[Update on April 4, 2012]
My original review was written back in August 2007. Now, nearly 5 years later, most of its content is no longer current. So I will use this spot for publishing my "Frequently Asked Questions" relating to BC-700/900/1000 family of chargers. This list is work in progress and will grow with time. Let me know if you have new questions to be added. Here goes...
[Q1] There are four operation modes on the BC-700 (Charge, Discharge, Test and Refresh). Which mode should I use and when?
[A] Most of the time you just need CHARGE mode. That means put in the batteries and select the charging current desired (500/700mA, etc)
- If you want to know how much capacity your batteries can actually hold, use the CHARGE/TEST function. Be careful not to run this operation if the batteries are freshly charged (doing so may lead to over-charging).
- If you want to find out the remaining charge in a battery, run DISCHARGE/REFRESH and record the 'mAh' number at the end of the first discharge.
- If you suspect your batteries suffer from reduced capacity, run the DISCHARGE/REFRESH operation. Or you can use this mode to refresh your batteries once every 6 months or so. Don't over do it!
[Q2] Why won't the MODE button response when I press it?
[A] Press and hold the MODE button for 3 seconds, then toggle it to change mode.
[Q3] What is the difference between TEST and REFRESH?
[A] TEST starts with a full recharge, then it discharges the cell once to determine its capacity. Next it recharges the cell to full again.
REFRESH starts with a discharge to determine the cell's remaining charge capacity, then it charges the cells back up and drain it down again to determine its new capacity. It wil repeat this Charge/Discharge cycle multiple times until the capacity stops improving. Finally it charges the cell in the end.
[Q4] My BC-700 has been discharging and refreshing for 3 days!! When does it stop?
[A] The REFRESH operation takes at least three Discharge/Recharge cycles to complete. If you use the default 100mA discharging (200mA charging) current for a 2000mAh AA cell, each Discharge/Recharge cycle takes about 30 hours! Terminate the Refresh operation and restart it using 350mA discharging (700mA charging) instead.
[Q5] What is the best charging current for recharging AA or AAA batteries?
[A] For AAA cells the default 200mA is just right. If you're in a hurry, increase the current to 500mA.
For AA cells you should increase the charging current to either 500mA or 700mA. This reduces the charge time and, more importantly, ensure that the charger will not miss charge termination signal and ends up over-charging your cells.
[Q6] How does the BC-700 know when to stop charging?
[A] The primary termination mechanism is "negative delta-voltage detection" (-dV/dt). If this signal is missed, backup mechanism include: high voltage termination, over-temperature shutdown, and safety timer (stops when total charge > 3700mAh)
[Q7] I ran a Charge/Test operation but in the end it shows a capacity reading of "000 mAh". Are my batteries dead?
[A] Most likely the charger missed the -dV/dt termination signal, and subsequently tripped either over-voltage or over-temperature shutdown.
[Q8] I used the BC-700 to recharge my Duracell 2650mAh batteries, and the capacity readings are over 3000mAh. Are those batteries great or my charger is bad?
[A] When you use CHARGE, the 'mAh' reading is for amount of charge going INTO the battery, not what is actually STORED by the batteries. Because the energy conversion is not 100%, you always need to put in more charge, especially if your batteries are old or leaky. To find out the charge stored, use either Charge/Test, or Discharge/Refresh
[Q9] I put in a set of exhausted batteries and one of them shows 'null'. Is the battery dead?
[A] If a battery has been over-discharged, its terminal voltage may fall below 0.5V and the BC-700 cannot detect it. You can kick-start it by using my "Paper Clip trick" (see customer image section for details), or by charging the dead cell in a dumb charger for a few minutes. Then the BC-700 will recognize it.
[Q10] Why can't I tell how much charge is left in my battery instantly?
[A] No battery testers in this world can do that. The only reliable way is to run Discharge/Refresh. However, you can estimate the `fullness' of your battery by looking at its voltage. When you first insert in a battery, its voltage is displayed for 8 seconds. If the voltage is higher than 1.30V, the battery is mostly full and you don't need to recharge it. If it is below 1.20V, it is nearly exhausted.
[Q11] How do I power the BC-700/1000 from my car battery?
[A] You need a CLA (cigarette lighter adapter) with 3V output at a 2.1/5.5mm barrel jack; current rating of 3A for the BC-700, 4A for the BC-1000. For example: AccuPower AP12243 Car Adapter. An easier solution is to get the La Crosse BC500 which runs off 12V directly.
[Q12] What is the REAL advantage of having an advanced charger like the BC-700?
[A] It allows you to determine the true capacity of all your batteries, and to revive those under-performing cells. Then you can group cells with similar capacities together for best result. Plus it looks cool and is a chick-magnet... just kidding!
[Q13] Is it normal for noise to come out from my BC1000 when it is charging batteries?
[A] Yes. The BC-700/1000 uses pulsed charging current at 25% 1 Hz. So when you set the current to 700mA, internally it is putting out 2800mA for 1/4 second. That's why it emits a faint ticking sound once every second.
[Q14] Why am I not able to see a charge termination even at 500 mA charge rate on my brand new AA Eneloops? (Voltage on the battery was 1.43 V when I manually pulled out. When I insert the same battery again it promptly says full!)
[A] It is normal for eneloop cells to reach at least 1.48V just before the delta-voltage drop is detected. If you remove a cell while it is only 1.43V and re-insert it right back, the charger detects a higher than expected voltage for NiMH cell, so it treats the cell as full and will not recharge it. Otherwise it could miss the delta-V detection from this stage.
[Q15] What is "charge rate" and how does it relate to charge time?
- Charge rate C = charging current (mA) / Capacity (mAh)
- Charge time (hr) = Capacity (mAh) / Current (mA) = 1/C
Therefore 0.2C means a charge time of 5 hours, for example
[Q16] What is the best charge rate?
[A] The general recommendation from battery manufacturers is to keep the charge rate between 0.5C and 1C. Higher charge rate shortens battery lifespan. Lower charge rate may cause charger to miss termination signal. In practice, a rate between 0.25C and 0.5C is preferred if pulse-charging technique is used.
[Q17] If I recharge an 800mAh AAA battery at 200mA, is there a danger of missing charge termination signal at 0.25C?
[A] No. The BC-700/900/1000 uses pulsed current at 25% duty cycle. So when you select '200mA', the actual charging current is 800mA for 0.25 second, followed by 0mA for 0.75 second. Therefore although the DC heating effect is at 0.25C, the charge termination signal is determined at 1C. On the other hand, charging a 2000mAh AA cell at 200mA is borderline too low and should be avoided.
[Q18] I have some old batteries that developed high internal resistance. Will it help by cycling those batteries in REFRESH mode?
[A] The problem with higher internal impedance cannot be reversed. Your best hope is to charge them at the slowest rate, then use them for less demanding appliances such as wireless keyboards. But if they also suffer from rapid self-discharge problem, then you should just recycle them.
[Q19] How do I find out the firmware version of my charger?
[A] When you first connect the charger to AC adapter, the rightmost column shows the firmware number. For example, '35' means firmware v35.
[Q20] How does the AccuPower IQ-328 Battery Charger compare to the BC-700/1000?
[A] Except for some very minor differences, the IQ-328 is identical to the BC1000, down to the same bugs. But it has thermal dissipation problem and will trip over-temperature when charging 4 cells at 1000mA. See details here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1W62S0X09QMMQ/
[Q21] Is the BM200 Intelligent Charger same as the BC1000?
[A] The BM200 has a similar looking LCD panel, and seems to offer many improvements over the BC1000. But it has thermal dissipation problem and will trip over-temperature when charging 4 cells at 1000mA. Read my review on it for details: http://www.amazon.com/review/RRZI4G772IAVR/
[Q22] How does the BT-C2000 Battery Charger Tester Analyzer compare to BM200 and BC-700/1000?
[A] The BT-C2000 looks identical to BM200, but it has updated hardware and firmware to resolve the thermal problem. The latest firmware v2.1 fixed the REFRESH function and offers better user interface.
UPDATE: (01-21-2014) It has been more than 5 years since I wrote this review. This charger is still working great!
I have owned at least 10 chargers for the last 8 years, Maha's, Panasonic, ChargeIt, etc. This charger shows you the mAh on the LCD panel as the battery charges up. Most chargers will only shows an LED light indicator to signal when charging is done.
Compared to the specs of BC-900, the BC700 can only go up to 700mA (the max) which is slower than the BC900. But the faster the battery charges, the hotter it gets. And one of the worst enemy of rechargeable batteries is heat. Less heat means longer life for the batteries.
- 3 adjustable charging speeds
- Will show you the actual capacity in mAh. This is good so you know which battery needs to be refreshed. You always want to use batteries with the same capacities in pair or in a group.
- 4 independent charging stations with individual LED readouts. "AA's" and "AAA's" can be charged in different combinations. Don't you hate those gadgets that only use 3 batteries like portable radios? (walkie-talkies). You end up with 1 un-used battery if you bought a 4-pack. How will you charge it if your charger only charges in pairs?
- Reasonable price for an excellent charger
- Small and light. Better portability
- Multi-volt up to 240v. Very useful if you travel a lot.
on June 26, 2010
I am an engineer, and this charger does EVERYTHING I want it to do. Smart charger with individual circuits is the ONLY way to go. And the LaCrosse has all the smart charger features you need, at a lower price than the hyped brand.
We have 4 cordless microphones at my church which take 2 AA's each. Consuming 8 AA's every week, we were spending over $200 a year on batteries. After bad memories of the old NiCd's, I decided to give rechargeables another try after learning about Eneloop and new NiMH hybrid or "low self-discharge" (or "LSD") technology. I chose this LaCrosse charger because of great reviews, solid features, and reasonable price. Three months later, I am extremely pleased and would recommend it to others.
I have been recharging and tracking our 8 AA's every week for 3 months, and now I can share my experience. First of all, the charger and 8 AA batteries have already paid for themselves. Second, I have needed all 4 of the charging modes that the LaCrosse offers.
Here is what you need to know:
1) CHARGE CURRENT: Fast charging is not good for batteries. Slower is better. Fast charging generates heat, which degrades the battery, reduces its life and in extreme cases can ruin it. The LaCrosse has 3 charging currents: 200, 500, and 700 mA. If you just put batteries in and do nothing else, it will charge at 200. This is a "slow" charge, taking 8-12 hours to charge 2000 mAh batteries. The 500 is a moderate speed, taking about 3-5 hours, batteries may be a little warm at the end. The 700 is the "fast" speed for LaCrosse, but it can charge your AA's in about 2 hours which is handy when you really need it. Batteries are pretty warm at the end, but not hot. Keep in mind, 700 is only half of the 1.5 mA or more that the "super fast" chargers pump out, which can't be good for battery life.
2) END DETECTION: Never buy timer-based chargers; overcharging will ruin NiMH batteries. Smart chargers like the LaCrosse are based on "negative delta-V". They detect the peak and voltage drop to know when the battery is full. Once this point is detected, the LaCrosse stops and then puts the battery on a very low "trickle" charge.
3) INDIVIDUAL CIRCUITS: The LaCrosse has 4 individual charging circuits. This not only means the 4 batteries can be on different charge modes and currents, but it also means that each battery gets optimally charged. Beware of cheap chargers that charge batteries in pairs. When paired, two batteries are treated as one. But since it is nearly impossible for two batteries to be at exactly the same level of discharge and/or have the exact same capacity, one battery may be undercharged, and the other may be overcharged. Overcharging can ruin a battery, and so can over-discharge when the same pair is drained together in a device.
4) TEST MODE: To know that your new batteries actually have the capacity they advertise, or to verify older batteries, you need Test mode. This LaCrosse has test mode, which lets you know the capacity of the battery. It first charges to full, then discharges it completely (to measure the capacity), then charges it again so the battery is ready to use.
5) DISCHARGE MODE: Although NiMH's claim to have no memory effect, it is still a good idea to fully discharge them on occasion. Not only will this ensure optimal capacity, but after a full discharge cycle the LaCrosse will show you the battery's measured capacity so you know the battery is still good (or going bad).
6) REFRESH MODE: Conventional NiMH's (non-LSD) need to be charge/discharge cycled a few times to reach full capacity. This charger's Refresh mode will accomplish that with one setup. Cheap chargers don't have a discharge feature at all. Also, NiMH batteries that are over-drained may need to be refreshed. This happened after using a set of batteries in the Wii remote too long. Cheap chargers would only report the battery as full, or as bad. Once again, LaCrosse's Refresh mode saved the day. After just a couple cycles, the battery charged to full capacity again. Another run of Test mode proved the batter was back to 2000 mAh.
What are you waiting for? Buy this charger!
on March 10, 2010
I own both the Lacrosse BC-700 and the Maha WizardOne chargers. The Wizard is larger and it spaces the batteries nicely for cooling and the lighted display, very bright and large, is all-informative. I don't mind that the display toggles between cells, rather than displaying the information on all cells at once. This is my main at-home charger. I keep the Lacrosse at work. More compact in size, the Lacrosse's unlit LCD display is also smaller than the Wizard's but it also is very informative. The BC-700 charges at 200, 500 and 700 Ma, while the Wizard can charge much faster if needed. Frankly, most of the time, I charge at a low 200 Ma on either the Lacrosse or the Wizard for the benefit of longer battery life. The Lacrosse is cheaper and a little more compact, but if you need faster charging (higher than 700 Ma) then the Wizard will fill the bill.
October 2010 update: The Lacrosse now has developed a bad habit of undercharging batteries placed in charger bay #4. Even though the display indicates that all the batteries are fully charged, if one toggles to the accumulated charge screen, it shows that the battery in bay #4 is only half-charged. Sure enough, when I charge that battery again, it will take another half charge to fill it. I now have to do this each time I charge batteries--always have to replace the fourth battery in another bay and continue to charge it for about 6 more hours. This works, but is very frustrating. I would not purchase the Lacrosse again.
December 2010 update: The Lacrosse 700 now is totally unreliable. Several charging bays are indicating full prematurely. I now put batteries back in and watch the 700 continue to charge for hours after it initially displayed "full." Even then I can't trust its readings. I have replaced it in my office with a GP charger--I don't get all the readouts, but it does the job. This after perhaps charging only one set a batteries a week for less than a year with the Lacrosse. Sad. Meanwhile, back at home my Maha Wizard One is humming away charging batteries with no problems whatsoever. That is one great charger and worth the extra expense!
on March 7, 2014
I own two of these, both have malfunctioned in different ways. I gave a generous 3-star rating because this is still my preferred charger due to the amount of numeric data it gives you about your batteries and the charge cycle.
Buyer beware however: The computer controls the charge termination, under normal circumstances this is fine since it has triplicate protection from overcharging, namely -dv, a charge capacity limit, and temperature shut-down if all else fails. HOWEVER, these three factors only feed as input to the computer. If the computer crashes, which in my case may have been caused by a bad connection of the power adapter to the unit, the PWM charger can crash into "full on" charging, which basically completely melts down both the unit and your batteries, causes a lot of nasty smoke, and could easily cause a fire. I documented this with photos et. al. for the company, and never even received a reply other than to reiterate that the molten remains of my charger was no longer under warranty. I'm surprised the whole line didn't get recalled. You can see more about this problem by googling it, or even pictures others have uploaded on Amazon, though there is a lot of mis-information and speculation of user error and bad batteries, which I assure you is not the issue. It's a shame the company still denies this problem despite clear documentation and evidence from many users, many who just like me still love the charger.
on December 16, 2014
I bought two units two years ago (Nov/2012) for around $40 each and the LCD display just stopped working on both of them. Apparently, they still charge but none of the other functions can be reached. They were used 2-3 times a month and I always kept them stored safely.
I called their support line and was given the the old "I'm sorry, sir. There's nothing we can do, but you can still charge your batteries with it, though!" Thanks, tech support lady! Who needs a fully functioning product when you can have 1/4 of the functions for full price?
They have known quality control issues and will not deal with them. Dealing with this company is frustrating and most certainly disappointing.
Will not purchase again. $80 in the trash.
on October 20, 2013
The heat problem (along with the other issues mentioned below) have made this charger unacceptable for use. The heat is so intense that it is literally frying the batteries and I will no longer use it. A total waste of money and time.
I am perplexed by the many the many positive reviews on this charger. These reviews seem incredible to me - having over a year using it. I have decided to throw it out. My other chargers are working fine - the Maha C9000 is clearly a winner.
Original Review 10/20/13
So many good reviews for the La Crosse- so why am I so disappointed after 2 months of use? Ok I will tell you.
1. Unreliable charging. For example when charging 4 eneloop batteries in the bc700 I consistently find one battery undercharged. The same set of batteries show perfectly charged when charged by another charger tested by the same voltmeter.
2. Heat is the killer of electronics. There is a serious problem with overheating. The BC700 charging runs very hot and batteries are heated on this charger to an unacceptable point (unlike any other charger I own and I have 4 different chargers).
3. Batteries that have very little charge left can not be charged on this charger unless you first pre charge them on another charger.
4. I am trying to contact La Crosse but must always leave a message (can not get anyone on the phone and there has not been a return call).
In comparison, the Maha is the best charger I own and it has been flawless for several years. Skip the La Crosse BC700 it is cheaper than the Maha but in the end you will waste your money as I did.
on March 3, 2008
This is a great charger and when I bought it it was about $15 less than the BC-900. Now the BC-900 is less than this charger. The difference between this charger and the BC-900 is the lack of the faster charging speeds and the accessories. Definitley buy the BC-900 and the accessory package for less money. It seems they are constantly playing games with the pricing on these two chargers. The BC-700 charger does a great job of reconditioning batteries and the charging speed is usually between 2-3 hours for the different capacity batteries that I have. (1800mh - 2650mh). Time is not an issue for me as I have about 10 sets of AA's and can just keep swapping them out. From what i've read the slower charging speed is better for the life span of your battery any way.
on August 13, 2011
I'm here shopping for a replacement for a BC-900 that bit the dust.
As I go about shopping, I rely on reviews and want to do my part. I think people deserve to know a few things about this charger.
First off, the ability to actually SEE what the batteries are doing and set the charge rates is awesome!
Being able to charge different batteries at different rates...excellent
This charger also has a Test Discharge mode where it will discharge and re-charge your old batteries. I can't tell you how valuable this is. All of us eventually end up with weak old batteries that just don't seem to hold a charge. But how do you tell when it's time to toss them in the trash?
This charger does that by draining the batteries and telling you EXACTLY how many MaH (milli-amp-hours) of capacity they have left in them. Also the act of full discharging and re-charging batteries really does help breathe new life into them. I've extended the life of many of my batteries by doing this.
I have several battery devices, GPS's, radio walkie talkies my family uses out camping, digital cameras etc. etc. remote controls...you name it. Being able to recharge your old batteries is so much better than buying new ones every time.
One other thing another reviewer mentioned. Charging current. It's actually important to understand that new batteries have much higher capacity (mAH) than they used to. Just a few years ago NiMH batteries ran a couple hundred mAH. The smaller the mAH capacity of the battery, the smaller the current you should use to charge them. But now it's common to find batteries of 2000 mAH and more. These higher capacity batteries can handle the increased current. In fact, if you don't want to spend a day and a half charging modern large capacity batteries, you actually NEED to increase the current. One reviewer mentioned that higher current makes the batteries get hot, this is true, NiMH batteries do get warm, but the newer larger capacity batteries can handle it. Also the LaCross has a thermometer built in that senses battery temperature. If you mess up and try to overheats the battery too much the charger will sense it and shut it off. Another very nice feature.
All in all I live all the things this LaCrosse charger does.
However, this is when I come to where the LaCrosse chargers let me down. After about a year, the "mode" button stopped working (the one on the right). So I could only charge and not use any of the other modes. I limped along for a while. A few weeks later, the "current" button stopped working. Uh oh, catastrophe. I actually opened it up and repaired it myself by replacing the little push buttons with my own switch. What happened was the buttons stainless steel dome springs actually dug in and scratched up the circuit board causing the buttons to fail. The design actually causes damage to the circuit board every time you press on them. The design is just not very good because these buttons will fail on you too eventually.
In summary. I love the charger modes! I live the adjustable currents (smaller batteries charge at smaller rates...bigger means more and if I'm in a hurry I can just pump the juice in real hard for a few minutes and get a little bit of useable run-time out of a dead battery). Unfortunately my charger dies after just a couple years.
Last month one channel died on me. It indicates the battery in the slot is "full" even when there is no battery! I was left only being able to charge 3 at a time. But today, as I juice up some batteries for my GPS to go play this weekend I noticed that another channel has bit the dust. Now I'm down to only two at a time.
I'm here shopping for a new charger. I will probably get another LaCrosse because I really do like the price and features. But hopefully I can find a newer model that perhaps the engineers have upgraded the quality a little bit so I'm not back here again in another 3 years. I like it but I just wish it were a little better quality to match the features.
on January 1, 2010
UPDATED December 11, 2010
I bought three of these chargers in late 2009 to give as gifts.
Two of them continue to work well. However, one inexplicably failed during the one-year warranty period.
When I emailed the manufacturer about it, I was promptly asked a bunch of leading questions implying I had damaged the unit myself.
I responded that the device had simply stopped working after 10 months. I then waited weeks for them to reply with RMA info. Nothing. When I finally wrote a third time asking for service, again I received no response.
It's a nice product---when it works. Otherwise, kiss $30 goodbye.