Battery Life Of A Fuel Rod (And Swapping One Out)

It was almost a year ago when I wrote about the Fuel Rod, something I had seen pop up in an airport or 2.  I strongly doubted that the product was worth the price, but frankly hadn’t seen a kiosk in a while so didn’t have evidence one way or another.  Now that I’m seeing the kiosks for Fuel Rod popping up in more airports, I figured it was time to give it a try.  I purchased a Fuel Rod, recharged my phone with it a few times (recharging the Fuel Rod in between) and swapped it out a few times at a kiosk.

Fuel Rod

The purchase process isn’t difficult.  They’ll even sell you 3 at a time!  :O

It’s a quick touchscreen interface and the battery comes in a small plastic container with a couple of different charging tips.

Fuel Rod

Fuel Rod

Fuel Rod

I plugged in the iPhone adapter and began charging my phone.  For point of reference I have an iPhone 6s.  My phone was at around 20% when I plugged in the battery.  Like previous battery tests I’ve performed, I did my best to stay off the phone and minimize screen usage.  I got a grand total of…..66 points of battery life.  Maybe the battery wasn’t full charged when I got it?  I plugged it in overnight and tried again.  I got 68 points that time.  Truly abysmal given the $20 investment.  As one last attempt to salvage the $20, I tried exchanging the battery for a new one.  It’s a quick process, see:

Thankfully, I didn’t need the clear plastic case for the battery to exchange it in the machine, since I promptly lost it after buying.  Unsurprisingly, the second battery performed the same as the first.

Bottom Line It For Me, Ed

These batteries perform pretty horribly.  For $20 you should want a whole lot more charging power.  Do yourself a favor and buy the Power Core Mini from Amazon.

Fuel Rod

It’s ever so slightly slimmer than the Fuel Rod and costs $12.99.  Or, you can buy the slightly older “last year’s version” for $9.99.  Either way, you’ll easily be able to charge most phones all the way.  I can charge my phone almost twice with this battery.  If you’re into more battery power, I’ve got a review of the other Anker sizes on the market.

But, whatever you do, don’t spend $20 for a bad battery and the ability to swap it out in a few airports.  Buy the right battery, charge it before you leave on a trip and you’ll always have reliable charging in your backpack.

The post Battery Life Of A Fuel Rod (And Swapping One Out) was published first on Pizza in Motion.


      1. Anker has a 5,000mAH battery like this. They’re excellent! I used my Amp meter to test it. It both charges itself and devices at up to 2A. So many batteries from other manufacturers claim this, but testing shows it not to be true (looking at you, Aukey!)

  1. Following up on my original comments in another thread…

    Ed, my experience pretty much matches yours exactly.

    I’ll not that I’ve gone so far as to exchange a Fuel Rod and then immediately “pretend” to charge it. EVERY time the light is red and it takes at least 30 minutes (usually more) to get to a full charge (green light.) So, it’s not even a “pretend” charge although that was my hope…

    And, I’m a NEXUS guy so the lack of a USB-C connector and the very low amperage/voltage/wattage *(no, I’m not an electrical engineer so I have no idea which is the proper concept(s) here) means it cannot handle Qualcomm QC2, QC3 or USB-C charging speeds.

    I have only seen kiosks at CVG and CLT. Interestingly, they were smart enough to have 2 at CVG one airside and one landside by the baggage carousel. Thant makes a lot of sense, so kudos to the thinking about that.

    All in, it’s a dog.


  2. The ideal use case for these is Pokémon Go at Disney World. Obviously a niche case, but you are burning through your battery very quickly and you’re never sitting anywhere long enough to charge something sufficiently. There’s at least one Fuel Rod swap station at each of the four major parks in Disney World, and the Magic Kingdom has four.

    It worked well for that particular use, although the replacements seemed to not always be fully charged. I’d buy it outside of Disney if possible as buying it at Disney costs 30 dollars. There has to be a markup, right?

      1. As capacity goes up, portability goes down. Perhaps there is a model that can keep a phone charged for 10 hours with it’s screen on 100% of the time (and using data constantly), but it would definitely be much larger than the fuel rod.

        I’d have to do specific metrics to see how large of a battery would be necessary, but I like the peace of mind of being able to access a charged battery at any point. Simply having a giant battery doesn’t completely remove the fear of “Will it last all day?”

        Not to mention that this way, my wife and I can swap off fuel rods and have one phone continuously charging. All I’m saying is that it has benefits for niche scenarios, but is probably not useful for everyone.

        1. Henry, there are a few flaws in your argument. First, the Fuel Rod has a feeble capacity, barely of being able to charge an iPhone 6 halfway. Second, you don’t need a gigantic battery to keep your phone charged. You can have a battery that weighs significantly less than 1 lb that will charge your phone 2-3 times before dying. Third, for the Fuel Rod concept to be anywhere near successful, they need to be everywhere. With their kiosks in only a handful of places, you’re left mostly with a battery you CAN’T swap out for a charged one, really the only benefit to Fuel Rod.

          1. And if you read my reasoning, you’ll see that I said it was useful in my ONE, very specific scenario. I’m not saying it’s useful for anything other than that.

          2. Henry, you mentioned niche scenarios (plural). And, we disagree on whether the it’s even ubiquitous at Disney. From what I’ve heard, there’s very few kiosks at Disney World. If you’ve been, you know how big the parks are. If you buy the battery from Disney at an inflated price, you’ll be forced to trek back to the kiosk when you need to swap it out. Me, I’ll just have my battery in my pocket/backpack and I’ll enjoy more actual time where I want to be in the park, as opposed to planning on where I need to be when my battery dies. I understand it might work for you, but I still think you’d be better off with your own battery.

          3. I bought my fuel rod this past Friday in Oakland airport. My iPhone 6 was dead and no outlets available by the gate my plane was departing from. I purchased the fuel rod and to my surprise it went from zero to 96%. I did not have the negative experience other people on this blog have had. I think this is a great product and will use it frequently during my trips to airports.

          4. Mark, glad you had a positive experience, but you’re not likely to find many airports with Fuel Rod kiosks. The only major hub airport in the country that I know of is ATL. Kiosks are still very few and far between, one of the big issues with the concept.

  3. Clearly the worst airport purchase I’ve ever made. It doesn’t fully charge my iPhone and takes forever to recharge. And despite the company’s claim that they are adding locations, they are still in very few of the major airports. The icing on the cake was the kiosk in Minneapolis airport by Gate E2 was out of service. Garbage.

    1. Patrick, if you read the comments, you’ll find we’re among the minority. The batteries are poor quality. Without ubiquity on kiosks, this service is not worth it. Sorry you found out the hard way.

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