The absolute best charger on the market? (21700 and 18650 cells)

l2oBiN

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Hey guys, I have been reading up on chargers. (I am new to the whole battery thing and I recently purchased an acebeam h30 and some wurkkos hd15 headlamps which use 21700 and 18650 cells).

I would like to be able to charge the cells up fast. Also have the ability to test the cells for function/capacity, be able to have discharge for storage and be able to mix different type of cells. I would also like the charger to have usbc as its input so I can charge batteries on the road.

There are a few chargers that caught my eye..

Vapcell S4 plus charger V3.0
- the fastest and still seems to have basic analysis functionality?

XTAR VC8 plus
- like the 8 bay and individual slot display.
- has functionality mentioned above
- slow?

Is there anything else out there that is better?
 

Ocelot808

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This is the Ferrari of 4-slot chargers.

The Epoch X4 touch screen charger.

Can charge all 4 bays at 2A each for fast charging. Completely unique full color high resolution touch screen that can display detailed performance graphs during its cell "grading" mode and normal charging.

Features:

4 Bay Battery Charger
Four charging speeds - .5A x 4, 1A x 4, 1.5A x 4 or 2A x 4
Touch Screen LCD screen instantly shows charging progress, battery voltage, current, time, capacity, charge-discharge curve and display diagram of internal resistance testing
Functions include charging, discharging, capacity testing and battery internal resistance testing
Reverse polarity protection and short circuit protection
Built in cooling fan with two temperature sensors
Comfortably fits 20700 and 21700 batteries


But my vote is for the Vapcell particularly if you want the fastest charging speeds 3A for all four slots simultaneously. Excellent value.


Honorable mention for the SkyRC MC3000 but it's really geared toward hardcore RC hobbyist battery nerds with endless manual customization parameters that makes it a "battery expert" user class device.
 
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Ocelot808

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XTAR VC4 Plus has been my go-to charger of choice for quite a while. Flawless performance and convenient 3.7V storage mode function. Also a great value around $30. Nice individual slot data displays. Highly recommended.
 

l2oBiN

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XTAR VC4 Plus has been my go-to charger of choice for quite a while. Flawless performance and convenient 3.7V storage mode function. Also a great value around $30. Nice individual slot data displays. Highly recommended.
Is there any difference between vc8plus and vc4plus? They seem to be the same apart from number of slots and display type…?
 

Ocelot808

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That's it. The 8 bay charger is a better fit if you have several lights that use 3 or 4 cells at a time. If you only have single cell lights the 4 slot is more than adequate.
 

vicv

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This is the Ferrari of 4-slot chargers.

The Epoch X4 touch screen charger.

Can charge all 4 bays at 2A each for fast charging. Completely unique full color high resolution touch screen that can display detailed performance graphs during its cell "grading" mode and normal charging.

Features:

4 Bay Battery Charger
Four charging speeds - .5A x 4, 1A x 4, 1.5A x 4 or 2A x 4
Touch Screen LCD screen instantly shows charging progress, battery voltage, current, time, capacity, charge-discharge curve and display diagram of internal resistance testing
Functions include charging, discharging, capacity testing and battery internal resistance testing
Reverse polarity protection and short circuit protection
Built in cooling fan with two temperature sensors
Comfortably fits 20700 and 21700 batteries


But my vote is for the Vapcell particularly if you want the fastest charging speeds 3A for all four slots simultaneously. Excellent value.


Honorable mention for the SkyRC MC3000 but it's really geared toward hardcore RC hobbyist battery nerds with endless manual customization parameters that makes it a "battery expert" user class device.
I need another charger like a hole in the head, but that epoch looks awesome
 

Ocelot808

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@vicv. Yeah, the high res display for individual cell charge and discharge curves like high end test equipment would be really informative and it pretty much has every bell and whistle including cooling fans....

but premium capabilities, premium price. For $100 I certainly don't need it, my trusty XTAR is doing just fine pumping electrons.

It's a good thing to leave something in the "dream deferred" wish list category and costs nothing just to want it.

That's been the case with the HDS Rotary for me for years. Every now and then I get so close to pulling the trigger but wind up leaving it "for later". If I do eventually give in and get one I'll request to be buried with it.
 

vicv

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@vicv. Yeah, the high res display for individual cell charge and discharge curves like high end test equipment would be really informative and it pretty much has every bell and whistle including cooling fans....

but premium capabilities, premium price. For $100 I certainly don't need it, my trusty XTAR is doing just fine pumping electrons.

It's a good thing to leave something in the "dream deferred" wish list category and costs nothing just to want it.

That's been the case with the HDS Rotary for me for years. Every now and then I get so close to pulling the trigger but wind up leaving it "for later". If I do eventually give in and get one I'll request to be buried with it.
I have had enough companies send me chargers for review that I will never need to buy one again. But it still does look pretty cool.
 

sim1tti

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No love for the Opus BT-C3100, huh?

I'm replacing my old Opus with a new one (unreliable after 8 years), along with picking up a new XTAR VC4SL (Same as the XTAR VC4 Plus).

The issue with the XTAR is the inability to manually set charge current on an individual slot. It's all 4 slots for manual set.

Makes it less viable to charge different kinds of cells. A problem if you want to charge one 18650, a AA Ni-Mh, etc. and are not into the automatically chosen current. Less of a problem if you're only charging the same kind of battery across all slots.

Of course the Opus has it's own downsides. Protected 21700 cells don't fit, and a "safe storage" charge requires removing the back panel to flip a switch on the motherboard.
 

iacchus

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I just bit the bullet and bought an MC3000. Considering all the money I have invested in cells, I figure the charger was pretty reasonable outlay.
It isn't nearly as bad to run as people say. You don't have to get into the depths of programming for it top be a supremely useful charger.
And if you want, there's depths of programming.

Sure, its a bit more than some of the other popular chargers out there, but I think a fair amount for what it offers. More than fair, really.
 

aznsx

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I just bit the bullet and bought an MC3000. Considering all the money I have invested in cells, I figure the charger was pretty reasonable outlay.
It isn't nearly as bad to run as people say. You don't have to get into the depths of programming for it top be a supremely useful charger.
And if you want, there's depths of programming.

Sure, its a bit more than some of the other popular chargers out there, but I think a fair amount for what it offers. More than fair, really.

You made a very good / wise decision.

What version firmware is it running? V1.15 would be the best answer at this time based on my current understanding. Mine came with that loaded, and that's where things will remain for the time being.
 

Bucur

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I am using the Sky RC MC 3000 (the old version that does not accommodate 21700 batteries) for so many years. I recently bought an XTAR VC4 Plus. The latter accommodates even the longest 21700s with protection circuit + USB – C charge slot. It may be acceptable for some charging / analyzing needs but IMO there is no way to even consider whether or not it is "the absolute best charger on the market". Not only that it lacks some features for such a title, like independently adjustable slots, but also it does not function consistently. All the slots do not read the same IR value for the same battery cell. Sometimes, it charges / discharges 2 batteries at 1 Amp each, instead of the claimed 2 Amps, despite the fact that they have lower IR (according to its own readings) than the ones it does charge / discharge at 2 Amps. The storage voltage is claimed to be 3.7V for Li-Ion batteries but it terminates the storage program at 3.6V. All this is with the included QC3.0 power source and USB cable. I never use it for my NiMH batteries because it makes horrible things with them.

I don't want to bash the XTAR VC4 Plus. Maybe mine is an oversight of the quality control staff but the above are facts. To its merit, it does not cost even nearly as much as any contender to a title like "the absolute best charger on the market". I am considering buying the new version of the MC 3000 for my 21700 cells that are growing in number as time passes. If I do, I would probably still use my XTAR VC4 Plus in some cases but frankly, not when I need a better charging / analyzing job.
 

Ocelot808

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In defense of the XTAR VC4PLUS, it does have some shortcomings like not being able to manually select charge levels independently for each slot. However, in my experience it does its job consistently and reliably and offers a comprehensive array of features for a $30 investment.

I take issue with the term "absolute best on the market", which I interpret as the highest quality with fullest feature set. That definition is totally dependent on the user's application needs and experience level.

I acknowledged the MC3000 as worthy of the "best" title although consider is programmability beyond the needs and scope of casual users and more a serious tool for battery experts. Simply overkill for the Average Joe or Jane flashlight user.
 

aznsx

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The 'absolute best' products I've used, been involved with the development / manufacture of / support of, or been aware of in my career have generally incorporated the best design / engineering, functionality / performance, feature set, and quality of materials / manufacture together. If one seeks to buy one or two without most / all of the others, that will likely be very difficult, if not impossible to do. The MC3000 is not overkill; it simply does the best job of combining all those things in the same product, as most good products do in my experience, and that is said in the context of other products currently in that category that I'm personally aware of. It can be as simple to operate as anyone wants it to be, including provision of three user levels to accommodate different needs.
 
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aznsx

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How much does an MC3000 cost?
If you mean currently in stock for immediate shipment from a known reliable U.S. distributor with a recent track record of delivering them: $130.00 USD
Can that cost be justified for someone with fairly simple needs?
Yes;-)

Given no knowledge of your specific desired capabilities and priorities, I can only give you my default answer. There's a ~9X% chance it applies though. If you want to elaborate a bit, I'll try to fine tune that. My needs are fairly basic as well, and I asked myself the same question for some time. Knowing what I know now, in my case, the answer is most definitely 'yes'. There is no question now.
 

Bucur

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I think that this discussion is closely related to the OP's definition of what he is looking for. If someone asks about "the absolute best sports car on the market"; the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche (911 and Cayman variants only), McLaren and so on would be considered. For luxury, the suggestions would shift towards the likes of Rolls Royce, Bentley, Maybach, etc. This does not mean that a Miata is not a competent sports car or that a Jaguar is not comfortable.

Especially the word "absolute" underlines the distinction between best for most people and the best that money can buy. Since we are not talking about cars with 6 or 7 digit price tags but about up to about $150 battery chargers, considering the absolute best despite not actually needing it is no such a big deal. Besides, if one needs (or even simply wants) the charger to excel in one area, there is usually no way to get this particular feature with a substantially more economical alternative. The same applies to my analogy with cars. One cannot get "the absolute best factory paint job" on a Jaguar or Mercedes. Rolls Royce or even higher priced cars fulfill such a demand but they cannot be separated from other refinements that they also feature. Even with the lowest possible specs, one has to pay for the full package for the sake of getting the best factory paint job on the market.

My point was not bashing the XTAR VC4 Plus or comparing it with the MC 3000 which is about four times more expensive. I simply wanted to share my experience with the XTAR VC4 Plus and inform the OP that for "the absolute best"; the likes of MC 3000 should rather be considered.
 

iacchus

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I agree that when asking "absolute best", the budget is considered a secondary concern from quality and capability. Otherwise it would be "Absolute best under $75" or whatever. Maybe absolute best on a budget, something like that.

There is a whole world of hobby chargers that can exceed the capabilities of the MC3000, and could be considered more capable and higher quality, but are both more expensive and lack the simplicity. Anyone seriously considering a hobby charger probably wouldn't be asking this question.
I would say the MC3000 is as close to a hobby charger you can currently get w/o going whole hog though.
 
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