Best Battery Charger: A Comprehensive Guide to the Top Options for 2023
Battery chargers have become an essential part of our daily lives, as we increasingly rely on rechargeable batteries to power our smartphones, laptops, cameras, and other electronic devices. With a plethora of battery chargers available in the market, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best fit for your needs. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to the top battery chargers for 2023, taking into consideration factors such as charging speed, compatibility, safety features, and overall value.
- 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.
Apart from being a critical component, it’s important to recognize that 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 mitigate this risk, it’s recommended to have multiple chargers distributed across your emergency supplies. Additionally, maintaining a stock of different battery types and alternative tools is advisable, including options for functioning without batteries altogether.
Survival experts generally categorize chargers into two types, providing a graceful redundancy approach:
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.
Considering expert recommendations, NiMH LSD rechargeables are recommended wherever possible, while lithium-ion-based rechargeables with built-in USB charging ports are suitable for specific gear. Although a charger that supports NiMH batteries alone may suffice, it’s important to note that regular Li-Ion batteries without USB ports are commonly encountered during emergencies. Hence, for the purposes of this review, chargers capable of accommodating both NiMH and Lithium-Ion chemistry types were strongly preferred.
The Best Battery Chargers
1. Anker PowerPort Speed 5: The Ultimate Multi-device Charger
Anker’s PowerPort Speed 5 is a perfect choice for those with multiple devices that need charging simultaneously. With five USB ports, this charger can deliver up to 63W of power, providing fast charging for smartphones, tablets, and other USB-powered devices. The charger’s built-in PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technologies ensure optimal charging speed, while its MultiProtect safety system protects 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
Panasonic’s BQ-CC87 charger is specifically designed to work with Eneloop rechargeable batteries, which are known for their long-lasting power and low self-discharge rate. The charger has four independent charging slots and automatically adjusts the charging current based on the battery’s capacity. It also includes safety features to prevent overcharging, overheating, and short circuits.
Best Wall-Powered Chargers
If you haven’t obtained one of the satisfactory included chargers or simply desire an upgraded option, the recommended home battery charger for preppers is the Opus BT-C3100 priced at $45. This charger fulfills all the essential requirements for a smart charger, including independent charging bays and a negative delta-v charging method. Moreover, it offers additional features like overheat protection and various functionalities typically found in more costly competitors. With the Opus BT-C3100, you have the power to test batteries, recondition them, and manually adjust the charging rate. While a slower charging rate is generally preferred for better battery health, there may be occasions when time is of the essence, making the variable charging rate an appealing feature for prepping needs.
Unlike most NiMH/NiCD chargers designed solely for nickel-based batteries, the Opus charger is compatible with lithium-ion batteries as well. It supports a wide range of battery sizes, including commonly used ones like AA, AAA, C, 18650, and even more unusual and less common sizes.
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 the case of NiMH LSD size D cells, none of the previously mentioned chargers (including the USB-powered ones) are physically compatible with this larger battery size. To charge your size D cells, the recommended option is the EBL C, D, and 9V battery charger priced at $40. This charger not only accommodates size D cells but also includes a four-pack of their high-quality NiMH D cells, providing a convenient package deal.
Best USB-Powered Chargers
With the increasing affordability and effectiveness of renewable energy products, particularly solar power, more preppers are adopting ways to generate and capture energy independently from the grid. While solar chargers often include their own battery packs, it is advisable 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
The battery types recommended by experts, such as NiMH LSD chemistries in the AA size family, have specific charging requirements for optimal performance and longevity. Using a cheap charger can actually be detrimental to these NiMH batteries, reducing their lifespan compared to Li-Ion batteries.
NiMH LSD chargers must have two important features:
- 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
While the top smart chargers offer testing capabilities, there may be instances where you come across disposable batteries and need to determine their remaining life. Smart chargers generally cannot test disposable batteries, so many preppers opt to include a separate tester in their home supplies. One recommended option is the affordable and lightweight Amprobe BAT-200, priced at $6. This compact unit can effectively test a wide range of commonly used replaceable 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.