Toolbox: Enercell Quick Charger

Enercell quick charger I found this charger by accident.  I was shooting on location one day and I needed to pick up some extra AA's (I didn't bring enough). Normally I try to avoid Radio Shack, but on this day I didn't have another option so I stopped there anyway. My main objections with "The Shack" are the same that I have with Best Buy: ridicules prices and awful service. Like I said though, on this day I had no other options. I was planning on picking up a pack of lithiums but this charger seemed like better idea, so I decided to give it a try.

The unit is basically a 15min charger with the option to plug it into the wall or a 12v car outlet. I know that there are other options out there but most of them are either junk or cost a fortune. The Enercell charger cost me $40 and came with a set of 4AAs and 4AAAs. I checked online and you can buy this package for $30 direct at the moment HERE. The unit will charge both AAs and AAAs individually, unlike most inexpensive chargers that will only charge in pairs. It will also indicate if there is a fault with any of the cells that are charging, basically indicating when a cell is no longer useable. These features make the charger a great value. But does it work as promised?

I have been using the charger a few times a week for the past 9 months and it has been holding up great, the batteries are pretty much junk after heavy use but they did last work well for most of that time (I would buy Eneloop or Lenmar AA separately). One thing that you will notice is that the charger can get very hot while in use, it even has a built in fan to help keep things cool. I would guess that it will shorten the life of your batteries if they are consistently being cooked with every charge so it is wise to think about where you set the unit while in use. The main reason I got this charger was to charge batteries on the go so my solution has been to stick the unit upright in a cup holder where there is good airflow on both sides. Just using it on a hard surface will be good in most cases.

A lot of people get upset at the notion of using quick chargers on their precious batteries fearing that it will shorten the life of the cells. This is almost definitely true, but think about this: The alternative is to have many sets of AA's trickle charged and ready for every shoot. Maybe you will use them, maybe you don't but the cells will endure a charge cycle regardless. On the other hand, I can keep fewer sets on hand and charge them on demand, so even though they last fewer cycles, I don't have to charge them as often without using them. I am not saying that they will last any longer then normal, but it less frequent charges helps mitigate the negative effects of fast charging the cells.

Now, as low discharge cells become more common, the issues that I have mentioned are less relevent, but I still like the fact that I can carry less sets of cells while not having to worry about running out of power.

For the record, I do trickle charge my batteries when I have the chance, and I always keep the cells in the original sets that they were purchased in. I have not noticed any benefit to doing this but when a set a starts to fail it is much easier to track then individual cells.

This has become the charger that stays in my bag all of the time. It takes up about the same amount of space as a normal was mount charger and has the added flexibility of working in the car as well.

Highly Recommended.