Battery Charger Review
Why Use a Battery Charger?
A battery charger has one simple purpose: to recharge batteries. A good battery charger can save you money by allowing you to reuse batteries. You do need to purchase specific batteries that are designed to be recharged. They are generally more expensive than traditional alkaline batteries; however, they save money in the long run over several uses.
Our list of battery chargers focuses on those that charge nickel cadmium (NiCd) or nickel metal-hydride (NiMH) rechargeable cells. These are the types of rechargeable batteries that replace the most common disposable alkaline batteries, such as AA, AAA, C, D and 9V sizes. If you need to charge a lithium-ion battery, such as the flat, square batteries used in cell phones or digital cameras, you’ll usually need a different kind of charger designed to work with that battery type.
Rechargeable batteries and batteries chargers provide quick charge times, extend battery life and maintain the earth-friendly benefits they first flaunted when hitting the market. Ultimately, the charger you select will depend on your individual needs. But there are several elements to consider that will make your buying decision somewhat easier. We’ve also gathered more information, with articles on battery chargers and other electronics for your family, for you to explore. Below are several elements to consider as you choose a battery charger.
Battery Size & Charge Time
The most common models charge both AA and AAA batteries, with some product lines extending the range of supported batteries to include D-cell batteries as well. Some can do both AA and AAA sizes at the same time. Since regular alkaline batteries can’t be recharged, most chargers come with a number of batteries that are designed to be recharged. If you choose a model that doesn’t, you’ll need to purchase your own rechargeable batteries separately.
Some of the best batteries chargers have quick-charge features, which can give you a quick burst of power in a matter of 15 minutes, so you can quickly power a device, albeit for a short period of time. A quick charge feature doesn’t power the battery to full charge, only a percentage. While such a feature is convenient, the majority of products offer standard charge times of between four to six hours.
Look for models with features designed to increase safety. Many models can detect when the recharging batteries are overheating and will automatically turn off before causing any damage. Most include an internal timer so they turn off when the batteries are done recharging. Furthermore, nearly all modern battery chargers can recognize when regular alkaline batteries are inserted, which means they will not initiate a charge of the non-rechargeable batteries.
Chargers come in a range of sizes. Some recharge as few as two or four batteries, and others can manage 10 or more at once. If you need your battery charger to be portable, your best bet will be one that chargers fewer at a time, as these generally have a more compact design. Most models are designed to work with AA and AAA batteries, since those are the most common, but many have adapters or features that also let you charge C, D or 9V batteries. You can also find models that include an adapter so you can charge batteries in your car as you travel.
Help & Support
Battery chargers are relatively simple to use, but manufacturers do offer information online as well as support via email and phone, so there are resources if you run into any issues. A good warranty is also something you’ll want to pay attention to, as it can be an indication of how the company stands behind its products. Not all battery charger manufacturers offer a warranty, but among those that do, the length and terms vary. We’ve seen warranties range from one year to a lifetime of coverage.
Popular Battery Charger Brands
The Alpha Power Battery Charger series from La Crosse offers a fast battery charger. They also can change the charging current, so you gain more control over how quickly your batteries are ready for use. Some models come packaged with C and D battery adapters, and you can charge both AA and AAA batteries at the same time. A built-in heat detector keeps the batteries from overcharging. Alongside some of these features is the uniquely-designed LCD screen. When you first plug in these battery chargers, it displays the voltage and the charge current which can be changed depending on how fast you want to charge the batteries. The LCD screen provides multiple details, such as the elapsed charging time, terminal voltage, accumulated capacities during the charge or discharge, and the charging current. Adding to the LCD screen feature are different modes where you can charge, discharge, refresh, and test your batteries. The included manual is easy to understand and offers explanation on all features of the charger.
Energizer battery chargers have a simple design and are easy to use. There are models that offer a faster battery charger time than others – you can get a partial charge in as little as 15 minutes – and you can charge any combination of AA and AAA batteries at the same time in some Energizer chargers. There are models that can also manage C, D and 9V batteries. Plus, you can choose to charge just a single battery with most Energizer chargers. Most Energizer models include an LED light to let you know when the batteries are completely charged and ready to be used. Energizer offers a car adapter that makes it easy to charger batteries while you travel. Some of the battery chargers come packaged with pre-charged batteries.
Powerex is another maker of several good battery chargers. They generally basic and prove useful in everyday performance. This series offers chargers that can charge AA and AAA batteries together, but keep in mind that AAA batteries have a lower capacity so you will want adjust the charging current accordingly. An excellent feature that this some models in this series offers is the ability to monitor temperature, and when something unusual is detected, such as a defective or alkaline batteries, the LCD screen alerts you with a message and the charger will stop charging. There are models with the ability to refresh and analyze batteries that have not been used recently, break in brand new ones, and reset new or used rechargeable batteries. Some also charge both NiMH and NiCd batteries. You can also get battery chargers equipped for use in your car.