LiPo Charger Mini Reviews
Flying quadcopters and other RC craft is some of the most fun you can have with your pants on, but nothing throws cold water on that idea like a flat battery. Even if you buy a bunch of extra batteries, there’s such a difference between flight times and charge times that you are always left in the lurch unless you have a trunkload of spares.
Well, luckily, there are a bunch of specialized chargers you can get that will either charge your batteries faster or charge more of them at the same time. Others will charge a variety of different battery types.
For quadcopter owners one of the most basic and perhaps most useful products is the USB multi-charger. This is a little box into which you can plug four or five battery packs and then connect to a USB wall charger such as the one that comes with a smartphone or tablet. Your batteries may still take an hour to charge, but at least you get an hour’s worth of flight time since you are charging them at the same time.
You want something with overvoltage and overcharge protection, and you should also look at buying a LiPo safe. This is a bag made from a material that won’t burn ; it’s designed to contain LiPo flameouts. Personally, I put my LiPo batteries into the bag while charging. This is the exact one I use:
It’s only four bucks and it could save your house from burning down, so get with it.
It’s also very important to note that most quadcopters that have smaller motors require 10 minute cooldown periods between flights to let the motors cool. Otherwise you risk shortening their lifespans significantly.
I’ve listed some of the best and most popular chargers here to get you started. My top picks are first and the rest are in no particular order.
Top Pick Charge Computer: SkyRC iMAX B6AC V2
If you want to do more than charge a battery, but also want to diagnose them and charge all sorts of different types, then you need something like the iMAX.
This intelligent charge computer can charge multi-cell LiPo batteries, lead acid, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, and more. Every serious RC person should have at least one charger like this, and the iMAX is very well-priced.
This is an advanced tool that can bench test your batteries and will safely charge batteries from low voltages or simply show you that they have to be thrown away. The iMAX can also receive firmware updates via USB.
The iMAX really hits the spot between price and quality. Get one – it only makes sense.
Holy Stone 5-in-1 USB Charger
This is a very cheap battery pack charger from Holy Stone that will charge five packs at the same time. It needs power from USB, which can be from a power bank, computer, or wall charger. The best results will come from a wall charger with enough amps to charge all five batteries at the full 500 mAh rate.
It’s dirt cheap, going for anything between ten and twenty five bucks. It has all the safety stuff you need and, combined with a LiPo safe and wall charger, should keep you in the air for much longer.
People do complain that, although it works, it feels very cheap. It’s also pretty tricky to unplug the batteries without either long fingernails or a small pair of pliers. You don’t want to yank on the wires, that’s for sure.
Still, if you already have a bunch of compatible batteries and can get it for $10 there’s no reason not to go with the Holy Stone.
DBPOWER 5-Pack With Charger
This is a pretty fantastic deal. For less than $50 you get five 500 mAh batteries and a five-in-one USB charger. It’s compatible with quite a few popular quadcopters too, although I guess any drone with the right plug and mAh rating will work.
Not much more to say. DBPOWER is an OK brand and this is a great deal.
T439 Charger and Battery Combo
Just when I thought I’d seen the best deal with the DBPOWER bundle along comes Tenergy and ups the ante with a five-in-one charger with five 700 mAh batteries, as opposed to DBPOWER’s 500 mAh ones.
If these will work in your RC vehicle then obviously you should go for it. The charger itself has the safety features we require as a minimum and users report all five batteries charge within an hour. As a bonus, each flight is one or two minutes longer thanks to the higher power rating.
Venom Pro 2
I’ve owned Venom charging products before and they’ve always been a pretty cost-effective way to get your various batteries charged. The interface is simple and this model, the Venom Pro 2, has a perfectly adequate 6 amps on tap. For most multirotor fliers it’s unlikely that you’ll have batteries that come even close to needing that. You can charge a variety of battery types, but of course we mostly care about LiPos. The Venom can handle LiPo batteries with as many as six cells.
The most attractive thing about the Venom though, is its price. At about sixty bucks it’s half as expensive as similarly-specified chargers, and for someone starting out that only has basic charging needs it’s a good place to start.
It has the thermal safety alarm that you really want in a charger like this and will automatically shut off if it feels something is wrong while charging.
It has features that are generally considered high-end, such as internal resistance measurement and different battery profiles for discharging that you can save, and it comes with the most popular lead types. If you can’t spring for a more expensive model you could do a lot worse than the Venom.
There have been some reports of build-quality issues, though, so don’t do things like constantly plugging and unplugging the AC cord. It’s probably best to use it as a bench unit rather than a field unit.