My Best AA Batteries post included a section on low-cost chargers. That section had only a single charger, as several models I previously recommended were discontinued (Update: A new AA Battery Charger post now discusses two chargers, and one of them is an excellent new model from Fujitsu).
Earlier this year I purchased another good charger:
After several months of use, I strongly recommend the Accumanager 10. It is the best low-cost charger I’ve ever used.
Background on Battery Chargers
I discuss criteria for evaluating AA battery chargers in several other posts (see especially La Crosse chargers or Eneloop BQ-CC17). In summary, there are two “smart charger” characteristics a charger must have to be suitable for use with high quality AA batteries (such as Eneloops):
- Stop charging batteries when full
- Independent charging bays
There are very few chargers costing $25 or less that have both of these characteristics. Several models I highlighted a few years ago have all been discontinued so the only one I have been recommending since late 2014 is the Eneloop BQ-CC17 charger, a compact charger with the above two characteristics that charges slowly but eventually gets the job done.
The Accumanager 10 also has these two characteristics. For that reason alone it is worth considering, though there are several additional benefits to this charger discussed below. Aesthetics is not one of them.
Edit: The Accumanager 10 was typically available for less than $25 in the first half of 2015. Since then it’s availability for a good price in the U.S. has been sporadic. If unavailable for less than $25, consider instead the Eneloop BQ-CC17 or a La Crosse charger.
Design of the Accumanager 10
Accupower’s Accumanager 10 is clearly designed for an international market. The instruction manual is in 6 languages and the labeling on the device is in German and English. AccuPower is based in Austria.
The device has a cheap feel to it. It is made from inexpensive-looking plastic, and has labels on it that are informative, but not particularly attractive. The aesthetic of the packaging is, to put it kindly, not one that is very appealing to the U.S. market. The old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely applies to this device, as the beauty of this device all resides in its functionality.
Why the Accumanger 10 is so Good
The Accumanager 10 has 4 bays just like the Eneloop model. However, as you can see in the image below, it is much bigger.
For home use, I see this as a big plus. Inserting and removing batteries is easy and obvious. Sliding negative contacts stay still when inserting AAA batteries, but slide when inserting AA batteries. The ample space between batteries makes for good ventilation, which in turns makes it easy to design the charger to charge at a faster rate.
The Accumanager does charge reasonably fast at 600mA for AA batteries, which is twice the rate of the Eneloop BQ-CC-17. It can charge 4 AA batteries at 600mA each, but it will not charge at a higher rate when only 1 or 2 batteries are inserted. 600mA is approximately the fastest charging rate possible that is still gentle on batteries, so therefore an excellent choice of charging rate.
This charger was simpler to use than any other smart charger I’ve tested. In addition to ease of battery insertion and removal, the indicator lights are completely obvious. Flashing means it’s charging, solid means it’s done. This is described on the device itself, so you never need to open the instruction booklet. The charger also gracefully charges batteries that have been too heavily discharged, unlike La Crosse models which often suggest a heavily depleted battery has gone bad.
Most modern AA battery chargers handle NiMH batteries and NiCD batteries. In addition to handling both of these battery chemistries, the Accumanager 10 can also charge RAM (Rechargeable Alkaline-Manganese) batteries. Any number of batteries of any of these chemistries and of either AA or AAA size can be inserted in any bay in any order. The unit automatically detects the battery chemistry so as to charge with appropriate current and cut off at the appropriate time (negative Delta V method). I’m not aware of other chargers at this price which can do this.
The cost of the Accumanager 10 is typically around $25, though sometimes lower. The charger comes with both a 100-240V AC power adaptor and a 12V DC car adapter. There is no carrying bag, though it’s possible to store in the original packaging.
I could stop the review at this point and conclude that this is easily the best charger for $25 or less (assuming you don’t care about portability). But there is something else that not only makes this the best budget charger, but in one way better than most premium chargers costing $35 – $65:
The main point of a smart charger is to keep charging until the battery is at full capacity, and then stop to prevent damage to the charger. I was very surprised to learn that this charger charges to a slightly higher capacity than other chargers. The test for this is simple. Remove a battery that just completed charging on a different brand of charger. Insert into the Accumanager. I’ve done this a few times with AA batteries charged by my La Crosse BC1000 charger. Every time I try this, the blinking light comes on for somewhere between 3-15 minutes to show that the battery is charging. That’s the equivalent of an additional 50mAh to 150mAh of additional capacity, or roughly 2% to 8% higher. If you look through Amazon reviews, you’ll see that I’m not the only one to have observed this. (EDIT: I forgot to mention that when inserted into a different charger such as the La Crosse, the battery shows as immediately full and it won’t add more charge. I should also note that this was a quick and dirty test that wasn’t a good testing methodology. A better test would be to do a discharge/charge test on my La Crosse to test batteries after they’ve been changed in different chargers).
In other words, if you use the Accumanager 10, your batteries may a little longer per charge than if they were charged with a different brand of charger.
This charger may be the least attractive charger I’ve ever seen. The packaging does not particularly inspire confidence. It is surprisingly big, given the budget price. But this charger goes far beyond what I expect from a budget charger.
The AccuManager 10 is simple to use, does everything you could ever want from AA chargers without buttons or displays, and it even charges batteries to a slightly higher capacity than other brands. Chargers costing $35 and up provide a display and additional, button-controlled functionality. But that is not what this charger is about.
More than any other sub $25 charger I’ve tested, you just plug it in, and it works.