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Thread: What's the Best Battery Charger?

  1. #1
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    What's the Best Battery Charger?

    I think this has been discussed before, but I couldn't find the thread(s).

    I have a nagging sense that the latest batch of NiMH batteries I bought are wearing out more rapidly than they should. I recall reading that a slow, "trickle" charger is better both in terms of bringing a battery to it's full potential as well as prolonging the useful life of the battery. Apparently the charger which comes in the blister pack with many batteries may not be the one to meet the above.

    What's the current thinking on the "best battery charger", and what do they cost? And is this charger a cost-effective option (i.e., does the increased cost offset the more frequent replacement of batteries)?

    Thanks -

  2. #2
    Senior Member Grumpy's Avatar
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    I can't answer your question about battery chargers, which I assume refers to chargers for the ubiquitous AA cells.

    Gave up on rechargeables long ago, having decided they were unreliable (or inadequately reliable for my needs and purposes). My needs primarily have involved running photo flash units and (once upon a time) camera motor drive units.

    Now I generally buy 20-packs of AA alkaline cells from the local "dollar" store (their house brand), at 25 cents a battery, mostly to run the flash units. They have proved themselves to be just as good (for my purposes) as much more expensive "premium" brand name batteries.

    When I need longer-lasting AA batts or batts that will perform more reliably in cold conditions, I take a deep breath and go for Lithium cells. These come at much, much greater cost, but they really deliver the performance I am looking for.

    My big concern about using any batteries is making sure they are disposed of properly when defunct. They cannot responsibly go in the ordinary household trash. Luckily, my local recycling agency will take them and do the job right.

    Sorry for wandering OT ... (cabin fever victim).

    G.

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    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    I think this has been discussed before, but I couldn't find the thread(s).

    I have a nagging sense that the latest batch of NiMH batteries I bought are wearing out more rapidly than they should. I recall reading that a slow, "trickle" charger is better both in terms of bringing a battery to it's full potential as well as prolonging the useful life of the battery. Apparently the charger which comes in the blister pack with many batteries may not be the one to meet the above.

    What's the current thinking on the "best battery charger", and what do they cost? And is this charger a cost-effective option (i.e., does the increased cost offset the more frequent replacement of batteries)?

    Thanks -
    Kevin,

    I ran into the same situation. My batteries were Duracell AA 2650 mAh rechargeables. My charger is one of the “slow” models.

    After a full charging they would lose the charge over the period of a couple weeks. My older versions of the same battery would hold a strong charge for nearly a year. I contacted Duracell and was told to try forcing a second charge cycle during the initial conditioning period. In other words, after the charger indicator goes green, unplug the unit and then restart another charge cycle on the same batteries. Evidently, they have been experiencing a false charge condition. They explained this will help force a full-capacity charge.

    In addition, they sent me coupons to get free replacements - but would not admit to a problem with their product (good support staff training). They also recommended I use the pre-charged product. Unfortunately, the pre-charged model is a lower mAh rating and can’t be mixed with the older ones that I have. I’ll continue to use the 2650 mAh product.

    Good luck!


  4. #4
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Grumpy - Yes, I was mostly referring to the AA batteries, and to a lessor extent, AAA's. I don't use many triple AAA's, as they mostly go in my headlamp, and with LED's ... I only need to recharge them once or twice a year.

    I understand the battery draw with flash units. I recently bought a Canon camera which uses AA batteries, thinking I wanted to get away from propriety batteries. I'm rethinking that -

    BigEarl - that's interesting - will keep your Duracell experience in mind. For years I was very satisfied with the Kodak brand of NiMH batteries with a 1600mAH rating. When they started to wane, I stayed with Kodak, this time the standard seemed to be 2400mAH (the Walmart flavor, anyway). Over time, my battery draw has increased slightly - rather than a B&W Garmin Vista, I now have a color 60CSx, and I suspect the Canon camera is the biggest draw. So, maybe it's not the batteries nor charger, but simply my needs have grown at a slightly faster rate than the batteries capacity.

    On another note - a couple of years ago I got a great deal on solar-powered outdoor lights, and when they failed a year later I understand why Home Depot was dumping them - their NiMH battery was of poor quality, and only put out 600mAH IIRC. Over the course of about a week, all of them (some 20+) gradually failed to fire up at dusk. I replaced those batteries with aging Kodak NiMH rated at 1600mAH and have had no problems for many months now.
    Last edited by Kevin Rooney; 03-02-2010 at 02:54 PM.

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    The current crop of low discharge NiMH batteries will hold 90% of their charge for a year. That's definitely the way to go today. They don't have as high a mAH rating but they last longer in all typical uses.

    This would be my choice for a charger today: http://www.mahaenergy.com/store/view...?idProduct=178

    I have an older Maha charger and it works great.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

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    Senior Member Mohamed Ellozy's Avatar
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    I use the MH-C204W, mainly because it has an integrated 100-240V 50/60Hz international power supply, usable anywhere in the world. Use it with their low discharge batteries.

  7. #7
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Seems like the Maha series may be a good choice. Selecting the long charge cycle isn't a problem as I usually leave them in the charger overnight.

    I did a quick search on Amazon, and found a Maha unit w/ 4 battteries currently listed at $40.75. Definitely on my public Wish List.

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    Whatever you do, do not use one of a high-current quick chargers on the type of NiMH cells that are low-leakage and keep their charge longer. These type of cells need a lower charging rate or else they will get damaged.

    Slow charging any kind of cell is gentler to the cell. Heat and pressure are lower with slow charging, and the various seals last longer.

    I have been advised by Maha and Maxxon that keeping a Nimh cell on trickle charge for a long time (ie leaving them in a smart charger perpertually) is not good for the cell. Maybe Doug Paul has some numbers.

    Finally, before choosing a charger, decide whether you need to charge an even number of batteries or odd number of batteries. Some chargers only charge pairs, and there are plenty of devices out there that use 3 cells.

    Maha makes charges that meet all of the above concerns. I have a C401S.
    It charges 1,2,3 or 4 cells. There is switch on the side to choose low or high charging rate, so it can work with the low-leakage cells or higher-capacity cells.

    Also, the C401S comes with a cigarette lighter adapter so u can take it on the road with you.

  9. #9
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    By high-current, quick chargers I mean those that can charge a cell in 15 minutes. The Sanyo Eneloop low-leakage AA cells can be charged at 2000mA according to a Sanyo Data sheet.

    However AAA Sanyo Eneloops can only be charged at 750 mA.

  10. #10
    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Have a look at the La Crosse BC-700 or BC-900:
    http://www.amazon.com/Crosse-Technol...ce_k_ai_-2_t_1
    In addition to selectable charge rates, these chargers have separate modes for conditioning and testing actual battery capacity, which is very useful for weeding out cells that you suspect may not be holding a charge. It also lets you verify the actual capacity vs. the advertised number. Definitely go with LSD batteries, unless you absolutely need the maximum possible capacity. These are sometimes sold as "precharged", which is only feasible because they hold their charge so well. The Sanyo eneloop is a popular brand, but there are many others.

  11. #11
    Senior Member J.Dub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    What's the current thinking on the "best battery charger",
    DC...definitely DC.

    "Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball."

    ADK46: 25/46 W5
    NH48: 26/48 W8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    ...What's the current thinking on the "best battery charger"...?
    Any good District Attorney.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Trip pictures

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    Senior Member SAR-EMT40's Avatar
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    I have been using a Maha C777Plus for 15? years. It will charge NiCd, NiMH, and Lithium rechargeable. Its not cheap but it not only charges but it reconditions and tests. I find it to be a really good charger.

    Keith
    "The real work of men was hunting meat. The invention of agriculture was a giant step in the wrong direction, leading to serfdom, cities, and empire. From a race of hunters, artists, warriors, and tamers of horses, we degraded ourselves to what we are now: clerks, functionaries, laborers, entertainers, processors of information."- Ed Abbey

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    Senior Member sardog1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy View Post
    Any good District Attorney.

    Nah, the best would be Sgt. Alvin York.
    sardog1

    "Å! kjære Bymann gakk ei stjur og stiv,
    men kom her up og kjenn eit annat Liv!
    kom hit, kom hit, og ver ei daud og lat!
    kom kjenn, hot d'er, som heiter Svevn og Mat,
    og Drykk og Tørste og det heile, som
    er Liv og Helse i ein Hovedsum."

    -- Aasmund O. Vinje, "Til Fjells!"

  15. #15
    Senior Member sardog1's Avatar
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    Thanks to all who have pointed the way toward the Maha line. Good info to have.
    sardog1

    "Å! kjære Bymann gakk ei stjur og stiv,
    men kom her up og kjenn eit annat Liv!
    kom hit, kom hit, og ver ei daud og lat!
    kom kjenn, hot d'er, som heiter Svevn og Mat,
    og Drykk og Tørste og det heile, som
    er Liv og Helse i ein Hovedsum."

    -- Aasmund O. Vinje, "Til Fjells!"

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