How to choose the best 18650 battery charger for you
“Hmmm, that’s a difficult one” I replied, as a customer landed an almost impossible question. What is the best 18650 battery charger?
Well, like any product, it really depends on your requirements. If you cycle around the block once a week, a cheap bike will do, but if you’re doing the Tour de France? You’ll want a road bike with all the bells and whistles!
It’s really very much the same with charging stations for rechargeable batteries. It all depends on the batteries you own, your lifestyle in terms of energy consumption and what you’re willing to spend.
So, rather than writing about what the best 18650 battery charger is, we’ll instead give advice on how to choose the best 18650 battery charger for YOU.
1. How many battery charging bays do you need?
First things first, what is your energy consumption? If you’re regularly getting through four batteries a day, you’ll quickly get fed up operating a one-in, one-out policy on your single battery charger. Not only will it get annoying, the chances are you’ll find yourself low on power at some point during the day. Thankfully, there’s a whole range of chargers on the market with the ability to charge anywhere from one to eight batteries at once. A great example of these mammoth eight-cell battery chargers is the Xtar VC8.
With this in mind, it's also important to be aware of how long your batteries take to charge and how many you’ll typically need to use throughout the day. If you’re operating multiple pieces of equipment such as a vape and other electronic devices, you may want to consider how many batteries you’ll need charged and ready for action at any one time.
2. How mobile do you need your battery charger to be?
This one isn't essential, but is certainly worth thinking about. If you’re on the move all-day every day, you might be hard-pressed to get access to the mains to use your charger for an extended period of time. Clearly, a mobile option such as the excellent Xtar VC4 with it’s USB connection would be ideal. This could be used in the car or with a laptop and power bank. Alternatively, if you’re in the office or on-site all day, the Nitecore NEW I4 would be a great option. It’s a fantastic charger but requires a mains plug for operation. That’s why it’s important to understand if the charger you’re looking at fits your circumstances.
3. How much do you want to spend on your battery charger?
Ahh, price. The one we all really want to know about. Of course, different people have different budgets. Also, if you’re only using one battery a day, you won’t need to splash out on a mega eight-cell charger. Our advice here at Fogstar is to buy the best possible charger you can get for your budget but always from a reputable retailer.
As we mentioned in our blog on how to identify a fake battery, we can’t stress enough the importance of purchasing from a reputable retailer. Not only will you receive more value for money by receiving a reliable, high-performing product but there’s also the safety aspect.
Of course, whilst the very nature of electricity means no electronic device can ever be 100% safe, you CAN guarantee that cheap, unregulated products will have substantially more risk of being defective. This, in turn, increases the risk of them experiencing issues that could cause injury or harm.
4. What about battery charger safety?
Talking of safety, you should ensure that the chargers you buy have the relevant safety features in place. As a minimum, they should possess features such as reverse polarity and overcharge and thermal protection. All chargers on sale at Fogstar come with these features in place as a minimum requirement.
5. Consider the battery charger limitations
Following on from a safety perspective, it’s also really important to understand your battery’s charging limits. If you’re unsure what these are, reputable suppliers will always provide you with a factory datasheet which contains the entire battery specification. This will include the maximum charging current and other essential details.
You can find an example of a factory datasheet below.
6. What features would you like your battery charger to have?
A charger is a charger right? What features could it possibly have? Well, as it turns out, quite a few! For example, let’s take the two chargers we mentioned earlier on in this blog. The excellent XTAR VC4 has a real-time OLED screen with analogue-style gauges that provide a readout for voltage, charging amps and mAh levels. This gives you a great real-time overview of your battery’s charging status. It also comes complete with overcharge protection, which actually helps maintain the performance of our battery long-term.
Consider the Nitecore NEW I4 as the other example. This impressive charger has an accelerated charging rate upto 1.5A, enabling you to fully charge high-capacity batteries without the painstaking wait. It is also designed to possess the awesome Active Current Distribution (ACD) technology that allows it to ring the entire charging process in an orderly manner depending on your preferences. It even has four indicators that provide real-time feedback on the current battery status.
There’s a wealth of features available on the market that differentiate chargers and the value they can provide. Make sure to take these into account to ensure you select the right product for you.
To recap when considering the best 18650 battery charger for you, consider;
1. The number of charging bays you require
2. Whether you need to use it on the go
3. How much you want to spend on your battery charger
4. What safety features you would like
5. Consider the limitations of the battery charger
6. What features would you like the charger to have.
So there you go, the official Fogstar advice on how to choose the best 18650 battery charger for you. Or indeed, any rechargeable battery for that matter. We hope you found it useful!
Check out our extensive range of battery chargers here.