- High-quality rechargeable battery chargers don’t overcharge your batteries, extend the life of the cells, and are easy to use.
- The Nitecore D4 Charger is our top pick because it has all of the above features as well as a large display and it can auto-detect and charge a wide array of batteries.
- You can also check out our guide to the best rechargeable batteries you can buy.
Americans throw away more than 180,000 tons of batteries every year. Rechargeable batteries can be reused 1,000 times or, in some cases, even more. This is not only good for the environment, but it also saves you plenty of cash in the long run. But, rechargeable batteries can be a real pain if you don’t have a good charger. To help you figure out which ones are worth your money, we will explore what to look for in a household battery charger and which models are the best.
You want a charger that will juice up your batteries as quickly as possible, right? Think again. High-speed charging severely shortens the lifespan of your batteries. Instead, look for a charger that offers “gentle” or “slow” charging. If you are concerned about having to wait for the charging to complete before using your device again, consider buying a couple of sets of batteries for the device. Some chargers also have a “conditioning” function. This cycles your batteries through discharging and recharging in order to help them reach their full capacity and lengthen their life.
Some chargers are known as “smart chargers.” This means they stop charging your batteries once they are full. This is opposed to “dumb chargers,” which tend to charge for a certain amount of time. Dumb chargers are less effective and, in some cases, dangerous.
While researching the best battery chargers, we examined thousands of expert and buyer reviews and ratings of several models. Our guide features chargers with a track record of versatility, durability, and performance.
Here are the best rechargeable battery chargers you can buy:
- Best battery charger overall: Nitecore D4 Charger
- Best 8-cell battery charger: Powerex 8-Cell Smart Charger
- Best battery charger for vaping: XTAR VC4 Charger
- Best charger for AA and AAA batteries: Panasonic Cell Battery Charger Pack
- Best affordable battery charger: AmazonBasics Ni-MH AA & AAA Battery Charger
Updated on 10/21/2019 by Monica Chin: Updated prices and links.
The best rechargeable battery charger overall
The Nitecore D4 Charger can charge an array of battery types, while displaying the charge progress on an easy-to-read LCD panel.
The Nitecore D4 Charger is great because it can automatically detect and charge Li-ion, LiFePO4, Ni-MH, and Ni-Cd (AA, AAA, AAAA, and C) batteries. This device can charge up to four batteries at a time, and the large LCD screen displays the progress of the charge for each of the batteries using a five-bar indicator.
For specific batteries, you can press the Mode button on the side to get more detailed charging progress and parameter information, such as charging time, current, and voltage.
When the charge is complete, the “Chg. Finish” indicator comes on and the D4 automatically stops charging, an important safety feature. The bundle comes with the charger, a wall plug, a car adapter, and a box that fits two 18650 batteries.
More than 1,250 Amazon buyers posted five-star reviews of the Nitecore D4 Charger. Many of the reviewers use the D4 for charging 18650 batteries for vaporizers. One buyer notes that it took him about 4.5 hours to charge three 18650s at the same time. He liked that when the charging cycle is complete, the charger stops applying power. This reduces the potential for a fire.
Other buyers appreciated that the display tracked how long batteries have been charging. The most common complaint was that recharging slowed when there were four batteries charging.
Pros: Large display, charges a broad range of battery types, automatic battery detection
Cons: Only displays the progress of one battery at a time, charge time increases when charging four batteries
The best 8-cell rechargeable battery charger
If you frequently use AAs and AAAs in your electronics, the Powerex MH-C800S 8-Cell Smart Charger will keep your batteries juiced and extend their life.
The Powerex MH-C800S 8-Cell Smart Charger is manufactured by Maha Energy, an organization that focuses solely on charging and battery technology for both consumer and industrial sectors.
The MH-C800S can charge between one and eight NiMH or NiCd AA or AAA batteries. The LCD screen uses three bars to show the charging status of each battery. There are three charge modes: rapid charge (one to two hours), soft charge (three to four hours), and conditioning, which can take a full day.
1Kind Photography recommends the Powerex MH-C800S to photographers. The reviewer was impressed with how the conditioning mode was able to bring batteries that he hadn’t used in over a year back to life.
The Wirecutter recommends the Powerex charger for people who need eight charging slots on one outlet. The reviewer appreciated the accurate charging, that you can monitor the progress, and it’s easy to use. However, he didn’t like that the default mode was the faster 1-A charging, which isn’t as conducive to extending your battery’s lifespan as the Soft charge.
About 81% of the reviews of the Powerex MH-C800S Smart Charger on Amazon are positive. Michael S, the most helpful reviewer, bought this device for the batteries in his professional flash units and other camera equipment. He typically chooses the soft charge and conditions the batteries every 10-15 cycles. He recommends this schedule for continual drain items, such as flameless candles.
Another buyer was annoyed that the unit didn’t recharge fully discharged batteries but was able to get it to work after a short charge on a different device.
Pros: 8 charging slots, features conditioning cycle
Cons: Expensive, only charges AA and AAA batteries
The best rechargeable battery charger for vaping
At a relatively low price point, the XTAR VC4 Charger is able to charge a wide range of battery sizes and types.
There are a couple features that set the XTAR VC4 Charger apart from other devices in our guide. First, it doesn’t plug directly into the wall. The charger features a USB charge cable, which you can plug into just about anything with a USB port. I use a multiple-port USB wall adapter. Another unique feature is that the slots are large enough to fit D-cell batteries. It’s fairly rare to find a unit that can handle NiMH cells ranging from AAA to D.
About six months ago, XTAR sent me the VC4 for free to test out. For the most part, my family is happy with it. I use it for charging NiMH batteries for a variety of devices, including my sons’ toys, and my wife uses it for her vaporizer’s 18650s.
I’ve found that it’s a real pain trying to get the AAA batteries in there just right to get them to charge. Other sizes seem to work fine, though. The display is easy to read and gives helpful information that even a layperson can understand, but it can be finicky when you first insert the batteries.
The Danish site lygte-info.dk closely examined the technical aspects of the XTAR VC4 Charger. The testers recommend it as a good family charger since it can handle many different battery types. The reviewer was impressed with how low the cell temperature stayed during the charge, a good safety measure. But, they found that the full-current charge was very demanding on the USB power supply and didn’t work as well when using a weak USB power supply. Several vaping websites also recommend the VC4, including Vaping Insider and Guide to Vaping.
Approximately 81% of the Amazon buyers who reviewed the XTAR VC4 Charger gave it four or five stars. NLee the Engineer, a top reviewer of several battery chargers on Amazon, tested NiMH cells ranging from AAA to D size and Li-ion cells from 14500 to 26650. He found all charged well, but the 22650 was a tight fit. However, he questioned the accuracy of the current meter and would have liked a discharge mode.
For the most part, buyers found the USB power input to be a positive because it reduced the weight of the device and allowed for flexibility in power sources.
Pros: Charges several different battery types, cost-effective, USB power input
Cons: Doesn’t come with a USB wall adapter, it takes some work to fit AAA batteries in
The best rechargeable battery charger for AA and AAA batteries
If you are mainly in need of a good charger for AA and AAA batteries and don’t need a fast charge, consider the affordable Panasonic Advanced Individual Cell Battery Charger Pack.
The Panasonic K-KJ17MCA4BA Advanced Individual Cell Battery Charger Pack is unique in its simplicity. You just pop in one to four AA or AAA batteries (any combination will work) and wait for the charging light to turn off. The batteries charge at a slower 300 mA speed, which is great for extending their lifespan. And, when charging is complete, it automatically shuts off.
There are four different packs that vary based on what batteries come with it. There are the packages that come with four AA or four AAA batteries. The Power Pack comes with 8 AA, 2 AAA, and 2 C-size and D-size spacers. You simply put an AA battery in the spacer when you want to power devices that require C or D cells. The Super Power Pack is essentially the same as the Power Pack, only it has 12 AA and 4 AAA batteries along with the spacers. The charger is the same for all four packages.
The Panasonic Advanced Individual Cell Battery Charger is the top pick on The Wirecutter. The reviewer liked how simple it is to use and that you can charge just one battery, rather than having an even number in the slots. For the typical NiMH AA battery, he found it took about seven hours to reach a full charge.
More than 2,700 buyers have left positive reviews of the Panasonic Advanced Individual Cell Battery Charger on Amazon. Reviewer NLee has experience with all of the previous generations of Eneloop chargers and noted that this model is the best one yet. However, he was not impressed with the batteries that came in the package. Also, he warns that the cells get warm to the touch during the charging process.
Another buyer tested the charged batteries by popping them into an electric shaver and timing how long the shaver ran. It stopped after 3 hours and 27 minutes.
Pros: Uses slow charge to extend battery life, simple to use, inexpensive, comes with batteries
Cons: Only charges AA and AAA batteries
The best affordable rechargeable battery charger
The AmazonBasics Ni-MH AA & AAA Battery Charger features a USB charging port and uses a mid-level current that balances quick charging with a long battery lifespan.
The AmazonBasics Ni-MH AA & AAA Battery Charger is the only device in our guide that also has a USB charging port. This is useful for smartphones, tablets, and countless other electronics.
You can either charge two or four AA or AAA NiMH batteries at a time. With its simple design, you just put the batteries in and wait for the red LED to turn off. AA batteries take between 3 and 4.5 hours, and AAA batteries take 2 to 3.5 hours. Amazon backs the charger with a one-year warranty.
Bluetooth Hearing Protection recommends the AmazonBasics Ni-MH AA & AAA Battery Charger because its small size allows for easy portability and the reviewer found it simple to use. However, he would have preferred it if the USB charging and battery charging ports could be used at the same time. As it is, the USB port takes priority.
The Wirecutter stopped short of recommending this charger because you have to charge batteries in pairs. The testers would have also liked it if the USB port could operate using charged batteries if needed.
More than 900 buyers have left four- or five-star reviews of the AmazonBasics Ni-MH AA & AAA Battery Charger on Amazon. Again, NLee provided the most helpful review. He liked the USB port, the smart charging, and that the charging current balanced long battery life and short charge time. One of the negatives he found was the relatively low 500mA output of the USB port.
Another buyer noticed that if you drain your batteries the charger may not recognize them. The workaround was to plug and unplug the charger a few times with the batteries in the slots.
Pros: USB port, inexpensive, smart charging, one-year limited warranty
Cons: Have to charge batteries in pairs, USB port takes priority over battery charging