Best Battery Charger: A Comprehensive Guide to the Top Options for 2023
Our day-to-day life deeply relies on rechargeable batteries powering our gadgets like smartphones, laptops, cameras, etc. Identifying a suitable battery charger among the myriad options available is a tricky task. This comprehensive guide highlights the top picks for battery chargers in 2023, focusing on crucial aspects such as charging speed, compatibility with various devices, safety attributes, and overall worth.
- The Best Battery Chargers
- 1. Anker PowerPort Speed 5: The Ultimate Multi-device Charger
- 2. Nitecore i8 Multi-Slot Intelligent Charger: Best for Rechargeable Batteries
- 3. Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Pad: Best for Apple Devices
- 4. Goal Zero Yeti 200X: Best for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- 5. Panasonic BQ-CC87: Best for Eneloop Batteries
- Best Wall-Powered Chargers
- Bonai 9V NiMH Charger
- Best USB-Powered Chargers
- Budget Picks
- How We Picked
- A Battery Tester is Optional, But Nice to Have
To optimize the lifespan and performance of your rechargeable batteries, investing in a high-quality battery charger is crucial. Cheap chargers can pose problems such as overcharging and overheating, resulting in the loss of charge/recharge cycles and overall battery shelf life, which you paid a premium for and may heavily rely on during emergencies.
Chargers are delicate electronic devices not designed for rugged use in emergency situations. Relying solely on a single charger as a part of your emergency preparedness plan is risky and could lead to potential failure.
To effectively reduce potential risk, it’s wise to possess a variety of chargers distributed among your emergency kits. It’s also beneficial to keep a supply of diverse battery types and emergency tools, including those that can function sans batteries.
According to survival experts, chargers can be broadly classified into two categories, offering a flexible backup strategy:
1. High-end smart chargers designed for daily use, conveniently plugged into a wall socket.
2. USB-powered smart chargers capable of charging batteries using renewable energy sources like solar panels, hand crank generators, or other similar options.
As per expert advisories, NiMH LSD rechargeables are widely favored, while lithium-ion-based rechargeables with inbuilt USB ports are apt for specific gear. It’s noteworthy that Li-Ion batteries without USB ports are frequently needed during emergencies, despite a NiMH supporting charger potentially sufficing. Hence, for this review, chargers compatible with both NiMH and Lithium-Ion chemistry types were profoundly favored.
The Best Battery Chargers
1. Anker PowerPort Speed 5: The Ultimate Multi-device Charger
The Anker’s PowerPort Speed 5 is the ideal choice for multitasking with multiple devices that require concurrent charging. Facilitating up to 63W power via five USB ports, this charger ensures fast charging for smartphones, tablets, and other USB-enabled devices. Its inherent PowerIQ and VoltageBoost features guarantee optimal charging speed, and the MultiProtect safety system safeguards against overheating, overcharging, and short circuits.
Price: From $39.99
2. Nitecore i8 Multi-Slot Intelligent Charger: Best for Rechargeable Batteries
The Nitecore i8 is a versatile charger designed to handle various battery types, including AA, AAA, and more. It has eight independent charging slots, allowing you to charge multiple batteries at the same time. The charger’s intelligent charging system automatically detects the battery type and capacity, adjusting the charging current accordingly. The i8 also features safety mechanisms to prevent overcharging, short-circuiting, and reverse polarity issues.
3. Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Pad: Best for Apple Devices
Apple users will appreciate the convenience of the Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Pad, which can simultaneously charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. The pad’s sleek design is Qi-certified for optimal charging speed and efficiency, while its built-in safety features protect against overcharging and overheating.
4. Goal Zero Yeti 200X: Best for Outdoor Enthusiasts
For those who require a portable charging solution while camping, hiking, or traveling, the Goal Zero Yeti 200X is an excellent choice. This portable power station features a 187Wh lithium-ion battery that can charge multiple devices simultaneously, including smartphones, laptops, and cameras. It also has a built-in AC inverter, USB ports, and a 12V car port. The Yeti 200X can be recharged using a solar panel, making it a sustainable option for outdoor enthusiasts.
5. Panasonic BQ-CC87: Best for Eneloop Batteries
Designed specifically for Eneloop rechargeable batteries, Panasonic’s BQ-CC87 charger is applauded for the battery’s longevity and low self-discharge rate. The charger features four standalone charging slots and automatically adapts the charging current based on the battery’s capacity. It also integrates safety measures to avoid overcharging, overheating, and short circuits.
Best Wall-Powered Chargers
If the included chargers do not meet your requirements or you wish for an upgrade, the Opus BT-C3100, costing $45, is the advised home battery charger for preppers. This charger encompasses all imperative aspects of a smart charger, plus supplementary features like overheating protection and functions common in expensive competitors. Its abilities include testing batteries, reconditioning them, and manually modulating the charging rate, which is desirable in time-sensitive situations, albeit slower rates generally contribute to better battery health. The Opus charger is compatible not only with nickel-based batteries, like most NiMH/NiCD chargers, but also lithium-ion batteries. It caters to a variety of battery sizes, common ones being AA, AAA, C, 18650, and more.
Bonai 9V NiMH Charger
If you have opted for NiMH LSD 9V batteries (which is recommended), the ideal choice for a charger would be the Bonai 9V charger priced at $25. This compact device features two independent charging bays and utilizes the negative delta-v method, ensuring the optimal maintenance of your NiMH LSD 9V batteries.
In relation to size D NiMH LSD cells, none of the aforementioned chargers, inclusive of those powered by USB, are compatible with this larger battery size. The EBL C, D, and 9V battery charger, at $40, is the suggested unit for charging D sized cells. This charger accommodates size D cells and offers a four-pack of their superior NiMH D cells, thus providing a comprehensive package deal.
Best USB-Powered Chargers
Given the improved affordability and effectiveness of renewable energy goods, solar power in particular, more preppers are shifting towards off-grid energy generation and storage. Despite most solar chargers encompassing their own battery packs, it is recommended to invest in a reliable standalone battery.
These portable emergency and camping generators are designed to be compact and usually feature USB output ports for charging phones and tablets. To recharge your batteries using these generators, you will need a charger equipped with a USB power input.
Nitecore UMS4 USB
For preppers seeking a USB-powered battery charger, the recommended choice is the Nitecore UMS4, priced at $40 and equipped with four charging bays. This charger offers an abundance of features, making it a formidable option that can even serve as a replacement for the Opus charger, albeit sacrificing a few niche functionalities. The UMS4 excels at automatically detecting and charging various battery types, including AA NiMH LSD batteries and different sizes and chemistries of Li-ion batteries. Its compact size and micro-USB 2A power input allow compatibility with popular solar chargers and cell phone chargers.
Liitokala LII-202 USB Rechargeable Battery Charger
For those on a budget, the Liitokala LII-202 USB Rechargeable Battery Charger is a compelling option priced at $10. Produced by a lesser-known manufacturer, this lightweight charger closely resembles the Nitecore in functionality but in a more compact form. It fulfills the necessary requirements for a NiMH charger, supports Li-Ion chemistry, and can charge batteries of various formats. Although there may be concerns regarding its long-term durability, we have successfully tested it with solar panels and Eneloop batteries, confirming its functionality.
Bonai 8-bay NiMH Charger
For individuals seeking the ability to charge multiple batteries simultaneously and are comfortable with a bulkier charger, the Bonai 8-Bay USB Charger is an excellent choice priced at $12. This USB-powered NiMH smart charger boasts a larger size but encompasses the essential features necessary for proper battery maintenance. With its eight independent lanes, it can accommodate and charge up to eight AA or AAA NiMH batteries simultaneously. The only drawback is its larger size, which occupies more space in your pack compared to the EBL Quick Smart charger. If size is not a concern, the Bonai 8-Bay USB Charger would have been our budget recommendation due to its impressive capabilities.
How We Picked
Battery types endorsed by experts, like NiMH LSD chemistries in the AA size family, come with precise charging prerequisites for optimum performance and durability. Employing a substandard charger could adversely affect the lifespan of these NiMH batteries, making them inferior to Li-Ion batteries.
Two imperative features are a must for NiMH LSD chargers:
- Independent charging bays
- Negative delta-V charging method
Cheap chargers typically power two bays simultaneously from a single source, which can lead to under-charging or overcharging when different battery states are mixed. Chargers with independently-charged bays are intelligent enough to manage each bay individually.
The negative delta-V charging method is what distinguishes a “dumb” charger from a “smart” one. It involves measuring the battery voltage at the start of the charging process, tracking it over time, and determining when to taper off the charge. This prevents overcharging and overheating of the battery.
While these recommended chargers are of high quality, they are not specifically designed for extreme situations like the apocalypse or outdoor activities. There are some chargers marketed towards campers that may seem appealing for prepping, but they lack critical features, making them unreliable choices. Until a more rugged option becomes available, it is advisable to have multiple chargers on hand to ensure backup in case of damage or malfunction.
A Battery Tester is Optional, But Nice to Have
Although top-tier smart chargers come with testing capabilities, there could be instances where you need to assess the leftover life in disposable batteries. Given that most smart chargers can’t test these batteries, preppers often include a distinct tester in their emergency supplies. One commendable option is the affordable and lightweight Amprobe BAT-200, priced at $6, capable of efficiently evaluating a variety of commonly used disposable batteries.
Selecting the best battery charger depends on your specific needs and the devices you own. The Anker PowerPort Speed 5 is an excellent choice for multi-device users, while the Nitecore i8 is perfect for those who require a charger for various rechargeable batteries. Apple users will appreciate the convenience of the Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Pad, and outdoor enthusiasts can rely on the Goal Zero Yeti 200X for portable power. Lastly, the Panasonic BQ-CC87 is an ideal option for those who use Eneloop batteries.