Review: La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger
Update: 20 Aug 2011: This charger has the pesky under-voltage/reverse-charged problem. That is, if you put in a battery that is below a certain threshold voltage the charger shows “null” in the LCD display and will not charge the cell. The solution that I found that works is to use a “dumb” charger and put a charge on the cell (about 10 min) then put it in the BC-9009. Smarter charger will pulse charge the cell at very low current. If the cell takes a charge beyond some threshold then a standard charge cycle will begin.
You probably have a collection of old battery chargers around. I bought a new charger each time I acquired some sort of unique battery technology. For example, I have a collection of Rayovac 15 minute charge 2000 ma batteries; those require a special charger. Nothing like pumping massive amounts of current into a battery. I have a collection of 1 hr charge Duracell batteries and that came with a special charger. And then I have a whole history of Ni-Cad technology batteries and chargers. I have a drawer full of battery chargers.
All the chargers I have a pretty much do the job but they do it secretly and silently. They don’t tell you much about anything.
So, when I bought some new Sanyo Eneloop batteries I thought I might upgrade my charger. When I ordered the Eneloop batteries from Amazon.com, Amazon was johnny on the spot with a few recommendations. One of the recommendations was the La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger. Now here is a charger that wants to tell you things.
At a price point of $45 you get a lot of stuff. Not only do you get the battery charger but you get a collection of batteries, battery holders, and a nice bag.
Included with the package is four AA 2600 mA batteries, four AAA 1000 mA batteries and 8 Battery carriers for C and D cells. The advantage of the carriers is that it allows you to use an AA battery in a C or D battery form factor.
My GE Super Radio wants four D cells. I could never bring myself to buy rechargeable D-cells so the radio has only run on AC power. Now, with the D-cell carriers included with this charger I can put the (included) 2600 mA AA batteries in the GE Super Radio using these carriers.
Did I mention the bag? Nice bag. I think I will use it to carry by digital camera and accessories.
So what’s the big deal with the La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger?
The big deal is that at a $45 price point you get this
- Configurable charge rate on a per cell basis. Choose a charge rate of 200, 500, 700, 1000, 1500 or 1800 mA. Basically, choose your charge time based on battery capacity and charge rate remembering that very high charge currents can shorten the useful life a of battery.
- A test mode that will estimate the capacity of your batteries. Insert the cells to test, choose a discharge rate and the BC-9009 will discharge the cells and then charge them up monitoring how much power was pumped into the battery. This is an estimate of the battery capacity. This test mode would be useful for matching cells and checking the health of older batteries.
- A refresh mode that will discharge and recharge cells until the maximum capacity is reached. This is mostly for older Ni Cad cells that suffer from the memory effect.
- Voltage readout per cell. See what the voltage is on each cell as it charges
- Charge duration. Will show you the length of time it took to charge the cell
- Maintenance charge. After the batteries are “full” the BC-9009 will maintain a trickle charge to keep the cells topped off.
This charger is a good value at a price point of $45. Consider also that you get 4 AA 2600 mA batteries, 4 AA 1000 mA batteries, and the C and D cell carriers as part of the deal. If you have a device that needs C or D cells now you have another option – use AA’s in those devices.
The biggest plus is the 4 independent digital readouts – one per cell – and all the information it will tell you about your batteries. I used to use a multimeter to check battery voltage; now the charger does this for me. I never had the capability to determine “as tested” battery capacity. The La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger can determine this though a discharge/recharge cycle. My drawer of older AA and AAA cells are destined for a health check. Plus, “as tested” capacity lets you match cells to eliminate that pesky “reverse charged” phenomenon that you can get with cells in packs of 4 when one cell is much weaker than the rest of the cells.
Some chargers get confused if you put in a cell that is below a threshold voltage or is reverse charged (reverse charged due to a weak cell in a pack of stronger cell – an un-matched set). I did not have a reverse charged battery to test to see if the BC-9009 could handle this situation. In the past, to deal with this situation, I used a “dumb charger” for a few minutes to get the reverse charged battery charged with a minimal capacity. Then I put it in the smart charger to take it up to its full capacity. So, being able to match cell capacity in some applications is important if you run a pack of cells all the way down to the point the device will not function.
Being able to choose the charge rate is a big plus. This gets a little complex in that the maximum capability of the power supply for this charger is about 4 amps. So the total amount of charge current can not exceed 4 amps. Therefore, charge only 2 cells at 1800 mA or 4 cells at 1000 mA. The default is a charge rate of 200 mA – a nice leisurely charge. If you’re in a hurry then 4 cells charging at 1,000 mA takes about 2.5 hours. Or, two cells at 1800 ma in a little over 1 hr.
No major problems with this charger so far. My only nit is that manual which is hard to read in its tiny tiny font. I would like to see a charger with a larger number of cell positions. Maybe 6 or 8 cells. I have a few devices that need 6 and 8 cells and would like to charge all the cells together.
At $45 from amazon.com with free shipping the La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger is a “buy”.
The product at Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00077AA5Q
Sanyo Eneloop – http://www.amazon.com/Sanyo-eneloop-Pre-Charged-Rechargeable-Batteries/dp/B004SB1TD4