La Crosse Technology PC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger Reviewed (Verdict: Still Awesome)

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Jeff “Coding Horror” Atwood beams about his La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower battery charger, which as chance would have it is the exact same battery charger I purchased a couple of months back at all y’all’s suggestion, but haven’t actually yet had a chance to use, as my AA usage mysteriously has dropped to next to nothing.

You can also switch between four different readouts after the mode is engaged: time elapsed, voltage, and two mAh (I assume one is charge/discharge rate, not sure what the other one is). That refresh mode is incredibly slow– it’s basically discharging and recharging over and over– but it really works. It can take marginal batteries from the brink of death and give them new life.
But you don’t have to care about any of that; if you just drop 4 AAs or AAA batteries in the device, it will charge them fine. I spent several hours after I got it plugging various batteries in it, trying different modes, and watching it work. I’m not sure what the exact definition of geek is, but I think “enjoys recharging batteries” has to be very high on that list.

Adventures in Rechargeable Batteries [Coding Horror]

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9 Responses to La Crosse Technology PC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger Reviewed (Verdict: Still Awesome)

  1. kfractal says:

    yep yep… worth every penny. on advice from a friend i picked one of these up and it works beautifully.

  2. s3pu1chr4v3 says:

    I must have one of these!!!

    Does anyone know where to get on of them in the Greater Toronto Area?

  3. acb says:

    Do they sell these in any bricks-and-mortar shops in the Bay Area?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Too funny, I was just thinking about picking up a charger and remembered your old post where you were trying to find a good one. Thanks for bringing this up again.

    Somehow I’m still torn between the BC-900 and one of the higher end Maha PowerEx chargers.

    However, can someone make recommendations on rechargeable batteries? On the Maha website they are advertising Imedion batteries which allegedly retain 85% of charge after 1 year of storage. Talk about slow self-drain!

    I’d be curious to try those, otherwise I’ll probably go with the Sanyo Eneloop ones.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A little behind the time with this article, but I just purchased a La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger to replace a six year old failing Maha MH-C204F unit. The La Crosse seems to be is everything I had hoped for and more.

    Sure the manual can be a challenge, but the breadth of features on this charger takes some explaining. The ability to address each battery separately, multiple display coices, the ability to choose between four different modes (charge, discharge, refresh, & test), and up to six different charging rates (200, 500, 700, 1000, 1500, or 1800 mAh currents), is amazing, unquestionably geeky, but amazing.

    In just the few days that I have owned the BC-900 I have recharge and tested several sets of older batteries of various brands I own. One so far is slated to attept the refresh cycle on, the others I pair in similar capacities to maximize compatibility and output. Once I get through my older batteries I’ll charge up the ones that came with the unit and see how they rate.

    This is the best battery charger in terms of options I have ever encountered.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have two battery chargers made by Maha, and recently ordered and received this LaCrosse Tech unit. I ordered it because it offered much of the same features of a similar Maha unit that I wanted and was about about 1/2 the price.

    You get what you pay for. In every way-physically and electrically-this is nowhere near Maha quality.

    First off-unit will not meet its own specs. When charging in positions 1 and 4 only, 1800 mA is supposed to be available. It isn’t. About 1700 mA is available in position one and about 1600 mA.

    When charging at 200 Ma level, the “optimal” choice and default, often the charger will not detect that the charge has been completed and just keeps on going.

    This charger seriously overheats the batteries (!!!), despite claims of thermal protection. The batteries are much hotter in the LaCrosse when charging at 1/2 or less than the rate in a Maha charger.

    On occasion, toggling the display button changes the charging mode!!!!

    The power supply cord termination cord does not fit tightly into the charger. Result: Brief interruptions will reset the whole process.

    Operating this charger in a car is difficult. LaCrosse states that an “AC/DC Adapter” is included. It isn’t. There is an AC only adapter included, and the charger itself accepts 3 volts DC. A bit difficult to use in a car.

    My suggestion would be to pay twice as much and get the Maha.

    I could go on. The unit is going back to Thomas distributing, where it was purchased.

  7. Porco Rosso says:

    The only issue I’ve had with the charger is that it’s protection circuit sometimes refuses to charge a cell that’s been depleted. I think this is a safety feature thats there to detect cells that have developed shorts.

    Sometimes its useful to have a dumb charger around to charge a battery enough so that the lacross will recognize it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Alright now I feel retarded and want to add to my previous comment about Maha chargers and Imedion ultra low self-discharge batteries:

    After doing some more reading I realized that the Eneloop are also ultra-low self-discharge batteries and feature the same 1 year 85% charge promise as the Imedion batteries.

    Also, Thomas Distributing has the BC-900 on sale right now for $38, so I’m definitely going with that one now.

  9. BdgBill says:

    Good post.

    The cheap “Energizer” chargers that Best Buy and Wal-Mart sell are JUNK. I used to throw away my rechargeables once the cheap chargers refused to charge them anymore.

    I bought a similar charger to yours made by NexxTech and it’s awesome. It happily charged batteries that had been lying around for over a year. I have not thrown away a rechargeable battery since I bought this charger.

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