Four months ago when I got my AA battery-powered Razer Orochi bluetooth mouse, I didn’t know a thing about rechargeable batteries. That being the case, I went on eBay and got myself the cheapest combo pack – a charger with 8 AA batteries. What the heck I thought, the charger even had an auto-shut-off feature, so how bad could it be? Turns out I was very wrong.
Initially the batteries lasted for a week, but it wasn’t even a month before my batteries started dying after a few days. Sometimes, it would even die 10 minutes after I put in the new set of batteries. That was really the last straw, and I went out to look for the best AA battery charger around.
Turns out that there were a few dominating the space, but I was drawn to the good, but not the top-of-the-range La Crosse Technology battery chargers. There were two that were prominent: The La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger, and the La Crosse Technology BC-700 Alpha Power Battery Charger.
The reason why I chose La Crosse was really because of the functions and size. The other recommended charger is the Maha C9000, but it’s HUGE. Look at the BC-700 laid beside a normal ball-point pen. You can see that it’s very compact.
The La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger is the successor to the BC-900. It’s the top of the range La Crosse battery charger, and comes with a bunch of freebies, like 4 C-size and 4 D-size battery adaptors, 4 AA NiMH 1.2V 2600 mAh rechargeable batteries, 4 AAA NiMH 1.2V 1000 mAh rechargeable batteries, and a nylon travel bag.
The problem with the BC-9009 is that it seems like a lot of people have faced problems with the unit over-heating and melting. La Crosse seems to have fixed the problem with later batches in 2010, but I’m not sure. So I looked at the next one in the range: The La Crosse Technology BC-700 Battery Charger.
Like the BC-9009, the BC-700 has four selectable operating modes: Charge, Discharge, Refresh, and Test. The batteries can be charged and operated individually as there’s a small screen for each battery.
Here’s how the four modes work:
- Charge Mode: When you place a battery in the BC-700, the unit displays the voltage and the charge level of the battery. The BC-700 then begins charging (at the factory-default 200mA) up to the maximum voltage and then switches to Trickle Charging when the battery is fully charged. As an alternative to automatic 200 mA charging in all four operating modes, you can manually select any of several higher charging currents, depending upon how many batteries are in the charger.
- Discharge Mode: This can remove the memory effects of rechargeable batteries by discharging them and then recharging at lower current levels to their full capacity.
- Refresh Mode: Recovers the optimum capacity of old rechargeable batteries by repeatedly discharging and charging them until it detects no further increase in the batteries’ capacities.
- Test Mode: The batteries are first fully charged and then discharged to determine their capacities. Next, the batteries are charged again, and the capacity in mAh or Ah (milliamp-hours or amp-hours) is shown after the charging ends.
And not to worry if this is too overwhelming, the BC-700 came with a manual (2 actually). They weren’t the fanciest manuals on earth, but they did have perfectly clear instructions.
One other thing that both the BC-9009 and the BC-700 come with is a Trickle Charging feature. It’s a feature that automatically turns on when your batteries are fully charged, and keeps the batteries freshly charged until you need them. This is great for me because I leave my batteries in the charger while I use my current set, and with my old charger, they would start depleting themselves while still in the old charger. With the BC-700, I could leave the same batteries in the charger for 2-3 days, and when I take them out, they’d be charged.
In any of its four operating modes, you can use the BC-700’s automatic charging feature or manually select the charge current to accelerate the charging time. An informative LCD panel displays numeric and graphic data on the condition of your batteries.
So the difference between the BC-700 and BC-9009 seemed to be just faster charge modes and freebies with the BC-9009. When I making the decision between the BC-9009 versus BC-700, this wasn’t enough to sway me to get the more expensive one, so I stuck to the BC-700. In addition, I didn’t need the cheap batteries that came free with the BC-9009. Instead, I went to buy myself a pack of 8 Sanyo Eneloops AA rechargeable batteries – the absolute best in Low-Self Discharge (LSD) batteries around!
The BC-9009’s priced at around $55 (get it with free shipping, from Amazon). If you need C-size or D-size batteries, this is the package that you need to get, especially if you can use a few extra NiMH rechargeable batteries.
For people (like me) who are planning to get their own batteries (such as the Sanyo Eneloops that I got), and have no need for C-size or D-size adaptors, or a travel kit, then the choice is pretty clear: get a BC-700 Charger. The freebies did seem really useful to me, but then I asked myself what I really needed them for, and I decided that the BC-700 was best for me.