FuelRods: Our Updated Opinion Of The Reusable, Portable Charging System For Mobile Devices

by SharonKurheg

FuelRod is a reusable, portable charging system that allows you to fuel (charge) your mobile device on the go, and then recharge or swap for a fresh one at any FuelRod kiosk. After a relatively slow expansion, they came into the reality of millions of people when they were introduced at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2016.

When we first wrote about FuelRods a while back, we made it no secret that we had a very “ho hum” attitude about them. Besides a FuelRod’s inability to fully charge a modern smart phone, there were very few places to swap batteries outside the Disney parks, which made its convenience pretty limited.

Well, one of those things has changed, which is why our opinion of FuelRods has altered a little.

When we originally wrote about FuelRods, the only places you could find them in Anaheim was at Disneyland and in New York City was at JFK Airport. Unfortunately, that remains the case, as per the FuelRod website (to be fair, some locations prefer they not be listed on FuelRod’s website). However, in Orlando, theme parks are the kings and queens of the area when it comes to tourists and those who need to recharge their phone batteries “on the go.” In our last report about FuelRods in Central Florida, the only kiosks were at Walt Disney World (which were not and still are not listed on FuelRod’s website) and 60+ miles away, on the Atlantic coast, at the Daytona Beach Ocean center. That has, thankfully, improved:

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So they’re at least in most (*cough* not Universal Orlando Resort *cough*) major theme parks in Central Florida. We’ve also seen or read about FuelRod kiosks “in the wild” at airports in Columbus, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Orlando, San Antonio, Atlanta, San Diego, Washington Dulles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Sonoma and others (all told, over 2 dozen airports in the U.S. and Switzerland). They can also be found at places such as the Houston Zoo, Busch Gardens VA, SeaWorld Texas, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, San Diego Convention Center, Pala Casino, North County Westfield Mall, etc. You know, places where people congregate. So there are MORE of them…and that’s a good thing! Are there ENOUGH of them? Not really. But at least it’s better.

Of course, a bigger problem is that a FuelRod’s capacity still only appears to be about 1000mAh, which will only charge a modern-day phone about 2/3 of the way before the portable battery is depleted and needs to be recharged or swapped out. That’s not a problem if you’re at Walt Disney World or Disneyland – there are lots of kiosks there. But if you’re at, say, Coachella or Madison Square Garden, or on a 6-hour plane ride from NY to LA on a plane that doesn’t have chargers, you’re out of luck because there aren’t FuelRoad kiosks there. And you still can’t use FuelRods for real life emergency situations, such as prolonged blackouts; a higher capacity battery bank is still going to be a better solution for situations like those.

Would we recommend using FuelRods?

In light of the expansion of FuelRod kiosks to more locations, we’ve gone from a resounding NO! to a more moderate WELL, MAYBE. If you’re going to be somewhere where FuelRods kiosks are plentiful (or at least available), then sure, knock your socks off. But we would still strongly recommend also having a larger capacity battery bank for those occasions when 2/3 of a full charge just won’t cut it.

If you think that FuelRods are the best thing for you and your lifestyle, heads up that their price ranges from $20 to $30, depending on location (the ones at Disney parks are, of course, $30 LOL), but if you follow FuelRod’s Twitter page, you can sometime snag codes to get either 10% off or $2 off (the discount codes seem to show up before major U.S. holidays and when they’re introducing a new kiosk somewhere). And if you can wait until Black Friday, well, who knows what will happen this year but last year they offered $5 off a FuelRod started kit on that important shopping day.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary



Cathy Mullican July 12, 2019 - 1:29 am

They’re in the San Diego Convention Center as well as the airport; I ended up buying one during San Diego Comic-Con last year, when my phone was having charge issues, and somehow, all my larger battery packs were dead. (I THOUGHT I had charged them ahead of time!) The swapping is extremely convenient during a convention, and I’ll be using it again this year, as a backup to my larger banks.

SharonKurheg July 12, 2019 - 10:25 am

Thanks for the update. We wrote that article several months ago, so it must be out of date in terms of everywhere it’s available. However we stand by what we said in terms of, “If you don’t have a place to swap out, you’re out of luck.” Having to now pay for swapping batteries in a lot of places is also an issue that we’re going to cover in another post one of these days. So for most circumstances, we still recommend carrying your own brick, TBH.

Cathy Mullican July 12, 2019 - 7:52 pm

If they’ve started charging for swaps, then yeah, that destroys the whole model for me. SDCC starts Wednesday, so I’ll see if the convention center locations are charging now.

I agree with your conclusion , just pointing out that when you’re in a place with stations for several days in a row, it’s not a terrible option. Convention centers seem a better fit than airports to me.

SharonKurheg July 12, 2019 - 9:16 pm

If you could please let me know either way if they’re charging for them at your convention, I’d appreciate it.

You’re right – if you’re in same place for days at a time (they’re VERY popular at the Disney parks on both coasts), they’re convenient. But after that, it’s not nearly as worthwhile (especially since it doesn’t hold a huge charge like some other juice banks…even lipstick sized ones). So its use is only limited.

Cathy Mullican July 23, 2019 - 9:24 pm

I’ve been seeing them at the San Diego convention center for 3-4 years now. This year, there were a lot fewer stations — in the past, I couldn’t miss them; now, I only saw one, and they are, indeed, charging $1/swap. It’s not ridiculous, and if I were in a pinch, I’d do it, but since my larger power banks behaved this year, there was no need. It definitely reduces the appeal to me dramatically, and I won’t be surprised if the company dies in another year, or at least further reduces their presence.

SharonKurheg July 23, 2019 - 10:23 pm

Thanks for the update, Cathy. Would it be OK if I use your quite in a follow-up post in the not-too-distant future? I would give you credit as Cathy M. if you’d like, or I could keep you anonymous. Let me know?

Cathy Mullican July 23, 2019 - 10:44 pm

Sure, that’s fine. Cathy M. works for me.

SharonKurheg July 23, 2019 - 10:49 pm

Awesomesauce. Thank-you so much! I’ve been putting off the update post for a while becue of wanting to put up other stuff but I’ll make it more of a priority. Thanks again!

JULIA September 6, 2019 - 4:45 pm

hi, just wanted to let you know they do NOT charge for refills/swaps at WDW – at least not yet.


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