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

a green rechargeable device with a white screen

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.

          5. With the ability to exchange without cost or limitation, why would you need to time your battery death with a kiosk location? It literally takes seconds to exchange.. I have an upcoming trip with 5 avid smart phone users. Rather than carry five chargers, it makes sense to get the fuel rod and take turns. And you can purchase directly from their website and save yourself the $10 markup. With so many people sharing a single fuel rod, I plan to exchange it every time we see a kiosk. (generally near a restroom where most people have to stop anyways). I refuse to bring a backpack because it means I have to spend extra time in line at security. (talking about enjoying your time at the park… Just pointing out the flaws in your argument sir).

          6. Shannon, there are less kiosks than you think. And, all of my Anker batteries fit in my pocket, so I don’t need a backpack because of them. I imagine it’s going to be awful difficult to keep 5 phones charged with one fuel rod and kiosk swaps, but hope it works out for you. While I appreciate your perspective, I don’t see the flaws in carrying a battery that can charge an iPhone as many as 10 times that still fits in your pocket.

  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.

  4. Ed, I bought one yesterday at Atlanta. It worked for the purpose (avoiding running out of battery when I needed to Uber at the other end – and I only had a car charger with me).

    It was cheaper than buying a power pack in the airport stores, where they can be 40-80 dollars (and those wouldn’t always be charged up).

    Swapping for free is an interesting idea, but there aren’t many convenient locations right now (just select airports, but quite a few in San Diego). If I were them, I would also charge for the swap.

    I’m no expert, but I think the physics is all about milliamp hours and how many you can get in the physical space. The rod is perhaps a smaller battery than many smart phones, hence it may not be able to charge 100%. I had a Motorola Droid 2 and I only got upto 56%. I would be surprised if it could fully charge a big tablet, like an iPad, etc.

  5. What crazy airports do you go to that don’t have these kiosks? I travel to major cities all the time and I see them everywhere, usually at the entrance to concourses and then again near selected gates. Just off the top of my head from the last three months I can confirm MSP, ORD, JFK, PHI, BCN, CDG, ATL, and Schipol. Can’t remember if Austin had them or not.

    Agreed, though, that it’s not a great product and only serves the ill-prepared at an exorbitant rate. I have two such products that I got as swag that both work great…so they can’t be valuable, or people wouldn’t be giving them away alongside pens and coffee tumblers.

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