Using the Omnicharge 20 – First Impressions and Review

The Omnicharge 20 is a new portable charger, offering many features that makes it stand out compared to your average smartphone charger. But how well does it do the job? To answer this question, Harold took the Omnicharge home with him and tried it out for himself. Here’s what he thought:

“Having tried many battery and portable inverter options over the years, I decided to give the Omnicharge a try.  In terms of options to charge a variety of items, the Omnicharge does not disappoint… 

When I first saw the Omnicharge 20, I thought I was simply looking at a larger version of a standard smartphone or tablet battery pack / charger.  But looks can be deceiving, and the more I checked it out, the more features I discovered.

First, the capacity is significant… 20,400 mAh.  Without delving into the numbers, that’s more than 5x the capacity of a standard portable charger, and is listed as being enough battery capacity to pretty much charge a laptop once, up to 9 full smartphone charges, or up to 8 full tablet charges.

Output ports include a 3-prong AC/HVDC (high-voltage DC) 3-prong socket, 2 x USB ports, a co-ax (i.e. “barrel”) DC port, and even a Qi wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones.  A status screen (OLED) shows basically everything you need to know about it… battery capacity, charge time remaining, battery temperature, which ports are active, DC port setting, AC port setting, wireless device charging, etc.  A menu can also be displayed to allow configuring the Omnicharge; that can be controlled with the power button, the USB power button, and the AC power button.  As I went through the options I could see that every aspect of the device (except the USB ports) has multiple functions.  I found the Quick Start Guide to be rather sparse, but found useful information on the manufacturer’s website: http://omnicharge.co.

To charge the Omnicharge 20, you can use the included AC adapter, or you can use the supplied USB-to-DC cable to charge it using USB-compatible AC/DC adapters you may already have for your smartphone / tablet / camera, or you can even charge it with a solar charger; the Omnicharge can accept DC from 4.5volts to 36volts.  This means it can be charged at home, in a car, or even outside where no pluggable power source is available.

Unlike other portable electronics, the charging port can even be used to charge the Omnicharge or it can be used to charge devices from the Omnicharge.  There is a menu option to tell the charger how to use the DC port, and even what output voltage to use.  NOTE: Before setting up the DC output port, it’s important to know the voltage rating for whatever devices will be plugged in.  This info is usually either on the device or on the power adapters that come with the devices.  If not sure, best to contact the device manufacturers.

After making sure the Omnicharge 20 was fully charged (approximately 2-3 hours to charge from zero), I started “plugging” away…

I opted to test the Omnicharge 20 Pro kit, as it comes with a set of cables / connectors to charge a variety of laptops from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft and Apple through the DC output port.  After turning on the unit, I set the DC port to provide 20volts output, plugged the supplied MagSafe2 (Apple) adapter into the Omnicharge and the laptop, and watched it go.  IMPORTANT: Before configuring DC output power, make sure you identify the voltage needed for your device… either from your device’s AC adapter (look for DC output voltage), or from the manufacturer; if unsure, always check with the manufacturer.  The MagSafe2 plug displayed its orange light to show it was charging the laptop.  While using the computer, the battery percentage indicator showed the charging progress.  After about 40 minutes, the laptop battery went from about 25% charged to 98%. Nice.

I turned the unit off and made sure the DC port was ready for input.  After re-charging the Omnicharge, I decided to give it more of a challenge.  I took an older Apple computer (one without the MagSafe2), and went to charge it using its AC adapter.  While the Omnicharge uses a sine-wave inverter (tech talk for saying you can plug an AC-powered item into a DC power source) to provide the 120volts AC to charge your device, it can also be configured to output 150volts DC via the same port… not something that would ever occur to many of us.  ****IMPORTANT**** This should only be set if you know for sure that your AC adapter uses a switching power supply that can take the higher input voltage!!  For camera chargers and other basic electronics, or if simply not sure, stay with the standard 120volt AC setting!!  Using the wrong setting can damage your devices.  For the older Apple laptop, both options worked, so I used the higher voltage DC setting.  The display indicates whether it is set for AC or HVDC (high-voltage DC), so you can see at a glance if you have it set right.

The Omnicharge can charge multiple devices at the same time, and it keeps tabs on the charger / battery temperature.  If it gets too stressed or too hot, it shuts down.  The output and temperature are constantly shown on the display, and it enables a fan to help dissipate any heat.  While I was charging the older laptop, I plugged in my smartphone to charge it at the same time.  The Omnicharge balanced the output accordingly.  The specs say it can be plugged in / charged while charging other devices… so I plugged it in, and it continued to perform.  The temperature gauge showed it getting up to about 113 degrees, but it never got too warm to touch.

Independent of the other testing, I have also repeatedly plugged camera chargers into the AC port (configured for 120volt AC), and found it so much more convenient to have the Omnicharge nearby than to find an available wall socket to accommodate the camera charger.

The Omnicharge 20 packs a lot of features into a small package, and yet is a much simpler / flexible portable power solution than I have used before.”

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