No matter whether you need to replace your old one or you are a first-time buyer, knowing what to look for in a battery charger is important. But, even before you start browsing the market for your ideal gadget, you should arm yourself with all the needed info to make an informed buying decision. For example, a charger for batteries that has various features can charge 9V batteries and it can be packed with different other features. However, you might not need such a model, so you shouldn’t end up paying for something that you don’t really need just because you’re not well-informed. Once you find the ideal piece for you, make sure you opt for the best AA rechargeable batteries as they last almost eight hours on a single charge.
- Smart charger – This type is also known as delta-V. It monitors the voltage levels of each battery and once they are completely full, it stops charging. This model is considered the best one for keeping rechargeable batteries in good condition as it prevents overcharging which affects the battery’s lifetime.
- Trickle charger – This one pushes a low “trickle” charge through the batteries for a long period of time. Some trickle chargers have timers which means they turn off automatically but this doesn’t necessarily prevent under or overcharging. This is because the time varies depending on the chemistry, age and the capacity of the batteries. This type of charger is most suitable for batteries that are not low-self discharge (batteries that have technology that stops their charge from leaking away when they are not in use).
- Other chargers – If the charger isn’t marked as a ‘Trickle’ or ‘Smart’ then it’s a basic model that provides a constant electrical current through the batteries until you plug it. They are inexpensive but you cannot know whether the batteries are fully charged or not. This means you are risking overcharging or undercharging which can further lead to long-term battery damage.
The best charger for you will depend on how you are planning to charge your batteries and how much you are willing to spend on it. When it comes to speed of charging, there are two main types.
- Super-fast chargers – Technology is constantly evolving, so units that can fully charge batteries under an hour are nothing new. Super-fast chargers are usually an expensive option. Believe it or not, the fastest charger on the market can charge batteries in just 15 minutes.
- Slower chargers – On the other hand, there are chargers that are much slower. Usually, the time needed for charging the batteries depends on the capacity of the batteries but most of these chargers need to be left charging overnight. Some of them feature an auto shut-off function to minimise overcharging and battery damage.
Besides the above-mentioned things, when looking to buy a battery charger, there are some other important features to consider.
- The number of batteries – Generally, chargers can fit and charge simultaneously between 2 and 8 rechargeable batteries. If you want it to charge one battery only, make sure you check the specifications to see whether it can.
- Battery sizes – Most models are compatible with AA and AAA batteries, so if you need a charger for 9V, C or D size batteries make sure you check the model’s specifications.
- Charge indicator – Some chargers have a light that shows when the batteries are charged while some of the most advanced models have a digital display showing how far through the charging of the battery is and when it will be fully charged.
- USB adaptor – Some chargers come with a USB adaptor, enabling you to charge your batteries in the car.
Are Battery Chargers Worth It?
The price range of chargers varies somewhere between $20 to $60 and along with the rechargeable batteries, getting started is a small investment. Online shopping is always a good idea. Many battery-selling websites sell big packs or bundles so you can find some really great deals. Also, there are many brick-and-mortar stores and supermarkets that sell some cheap battery chargers. So yes, buying a battery recharger will not cost you a fortune.
Can You Charge Rechargeable Batteries with Any Charger?
The more important thing is not to mix batteries of different chemistries or capacities. Manufacturers usually recommend charging batteries with chargers from the same brand. This doesn’t mean that you cannot charge your batteries with other charger brands but that the charging process may be much slower.