Interested in greener technology but not sure where to start? How about purchasing some rechargeable batteries? Not only will it cut down on waste, but it will save you money in the long run. However, does it matter what charger you buy for your rechargeable batteries?
First thing is first, if you clicked looking for a good set of rechargeable batteries, I have already done a review of the ones I am using and that I would recommend!. This article can be found here:
If you are looking for links to these, you can find them in that article or at the bottom of this page with the link to the charger! Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about battery chargers!
You may think that a charger is a charger, but that would be a bad assumption. There are pros and cons to each one available, but there are some important things you need to know before buying one for your rechargeable batteries. The main thing is that you should avoid quick chargers at all cost. Fast chargers pump more electricity into the batteries than their chemistry can take. Although the batteries may seem to still work fine, over time they will lose their ability to charge. I previously used a Duracell 15 minute charger and it killed 3 AA rechargeable batteries after only 3 charges. So although a hassle, long chargers are really what you want if you want to protect your investment.
With that, let’s talk about the La Crosse BC-700. This unit can charge both NiMH and NiCad AA and AAA batteries. However, it will not work with Lithium Ion batteries. However, I personally haven’t seen those in the wild for AA/AAA batteries so just be aware of this limitation before purchasing.
The charger is build sturdy and although it shouldn’t be put into extreme conditions(hot/cold/drops/shock) it feels like it can take the occasional accident and survive. It has a nice weight to it and all the buttons feel solid. The charger itself has a screen for each battery terminal to show the statuses of the batteries when they are being charged/discharged. This is great as it can show you what the max capacity was when charging to let you know which battery is always dying prematurely. It will also show when each battery is full so you know when it’s okay to remove and use again.
There is no worry of over-charging with this unit. It automatically switches to a slow/trickle charge once at max capacity so you can leave batteries in unattended without destroying them. With that, I do not recommend leaving batteries on once they are completely charged, but you don’t have to plan your day over when you think your batteries will be done which is nice.
In addition to charging this unit can also discharge your batteries as well. Even better it has a refresh function that combines both charging and discharging to cycle your batteries that can allow them to regain lost capacity. I can confirm this works as it was able to spring two batteries back to life that my previous Duracell 15 minute charger killed.
Charge times listed in manual are longer than what most people would probably want to have, but the 200mA is recommended for longest battery lifetime(lifetime of useful recharges, not single charge/discharge cycles):
- AAA 1000 mAh
- 700 mA ~60 minutes
- 500 mA ~100 minutes
- 200 mA ~5 hours
- AA 2600 mAh
- 700 mA ~3.5 hours
- 500 mA ~5 hours
- 200 mA ~13 hours
I did a lot of research before I purchased this unit and I feel that has led to a sound decision. This unit consistently has high reviews across the web and has all the features that most users could ever ask for(and possibly more). I would personally recommend this product as it has not only saved me from disposing of about 60 batteries since I purchased it and it was able to revive 2 batteries that were killed by a 15 minute charger.
The long charge times can be killer, but I purchased some extra batteries to keep charged on hand so when a set dies I can swap out for the fresh pair and put the old pair on the charger. A little more upfront cost, but doing so should be more cost efficient in the long run.
So, you may be wondering how much this costs? When I purchased it, the price was about $40, however at the time of writing it’s currently available for slightly less around $37(price subject to fluctuate over time).