NiMH Battery Chargers that work
February 15, 2014 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I have a good mix of AAA, AA, C, D & 9V rechargeable batteries. Are the mindblowingly-expensive Powerex chargers the only game in town for getting a decent charge, or are there other options?

I have two chargers, an Energizer multi-everything which came with a free travel AA/AAA charger. The main unit charges really quickly, but the batteries come out pretty hot, and have clearly been fast charged to part capacity. The little charger takes forever (upwards of 16 hours for a pair of 600 mAh AAAs) but the batteries barely get warm, and the charge lasts up to 4× as long as from the big charger. So I'm looking for better options, thanks.

(I'm in Canada, so shipping from Thomas Distributing is likely prohibitive/impossible.)
posted by scruss to Technology (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have a LaCrosse BC-900 that I'm quite happy with. The BC-700 is similar. Here's a review.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:21 PM on February 15, 2014

Yeah, I have a BC-700. It works well. It's only flaw is that it doesn't always recognise that a completely flat battery is there - those I have to trickle charge in another charger first before sticking them in the BC700.
posted by pharm at 2:25 PM on February 15, 2014

I have the updated model of the BC-700, the BL-700. I highly recommend it! It's charged various different brands of AA/AAA batteries, at rates of 200, 500 or 700 mA. Simply putting the battery in will cause it to charge at 200 mA, until the battery is full, and then it drops down to a very low trickle charge.

It also has advanced features like the refresh feature, that helps get batteries back to their full capacity by charging and discharging until there's no further increase in capacity. I've increased the capacity of batteries by doing this.

The problem is that this charger will only handle AA/AAA batteries. I've considered hacking the charger to be able to handle C and D batteries too, but I'm a bit leery of ruining it. I've considered soldering a battery holder to the connectors of one of the charging slots, which would likely work, but I don't want to risk it. It still likely wouldn't work for 9v batteries, anyway.

If you're in the market for some new batteries, check out Eneloops.
posted by Solomon at 3:05 PM on February 15, 2014

Best answer: FWIW I'm very happy with the Powerex I got a while back — I have nothing to compare to except cheap chargers, but I don't regret getting it.
posted by monocultured at 3:11 PM on February 15, 2014

I have a LaCrosse charger as well (I think it's the BC-900, or a comparable one).

It's kind of pricey for a battery charger, but it works great. I can charge my batteries quickly if I absolutely need to, or baby them. I've got some eneloops that are a couple of years old and are still working great in my camera flashes.
posted by inertia at 3:32 PM on February 15, 2014

I had that Energizer charger and it seemed like the batteries didn't last very long before they were unable to hold a charge at all.

It might help the OP if someone could explain that to both of us. What kind of batteries do you buy?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:58 PM on February 15, 2014

Response by poster: La Crosse doesn't seem to have a dealer in Canada, and the BC1000 is the same price as the Powerex chargers. It also doesn't do C and D cells.

I've tried Eneloops, but they died quite quickly, some leaking. It may have been that Energizer charger, though. I've had the most luck with cheapo dollar-store Sunbeam NiMHs; $2 a pair. I think they must be low-yielding rejects from better brands, as — although they have a tiny nominal capacity — some of them can take a much higher charge.

Looks like I might have to go for the Powerex after all.
posted by scruss at 7:32 PM on February 15, 2014

I use AA/AAA a lot for work and bought this sun bitch because it was cheaper than the Powerex and I'm very happy with it. Also Eneloops are a great brand but you have to keep an eye out for counterfeits. I would only buy from a reputable source, like B&H. Would even skip Amazon 3rd party sellers.
posted by phaedon at 8:57 PM on February 15, 2014

The best charger I own is one that came with a pack of Duracell 2650mAh batteries. It's a switchable NiCd/NiMH quick charger, so it's definitely not easy on the batteries, but it charges the cells individually, is not timer-based, and I have yet to have it kill any batteries dead. Still get pretty decent life out of them even though I haven't bought a battery in several years now.

Back when I was accumulating batteries, I kept thinking I'd eventually get around to buying a good charger (aka Powerex or Lacrosse), but it never really proved necessary. Like I said, excessive capacity loss hasn't been an issue for me, whether in my camera's flash or the keyboard I'm typing this on. To give you an idea how long it's been since I bought batteries, I bought my most recent set of rechargeable batteries at Circuit City.
posted by wierdo at 11:43 PM on February 15, 2014

Response by poster: Any suggestions for a charger for C, D & 9V batteries?

I bought my Eneloops from Costco. They were dead within six months.
posted by scruss at 7:40 AM on February 16, 2014

I've had Eneloops die after prolonged complete discharge (dastardly Wii controllers).
posted by exogenous at 3:59 PM on February 16, 2014

My friend (fellow photographer, so we talk about batteries a lot) had one of those rapid-charger 15 minute energizer battery chargers. Every rechargeable battery she put in that thing was dead within six months. I don't know if you have a similar model or not, but it could be the reason the eneloops didn't last you very long.
posted by inertia at 8:50 AM on February 17, 2014

Response by poster: I went with the Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne. Yes, it only does AA and AAA, but there doesn't seem to be really smart chargers for bigger cells. it is very large and very heavy. It's also quite fiddly; you have to (?) programming each bay's role separately.
posted by scruss at 2:11 PM on February 17, 2014

Response by poster: Multi-month check-in of how the Powerex is working for me:

  • Discharge/refresh cycles really can tell you which of your old cells are dead, and which have useful life.
  • Will even put a useful charge in those dollar store AAA NiMHs, which need to be trickled at 200 mA and no higher.
  • No power switch! I had a spare in-line power switch which works
  • Absurdly bright display backlight. I mean light up the whole house bright
  • Still far too expensive for what it does.

posted by scruss at 7:48 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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