The Surface 3 are great devices for mobile or travel use because they are highly portable and have a good battery life. However, if you are away from a wall outlet for an extended period of time, you might find yourself in a situation where you run out of battery power but still need to use your device.
What’s the solution? Why, an external battery, of course…
External Battery for Surface 3: Options
Since the Surface 3 charges via a Micro USB connector, you’d think finding an external battery pack would be easy, right?
Wrong. The problem is that not all batteries will do the job. Here are some things you need to know about using external batteries with Surface 3 tablets:
- The charging port needs to supply at least 2.4 amps of current. If your unit doesn’t supply at least that much current, it probably will not charge reliably if it’s on (or it will take a really long time).
- Don’t use the cable that came with the charger (if it came with one). While it might work fine, you’ll often be further ahead if you use the stock USB cable from your Surface 3 charger.
- You can’t charge the Surface 3 and use it at the same time. Even the stock wall charger can’t supply enough juice to charge the Surface while it is in use.
That last bullet is the most annoying, I know. I consider it a design flaw but it is what it is. That said, attaching the external battery can still extend the battery life of the Surface 3, so there’s still value to it.
Below are two options for those of you in need of an external battery for Surface 3 tablets. Both can supply the required 2.4A of current to – at least – one of the USB charging ports. Just make sure you’re using the correct one and you’ll be fine.
The links below go to the Amazon Store page for the respective products:
- Poweradd Power Plus: This unit supplies up to 20,000 mAh at 2.4A via the USB ports. This is enough to reliably charge your Surface 3 to about 70% capacity.
- Anker Astro E7: This unit is more expensive than the Poweradd unit but, can get your Surface 3 to almost 90% of a full charge from a flat battery.
I only evaluated external batteries that could supply, at least, a 50% charge (or what’s the use?) to a Surface 3. Both of the suggestions above can easily do that.
Lastly, as a bonus for you folks who might not see a wall outlet for some time because you’re camping or otherwise away from civilization, you could always go “off the grid” and look at a solar charger for your Surface. The RAVPower Solar Charger (pictured below) can supply enough current to charge your Surface 3.
Keep in mind it supplies “up to” 3A of current so, you wont be able to reliably charge your Surface 3, if you’re also trying to charge something else and you will need a clear, sunny day as well.
Another option for you is something like the ChargeTech unit pictured below (click on it for the Amazon Store description). It offers a full-blown 110V AC outlet into which you can plug your stock Surface charger.
Electrically, there’s going to be some inefficiency going from DC to AC and back to DC but it will get the job done.
Also, since it only stores 18000mAh of battery capacity, it will supply only about 60% of a charge to a Surface 3. Still, it’s better than nothing if your battery is running low.
Well, that should, at least, get you pointed in the right direction, if you’re looking for an external battery for Surface 3.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.