Skip to main content

I made an old smart speaker portable — and now it’s perfect for outside

A Google Home Mini with a battery base outside
(Image credit: Future)

Although their novelty has certainly worn off over the years, one of the best smart speakers makes it easy to listen to music and get answers to common questions with just your voice.

Unlike with a Bluetooth speaker, you don’t need your smartphone (after the initial setup process) which means you won’t get distracted by incoming notifications when trying to find the right music for the moment. However, just like with many other smart home devices, you’re limited by the fact your smart speaker needs to be plugged into an AC outlet for power.

Fortunately, third-party accessory makers have solved this problem by offering custom battery bases for a wide variety of smart speakers. Regardless of whether you have an Amazon Echo, a Google Home Mini or even an Apple HomePod mini, you can find a battery base to make your smart speaker portable.

As I have multiple Google Home Mini and Google Nest Minis devices (a few I got for free just for being a YouTube Premium subscriber), I recently set out to make an old Google Home Mini portable so that I can bring it with me around the house and even outside. This way I can have my smart speaker with me on my side porch and in my front yard without having to worry that someone else might try to use it.

Finding the right battery base for your smart speaker

If you’re thinking about following in my footsteps and making one of your own smart speakers portable, you’ll first want to make sure you know the exact model of the device as third-party battery bases aren’t interchangeable.

For example, there are four generations of the Echo Dot, but battery bases are currently only readily available for the 3rd gen Echo Dot. This is why making an older smart speaker portable is likely your best bet. In my case, I decided to make a Google Home Mini portable as it uses a standard micro USB port for power, unlike the Nest Home Mini, which has a proprietary barrel adapter. 

Assembling the JOT battery base for the Google Home Mini

(Image credit: Future)

After doing my own research into the matter, I picked up the JOT Portable Battery Base ($10, Amazon (opens in new tab)). What I like about this particular battery base is the fact that it has a cutout for the Google Home Mini’s mute switch and that you can charge it without removing your smart speaker. It also comes in silver for those with a gray Google Home Mini.

It took all of five minutes to put my battery base together and put my Google Home Mini inside it. After letting it charge fully, I took my now portable smart speaker around the house to test out its performance. Nintey7 claims its battery base can last for eight hours on a single charge, and I found these claims to be true in my own testing.

If you own an Echo Dot (3rd gen):

If you own a Google Nest Mini:

If you own a HomePod Mini:

The case for portability

With my portable smart speaker in hand, I went from room to room asking Google questions and making sure that the music I was listening to didn’t cut out. With one of the best mesh routers installed in my house, I had a strong Wi-Fi signal in each room and could also bring my portable smart speaker outside without it getting disconnected.

A Google Home Mini with a battery base on a table outside

(Image credit: Future)

One place in my house where I’ve always wanted to have access to a smart speaker is on my side porch. Whether I’m entertaining outside or playing fetch with my dog, being able to listen to music without having to pull out my phone always seemed appealing. While there is an outlet on the side porch, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving a smart speaker outside. Now though, I can bring my portable smart speaker outside with me and bring it back inside when I’m done.

A Google Home Mini with a battery base in a bathroom

(Image credit: Future)

Likewise, I’ve always wanted a smart speaker in my bathroom. Maybe I’d put one there if I lived alone but with a family at home and other people frequently visiting, it just didn’t feel right. Although I may be comfortable having Google Assistant with me at all times, not everyone feels the same way. Just like on my side porch, I can now bring my portable smart speaker into the bathroom and ask it to change songs or play something else entirely while taking a shower. It’s been great so far and neither the battery base or my Google Home Mini have shown any signs of water damage yet.

Your own personal smart speaker

Although I’ve fully embraced the idea of having a smart home with a smart speaker in every room, not everyone has yet and for good reason. Maybe you have privacy concerns or don’t want your kids ordering things off Amazon without your approval. 

Sure you can kid-proof your Amazon Echo but by making a smart speaker portable, you can also easily turn it on and off. This way you can use it when you need it and turn it off when you’re done.

A Google Home Mini with a battery base on a kitchen table

(Image credit: Future)

For instance, you can take out your portable smart speaker and place it on the center of your kitchen table while your kids are doing their homework and put it away when they’re done. This would also work for any of the games or stories from Amazon and Google on their respective smart speakers.  

For me though, I was more than happy enough to get some extra use out of an old smart speaker for less than $10. Who knows — maybe I’ll bring my new portable smart speaker on my next trip, but that’s a story for another day.

Next: Here's how I turned an old phone into a portable baby monitor.

Anthony Spadafora
Anthony Spadafora

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.