The Solar Power Expert Blog

Universal Battery Charger

by Chris - June 11th, 2011.
Filed under: Equipment.

While no truly universal battery charger exists – i.e. a battery charger capable of charging any battery, no matter it’s size, voltage, or form factor – there does exist several ‘universal’ battery chargers that charge common form factors of a certain chemistry. This article covers three such universal battery chargers that have well used and received positive feedback from users.

Smart Universal Battery Charger with USB Output and Car Charger

This product by PowerGen fits many popular digital camera batteries as well as lithium batteries from other camera manufacturers. It has a USB charge output and can interface with both a wall outlet and a 12v automotive accessory plug (cigarette adapter). The USB output lets it power or charge any device that can be powered or charged from a USB outlet.

The engineers who designed this charger knew what they were doing. Among my favorite features includes:

  • Auto detection of polarity
  • Clear indication when batteries are fully charged
  • Supplies up to 600 mA charging current

Additionally, this universal battery charger has sixteen 5-star reviews on Amazon!

Battery Tender Junior

People searching for ‘universal battery charger’ are often looking for a device capable of charging the three major types of lead acid battery: flooded, gel, and AGM. This little device is capable of functioning with all three types of battery chemistry. Some of it’s important features include:

  • Spark proof when connecting leads to a battery.
  • Reverse polarity protection – in case someone hooks it up backwards.
  • Optimized 4-step charging algorithm with automatic ‘float’ mode to prevent overcharging.
  • LED for clear indication of when battery is charged
  • 5 year warranty

The big non-technical features that make this product stand out to me is the fact that the company offers a 5-year warranty and this products has received hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon. If that doesn’t speak to quality, what does?

T-2299 Universal Smart Battery Charger

Finally, for every day use batteries, this is smart charger is hard to beat. Like the PowerGen, it can be powered from a wall socket or via a cars 12V system. Additionally the microcontroller protects the batteries through the use of timing and dV (or the change in voltage) detection. This allows the batteries to be put in and out at anytime without worry that the battery will be overcharged. Some of the major features of this charger include:

  • It can charge all the major form factors of battery: AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V.
  • It also supports both NiMH and NiCd chemistries.
  • Bad cell detection.
  • Reverse polarity detection.
  • Can charge from 120VAC or 12VDC

Due to this chargers ability to accept 12V DC for power, it’s my winner for use on a boat or RV. Also, it makes a perfect platform for a solar powered battery charger as you can connect it to the 12V battery of a solar power generator in order charge your smaller batteries.

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