TalentCell Mini UPS 98 Wh

If you live in an area where city power is rather unstable, you tend to grow quite conscious about electricity availability. Now, unless you plan to go completely off-grid which is a large investment on its own, all you can do is purchase UPS and some power banks to keep what you consider essential online when power goes out.

UPS has traditionally been bulky, very heavy, and rather unreliable. It is no fault of UPS itself. Rather, the fault lies on its battery which is 99% lead acid battery.

Things are slowly changing though as of 2020. Lithium ion and, especially, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are making their way into consumer market at affordable price points.

Both types of batteries, in this case lead acid battery and Lithium ion, have pro and con. However, lead acid battery isn’t really meant for UPS. It works, yes, but it’s not very efficient and reliable. I am not going to go too deep on the matter here but lead acid battery isn’t ideal for UPS for following two reasons.

  1. Discharging lead acid battery below its 50% of its advertised capacity is not recommended as it will damage the battery, meaning, if your UPS has a 108 Wh (a typical 9Ah battery at 12v), your real capacity is only 54Wh. If you add power conversion loss from DC to AC which is typically 15% at the least, you can see how little of juice you actually have at your disposal. Of course, you can ignore this but doing so will significantly impact the battery lifespan.
  2. Lead acid battery does not like fast discharge. However, in many cases, it is discharged rapidly due to being hooked up to a beefy machine.

There are more reasons but above two are my primary reasons for looking alternative UPS technology.

Enter TalentCell Mini UPS, rated at 98 Wh and has a capacity of 27,000 mAh @ 3.7v. Its batteries are Lithium ion, the cheaper, thus more affordable, kind. Lithium ion generally have 500 life cycles which is about the same with lead acid battery you find within a traditional UPS.

Unlike lead acid batteries, Lithium ion battery capacity is as advertised. It is safe to discharge well below 50%. It is NOT recommended to fully discharge it but using 90% of its advertised capacity will have no ill effect. It can also handle fast discharge. Its voltage will drop but that happens with every battery type.

The TalentCell Mini UPS is basically a beefy powerbank with a passthrough function. Almost all powerbanks do not have this function. What it does is that the unit will stop charging its battery once it’s fully charged and pass power to connected units directly. According to its manual, it will let the battery idle until its charge drops to a certain point and it will charge it back up. This will preserve its battery life.

If power is lost, it will automatically, and seamlessly, use its battery to supply power. This is effectively what a UPS does. The unit has four 12v DC and one 9v DC outputs. It has no AC outlet. It’s DC only, so its application is limited. However, it is advertised for routers, modems, CCTV camera, and such which would fit the bill.

Let’s measure its voltage at full charge. This part is important for few reasons. You want voltage from DC output to be stable. It will drop, for sure, as the battery drains but, if it goes too low, it might shut down connected units. The only way for 12v DC to be stable is when the output is regulated which I doubt this unit is. I mean, look at the header image where it shows its spec. The label says “9v to 12.6v” for 12v DC. 9v is kinda a little too low for my taste though. So, let’s see whether it goes really that low.

12v DC reads at 12.26 volt. 9v DC reads at 9.32 volt. It is looking good. However, do remember that this is at full charge. I am going to drain its battery to its last bar; there are four power dots with each indicating 25% of charge. Then I will measure its voltages again.

I can’t say I am too surprised. At one power dot (less than 25% charge left), we are looking at 9.82v from 12v DC and 9v from 9v DC. My router still worked at this voltage though. I reckon the voltage will hit close to 9v at really low charge.

Let’s open it up and see what’s inside next.

I see 12x TNL-ITR 18650 AF battery. Googling the part number doesn’t yield a good result but there is an Aliexpress listing that shows TNL-ITR 18650 STP with 1,300mAh rating. I do not know the difference between AF and STP here. If I go by the 1,300 mAh rating, this unit has 15,600 mAh @ 3.7v which is far cry from advertised 27,000 mAh.

What seems certain is that TNL appears to be a Chinese company which isn’t generally a good sign when it comes to lithium ion batteries. However, the unit itself works fine and it took almost 2 days for me to drain the unit with a USB light. I wish I had something better to drain the battery, but this is my first in-depth battery review and I am lacking tools.

Do I recommend the unit though? I can’t say at this time. I am going to hook it up to my router and see how it works. It will take several months for me to make a proper judgement as well as a proper power outage in addition.

What I can say for sure is that you don’t find many lithium ion UPS on consumer market. For me, this is the only lithium ion UPS I can get my hands on. And beggars can’t be choosers, most of time.

Finally, even if the true mAh is indeed 15,600mAh, it should power a router for hours which is the main reason for me to have purchased this unit, so I will see how it goes.

Peace out.

Update 2022 April: It died.

I found out that it died after it failed to power my router during a recent power outage. Upon a quick autopsy, I found that the batteries are completely dead. Well, I am not too surprised to be honest. New, healthy, cells shouldn’t die after 2 years of minimal usage. It is either that the cells were not exactly new, I mean they even lied about its capacity, or that the unit was charging cells wrongly.

Either way, it’s dead. I am not buying another unit because I no longer trust them.

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    1. I had only one minor power outage (2 hours) and a few small power surges.
      The unit did well in such situations. So, so far so good. I have doubts about its capacity but overall it seems to work as advertised. Being quiet is another pro since UPS traditionally beeps the life out of you when power goes out.

  1. Hi,
    I just came across your blog while searching for some spec details on the lithium cells in the talentcell “mini ups”. They’ve recently started selling via Amazon uk and I picked one up for some assessment. I’ve an interest in this type of product and have worked through many different types. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in trying to find a good Lion DC UPS

    My own view about the talentcell product, is that it misses the mark in a number of ways, but particularly on the DC output regulation, it’s pretty poor below 50% charge the 12v output falls below 10V and eventually falls below 9v around the 25% charge point. It’s a pity because in many ways it is on the right track to being a really good product.

    There are so few good miniUPS devices around, but in the UK I quite like this supplier https://powersolve.co.uk/product-category/battery-backed-power-supplies/. In the US you may still be able to get the APC CP12142Li.

    1. I am leaning towards solar generators for my specific use cases. They aren’t UPS per se but I like their huge WH capacity.
      It’s easy to find and source a solar generator with 300Wh in a small package.

      1. In the UK packs of that size are quite pricey around the £250 mark, but they’re usually well equipped with multiple outputs for camping etc. These don’t have that sort of capacity, nominally 165Wh but they’re quite a nice size like a large paperback book. Price is ~£110 on Amazon and they have through charging. They’re actually rebadged Anker kit so quite good quality https://www.amazon.co.uk/MAXOAK-50000mAh-Portable-External-Notebook/dp/B00YP823NA/ref=sr_1_20?dchild=1&keywords=power+bank+50000mah&qid=1611175692&sr=8-20

  2. Thanks for this review. I’m in the UK and we are in the process of swapping our Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) for Digital Voice provided through Broadband (FTTP or FTTC). This means that in the event of power failure, and where there is no mobile coverage, you are unable to make telephone calls unless you have a UPS. In my case with FTTP I need to power the British Telecom Hub/Router (Smart Hub 2), which provides WiFi, DECT and has a POTS phone socket on it, and the Optical Network Termination (Huawei HG8240). Both devices have 12V PSUs and the Hub draws up to 14W whilst the ONT draws 8W. In view of this it would be useful to know how the PSU 12V output voltage varies over time with a 2A (24W) load. Ideally these devices would keep working for at least an hour. The voltage spec for the ONT is 11 – 14V and I have been unable to find the specification for the BT Home Hub 2 (Sagemcom?) but would guess it is similar.

    Minor point but “lead acid battery isn’t idle for UPS” should read “lead acid battery isn’t ideal for UPS”.

    1. The unit should work adequately in your case as long as your expectations are realistic. The unit has yet to fail me so far. So, in spite of the lesser capacity, I think it is good enough for most cases.

      1. Thanks, the only issue is a power-cut in the middle of the night which might not be noticed until the morning. Kind of critical to be able to phone the utility as no heating or water without power, as I’m on a pumped borehole. In view of this I’m upping the requirement to 5 hours and have pinged ‘powersolve’ that Phil linked to above.

  3. Have you considered swapping out the Li-Ion batteries?
    Have you noticed any protection mechanism that would prevent such a change?

    have you had any issues with the device sofar?

    1. No, I have not considered changing the batteries and I won’t because I don’t feel it’s worth the trouble.

      No, I did not see any protection that would prevent a battery swap out.

      And, no, I’ve used this thing for a few years now. It has not failed me. It ain’t broken, so I am not “fixing” it.

      1. Hello, I read your review, the way you express the functioning of the mini ups and its components is excellent, since you do not use it, I am from Venezuela, here the light is a problem, would you be able to sell it to me like this damaged and I will take care of changing the batteries?

        1. I am not sure why you’d want to buy it off me.

          This unit is readily available in Canada for 80 CAD off Amazon. Use “lithium ups” in search box, and you will find it.

          Interestingly, Amazon.com doesn’t seem to carry it. Amazon.ca does carry it though. Not sure whether Amazon CA will ship to Mexico but buying a new one is entirely possible.

          Use a proxy service perhaps?

          1. I’m from Venezuela, I’d like to buy it because you don’t use it anymore and it helps me by replacing the batteries, you’d have to send it by fedex or usps to miami and from there it goes to venezuela… new on amazon it’s $63 + tax

          2. The issue with the idea is that shipping is almost prohibitively expensive here. I ship stuff regularly to US, and it costs at least 35 CAD for even a small package.

            You really are better off purchasing it new on Amazon.

  4. Hi Dean,
    I got the same UPS with 9 battery cells. The battery died recently and it has the same symptoms with your case. I also checked the PCB and see that the 6R8 inductor burnt. I am thinking of replacing the cells, but still in doubt about the PCB quality.

    1. The PCB is fine on my end. But the cells are dead as Dodo. The sample size is way too small to make a firm conclusion but it seems clear, to me at least, that the cells aren’t new.

  5. Hi, im from Ukraine and buy the same from amazon, because ruzzians bomb our energy infrastructure and all country have problems with electricity supply. It supply my cheap tplink 9v router and 12v GPON, and sometimes charge led lighter. At least, when every day you have blackout every 2-3h for 3-6hours this minups helps stay online. Its better then use usual powerbank with usb-dc cable i use before, no reconnection and charge every time.
    I hope it lasts at least a year.

  6. Had one of these since late 2020 and worked really well at keeping our router alive during the numerous power cuts we were suffering (in rural UK). Wuz great, as it meant calls and work vpn connections weren’t dropped. Could easily keep our router alive for 6 hours or more. Unfortunately, whilst checking today I found the batteries had given up. Bit of a shame.

    For a while I had tried to discharge it every few months, but i suspect my commitment may have faded after our mains supply was improved!

    In summary, great functionality, but it seems not enduring. Hey ho.