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Help and suggestions on chargers

Discussion in 'Flashlights & Other Illumination Devices' started by shokthx, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. shokthx

    shokthx Loaded Pockets

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    I'm looking for suggestions on battery chargers.

    I plan to expand my flashlight ownership a bit in the near future so I'd like to be very flexible in being able to charge all different types and sizes. I also use a lot of AA and AAA batteries and it would be nice to save on rechargeables.
    I have not had much luck with the Energizer rechargeables and their chargers in the past. The batteries have always stopped holding a charge (probably due to misuse) kinda quickly. I'm hoping some better chargers would help some of this.

    Right now I'm thinking I'd like to go with two chargers:

    For the 1st, I'm thinking an XTAR VP2 from a thread here as one as it sounds very flexible and I really like the idea of being able to use it as a USB charging source (if I'm right about that). Would there be a better or newer option that also works as a powerbank?

    I'd like a second charger that would also have some type of battery refresh or conditioning option as well as the ability to charge 4 cells at once. Would an Opus BT - C3100 be good for this? Any other recommendations? I'd like to keep the cost for this charger at $50 or less.

    Auto charging would be useful feature too.

    Thanks
    James
     
  2. SOS24

    SOS24 Loaded Pockets

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    Last edited by SOS24, Jan 23, 2018
    #2 SOS24, Jan 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
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  3. shokthx

    shokthx Loaded Pockets

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  4. SOS24

    SOS24 Loaded Pockets

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    The VC4 does not have a conditioning or refresh mode thatI am aware.
     
  5. NorthernHarrier

    NorthernHarrier Loaded Pockets

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    The Bt-3100 will be a fine choice under $50, although they are known for sometimes having loud fans. My VC4 often will bring a well-used cell back to life, even though it lacks a formal conditioning mode.

    I also have a SV2 Rocket, and like the VC4 it’s a great charger. The one warning I’d give you about the Xtar chargers is to use a power supply that puts out at least 2.1 A. I’ve used wall outlet power supplies with these chargers that don’t put out their claimed current - so they won’t provide full power to the charger. That matters when charging four cells.
     
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  6. bltkmt

    bltkmt Loaded Pockets

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    That Opus charger is a great choice and can do both lithium and Eneloops. I love mine.
     
  7. The Essential Illuminator

    The Essential Illuminator Loaded Pockets

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    I also recommend the Opus BT-C3100 2.2. I have one and it works great. I always love to check capacity of new and older batteries. I have been told they are 5% to 10% to high.I must have a more accurate one. Mine is always between 1% and 3% of HKJ'S [battery/charger guru on BLF/CPF]numbers.

    Mine is actually modified. I put a better fan[Delta] and I am using a much better SMPS[POWER SUPPLY] ...A Lite -on 5.5A/66W.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Depth of the Delta is 1mm more. It sticks out a bit but has been working flawlessly for 8 months! The reason I added the DELTA fan and the LITE ON SMPS is because sometimes the OPUS would reset during transition from discharge to charge. This is the point where the current would spike the most. My tests are more accurate now and no stoppages have happened since the mod! :D

    [​IMG]
     
  8. david57strat

    david57strat EDC Junkie!!!

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    I used Energizer Recharge NiMhs for years, but they weren't low self discharging (LSD) batteries (they didn't exist, at the time), so they would lose their charge in about thirty days, if not charged. That was a pain, but was pretty much a flaw that we had to live with, when using nickel metal hydride (NiMh) batteries . Most NiMh batteries, these days are LSD, so they will retain the charge much longer, in between charges, which is very convenient.

    Another huge advantage to this chemistry is their ability to be topped off, rather than having to completely drain them, before they could be charged (like you had to do, with nickel cadmium batteries, if you wanted them to hold a full charge.

    LSD NiMh batteries also generally come pre-charged, so they're ready for use immediately; but I still recommend topping them off to a full charge, before the first use. These batteries are also much higher capacity than they were, years ago, which translates to longer run times than previously available; so they give alkaline batteries a run for the money; and they never leak :).

    If you have access to IKEA (on-line, or otherwise), I highly recommend their LADDA series NiMHs. They've been likened to Eneloop Pros, but at a substantially lower cost.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a great thread on that, posted on Candle Power Forums, with a thorough review, done by HKJ (a trusted battery and charger reviewer):

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?419884-Test-Review-of-Ikea-Ladda-AA-2450mAh-(White)-703-038-76

    I never liked the Energizer chargers, either. Back then, chargers weren't smart. They would charge the battery, then even after the charge was complete, they would drop to a trickle charge (continue charging at a much lower charge rate, which is not good for the batteries). Chargers have come a very long way, since then.

    Also, on some of the older chargers, your had to charge batteries in pairs (They could not be charged individually); and the charger would base it's charge termination on the more highly charged battery. This means, if you had a battery that went into the charger at x number of volts, and another at some number lower than that, the charger would quit charging (at the full charge rate), based on the one that had the higher charge on it.

    The lower voltage battery would never be fully charged. Horrible design.

    Smart chargers sense the charge is complete, then terminate the charge, altogether, and safely. Many of these chargers have many different types of protections, built into the charger (excessive heat, a battery that's been installed backwards, etc.), and will warn you of the problem. Chargers of today will also charge at much higher charge rates (so you don't have to feel like you're watching the grass grow, or wait all night long to charge a battery; but you gave the option of choosing a lower charge rart, if you prefer.

    Some multi-slot chargers have individually adjustable charge rates, and can charge different chemistries simultaneously.

    When you say, "auto charging", do you mean a charger that will sense the type of battery, fully charge it, then stop automatically? Almost all smart chargers will do this, now.

    You mentioned the VP2 charger. That was the very first nice lithium ion charger I ever purchased, and the first XTAR charger, as well. Very fine charger, but it is strictly for lithium ion and lithium phosphate (LiFePO4 batteries). It will not charge NiMh batteries.

    As for chargers, I own 22 of them, and use them, quite often. If I were making an overall recommendation for a charger that could charge many different chemistries, and with an excellent feature set, I would heartily recommend Nitecore's SC4.

    [​IMG]
    I loved them so much, I bought four of them :)
     
    Last edited by david57strat, Jan 29, 2018
    #8 david57strat, Jan 27, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
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  9. david57strat

    david57strat EDC Junkie!!!

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    I've read good t hings about those Opus chargers; but be sure to get the latest version. I've kind of shied away from purchasing them, because I don't like to use active (fan)-cooled chargers. The noise drives me nuts. I prefer good passive (heat sink) cooled electronics, whenever possible. This is particularly relevant, for me, since I often use a slew of chargers simultaneously, so the noise could really add up.

    [​IMG]
    This is an older shot. The chargers have kind of multipled, like rabbits, over the years lol.

    [​IMG]
    The XTAR Dragon (in the foreground) is a very capable charger, with diagnostic/conditioning abiilties, but it's kind of high priced. Very capable charger, though.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. david57strat

    david57strat EDC Junkie!!!

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    I have a pair of those VC4s, and they do work very nicely.

    As other posters have mentioned, it's important to drive these chargers with a suitable USB power supply (2.1 Amps), to get the full power of the charger.

    I like to use an XTAR U1, which powers both of mine, as well as my iPhone and an external lithium ion battery, very capably, in a box not much larger than pack of cigarettes. IT comes with a decent length modular power cable, so no wall warts! I used a similar Anker hub previously, but I prefer the more capable U1, for this purpose.

    I use another one of those U1s to power my four XTAR VC2 Plus units, and it's absolutely flawless, and cuts down on the need to use multiple wall wart power supplies (which I hate with a passion), which was a huge consideration, for my uses. An excellent USB power hub for travel, too!

    It runs very cool to the touch, as well :)
     
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  11. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    @david57strat: if an award were given for the largest collection of chargers I'm willing to bet you're up near the lead...

    wrt to battery leaks as a function of the chemistry. I really don't believe this is the case. (watch it; really bad pun!). Cylindrical devices like cells/batteries (take your pick of terms), electrolytic capacitors are mechanically sealed. If leaks are happening, the primary culprit is likely to be a problem with the assembly equipment. Secondary would be a design that was not capable of dealing with any buildup of internal pressure (due to heat, vapors building up, etc.). I'll grant that certain chemistries might be more likely to generate more internal gases. But the device designs are 'supposed' to be such that this is both taken into account and regular reliability testing is done to confirm that manufacturing processes and purchased components (gaskets, seals, etc) are meeting spec.

    Y'see, I started my career in manufacture of electrolytic capacitors!

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  12. david57strat

    david57strat EDC Junkie!!!

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    I do tend to be on the fanatical side of having enough chargers to charge as many batteries as I want, in the least amount of time lol. :p

    I've been particularly fascinated with battery charging technology and how it's managed to advance, just in the past five years or so, since I first became an EDC enthusiast.

    Only from personal experience (although I've read of countless similar experiences, by many other alkaline users), can I attest to the tendency of alkaline batteries, to leak, at the most unexpected times, sometimes completely ruining equipment in which it was installed - regardless of the battery manufacturer, and sometimes long before the expiration date.

    I've had far better experiences with NiMh batteries, and have no complaints about that chemistry, thus far.

    Granted, in the early days, NiMh batteries were very low capacity and had to be charged, all the time; so they were unable to give alkaline batteries a run for the money (decent run times and low self-discharging), but were very economical, with heavy, repeated use. The newer NiMhs are far superior to those of the early days, and are a lot less problematic, while also being extremely affordable.

    As far as I 'm concerned, no primary (disposable) battery should ever leak, regardless of the price of the battery (as long as the battery is not being abused); but that's just my personal opinion. I feel alkaline battery companies are well aware that their batteries have a tendency to leak, so some of the big name makers offer up free replacement or repair (their choice) of the equipment that their batteries damage; but I also believe they figure not very many people will actually take the trouble to file a formal damage claim, with them (also shipping off the damaged piece of equipment to them), so they come out on top, in the end.

    I've no idea how many hundreds, or even thousands of alkaline batteries I've purchased, over the years, but I'm done with them - permanently.

    Your mileage may vary, and that is fine.

    Rant - over.

    The savings I've enjoyed, from not repeatedly purchasing under-performing alkaline batteries (not to mention, for the better of the environment), has been a worthwhile investment, for me. I stopped buying alkaline batteries of any kind, years ago, and have no regrets.
     
    Last edited by david57strat, Jan 30, 2018
    #12 david57strat, Jan 29, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  13. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    @david57strat: as an old (seriously!) QA guy, I used to handle the reliability testing on our electrolytic capacitors. So I am in total agreement with you that in the real world none of these things should leak. This is one of many consequences of suppliers being picked and machine maintenance put off to satisfy the finance guys without paying attention to consequences!

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  14. SOS24

    SOS24 Loaded Pockets

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    Not to hijack the thread, but does anyone know of a good USB power supply with a minimum 2 outlets that gives the full 2.1 amps that is UL Listed? It would be great if it was also a surge protector.
     
  15. shokthx

    shokthx Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks everyone!

    I ended up with the Opus BT 3100. It just finished it's first 4 18650's. Fan noise is not an issue where I have it (computer fans it the room drown it out). So far, seems great.


    I meant could be used to charge in a car - with a 12 volt adapter.

    I've also got a Liitokala Lii 500 on a slow boat from China - literally, I think. It comes with an auto charger adapter.

    They are actually building an IKEA down the street from me so I'll be sure to check the batteries there out.

    Thanks for all the advice everyone,
    James
     
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  16. david57strat

    david57strat EDC Junkie!!!

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    Congratulations on your new purchase!

    Yes, you can power the SC4 with a suitable 12-Volt, 3 Amp adapter. It uses a standard 5mm barrel plug (center positive). I have a 12-volt, 3 Amp plug that came with my Dragon charger, and it fit and worked, but the plug is a not quite long enough for a deep/snug enough fit into the power plug of the SC4.

    I used different (USB-powered) chargers in the car, on those extremely rare occasions when I do car charging.
     
    Last edited by david57strat, Feb 2, 2018
    #16 david57strat, Feb 2, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  17. turbo6

    turbo6 Loaded Pockets

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    Zanflare C4 is another good option for only $30; very nice (and quiet) analyzing charger. Comes with a car charger and can be used as a USB power bank as well.
     
  18. david57strat

    david57strat EDC Junkie!!!

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    entered in wrong thread. sorry.
     
    #18 david57strat, Dec 19, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018