, whether it’s Apple, Google, or Samsung, you can get tremendous value from this 3-in-1 wireless charging station.

In the ecosystem, most likely you have the following:

  • Phone (iPhone, Pixel Pro)
  • Earbuds (AirPods, Pixel Buds, Galaxy Buds)
  • Smartwatch (Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, Pixel Watch)

Most of these will support wireless charging. Also, for your smartwatch and earbuds, they won’t require too much power to charge to 100% overnight.

That means you can carry the 3-in-1 charging station, and forget about carrying more cables.

With one USB-C cable, you connect the charging station with your power brick. The charging station gives you 3 “slots” to put your smartphone, watch, and earbuds. Now, you can simultaneously charge them.

This one trick has made travel so much easier for me.

Whenever I enter a hotel room, I connect the 3-in-1 wireless charging station to the lamp outlet beside my bed. Then, I am done.

I can put all 3 of my most important devices on the charging pad without needing to worry about extraneous cables and dongles.

Photo by Robert Torres on Unsplash

(5) 10,000mAh Anker Portable Charger

Let’s wrap up with one of the most common charging devices — a portable power bank.

It’s essential, especially if you know you will be away from power outlets for extended periods while traveling.

Let me explain one concept that will make buying portable chargers easier.

You need to understand these two concepts:

  • Input Ports: Supported ports to charge the power bank
  • Output Ports: Supported ports to charge the connected devices

This is important. Why?

If you only have a USB-A input port, you cannot charge your power bank with a USB-C to USB-C cable. You will need a dongle.

Similarly, if you only have a USB-A output port, you will need a USB-A to USB-C (assuming your device supports USB-C charging).

If you are rocking the setup I have talked about so far, the best is to go with a power bank that supports USB-C for both input and output. That will make your job the easiest.

Even without it, you should be fine. That’s where the “multi fast charging” cable will come in where you always have a swappable USB-A end ready to be deployed. But why use the swappable ends when you can avoid it?

The last thing I will leave you with is the “size” of the power bank. If you look closely you will see that my suggested one is 10,000mAh. That’s not a lot of power!

You have power banks going up to 20,000mAh or even more. The higher the number, the more times you can charge your devices without needing to charge the power bank.

However, one big issue: Most airlines won’t allow you to carry a power bank onboard that’s north of 10,000mAh.

For the safety of the flight, as well as to save you some unnecessary hassle while going through security, stick to that limit.


Wrap Up

I hope this $150 charging setup will cater to all your needs when traveling.

For convenience, I will list them again:

  1. 4-Port UGREEN 100W USB C Charger — $75
  2. 100W 2-pack USB-C Fast Charging Cable — $15
  3. USB C Multi Fast Charging Braided Nylon Cables — $15
  4. 3-in-1 Magnetic Foldable Wireless Charger — $30
  5. 10,000mAh Anker Portable Charger — $22

None of these are affiliate links. If you want to support me, follow me on Medium and subscribe to my newsletter.

Please comment below with your charging setup. I would love to hear about it!


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