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Home » FAQ Page » Choosing a Battery Charger


Help Choosing a Battery Charger



The comparison table below shows the range of home battery chargers available from WatchBattery (UK) Ltd. Explanatory notes and guidelines on choosing the best charger for your application are listed below the table and accessible from the following links:



What is an Intelligent Battery Charger?

All the battery chargers offered by WatchBattery (UK) Ltd are 'intelligent' battery chargers. This means that the battery charger is controlled by a microprocessor and is able to detect when the batteries are reaching their maximum capacity. At this point the battery charger will switch to trickle charge to keep the batteries at maxiimum charge until they are taken out to be used. This ensures that the battery charger charges the batteries until their full capacity is reached without any risk of over-charging them.
Cheaper 'timed' battery chargers will charge the batteries for a fixed length of time, after which it will either switch to trickle charge or simply turn off. This type of battery charger is fine for batteries of the same capacity as those originally supplied with the charger. However, if you put newer, higher capacity batteries in the same battery charger it will only charge for the same time at the same rate and your higher capacity batteries will only ever be partially charged, which means you don't get any advantage from the higher capacity of your new batteries.
It is possible to turn the charger off and on again and charge the batteries further, but there is a danger of overcharging and damaging the batteries, which will shorten their life and could lead to over-heating of the batteries.

 

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Product Name
Battery
Types
Charged
Batteries
Included
Desk Top
or Plug In
Worldwide/
In Car Use
Charging Speed
(Max.
Charge Rate)
Individual Cell
Supervision
Cell Refresh
Feature
Battery
Chemistry
Price
 

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Key:

1. What types of batteries can be charged?

Only Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium Ion batteries can be recharged. Standard alkaline and lithium batteries are not rechargeable and must be disposed of correctly once used - most household batteries can be disposed of at your local supermarket.
Many battery chargers only charge AA and AAA sized batteries, but some will also charge C, D and PP3 size rechargeable batteries. When choosing a battery charger it makes sense to select a battery charger that is capable of charging all the battery sizes you might need to charge.
The most commonly used household batteries are:

AAA - Small cylindrical cell smaller than AA used in many applications such as remote controls and MP3 players.
Dimensions approx. 44.5mm length x 10.5mm diameter.
Also known as LR03 / LR3 / MN2400 / U16 / R03 / UM4 / Micro / MX2400 / Ministilo / Type 286

AA - Standard cylindrical battery used in many applications such as cameras, torches and game controllers.
Dimensions approx. 51mm length x 14mm diameter.
Also known as LR06 / LR6 / MN1500 / D14 / R6 / UM3 / Mignon / MX1500 / Stilo / Type 316

C - Larger cylindrical battery used in applications such as radios and torches.
Dimensions approx. 51mm length x 26mm diameter.
Also known as LR14 / MN1400 / U11/ R14 / 14A / UM2 / MX1400 / Baby / Type 343

D - Large Cylindrical battery used in applications such as radios and torches.
Dimensions approx. 61.5mm length x 34mm diameter.
Also known as LR20 / MN1300 / U2/ R20 / 13A / UM1 / MX1300 / Mono / Type 373

PP3 - 9 Volt block battery used in smoke alarms, childrens' toys and radios. (Please note that rechargeable PP3 batteries are not recommended for use in smoke alarms.)
Dimensions approx. 48mm high x 26mm wide x 18mm deep.
Also know as 6LR61 / MN1604 / 1604A / 565

Li-Ion - Most commonly used in digital cameras.
Dimensions: Various depending on the camera.


All the chargers we offer will charge AA and AAA sized batteries, but only some of the chargers will also charge C, D and PP3 size batteries and only the Camlink Z1 high speed universal charger will charge Li-Ion digital camera batteries as well as AA and AAA sized batteries.  

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2. Are batteries included with the charger?

Some battery chargers are supplied with batteries - usually AA sized batteries. Some come without batteries so that you can choose the type of batteries that best suit your application. See below for advice on choosing your batteries.

Yes - Indicates that the charger is supplied with a set of 4 AA-sized rechargeable batteries. To see which type of AA batteries are included click the product name to go to the product details.
No - Indicates that the charger is supplied without batteries. Batteries can be purchased separately from our rechargeable battery section.
 

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3. What capacity batteries do I need?

The higher the battery capacity (shown in mAh) the longer it will last before needing to be recharged, but the longer it will take to charge. The highest capacity battery we currently offer is the Ansmann 2850mAh AA batteries. However it is worth bearing in mind that very high capacity batteries also self-discharge more quickly. This means that if you charge the batteries up and don't use them for a week or so they are likely to have discharged and may need to be charged again before use. This is not so useful if you are going to leave the batteries in a camera, torch or other application which you might not use for a week or two, or longer. In this case it is better to use the slightly lower capacity low self-discharge batteries such as the Ansmann MaxE or GP Recyko,which can retain 80% of their capactity after 12 months of non-use.

 

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4. Can I use my charger abroad or in my car?

There are a few options to consider here:

a) Mains supply: Some battery chargers are desk mounted and have a power lead that is plugged into the wall socket. Some chargers plug directly into the wall socket. The choice here depends on which option is more convenient for you. The larger battery chargers which are able to charge the C, D and PP3 sized batteries tend to be desk mounted as they are too big and heavy to plug directly into a wall socket.

DT - Desk top chargers are supplied with a mains lead and plug. These chargers need to be placed on a flat surface to operate.
PI - Plug In chargers come with a plug integral to the charger and operate directly pluged into the socket.

b) Worldwide Voltage/In Car Use: Most of the chargers can be switched between 220-240V 50Hz (UK mains supply) and 110-120V 60Hz (US mains supply). If you intend to use your charger whilst travelling it is important to check that this feature is included. Some chargers such as the Ansmann Energy 4 Traveller are supplied with interchangeable plugs for the different types of sockets, but usually you will need to use your own plug adaptor.
Many chargers offer an adaptor which will allow them to be plugged into a car electrical system via the cigarette lighter and charge batteries whilst you are driving. It is worth noting that in this mode the batteries will be charged at a much slower rate and unless you are expecting to do a lot of long distance driving this feature is probably not important.

WW - Indicates that the charger can be used on mains power supplied in all countries. (110-120V and 220-230V, 50-60Hz).
IC - Indicates that the charger is supplied with a power lead that can be used to power the charger from a standard car cigarette lighter.
 

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5. How fast will my batteries charge?

Your particular application will decide whether you need a fast charger which can charge the batteries in a couple of hours, or a slower charger which might take 5 or 6 hours to charge the batteries.

Fast - Fast chargers will charge 4 x 2100mAh batteries in 2-3 hours. Fast chargers are useful if you are likely to use a lot of battery power in a short time.
Quick - Quick chargers will charge 4 x 2100mAh batteries in 3-4 hours. Quick chargers are useful where batteries can be left for several hours to charge.
Standard - Standard chargers can take up to 8-9 hours to charge 4 x 2100mAh batteries. These chargers are best left to charge overnight.
 

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6. What other functions does the battery charger have?

There are several other battery charger features that are of particular use in some applications:

a) Individual Cell Supervision: This means that each battery in the charger is monitored and charged independently. In most battery chargers the batteries are charged in pairs, which means that you need to have two of any battery type in order to use the charger. (The only exception is the PP3 which is charged individually). Some of the more expensive battery chargers offer individual cell supervision. This is useful if you need to charge different types of cells together.

Yes - This facility allows the charger to charge each cell independently, so the charger can be used to charge different sizes of battery at the same time. This is useful if you need to charge a mix of batteries simultaneously.
No - If not available the charger can only charge one type of battery at a time.

b) Cell Refresh Feature: Over a period of time rechargeable batteries can reach a point where they are not fully discharging or recharging. The cell refresh feature will cycle the battery through a series of complete discharge and recharging to return the cell to its original capacity. This can be a useful feature particularly if you have a number of older rechargeable batteries that are under-performing.

Automatic - This feature means that the charger will check each battery when it is put in the charger and determine if the battery needs to be refreshed before charging in order to acheive its maximum capacity. This is useful when recharging older or frequently used batteries.
Manual - This means that the charger can run a refresh process on the batteries, but this is manually selected by the user.
No - If not available the charger will not refresh the batteries before charging.

c) Battery Chemistry: Some battery chargers allow the charging of both NiCd batteries and NiMH batteries, but if this feature is not offered the battery life will be severely affected by charging in the wrong type of battery charger. Similarly it is not recommended to try to charge newer NiMH batteries in an old NiCd battery charger. Some battery chargers such as the Ansmann Energy 4 Traveller battery charger can automatically determine the battery type but most will require a switch to be used to select the battery type. The Camlink Z1 Universal high Speed battery charger is ideal for charging Lithium-Ion batteries for digital cameras as well as being able to charge NiCd and NiMh AA and AAA batteries.

NiCd/NiMH - This means that the charger can be used with both NiCd and NiMH batteries.
NiMH only - This means that the charger cannot be used to charge older NiCd rechargeable batteries.
NiCd/NiMH/Li-Ion - This means that the charger can charge NiCd, NiMh and Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.


7. Price

The price shown includes VAT. Delivery is added on at checkout. See our Shipping Charges for more information on delivery costs.

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