Modern technology has produced many new types of smart chargers. Most of us are too familiar with traditional simple chargers, but it’s time for you to change.
Using smart chargers can protect your battery from losing capacity by modifying its charging actions based on the battery’s condition.
Technically, they will fast charges your batteries up to about 85%, then switches to trickle charging, which may take several hours to top up the capacity to 100%. In this way, they will help to maintain the best condition of the battery and avoid overcharging.
So, what are the best intelligent 18650 battery chargers? Let’s find out in the below top-rated list:
1. Nitecore D4 – Best 4 Bay 18650 Battery Charger:
This smart charger is compatible with many different types of rechargeable batteries, including Li-ion (26650, 22650, 18650, 17670, 18490, 17500, 18350, 16340(RCR123), 14500, 10440), Ni-MH and Ni-Cd (AA, AAA, AAAA, C). If you are using a 18650 lithium battery, this one would be one of the best chargers for you.
The product is now sold on Amazon at around $38, which is not a cheap price, but it’s a really good investment. It has 4 empty slots for 4 batteries to be charged at the same time.
The special thing is that these 4 charging processes will be monitored independently without any interruption to each other. And the integrated panel is designed to display all parameters and progress of the charging.
Sounds good! However, if you first look at it, you may find the display a bit too technical to understand (like the below image):
The upper part of the screen shows the 4 bays , but the lower part only shows the status of 1 bay. If you want to see data of the other batteries, you just need to select the SLOT switch, or do a quick press on the MODE switch.
It’s a little complicated at first, but after using this smart charger for a while, you will be able to read it without any difficulty. So don’t worry!
2. Nitecore New i4 – Good 18650 Baterry Charger for Lithium-ion and Ni-MH Batteries:
This is also a top-rated product, voted to be the best 4 bay intelligent charger for every 18650 battery. Its price is even cheaper than Nitecore D4 above. You can possess a new one with just around $20 or a bit more, a simple but still perfect for your batteries.
The charger has 2 power connectors, one for main input (100-250VAC 50/60Hz) and one for 9-12 VDC input. The setting is simple. There are only 2 buttons to adjust the current and the voltage manually.
Basically, Nitecore new i4 won’t send any current to your batteries until it reaches 4.2V. It will analyze the battery you plugin and choose the suitable current to charge. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about overcharging or when they can’t be recharged anymore.
However, this intelligent charger has a drawback, maybe this is the same for many other chargers. Although it has 4 slots to charge 4 different batteries, it may become pretty warm when you charge 3 – 4 batteries simultaneously. That’s why you had better NEVER cover or put it in a flammable surface.
Anyway, it’s still a good choice with a quite reasonable price, deserved to be considered!
3. XTAR VC4 – Best 18650 Battery Charger for Lithium-ion and Ni-MH Batteries:
There is another good 4 bay battery charger in the list: XTAR VC4. This is sold at about $34, still, not cheap but really effective in protecting your battery. The product is compatible with both Li-ion and Ni-MH cells.
XTAR VC4 is designed to charge with up to 1A for 2 channels and 0.5A for 4 channels. The actual current would depend on the number of slots used and available USB power. There is a USB plug and you can change this in any device which is compatible.
The charger can identify a bad or faulty battery before charging. It has a soft-start function to ease the battery into the charging cycle, and it also features a unique 0 (zero) volts activation functionality. Technically, it has the ability to analyze each type of battery and knows exactly what to do with them.
There are 4 LED lights on the screen, equal to 4 channels. They will turn green when the battery is fully charged or the slot is empty, and become red when being charged. It is even smart enough to detect if a cell is inserted in the wrong direction. So you will never have to worry if you don’t know how to use.
The biggest disadvantage of this charger is also similar to the above product. It cannot work well with all the 4 bays. The outer 2 bays can charge with up to 1A, and the inner 2 are limited to 0.5A. The whole charger can only work at 2A in total, so if you need to charge 4 large cells, you will need a larger charger.
So, even the top-rated smart chargers still exist certain drawbacks. But they are still very valuable and necessary to protect your 18650 batteries.
It’s a good investment, you should really consider using a smart charger as soon as possible!