Without a doubt, the 18650 cell is one of the most common rechargeable batteries that are used in various household devices, ranging from flashlights to vapes. That makes it necessary to have a top-grade 18650 battery charger in hand that ensures safe charging.
Now you may prefer using a simple charger or one that displays every battery detail for you to scan through. No matter what your preferences are, there are quite a few high-quality options that tick all the right boxes.
Below, we discuss five of the best 18650 chargers that will keep your batteries ready to roll.
Summary of Contents
- 1 What is an 18650 Battery Charger?
- 2 Best 18650 Battery Chargers
- 3 FAQs
- 4 Final Thoughts
What is an 18650 Battery Charger?
Basically, an 18650 battery is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The name 18650 originates from its dimensions- 18mm x 65mm. This makes it slightly larger than a typical AA battery.
These li-ion rechargeable batteries have a voltage of 3.6 volts and their capacity, measured in milliamps/hour, usually varies between 2000 mAh and 4000 mAh.
Not only are 18650 batteries a reliable option for power-hungry tactical flashlights but they can also be recharged hundreds of times. In fact, the best 18650 batteries can reach 1000+ charging cycles when preserved in the right condition.
Using a lithium-ion battery charger that is not designed for 18650 batteries can cause permanent damage to the battery. In more extreme cases, especially while using unprotected batteries, it might even explode. To sum up, you need a charger that delivers the right voltage and amperage for optimized charging.
Note, the charging process can also depend on the design of the battery. Some 18650 batteries use a USB cable for charging. Others may have integrated protective circuitry that demands the use of a special charger. For example, the Fenix E30R uses a special magnetic charging cable.
Best 18650 Battery Chargers
We have picked five of the best 18650 battery chargers that deliver the best performance and value.
- Fast and intelligent charging
- Built-in temperature regulation
- Can activate over-discharged li-ion batteries
- Includes a 18W QC3.0 adapter
- Some long-term users mentioned Issues with the USB port
The UMS2 is a dual-slot charger from Nitecore with an IMR battery charging program that ensures optimized charging. Apart from li-ion batteries, it also supports ni-mh, lifepo4, and ni-cd batteries. The maximum charging speed in each slot is 3000 mA. That makes the charger remarkably fast in quick charge mode.
The charger feels sturdy with cooling fins all over the body. For additional safety, the body is made from fire-retardant materials. Once you place the battery in the slot, the charger will automatically pick the best charging mode. You can also use the dual buttons for setting the charging current and cut-off voltage.
Additionally, you get real-time charging information, thanks to the crisp LCD display. These include charging status, time, current, voltage, and battery health. The UMS2 has a micro-USB port and comes with a USB charging cable which makes it compatible with power banks and solar panels as well.
Overall, the UMS2 is a small and handy charger that offers solid value. Add to that, the Nitecore reliability ensures long-term performance. You can also check out the Nitecore UMS4 charger which has similar features but four charging slots.
- An affordable universal charger
- Well-balanced set of features
- Comes with a USB Type C input
- Full range of safety features
- No fast charging
Based in China, XTAR is a brand that has developed some top-grade smart battery chargers in the last decade. The XTAR VC2L is a dual-slot battery charger with a three-stage (TC-CC-CV) charging algorithm that connects with most battery types. That means, it starts with trickle charging, then shifts to constant current charging, and finally to constant voltage charging.
The tachymeter-style display shows real-time current, voltage, and battery capacity. There is a single switch for charging current adjustments. The VC2L can also revive an over-discharged battery. The circuit is smart enough to detect a broken battery and display an ”Err” message.
The built-in temperature sensor stops charging once the temperature crosses 60°C. In addition, it has over-current, over-voltage, and reverse polarity protection. The ABS body feels durable and to be honest, I was impressed by the overall quality and finish. The charging is done through the supplied type-C power cord and a type-C port.
Last but not least, the XTAR VC2L comes at an unbeatable price and is one of the most affordable li-ion battery chargers you can pick. As a versatile charger packed with all the safety features that one needs, I have no second thoughts about recommending it.
- Works with a wide variety of batteries
- Power bank function
- Can revive over-discharged batteries
- It can operate from 12 volts DC power supply
- Lacks an elaborate manual
- Not the fastest in terms of charging speed
To start with, this is a 4-slot smart charger for Li-ion, LifePO4, and NiMH/Ni-Cd type rechargeable batteries. The charger looks great and the case is a combination of fireproof PC and ABS.
Once the batteries are placed, the charger automatically selects the best charging current for independent charging of each battery. Even so, you can adjust the charging current in each slot individually from the two buttons. However, the 300 mAh max charging rate for NiMH batteries is on the lower side. It has ports to connect with the mains and also a 12V car charger cable.
While it looks complicated, the UI is quite straightforward once you get the hang of it. The LCD screen shows the battery voltage and charge current. When placed in slot 4 the internal resistance of the battery is also displayed. This helps in weeding out older batteries with high internal resistance. However, I wish all four slots had this feature.
Keep in mind, the 4th bay is functional as a power bank through the USB port only when an 18650 battery is placed. Also, you need to be careful with Li-ion (4.35v) and LiFePO4 batteries and select the battery type manually. Miss that, and there is a risk of the battery exploding while being charged.
That said, none of the cons of this charger is a deal breaker. If you don’t mind the average charging speeds, this is a reliable lithium battery charger with an affordable price tag.
- A versatile and affordable charger
- Packs all the necessary features and a good display
- Easy to use
- Good customer support
- Not a USB charger
- Lacks effective cooling fins
The Eastshine S2 charger can charge Ni-MH, Ni-Cd, and LifePO4 batteries from various brands and has two charging slots. The two slots can charge batteries independently, which means you can charge Li-ion and NiMH batteries together. You can even use a single slot if needed.
The case is well-made and the material is fire retardant. The LCD screen displays the charging time, current, and voltage for each slot. The charging circuit also supports fast charging and trickle charging. However, the charging speed is not the fastest. Also, the S2 gets hot after a few hours of use.
Using the charger is simple and you just need to connect the AC power cord to start the device. It also comes with a car charger cable. But there is no USB-C connectivity. There are seven protective features including over-charge and short circuit protection.
For the price, the Eastshine S2 charger delivers a good performance. Besides, plenty of customers reported that Eastshine customer service was quick to respond in case of any issues with the product.
- Great quality and all-round safety features
- Compatible with 1.2 3.7, 4.2, and 4.35V batteries
- Recovery feature for lithium manganese rechargeable (lMR) batteries
- Optimized charging current delivery for each slot
- Detailed battery information is not displayed
- Fitting four D cells together is not possible
The new i4 from Nitecore packs plenty of features that easily make it one of the best 18650 battery chargers on the market. It works for a wide range of batteries including AA, AAA, C, and D sizes. As expected from Nitecore, the craftsmanship is top-notch.
With a max output of 1500mA per slot, the charging time is not super-fast. But it’s not too slow either. Besides, the current distribution is optimized for each slot. As one battery gets fully charged, the current is redirected to the other three slots. Nitecore has added a full range of safety features, along with intelligent temperature control.
Note, there is now textual display in the i4- a fact that might turn off some users. The screen has a set of four LED indicators for each slot. There are two buttons for adjusting the slot voltage. The i4 can be used with a wall adapter or a car charger.
As with all Nitecore chargers, the new i4 comes with a 12-month warranty. If you want similar features at a cheaper price, check out the Nitecore i2 which comes with two slots.
Do 18650 batteries need a special charger?
Yes, 18650 batteries need a special charger that is designed for charging lithium-ion cells.
How long does it take to charge an 18650 battery?
The time for charging depends on the battery capacity and also on the voltage and current output of the charger. A battery with a capacity over 3000mah in a 1000-lumen flashlight can take 4-5 hours to get fully charged.
What is the difference between 18650 and 18490?
The difference is in the battery dimensions. The 18490 batteries are 18mm in diameter, and 49 mm long. That makes them smaller than 18650 batteries which are 65 mm long.
What happens if you leave an 18650 battery on the charger after it is fully charged?
It’s okay to leave the battery in the charger if the charger has a built-in safety feature. However, if the charging process is unregulated, the battery may overheat and even explode if it gets overcharged. To avoid any risks, it’s best to disconnect the charger once the battery pack is fully charged.
To sum up, these are some of the best 18650 battery chargers that you can pick. Personally, I would suggest the NITECORE New i4 for home use because of its excellent features and ease of use. Even so, all of these are reliable options, and you can pick any depending on your preferences.
Before picking, check out the charger specifications and make sure that it has all the features that you need. Unless you are a serious hardware addict, it’s best not to go for DIY chargers. And with cheap alternatives, there’s always a risk of starting a fire.
Now, the choice is yours.