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You have probably seen the term “mAh” on batteries, but have you ever wondered what it means? It is a word that gets tossed around a lot and I can tell you it’s important. In this guide I will explain what it means and why it matters.
Milliampere-hour (mAh) measures how much electric charge a battery can hold. A high mAh means the battery has a large capacity and can power devices for a long time.
Battery Capacity and mAh
Mobile phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets run on batteries. When battery power runs low, we recharge it. This is something we do regularly and depend on for work, communication, entertainment, etc.
The mAh determines the battery capacity. The higher the mAh number, the more electric current the battery can use to power a device.
If you want a device to last, get a battery with a high mAh. A powerful battery like the PXWAXPY for instance, means you can use a device for a long time before it has to be recharged.
Have you ever experienced charging a device, use it, then after just a few hours it is low on power again? It means the battery has a low mAh capacity. If you want your devices to last a long time without recharging, a high mAh battery is essential.
Ah vs mAh Comparison
If mAh is used to measure battery capacity, what about Ah? Both mAh and Ah are used to determine capacity, but the difference is their application.
Milliampere-hours (mAh) are commonly used for mobile battery chargers and mobile devices.
The Anker for example, can charge smartphones, tablets, laptops, portable power stations and other gadgets. mAh is also used to describe the capacity of a mobile device.
Ah (ampere hour) is often used to measure the capacity of large batteries for solar batteries and cars.
Ampere hour is used to measure electric charge per hour. So 1 Ah is equivalent to a charge current flowing at ampere for 60 minutes.
To avoid confusion:
- Portable chargers use mAh to specify capacity, example, 5000mAh, 10000mAh, 20000mAh and so on.
- Solar battery capacities are stated in Ah. Example, a 100ah deep cycle battery, 200ah lithium battery etc.
- 1Ah (ampere hour) is equal to 1000mAh (milliampere hour)
- 1mAh is equal to 0.001Ah
While mAh and Ah have the same purpose, their usage is different. it might take getting used to, but it is actually convenient and makes it easy to distinguish between large and small batteries.
How to Calculate Battery mAh
Sometimes battery specs do not show the mAh. Instead you’ll see its watts and voltage. Fortunately it is easy to calculate the mAh.
To calculate mAh:
W x 1000 / V
Let us use a 15W 5V phone charger as an example.
First we multiply the watts by 1000:
15 x 1000 = 15000
Next we divide 15000 by its voltage, which is 5 in this case.
15000 / 5 = 3000
So a 15W, 5V battery charger has a 3000mAh.
To convert watts to nAh, use this formula:
mAh x V / 1000
This can be useful if you know the battery mAh but not its wattage. Let’s use a 3000mAh 5V battery as an example.
First we multiply the mAh with the voltage:
3000 x 5 = 15000
Next we divide 15000 by 1000
15000 / 1000 = 15
It’s easy to see how these calculations can be useful when shopping for batteries. Sometimes you only get the mAh or the watts, but now you know how to get both figures.
What is the Best mAh for Batteries?
While you can use solar panels without batteries, it’s impossible to use a mobile phone or tablet without it. That’s why it’s important we understand what mAh is and how it works.
The higher the mAh the longer the battery will last. But a high mAh also means longer charging times.
If you are going on a business trip, hiking, vacation etc. get the highest mAh battery your device can handle. A long charge time is better than having no charge.
A smartphone with a 5000mAh battery can last 1-2 days if you use it for email and web browsing. But if you play mobile games all day, it will run out faster.
To use another example. A typical 3000mAh battery is good for 6-7 hours. After that it has to be recharged.
But this assumes “normal” or average use. That is, you use the device for email and browsing. If you watch a lot of videos or play games, you’ll need to recharge sooner.
How mAh Affects Battery Lifespan
A high mAh does not always mean a long battery life. It is vital, but there are other factors that determine battery life. The battery type, usage, the device specs, maintenance and build quality are all factors.
Imagine you have two power stations with the same mAh. One station is used to charge your phone, tablet and laptop. The other one powers an air conditioner and other appliances.
The power station that charges your mobile phone and other gadgets will have a longer runtime because it uses less power.
The other power station, even if it is has the same specs, discharges faster because of the higher electricity demand.
Battery Type. Lithium-ion and lithium LiFePO4 batteries have a lower discharge rate than lead acid batteries.
If you take two 3000mAh batteries, one lithium and one lead acid, and use them on similar devices, the lithium will last longer.
Life cycle. The life cycle determines how many times you charge a battery. Lithium batteries have a 2000-5000 life cycles or 2-5 years. Lead acid batteries are good for 500-1000 life cycles on average.
How mAh Affects Battery Charge Time
Milliampere hours have a direct effect on charge time. The higher the mAh the longer it takes the battery to charge.
The mAh indicates how much electricity the battery can hold. A high mAh means the battery can store a lot of power.
A 5000mAh battery has longer lasting power than a 3000mAh. But once it does run out power, you’ll have to wait longer for it to fully
Charge Capacity and mAh
Charge capacity and mAh are both used to indicate how much electricity or power a battery can handle. However, their usage differs.
mAh is frequently used to indicate the battery capacity of smartphones, laptops and other portable gadgets. The term mAh is used to describe all kinds of battery electricity capacity.
Charge capacity describes how much power solar batteries and electric vehicles. Charge capacity is often given out in W, Wh or kWh.
Another way to put it is:
- mAh = battery capacity
- Charge capacity = energy
Charge capacity uses watt hours (wh) for energy estimates, while mAh (and Ah) are used in electric charge measurement.
Why do some batteries use mAh and others Ah?
mAh and Ah both refer to battery capacity. mAh is used with batteries for smartphones, tablets, portable power stations and laptops.
Ah is used with deep cycle batteries, solar batteries, car batteries and large generators. 1 Ah is equal to 1000mAh.
How do you read the mAh rating on a battery?
Example: a battery with a 5V 1500mAh rating means it can provide 100 milliampere for 15 hours at 5 volts.
My phone has a 5000mAh battery. What does it mean?
The mAh on your phone battery indicates its capacity. It tells you how much energy the battery can hold. This also applies to laptops, tablets etc.
How long does an mAh battery last?
It depends on how much mAh a device consumes. If you install a 5000mAh battery on a phone and it uses 500mAh an hour, the battery will last for 10 hours. If the device uses 250mAh per hour, it will last 20 hours and so on.
I am an advocate of solar power. Through portablesolarexpert.com I want to share with all of you what I have learned and cotinue to learn about renewable energy.