XTAR has a nice new EIGHT BAY charger available, and it’s powered by USB-C. Those are both fairly unusual features. Also the charger is inexpensive, so it’s definitely worth consideration.
Up front I’ll say that this charger was sensitive enough to IR that my system of testing was too much to get the highest values out of it. So I’m labeling this as a ‘preview’ and moving on….
Official Specs and Features
This 8 bay charger is going for $40 right now. If you do the per-bay math, that’s a pretty good value! They’re available on amazon! (referral link)
I really like this charger as a simple, many-bay charger. It’s not big (for having 8 bays) and using USB-C is a very nice update.
Type-C 8×21700 Protected Battery Charger with Capacity Test Function
–Your Intelligent Battery Steward
• Type-C Powered, QC3.0 3A Fast Charging
• Charge 8×21700 Simultaneously
• Test Batteries’ Real Capacity
• Maximize Batteries’ Lifespan
• Detect the Battery Type, Select the Best Charging Strategy
• 0△V and -△V Method Precisely Control the Timing for Cease of Charging Ni-MH/Ni-CD Batteries
• Five Optional Currents for Manual Adjustment
• VA LCD Screen Shows Real-time Charging Status
Manual and Packaging
Typical XTAR packaging. I appreciate this little tab below. Not a big deal, but a nice touch by XTAR.
The manual is pretty good.
- XTAR VC8 8-bay charger
- Charge cable (USB to USB-C)
Build Quality and Durability
Build quality is good. Not much more to report. The springs on the slides make the travel very smooth – some of the best action here that I can recall.
Again the size of this VC8 is good – it’s not at all overly big for an 8-bay.
The back has labels like I like: imprinted and not just put on as a sticker. So it’s permanent.
Thee two little things on the bottom in the front are not actually things. They look like they should be USB ports but the aren’t anything. Not buttons, not cutouts, etc. Possibly there’s a version of the VC8 that will have USB out? That seems smart.
The buttons for each side are actually different. Mode/Curr. and Disp./Curr.
The left and right most bays are labeled as MAX 3.0A.
The back is blank save the USB-C port.
Official dimensions are: 194mm x 134mm x 34mm, and weighs 350g.
As far as cell fitment goes, it’ll fit all the way up to 26650 cells (ie max diameter 26mm) and all the way up to protected 21700 cells (ie max length of somewhere north of 70mm).
18650 sized cells fit fully under the top edge. Thicker cells will stick over the top edge.
Power is supplied to this VC8 through the USB-C port, which is in the back (top) of the charger. That’s actually the only port on the whole device.
An appropriate cable is included, but it’s USB to USB-C. The manual does state that it supports QC3.0 charging, but doesn’t mention any PD functions.
As I said above, my logging setup seems to have IR too high for testing the max capabilities of the VC8. As such, I’ve limited my testing to the three runs below. At this point I realized this data is mostly meaningless, so I didn’t pursue it any further.
User Interface and Operation
There are four buttons on the VC8. They lend to the idea that this charger is more or less two 4 bay chargers in one. The left side gets the advanced functions, and the right side gets the more basic functions.
The left two buttons are Mode and Curr. The right to buttons are Disp. and again, Curr.
First off, things this charger can do:
- Charge Li-ion and NiMH and NiCD (all bays)
- Charge up to 3A in one bay (left or right most bay)
- Other charge rates: 2Ax2, 1Ax4, 0.5Ax8
- Capacity test (left 4 bays) (charge-discharge-charge)
- Grade cells (left 4 bays)
- Activate 0V cells
The “how” of charging is very simple. If all you want is charging, just put a cell in a bay. If you want charging at a specific current, drop a cell in and click the “Curr.” button on the same side as your cell, and cycle through the available currents (2000/2000/2000/3000, 1000, 500, 250). Each bay has its own display, which will show cell voltage and charge rate (in mA). Charge current is select per four bays.
All channels 1-4 (left half of charger) always perform the same function. They are not operated independently.
All channels 5-8 (right half of chargeR) always perform the same function. They are not operated independently.
Channels 1-4 and Channels 5-8 can perform different functions.
Clicking the Disp. or Mode button while Charging cycles the bay through Cur., Cap., and IR. It took me a while to get this what these sections mean, even reading the manual….
Cur: Displays the charging current, in mA
Cap: Displays how much energy has been put into the cell, in mAh
IR: Displays the cells IR, in mΩ
Holding the Disp button does nothing.
Holding the Mode button, however, throws in two further options: Grad and Store.
Grad does a charge-discharge-charge test. The discharge current is 300mA. The charge current seems to be selectable.
Store discharges cells to either 3.7V or 1.2V (per chemistry). (Discharge current isn’t stated, but is likely also 300mA). Interestingly this mode can also be used to charge LiFePO4 cells.
Another thing I really like is that holding either Curr. button for a few seconds will almost completely darken the LCD. That’s a huge plus. (The blue LCDs are quite bright!)
What I like
- 8 bays!
- USB-C charging
- Purported 3A charging
- Small for 8 bays!
What I don’t like
- 3A in just one bay
- 4A max – with 9V/QC3 input, I might expect a bit more.
- USB out might be good (but I don’t see a specific application)
- This item was provided by XTAR for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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