Best 18650 Battery Chargers

Best 18650 Chargers—How to Take Your Power to the Max

“Fight the Power!” sang US hip-hop group Public Enemy back in 1989. And they were right. Ensuring that your electronic equipment is always charged and ready for use is often a battle. Although to be fair, I don’t actually think Chuck D and Flavor Flav were referring to lithium-ion batteries.

Since their introduction in 1991 by Sony, lithium-ion batteries have become increasingly popular. Their ability to provide long-lasting power and economy of use has seen them become the battery of choice in such common things as cell phones and laptops.

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One of the most popular formats is the 18650 battery. Found increasingly in household electronics, this battery is designed to be recharged. But not all battery chargers are created equal.

Some of the lesser-quality models on the market can damage the battery, lessen its life, provide an insufficient charge, and—in the worst case scenario—be dangerous.

This article will guide you through the best chargers on the market, ensuring your batteries are always ready and primed for use—while also giving a little insight into their secrets. You will never have to “Fight the Power” again.

When Is a Battery Not a Battery?
When It’s a Cell

Sounds like the most unfunny joke in the world, right?

The thing is, the terms cells and batteries have become almost interchangeable, although they are different.

You know what a typical AA battery looks like—cylindrical, with a “button” on the top and a flat bottom. Well, that battery is a cell. When two or more cells are grouped together, they become a battery.

If you have ever dismantled a piece of electronic equipment, you may find inside a sealed grey package, which, if you have a good “feel,” shows that it contains individual cells inside. That grey package is the battery.

However, in common parlance, the individual cells are themselves are often called batteries, which is carried over to the “battery-charger” term. So, for the sake of this article, batteries and cells will be considered interchangeable.

These batteries come in two forms—lithium and lithium-ion (or Li-ion or LIB). The important ones for us are the lithium-ion, as these are rechargeable. Unlike “standard” batteries, which are rated around 1.2 to 1.5 volts, lithium-ion batteries are typically 3.7 volts.

The Best 18650 Battery Charger

Below are what I consider to be the best 18650 battery chargers on the market. Where applicable, I have made reference to the key features listed above, together with any additional characteristics that I consider to be important.

Nitecore New i4 2016 Universal Smart Battery Charger

Formed in 2007, Nitecore is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of LED torches, lamps and battery chargers.

Its products appear three times on my best charger list, a testimony to their quality and safety.

Nitecore i4 Review

With Nitecore models, the number refers to the number of batteries that can be charged simultaneously—hence the i4 can charge four.

It has an impressive voltage capacity, ranging from 1.2 volts through to 4.35 volts, allowing this charger to be used with a wide variety of battery types. One of the most impressive things about this is the controllable voltage.

Each individual battery bay can have the charging voltage selected, irrespective of the others. This means that the charger can supply power to different types of batteries at the same time. A useful feature if you are using more than just 18650 batteries in your equipment.

The 1500mA output will be appealing to those people who don’t want to wait too long for their batteries to be ready for use. What’s more, the charger automatically detects the amperage required, if other batteries apart from 18650s are used.

There are three nice safety features in this charger, to provide peace of mind. Firstly, the overcharge protector works on a timer basis. If charging time reaches twenty hours, the batteries in the affected bays will stop charging.

Secondly, the Nitecore i4 includes a reverse polarity protector—if you place the battery in the charger the wrong way up, the charger will not work.

Thirdly, the charger detects if a rechargeable battery or disposable is in the machine. If the battery is disposable, it will not attempt to charge.

However, should the worst happen and there are any flashes or flames, the Nitecore i4 is made from fire retardant materials.

The visual display provides information for each charging bay individually. Three greens and a final red LED illustrate the progress of the charge.

A nice addition to this charger is the inclusion of a 12-volt (in-car) charger. Hence this product is ideal for those on the move, who need batteries while traveling.

Nitecore i4 Specifications

Size

Weight

Input

Output voltage

Output current

Battery Compatibility

Battery Sizes

5.51 inches by 3.73 inches by 1.45 inches

7.12 ounces

AC 100 to 240 volts at 50/60 Hertz 0.25 Amps

1.48 volts to 4.35 volts

500mA-4, 500mA-2, 1500mA-1

lithium-ion, nickel metal hydride and nickel-cadmium

10340 through to 26650, AA, AAA, AAAA, C and D

What’s Good About the Nitecore i4?

  • Timed overcharge protector.
  • A wide range of batteries, voltages and amperages catered for.
  • Reverse polarity detector to prevent damage to batteries.
  • Easy to read LED visual display.
  • Comes complete with carrying case and 12-volt adaptor.
  • Individual bay voltage selection.
  • Automatically detects amperage required.

What’s Not so Good About the Nitecore i4?

  • No quick charge ability—although a 1500mA output may be sufficient.
  • Some users found the manual difficult to understand.

Final Thoughts on the Nitecore i4

A good machine that offers the capability to charge much more than just 18650 batteries. Its intuitive functions, such as voltage selection and polarity checker, make it an efficient and safe charger.

Eastshine S2 Universal Battery Charger

Probably best known for its flashlights, Eastshine has made some waves in the market with the S2 18650 battery charger.

Eastshine S2 Review

With only two independent charging bays, the S2 cannot charge as many as the Nitecore i4. What it lacks in numbers, though, it makes up for in functions.

As you would expect from Eastshine, safety is a top priority. Overcharging is prevented through both a charge timer and battery status detector. If the battery has been charging too long, or it becomes fully charged, the charger stops.

In addition, this charger also comes with a temperature detector. Should this become too high, again the charger will stop, preventing damage to you, your batteries or the charger.

If you are someone who loves their tech, this machine could appeal. The large LCD display is packed with information. Instead of just the four LEDs on the Nitecore, this display shows:

  • Completed charging time.
  • Charging current.
  • Charging voltage.
  • Type of battery being charged.
  • Virtual battery image—showing five levels of current charging state.

A one-amp maximum draw means that this is not the fastest charger in these reviews. Although it is good to see that the voltage required is automatically detected—there is no requirement to set it manually.

If you want to use it with other batteries instead of an 18650, it can cope with most common sizes, up to a maximum of C size. The charger comes complete with both a car and a wall plug.

Eastshine S2 Specifications

Size

Weight

Input

Output voltage

Output current

Battery Compatibility

Battery Sizes

5.7 inches by 1.6 inches by 2.9 inches

6.2 ounces

AC 100 to 240 volts at 50/60 Hertz 0.25 Amps

1.48 volts to 4.2 volts

500mA-2, 1000mA-2

lithium-ion, nickel metal hydride and nickel-cadmium

10440 through to 26650, AA, AAA, AAAA and C

What’s Good About the Eastshine S2?

  • Multi-information display—for those who love their detail.
  • Temperature cut-out feature for safety.
  • Independent charging and voltage in each of the two bays.
  • Virtual battery representation on the LCD screen.
  • 2 years free replacement warranty.

What’s Not so Good About the Eastshine S2?

  • Cannot charge D-size batteries.
  • Some users have noticed batteries lose contact easily if the charger is disturbed.
  • One of the slower chargers

Final Thoughts on the Eastshine S2

For a small two-bay charger, the Eastshine does not compromise on digitized information on the LCD display. For those who love being in control, this could be a nice choice.

EBL 992 Battery Charger

EBL is a company known for just two things—batteries and battery chargers. Its wide product range includes the basic, yet powerful, EBL 992.

EBL 992 Review

Bringing things back to basics can often be the best option. I personally like nothing better than some freshly baked bread covered in lashings of butter. You can forget your fancy deli-meats and cheeses, sometimes simplicity is enough.

The EBL 992 is not a flashy machine that shouts out features, but it gets the job done well. If you are someone who does not need a charger loaded with extras, or you are uncomfortable with over-complicated tech, this charger could be for you.

For a simple charger, safety is not compromised. It includes over-voltage, over-current, overcharge, overheat and short circuit protection. The only thing missing seems to be a reverse polarity detector, so make sure you put the batteries in the correct way round.

If you are someone who travels regularly, the EBL 992 may well suit. It is one of the smallest and lightest 18650 chargers I have seen (4.2 ounces). In addition, it can be connected to a 12-volt DC output—however, a cable is not included.

With two bays, this will suit the light user. Probably ideal if you have a flashlight that is used intermittently. For heavier use, I would suggest one with more battery capacity.

EBL has equipped this machine with its own proprietary “iQuick” charging technology. It

claims that this will enable your batteries to be charged in half the time of other battery chargers. A nice feature if you need those batteries urgently.

Voltage is controlled automatically by the charger, although it can only handle up to 3.7 volts (standard for an 18650 battery). So, if you do require higher, this will not suit.

Monitoring the charging stage is simple—there are no numerous displays to go through as on some other chargers.

Three basic LED lights indicate the battery’s status. One nice feature is that they are incredibly bright, with many users indicating they can be viewed from across the room.

The EBL 992 can handle 18650 batteries, with sizes 10440 through to 26650 also catered for.

This charger has numerous large vents, to allow easy air access and prevent it from overheating.

EBL 992 Specifications

Size

Weight

Input

Output voltage

Output current

Battery Compatibility

Battery Sizes

5.2 inches by 2.9 inches by 1.4 inches

4.2 ounces

AC 100-120 volts at AC 50/60 Hertz 0.25 Amps

1.48 volts to 3.7 volts

500mA-2

lithium-ion, nickel metal hydride and nickel-cadmium

10440 through to 26650, AA, AAA, AAAA and C

What’s Good About the EBL 992?

  • Lightweight and easily transportable.
  • Numerous safety features.
  • Simple to use—ideal for technophobes.
  • Bright LED display showing battery charge stage.
  • Proprietary iQuick fast charge capability.

What’s Not so Good About the EBL 992?

  • Basic—may not suit those who want more control and information.
  • No reverse polarity detector.

Final Thoughts on the EBL 992

One of the best 18650 chargers for those people who want portability combined with simplicity. My only concern is the lack of a reverse polarity detector.

Nitecore i2 Intellicharge Universal Smart
Battery Charger

This second Nitecore product on this best list brings you the most desirable of the features in the i4, but in a scaled-down package.

Nitecore i2 Review

With two independently charged battery bays, the Nitecore i2 is perfect for the low-use consumer.

The charger uses Nitecore’s own active current distribution (ACD) technology. When two batteries are charged at once, and one completes before the other, all the power then gets delivered to the remaining bay. This results in more efficient and faster charging.

Safety features include a timed overcharge cut-off, reverse polarity detector and a novel IMR detector.

 Many 18650 vaporizer batteries are IMR, which means they contain lithium manganese oxide. This enables them to discharge a high current while remaining cool. However,

When charging one battery alone, the i2 can deliver up to 1000 mA—meaning speedy charging. A nice feature for more impatient people. Unlike the similar EBL 992, this small charger can cope with standard batteries up to D size, in addition to 10340 to 26650.

The clear LED display indicates battery progress at three levels (30 percent, 80 percent and 100 percent). Although useful, this may not be ideal for those aiming for a more specific charge—the leap from 30 to 80 percent is quite significant.

Nitecore i2 Specifications

Size

Weight

Input

Output voltage

Output current

Battery Compatibility

Battery Sizes

5.2 inches by 2.8 inches by 1.37 inches

4.4 ounces

AC 100-240 volts at AC 50/60 Hertz 0.25 Amps

1.48 volts to 4.35 volts

500mA-2/1000 mA1-1

lithium-ion, nickel metal hydride and nickel-cadmium, IMR

10340 through to 26650, AA, AAA, AAAA, C and D

What’s Good About the Nitecore i2?

  • IMR 18650 battery detection.
  • Fast charging.
  • Automatically detects battery type and sets voltage.
  • Despite being a small, two-battery charger, can also cope with D-size.

What’s Not so Good About the Nitecore i2?

  • LED display lacks detailed charging status.

Final Thoughts on the Nitecore i2

A good performer which, despite its small size, can cope with the largest of standard batteries, in addition to 18650 batteries.

Nitecore D4 4 slot smart battery

For users who love information and intelligent displays, the impressive Nitecore D4 could be a good choice.

Nitecore D4 Review

As soon as you see this charger, one thing stands out above the rest, the LCD crystalline display.

Firstly, it is large and clear, one of the biggest displays on a charger I have seen.

Secondly, the white on black high contrast display makes reading the information simple. I would suggest that this will make it an ideal choice for those who do not have the best visual capabilities and/or want to see information quickly at a glance.

This screen also communicates a lot of detail, including:

  • Charging time.
  • Five-level virtual battery images—one for each of the four bays.
  • Amperage output to the batteries.
  • Type of batteries being charged (Li-ion, NiCd etc.)
  • Voltage output.

For those people who love being in control and want access to all the information all the time, this could prove a welcome feature.

One further aspect of the display, which I like, is the “night-feature”. This enables you to switch off the screen while the batteries are charging. Useful, if this item is to be used in the bedroom.

As with all Nitecore chargers, the D4 comes with an overcharge protector and reverse polarity detector.

It is worth making clear, however, that this battery charger suits people who have smaller batteries in addition to their 18650s. Despite being a larger machine than the Nitecore i2, it cannot charge D batteries.

That being said, it is the only charger on this list that can cope with LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) batteries. So if you have those in your home, this is the charger for you.

There is no quick charge feature, and with a maximum output of 750mA, it is not the fastest charger available.

One final nice inclusion is that this charger comes complete with eight Ni-MH rechargeable AA batteries. If you purely own 18650 batteries at the moment, this addition may allow you to use rechargeables in other household products.

Nite core D4 Specifications

Size

Weight

Input

Output voltage

Output current

Battery Compatibility

Battery Sizes

5.6 inches by 3.9 inches by 1.4 inchesvvvvv

8.43 ounces

AC 100-240 volts at AC 50/60 Hertz 0.35 Amps

1.48 volts to 4.2 volts

375mA-4/750mA1-1

lithium-ion, nickel metal hydride and nickel-cadmium, IMR and LiFePO4

10340 through to 26650, AA, AAA, AAAA, and C

What’s Good About the Nitecore D4?

  • Impressive LCD display—easy to read and packed with information.
  • Night feature to switch off screen.
  • Can charge LiFePO4 batteries.
  • Complete with eight Ni-MH AA rechargeable batteries.
  • Large vents and temperature monitor for cool-charging.

What’s Not so Good About the Nitecore D4

  • This least portable in this article—large and heavy.
  • Long charging times.

Final Thoughts on the Nitecore D4

For people with either visual impairments, or simply wanting the clearest and most up-to-date information available, the D4 will suit. The only real downer is the slower charging time.

Conclusion

Let me be clear. All the chargers above are great products. The most reassuring thing is that they are tried and tested reliable chargers from respected brands. Compromising on cheap and unknown chargers will either end in disappointment or accidents.

My personal favorite is the Nitecore i4. It’s small enough to be portable but large enough to charge all the popular battery sizes in addition to 18650 batteries.

With numerous safety features, fast charging and in-built intelligent systems—it’s a charger that will deliver. What’s more, it includes a car charger for those on the move.

But, just because it’s good for me, it may not mean it’s good for you.

The Eastshine S2 is packed with features for a small portable two-bay unit. The EBL 992 is a basic machine for people who do not want over-complication. The Nitecore D4 is a must for those who want info-packed displays.

Hopefully, this article has been of help and you will not have to “fight the power” any longer.

What Is an 18650 Battery?

Back to the typical AA battery. The AA determines the size (AA, AAA, C, D etc.). It’s unusual, but sometimes they are referred to as 14500 batteries, which is a more accurate representation of the size (14mm by 50mm—the final “0” indicates it is cylindrical).

In the same way, 18650 batteries are so named as they are 18mm by 65mm. They are also cylindrical, like a typical battery.

These batteries come in two forms—lithium and lithium-ion (or Li-ion or LIB). The important ones for us are the lithium-ion, as these are rechargeable. Unlike “standard” batteries, which are rated around 1.2 to 1.5 volts, lithium-ion batteries are typically 3.7 volts.

What Are 18650 Batteries Used In?

When they are combined together to form a true “battery,” they are most often seen in such items as cordless power tools and cell phone power-packs. Amazingly, the Tesla Model S electric car uses 18650 batteries—in total, 7,104 of them.

In their loose form, they are most commonly found in vaporizers, laser pointers and LED flashlights. However, every year, more and more products are switching to these batteries. Many people consider them to be the future of portable power.

Why Do I Need an 18650 Battery Charger?

With increasing numbers of products using 18650 batteries, getting your hands on a battery charger is important, because:

It saves money—recharging a lithium-ion battery means that you do not need to buy a replacement when it is depleted.

It’s better for the environment—dumped batteries can leak chemicals, such as mercury, cadmium and lead, into the soil and water supply.

A battery charger reduces energy usage—recharging an 18650 battery uses less energy than that required to produce a new one.

Versatility—many 18650 battery chargers can recharge other sizes too.

A battery charger is convenient—always having ready-to-go batteries at hand means no late night trips to the grocery store.

What to Look for in an 18650 Battery Charger

With numerous different functions and safety features,, looking for your ideal battery charger can seem tough at first. I will make it much simpler.

Basically, you want the charger to do everything you require, but you don’t want to be paying for features that you are never going to use. Or those that are simply not applicable to your circumstances.

Therefore, here is a brief guide on the features that you should look out for.

Protection from Overcharging

Today, the chances of batteries doing something dramatic like exploding and burning your home to the ground are minimal. Increased safety features within the 18650 batteries themselves should ensure there is no issue.

However, overcharging a battery is never a good idea, even if the safety features do not fail. Too much power can reduce the life-span of the battery, meaning your hard-earned bucks need to be spent buying replacements. An overcharging protector feature can prevent this.

Bay Numbers

This affects how many 18650 batteries can be charged at once—it depends on your personal usage.

If you are just using the batteries for a vaporizer, a charger with a couple of bays may be sufficient—unless of course, you vape like a chimney. However, if you are using many batteries at once, such as in a power tool, a higher number of bays could be more appealing.

Quick Charge Feature

I am pretty much disorganized most of the time. “Planning ahead” is a phrase that fills me with dread. If you are the same, a quick charge feature on the charger could be appealing—especially if your vaporizer battery is flat and you are desperate for a nicotine hit.

That being said, not charging the vape is probably healthier. Don’t smoke or vape—it could kill you.

If you are one of those people who is constantly organized, with a steady supply of charged batteries in the drawer, you may not need this feature.

Visual Indicators and Displays

Unlike standard batteries, 18650 lithium-ions do not have to be fully charged. If you are desperate to use them, they can be taken from the charger and used before they have finished.

A visual display can inform you how much power is in the battery, allowing you to ascertain whether it is sufficient for use.

If you need a fully charged battery, a display can indicate how much longer you need to wait until it has completed. But, if you are in desperate need for it, remember that “a watched pot never boils.” Although, in reality, that’s untrue, of course.

Battery Compatibility

In addition to charging your 18650 batteries, you may have other different-sized rechargeables in your home.

If so, it may be worth considering a charger that can cater for all these too.

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