TMCnet Feature
April 26, 2021

The Ultimate Buyer's Guide for Battery Chargers

Whether you’re an owner of a vaping device from a company like Simply ELiquid or are a flashlight fanatic who hates running out of power, a good battery charger is one of the best things that you can own if you use any device with removable rechargeable batteries. Having a standalone battery charger is a wonderful investment for several reasons.

Why is a standalone battery charger such a useful thing to own? For one thing, it’s a safer way to charge batteries. A good battery charger will often cost somewhere in the range of $30-50 – about the same as many small rechargeable devices with built-in charging ports. If the going rate for a high-quality battery charger is around $30-50 – and the charging circuitry in a device with a USB charging port has a value of a few cents – you can probably guess which one charges batteries more safely. Those micro-USB ports also have a nasty habit of breaking off at the most inopportune times.

Having a good battery charger may also encourage you to do the right thing for the environment and stop buying so many disposable alkaline batteries. Devices like remote controls and many children’s toys can be serious battery hogs, and there’s really no reason to continue polluting landfills with alkaline batteries when rechargeable lithium-ion and NiMH batteries are readily available and quite affordable.

Lastly, some battery chargers actually have the ability to revive old batteries that have been in storage for so long that their voltage has depleted to the point at which they can no longer charge via traditional methods. Reviving a dead battery doesn’t always work, but it’s a nice feature if your charger has it – and that’s just one of the features that you might find in a high-end battery charger.

So, what features should you look for when you want to buy the best battery charger for your needs? In this article, you’ll find some tips that can help to make your buying experience a great one.

Support for Multiple Battery Chemistries

The ability to charge batteries with different chemistries is the single most important feature that a battery charger can have. That’s because your needs may change in the future even if your current plan is to only use your charger for one type of battery. Right now, for instance, you may think that you only need a lithium-ion battery charger for flashlight batteries. Rechargeable batteries are cheap, though, compared to the cost of a high-end charger. Once you’ve made that investment, it’s highly likely that you’ll begin buying rechargeable batteries for the tools, toys, remotes and other gadgets in your house. When you begin doing that, you’ll be glad to own a charger with support for Li-Ion, NiCd, NiMH and LiFePO4 batteries. A good battery charger should automatically detect the chemistry of the inserted battery and charge that battery with the appropriate current.

Independent Cell Monitoring and Charging

If you’ve ever owned one of those old-fashioned chargers with bays for multiple batteries, you can probably remember the one important rule of using that type of charger: You needed to insert batteries in matched pairs, or they wouldn’t charge correctly.

These days, though, battery chargers have become much more advanced. A good battery charger should have the ability to charge batteries with different form factors, capacities and chemistries simultaneously. If you want to charge one lithium-ion flashlight battery while simultaneously charging a pair of NiMH AA batteries for your remote, your battery charger should be able to handle the job seamlessly and with no configuration changes on your part.

USB Power Output

Rechargeable batteries are a constant fixture in just about everyone’s life. You’ve got a pile of devices with removable batteries – which is why you’re looking for a great battery charger – but that’s not all. You also own a number of devices with built-in batteries, such as phones, tablets and game consoles. Even many remote controls these days are using built-in batteries. Most of those devices probably have their own charging adapters, but no one wants to deal with a tangle of wires every day just to charge their devices. It’s much easier if you can charge everything with one outlet, which is why a USB port is a very useful feature for a battery charger to have. With a USB port, you can use a single battery charger to charge almost every device you own.

Variable Charging Rate

Did you know that a good lithium-ion battery can actually charge at different rates without creating a risk of overheating? The standard charging rate for a lithium-ion battery is 1 amp. At that current, a battery with a capacity of 2,000 mAh will charge in about two hours. However, many higher-quality batteries can also charge at 2 amps, cutting the charging time in half while reducing the battery’s long-term longevity slightly. If you’re very patient, on the other hand, you can charge a battery with a 0.5-amp current. That doubles the charging time but reduces heat and improves the battery’s longevity. If you have a good battery charger, you can select the charging speed that’s appropriate for your needs.

Built-in Safety Features

The primary reason for owning a standalone battery charger is because it’s a one-stop shop for charging all of your rechargeable batteries, and it’s going to make your life a lot easier. The secondary reason, though, is that a standalone charger is simply a safer way to charge your batteries. A good standalone charger isn’t just monitoring the health of each connected cell individually. It’s also checking for internal short circuits, monitoring the ambient temperature for signs of overheating, reducing the charging current when the connected batteries approach their target voltages and more. Although you should never charge your batteries unattended even with a dedicated charger, it’s good to know that your battery charger is looking out for your safety automatically.

Digital Display

The final feature that you should look for in your next battery charger is one that you’ll find incredibly useful: a digital display. The first home battery chargers had nothing but simple LED indicators. If the light was on, the battery was charging. When you’re charging cells of different capacities and chemistries at the same time, though, a simple LED won’t do. You need a display to show you that the charger knows what type of battery is connected and to give you an estimate of how long the charging cycle will take. If you want to change the charging speed, you should see that reflected on the display. Trust us on this one; if you’re going to buy a battery charger with all of the capabilities suggested in this article, the charger absolutely must have a display.

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