|La Crosse Technology BC-700 Alpha Power Battery Charger
|List Price: $49.95
Our Price: $29.99
You Save: $19.96 (40%)
The La Crosse Technology BC700-CBP battery charger works with all NiCd and NiMH AA and AAA rechargeable batteries and can actually increase the power capacity of some older rechargeable batteries. Choose the Discharge Mode to completely discharge the batteries energy and then recharge it to full capacity in one cycle. The Refresh Mode restores the maximum capacity of your batteries by utilizing a 20 cycle discharge and charge mode. The BC700 also offers a Test Mode that determines the true capacity of your batteries. Includes power adapter.
- Battery charger for NiCad and NiMH AA and AAA rechargeable batteries
- Features 4 modes: charge, discharge, refresh, and test
- Charges both AA & AAA rechargeable batteries simultaneously
- 4 separate LCD displays for simultaneous readouts
- Overheat-detection to prevent over-charging
- works well
Plenty of options to do just about anything with the batteries. I don't miss the higher currents that BC900 has, because I would never stress my batteries that much anyway. I try to have enough spares and charge them as slowly as possible (200mA)....more info
- Good news - Bad news - Uninspiring customer support
AFTER careful consideration & making additional observations as well as in the interest of presenting a more equitable view of my recent experiences with La Crosse BC-700 AA/AAA battery chargers over the past month, here is my updated review. Much work has been done to be helpful. It is my hope that this examination of mine is supportive to persons considering purchasing this rather versatile charger. If this is too lengthy of a review & you don't have time for it all then please scroll to the Bottom Line at the end, thanks (sometimes we disabled veterans have too much time on our hands).
Initially, after purchasing & receiving 4 of these little chargers, the BC-700 had me nearly mesmerized, being the first reasonably decent "smart" battery chargers we'd ever owned. Once the novelty wore off though & after making many careful observations, a lot of things began to stand out that just didn`t make sense. For most of us, the BC-700 is a big step up from common "dumb" battery chargers we are all familiar with... but there are some limitations with these chargers that had we known about we would have never purchased them in the first place. No doubt these chargers will perform better than any simple AA/AAA battery chargers on the market, giving one far greater control & selection over the charging processes, offering several charging/discharging modes & generally protecting one`s investment in small, rechargeable batteries. Its default programming makes it quite simple as well as safe to use... but there are problems at present: problems with quality control, problems with the charger's operations & very annoying problems with customer service (as has been noted by other reviewers). Am hopeful that La Crosse will soon these address these problems & that this charger will evolve into a better one. First, the problems, then the better stuff...
* 1 of our 4 chargers has its compartment buttons quite uneven in their seating, curving & dipping this way & that, spoiling a nice, high-tech appearing charger.
* 2 of our 4 chargers have a most annoying, distracting piece of dust underneath the view plate right where the readings are taken for one of the compartments.
* 1 of our 4 chargers requires the Current/Display/Mode buttons to be mashed quite hard in order to get them to perform their functions.
* 3 of our 4 chargers are amazingly difficult to insert AA batteries into as well as removing out of the compartments (negative charging tabs are sticking out excessively).
* One compartment will charge batteries a good amount more than the others three for some reason, even while charging evenly-matched, quality batteries that have been top-off charged only 10 days beforehand & then using "Test" mode to determine capacity. This is always compartment #3 or #4 for some reason, over a dozen tests having been performed to back up these observations. No matter the brand, no matter the type of rechargeable cell (5 different brands & types of batteries were tested), this strange phenomenon is observed consistently. In all fairness, this occurs while using the default 200 mA charging, so perhaps this current is not quite enough to trigger the 4th battery to fully charge up to end the charging cycle consistently. Better results are seen when programming the chargers to use 500 mA of current to charge 2000-2500 mAh rated AA batteries instead of the lower default current, as then the negative delta voltage cutoff seems to trigger in a more balanced fashion using higher current. 200 mA charging, though, appears to work just fine for AAA NiMH cells, both with standard cells as well as hybrid.
* Have had our remaining NiCADs (low capacity solar yard light batteries) reach over 1.7 volts & a couple hitting 1.83 volts while charging... on just 200 mA charging current, no less. Rather high for a 1.2 volt rated cell, is it not? This is being measured while charging them at 1/3rd of the cell's rated capacity (0.33C).
* There is a most annoying, consistent anomaly concerning the final trickle charging (the following figures are observed using new, broken-in/cycled, low self-discharging Sanyo eneloop AA & AAA hybrid NiMH batteries). As the first cell reaches "Full" charge it is then trickled between 17-19 mA until the next battery reads "Full". Then the first charged battery at once reads a 12-13 mA trickle charge as the last cell to read "Full" receives the 17-19 mA trickle. Same with the 3rd, same with the 4th, regardless of timing. Even if the trickle charging goes on for days, the first 3 to charge up will continue to show a 12-13 mA trickle charging & the last to charge will still show 17-19 mA! This is rather unusual, though it strikes me as being a bit bad for low self-discharging AAA hybrid cells (such as Sanyo eneloop batteries) to be receiving this slight overcharge over the course of days, as we have to do sometimes when we are away from home. Not a huge problem, granted, just a minor one.
* The AAA cells make a harsh grinding as they are inserted into the compartments due to the grooves in the positive charging tabs. The AA batteries don't do this, just the AAAs. It is a significant scraping. If the AAAs could be placed into the compartments positive side first then this wouldn't occur, though the design of the tabs will not presently permit this.
* When observing the charging current being displayed as the batteries are inserted while others are charging/discharging OR as they finalize their charging OR are removed while others are still charging, there is in all cases a significant "bump" upwards in the charging current for the remaining cells that takes over a minute & a half to settle back down to where they all were before. To me this clearly demonstrates no true independence of charging compartments, as does the final trickle charging anomaly.
* "The lack of" would be more appropriate, truly. At least, at present it is. After over 2 weeks of phone calls (just TRY & leave a message on their customer support line & see what happens) as well as numerous emails to La Crosse support, we finally received a phone call from someone (likely a salesman, not a technical person) who didn't know what he was talking about, even arguing with me that the BC-900 is the newer model than the BC-700, which it is not. Additionally, no support email was received back until the morning after my initial BC-700 review was posted late in the evening before. That finally got their attention, it would seem.
* The La Crosse employee who called also said that the trickle charging inconsistency "won't hurt anything". Respectfully, am disagreeing... particularly with the hybrid AAAs over a period of several days. We simply no longer have enough faith to leave the chargers operating while we are gone a day or two & not have a few mildly overcharged AAA batteries waiting for us when we return. You see, we also own a good number of solar AA/AAA battery chargers that split a mere 100 mA charging current 4 ways... 25 mA current charging per cell on a clear day. Our AAA batteries build full charges in them over a period of several days in full Sunshine on just 25 mA current each. While using standard NiMH batteries, which have a fast self-discharging rate, the trickle charging anomaly of the BC-700 is no problem whatsoever so far as can be discerned. However, with the low self-discharging NiMH hybrid cells we are using I beg to differ. We see a difference in what 2 AAA hybrid cells measure already that were left in 2 BC-0700 chargers trickling for days while we were out. There is a small but measured drop in performance of about 3% each for these 2 new AAA eneloop cells that trickled @ 18 mA for 2 extra days. The other 6 AAA batteries, 3 in each charger, actually gained capacity (trickling @ 12 mA), but the 2 at 18 mA each lost 3% capacity according to earlier logged values. A 10-12 mA trickle current for each AAA hybrid battery is just fine, though 18-19 mA over a period of days is too much in these types of cells in my opinion.
* Though the BC-900 has been out for quite a while now & the BC-700 for a fair amount of time, there is not so much as one item that is presently listed in their FAQ for either model charger as of the writing of this review. Now, that is simply difficult for me to understand (La Crosse product models of many various types & functions are individually selected once one is into their website's FAQ section). Am hopeful that this, too, will be remedied soon.
Am rating this charger 4 stars because it apparently DOES perform okay except for the aberrations & limitations noted. One star off for quality control, total charger operations & for lackluster customer support. 3.5 stars would be given if it were possible, but 3 stars as in my initial review now seems a bit too harsh. Sadly, we simply did not have in these chargers what we needed for the large investment we've made in over 5 dozen top-shelf Sanyo eneloop AA & AAA hybrid batteries. We regularly use them all too, so our chargers pretty much run 24/7/365. As we need more precision for our particular applications & goals, we have returned 3 of the 4 BC-700 chargers for the problems listed here in this review. We are keeping 1 of them & continue to put it through its paces with our standard NiMH batteries. Any relevant info we gain as a result will be passed on with an editing of this review. We have since purchased 2 Maha Powerex MH-C9000 chargers (because of our need for truly independent charging compartments as well as more precise options) & they are both performing splendidly thus far.
BOTTOM LINE: The various charging modes of the BC-700 chargers are a real plus, they look great overall, are apparently sturdy enough & will likely perform well for years to come. 500 mA of charging current seems to charge AA 2000-2500 mAh rated rechargeable cells in a much more balanced way than the default programming of 200 mA of current, so one would do well to consider using it for this application. As La Crosse never states that their charger's compartments are fully independent from each other, we do not have a complaint coming in this. If you require the utmost control over your AA/AAA battery charging process, have more options & precision as well as have the extra bucks to spend then consider getting the Maha Powerex MH-C9000 charger-analyzer. For most everyone's improved AA/AAA battery charging needs, the La Crosse BC-700 is a handy, versatile, compact & affordable battery charger that will likely serve you well.
* Edited to correct a grammatical errors *...more info
- Versatile Charger - Great features & works as supposed to ... BUT ...
I am a medium to heavy user of AA & AAA rechargeable cells and also an early adopter - started with 300mah Panny NiCds many years ago - I remember the excitement when 450mah versions were released! :-) Over the years I graduated through the technologies and was using Sanyo NiMH 2500mah cells till I recently discovered Eneloops - they are simply amazing! Now back to the charger review - I have always been an advocate of chargers that have individual charging channels / circuits and can charge 1,2,3 or 4 cells individually. My earlier charger was a Panasonic BQ390-A that still works very well and is very portable. However, faster & adjustable rate charging currents, battery reconditioning, testing etc. drew me to the BC700.
I did not consider the BC900 as the 8 cells bundled with the package were of no use to me (I have enough to last many years) and the 1.8A charging current capability on the BC 900 is something that I would never use.
Amazon was great in it's order processing - as always. I received the charger on schedule. The quick user guide printed on the back of the charger package is a really nice touch. I was eager to test the unit and unpacked and set it up. And that is when I noticed that -ve tab for the AA cell in the 3rd channel was too far behind to connect with the cell. After looking at it closely, I figured that the tab was bent backwards - at least that is what it looked like - very dissapointing for a brand new unit that was packed so well! This is the only reason that I cannot give this Charger a better rating - poor manufacturing processes and very poor quality control!
Having never seen the innards of an intelligent charger, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try and fix it myself. On dismantling the unit completely and removing the PCB - I discovered that the tab was indeed bent back and had not engaged with the plastic channels on the top of the case that hold these tabs in place when the PCB is inserted. After some delicate work with a needle nose pliers the tab was straight once again and it engaged with the channel.
I must warn others toying with the idea of opening their units - DO NOT TRY IT unless your unit is out of warranty AND you really have a need to AND you are a very capable and advanced electronics hobbyist - putting the BC700 back together is a very complex task - especially aligning the LCD panel contacts with the contacts on the main PCB - if that gets spoilt, the LCD display will be dead and so will the charger!
In my case I managed to put it all back together again and the charger works perfectly now. It is very easy and intuitive to use and does everything that it is supposed to. I prefer the 500mah charge rate and it charges 4 AA Eneloops in a little over 4 hrs.
So this is a happy ending to the story/review. As mentioned earlier, my only concern is with the Manufacturing and QC processes followed by La Crosse - it was indeed very disappointing to see such a basic (and visible) flaw in a brand new unit! It makes one wonder whether there are any other flaws that have not been noticed till now ... I guess time will tell ......more info
- Not an expert in the field, but great product.
I have bought this product early September, and I started to use it right away. The product is fine, the instructions are clear, and I'm looking forward to using it more as I root for renewable energy. Great product for great price, I'd say....more info
- Does Everything - Maybe More Than I Need!?
This is a pretty sophisticated battery charger. I've always just had simple ones but this one does far more. I'm not even sure I understand all the functions and I'm fairly techno-geeky. I have used the "refresh" mode to help some often-used rechargables regain their capacity and have noticed an improvement in their performance. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this charger!...more info
- Very Good
I bought this product though it is an older version.But it works pretty good.I havent gotten to understand its advanced features.But I will.I think it gives you total control over getting rid of memory in the batteries and then recharging them.IT CAME ON TIME AND IT WORKS...more info
- Great charger
Easy to use and control the charge type for each or all batteries. Could use it as a portable charger, but I have a smaller 2 battery fast charger. The fast charger I had was causing batteries to fail. Charged them in this charger and brought them back to life. My only complaint would be that if a battery in the middle completes first it is hard(almost impossible) to remove it with out removing one of the batteries on the side.
- Excellent product for rejuvenating older rechargeable batteries
I bought this product because my older rechargeable batteries were not charging up properly with the original charger. This unit is able to recondition your old NiMh batteries and get back up to their original charge conditions.
It tells you the charge status of the battery and lets you know how long they will take to charge also. It also tells you if you have batteries that have died, etc.
This may be more expensive than most chargers, but it is well worth the money if you do a lot of battery charging....more info
- An AA and AAA charger that should fill most of your needs
Over the years I have owned many different digital cameras and each seemed to have it's own unique battery as well as charger. As I upgraded from one camera to the next I had to buy a different battery and thus a different battery charger. I have a pile of good digital camera batteries and chargers, but are all outdated. So, if it is possible, I'm going to purchase only digital cameras that utilize AA batteries, and therefore I won't have to buy new batteries or battery chargers when I move from one camera to the next. Thus, I bought the La Crosse Model BC-700. This is a full maintenance battery charger for both AA and AAA rechargeable batteries (NiCd and NiMH). It will charge batteries with capacities from 300 to 3000mAh. It has a (1) Charging mode at 200mA, 500mA and 700mA (2) Has a Discharge mode for reducing memory effect by completely discharging then recharge in one cycle (3) Has a re-vitalize mode for older batteries by discharging and recharging a battery 20 times to refresh to maximum capaciity and (4) A test mode to measure a batterys max mAh by completely charging the battery, then a complete discharge and finally a complete recharge.
This charger takes TIME to perform each of the above function (except for the quick charge). The revitalization of old batteries could take DAYS. The charger is fairly compact, but does require its own plug-in transformer. If you are looking for a compact travel charger, this is not the one for you, but I must say it is not too bulky. Be sure to read all the instructions before using, as this charger is much more than the quick chargers that don't require much thought at all. You can go to www.lacrossetechnology.com/bc700 where you can view the operating instructions. In all, this is a fine charger for the full maintenance of AA and AAA rechargeable batteries....more info
- Recommend buy this newer La Crosse BC-700
Update May 2009: I recommend to buy this newer model La Crosse BC-700, instead of the older model La Crosse BC-900, because even though the model numbering is in reverse, the BC-700 is the latest and newest model. Also, I am still satisfied that I purchased this newer BC-700. It does not overheat, and is working fine. It is important to get the best engineered charger that does not damage ni-mh batteries with high charge rate. Therefore get this La Crosse BC-700. The cost is a secondary consideration. This La Crosse BC-700 is worth more than the cost. (To add to the model confusion, the La Crosse website shows a new model "BC-9009".)
Research of the older model BC-900 will bring up problems with the older BC-900 firmware chip versions v.32, v.33, v.34, and some incidents of overheating, and actual fire and melting. The older model BC-900 has been updated with a new chip v.35, which may have corrected the problems.
My newer version La Crosse BC-700 has the latest chip firmware v.36. The La Crosse engineers have decided for safety and hardware reasons to make the newer model BC-700. (However, La Crosse still needs to get rid of its stock of older BC-900, which may be why they are offering free batteries, adapters, and case. I do not need the free batteries since I now only use Eneloop and Kodak pre-charged low discharge Ni-Mh batteries, and I do not need the BC-900 free adapters nor case. And I especially do not need the older BC-900 higher charging currents.)
I only use the default 200 MAH low charge rate of my newer BC-700 for charging all my Eneloop and Kodak pre-charged Ni-Mh batteries (I have more than 20 of each brand of Eneloop and Kodak). For maximum battery life, I never use the BC-700 optional higher 500 MAH nor 700 MAH higher charge rates. The only other battery charger that I use is the one that came with my Eneloop batteries. I stopped using my other older different brand "fast" and "one-hour" battery chargers which probably unknowingly ruined my older non-pre-charged NiMH batteries. And I will never ruin my pre-charged batteries by charging at high rates (the battery will "complaint" and "protest" by getting hot).
When I plug in the newer BC-700, the following numbers appear in LCD windows slots for a few seconds:
Slot #1: 84
Slot #2: 83
Slot #3: 700 (Model number)
Slot #4: 36 (Chip version)
Update May 2009: I am an Electronics Technician over 20 years, and I have over 20 years experience of use and testing of rechargeable batteries including the earliest overnight charge Nickel-Cadmium rechargeable batteries. Now I learned my lessons not to charge batteries at high charge rate, and thereby unknowingly causing hidden internal battery damage.
I have read some other comments about battery chargers and rechargeable batteries, and will give my answers here:
Question: Some people wanted NiMh batteries to have 1.5 volts like alkaline batteries, instead of the NiMh 1.2 volts.
My Answer: Not possible. Battery experiments have been since the 1800's and different combinations of chemicals produce different voltages. Right now we are using the chemical combinations that are most successful: for example, car battery lead acid produces 2.0 volts per cell (all volts nominal), so need 6 cells to produce 12 volts. NiMh cell produces 1.2 volts. NiCd cell produces 1.2 volts. Lithium-Ion cell produces 3.6 volts. Alkaline cell produce 1.5 volts. A 9 volt Alkaline battery contains 6 cells inside, therefore total 9 volts.
Question: Some people complaining about bad experience with Eneloop battery, giving one star ratings.
My Answer: Make sure to use only the Eneloop supplied charger, or the low 200 Mah charge of the BC-700. Do not contaminate your Eneloops or Kodak pre-charged battery by putting in other brands high rate chargers like "15 minute" chargers, etc, which can cause hidden damage. I buy Eneloop and the Kodak pre-charged batteries and I only use the Eneloop charger or the BC-700 200 Mah default charge. I stopped using my other Ni-Mh and Ni-Cd regular batteries; and stopped using my other "fast" chargers....more info
- Great for the money I paid
I got my unit during a daily deal. I had been looking at this and it's big brother for the testing and refresh capabilities, I was not disappointed. If for nothing more than to refresh the battery this unit is well worth the money. It continually charges and discharges until the battery no longer gains amperage. I have "retired" a lot of batteries after getting this unit and I get less complaints from the family that the batteries don't hold up. After years of buying batteries its hard to tell which ones still maintain charge and which ones don't. BC700 to the rescue, it refreshes and lets me determine when to pitch the battery. Great product!
PS It also lets you know who is the really good rechargeable on the market. I have bought some "cheaper" rechargeable and discovered they don't measure up to the amp rating on the package, this helps me not purchase that brand again thinking I was saving money....more info
- Too smart for me
I was tired of the POS Wal-Mart chargers and thought this might be the reason for my short charge life in my digital camera. Decided to invest in a really good quality charger and batteries (Eneloops).
I'm pretty sure its a good charger but I find it has so many options and settings that I'm lost. I actually READ THE MANUAL!!! If I can learn how to set it for a manual recharge that may be all I need. It appears to be of good quality and features.
- some problems
while the shipping was much faster than expected the item does not fit AA size when it was expressly written it did so in the ad.
am unsure if it is a product probelm with assembly or shipping problem or just what....more info
- Great battery charger
I did a lot of research on battery chargers and was deciding between the BC-700 and the BC-900 charger. I chose the BC-700 charger because it lacks the ultra quick charge functions of the BC-900 and I never want to charge my batteries at a quick rate as that damages the batteries. The BC-700 works like a charm. After learning that I got it, my dad brought over a stack of dead batteries that he just couldn't get to hold a charge anymore. After putting the batteries through the "Refresh" cycle, all were back up to a full charge. My dad now owns a BC-700 too! ...more info
- Excellent battery charger
This charger works great and charges batteries slowly so your batteries can withstand more charges throughout their lifetime. Lots of features, numbers, and stats to look at with this charger....more info
- Great product
Great product that does all it promises at a price, that in retrospect, seems too low....more info
- Great Charger for the money
Before I purchased this charger, I researched the Maha C9000, the LaCrosse BC-900, and this, the LaCross BC-700.
This charger does everything that it says it will, including selection of charge rates from 200mA to 700mA, discharge mode to eliminate memory effect, test mode to measure battery capacity, and refresh mode to rejuvenate old cells (or break in new cells).
The user interface is reasonably simple for the rich features that this charger offers (compared to the Maha, which to do anything other than the default charge, requires dozens of button presses).
While the BC-900 offers higher charge rates (1000mA for 4 cells, or 1800mA for 2 cells), this charger is more than fast engough for my Eneloops (Japanese Duracells). I prefer the gentle 200mA rate most of the time (which is the recommended rate printed on my cells), and don't really need the faster rates of the Maha or the BC-900.
The Maha charger has alot of bells and whistles, most of which I would probably rarely use, particularly with the clunky user interface, and many of these features may actually be replicated on the LaCross units.
The following are the pro's and cons (IMO) of the various chargers:
Individual displays for each cell, toggle between current, voltage, time elapsed, mAH, etc
Default charge rate of 200mA (doesn't cook my batteries)
Price - $25 two months ago when I purchased it (as of today Amazon wanted $41 for it)
Price was just increased, now making the BC-900 a better buy (compare before you buy).
Everything good about the BC-700
Faster charge rates available if you need them
Freebies thrown into the deal (batteries, travel case, and converters), and as of today, only $40 (cheaper than the BC-700, again compare prices and value before you buy).
BC-900 Cons: None that I can think of
Maha C9000 Pro's:
More and faster charge rates available than on LaCrosse chargers
More features than the LaCross units (although some of the extra features can be replicated on the LaCrosse units)
Maha C9000 Cons:
Single display, and user must wait for the unit to cycle through it's sequence for each cell to see information.
Programming is complicated, and can ONLY be done on a per cell basis, unlike the LaCross that can be done as a set, or on a per cell basis.
Default charge rate is 1000mA, IMO a bit high, potentially cooking your cells, particularly for 'AAA' cells.