When rechargeable batteries became all the rage, this seemed to be the end of a few headaches for people using a lot of electronic toys and equipment.
Consumers could spend less money on batteries and be more environmentally friendly.
The challenge of choosing a good product, however, is as keen where chargers are concerned as it is when customers go out to select reliable batteries.
Many items sold on the market today cost very little money and you get cheap performance from them. Their safety records, while passable as far as government standards are concerned, are not as good as you can get.
An 18650 battery is a powerful thing, so the charger you use to restore it to life should be capable and equipped with safety features. Otherwise, you blow your battery or potentially start an electrical fire.
Lots of big-name brands make battery chargers: Sony, Panasonic, Nitecore, and others. When it comes to the best 18650 chargers, you would probably like them to come from these well-known names, but several of them only make chargers for smaller batteries.
Nitecore is an exception here: they produce several sizes of battery charger. Efest, Trustfire, Fenix, XTAR, and Ultrafire also make battery chargers for the 18650 size.
What to Look for in a Battery Charger
Typical problems with older battery chargers have generally been done away with, but do not assume anything. Ensure your charger will shut-off when batteries are finished charging.
Look out for reverse battery protection. The system should be able to recharge cells individually.
Find out if the product you are thinking of buying contains built-in safeguards against a short circuit and overheating too.
Prepare to pay at least $20 for a good charger and it will perform for many months; possibly years.
Most products have been reviewed by electronics experts and/or consumers, so find some reviews. These will expose any issues with a charger but also highlight the benefits of buying a certain brand and model.
This is a 4 bay charger, which is plenty for most people’s needs, and it has you covered on the occasion that you want to charge more than 2 at once. It’s a bit cheaper than the 6 bay machines, and so this is typically plenty for most vapers.
This can charge all types of batteries, and stops charging when they are fully charged.
Buy the LUC V4: http://www.directvapor.com
This is one of the best 18650 battery chargers on the market and one of the best names in battery chargers overall. They make several chargers for various cell sizes. The D4 Digicharger is a big device which comes with all the bells and whistles.
An LCD screen at the top shows you the status of each battery: voltage, current, and how far along the charging process has come. Each of four sleds for the batteries reads and charges them independently and it can handle several types of cells: Lithium Ion, Ni-MH, Ni-CD, and Life P04.
This is the most flexible charger you can buy and also one of the largest, so it might live permanently at home or wherever you use batteries most frequently. It turns off automatically when charging has finished so you cannot overcharge batteries by mistake, something people have often done when batteries were left overnight to replenish. This $30-$40 product also comes with an adapter for your car.
Buy the Digicharger D4: http://www.mtbakervapor.com
Dual Battery Chargers
Buy The D2 Digicharger: http://www.vapordna.com
The LUC V2 is a smart charger and has a nice display screen to let you know when the batteries are finished charging, and it will show you how each battery is charging individually. This can charge both 18650s and 26650s which covers most vaping devices, and a few others.
Buy The LUC V2: http://www.directvapor.com
The SODA recharger by Efest, a well-known name in e-cig batteries and chargers, can only recharge 2 batteries at a time. They are replenished in a protective setting much like that of the Nitecore D4 2014.
You won’t experience overcharging, overheating, or reverse polarity. Instead of a screen to show you how batteries are doing, there is a light indicator. Select the rapid or normal setting.
This product is not as fancy or special as the Nitecore but it is much cheaper and very quick according to the many happy customers who selected and now recommend Efest’s economical charger.
Ultrafire 3000-mAh Li Ion Charger
This is a very specific battery charger designed only for Lithium Ion batteries. Experts rate it highly for reliability and safety, but it is limited (like the Efest SODA) to handling two batteries at once. Their size makes the Efest and Ultrafire more compact and portable than Nitecore’s option, and the Ultrafire also comes with built in safeguards against overcharging, etc.
Again, this is a cheap product for 2 batteries. It’s unusual to find a 4-battery set-up, but Trustfire makes a decent product if you have a tight budget. Customers say it gets batteries ready quickly and it is versatile enough to work with most 3.7V cylindrical cells.
Advice from the Experts
If you often use products which take 18650 batteries then you should buy the Nitecore. This will enable you to keep 4 batteries charged at all times.
For someone whose battery use is extensive, purchasing any of the others would mean having to own 2 chargers instead of one in which case you didn’t save any money.
With the better product, you don’t have to be as organized with your cells either because your supply will always be charged and ready to go. You get the best safety and highest ratings in the industry for chargers working with these larger batteries.