Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Tenergy Advanced Universal Charger TN190 (4 Channel AA/AAA/C/D/9V Ni-MH Charger with LCD Display and USB Power Outlet)
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I bought this Tenergy Advanced Universal Charger (TN190) because I needed a smart charger that can handle high-capacity rechargeable batteries. Previously I have been using my old Rayovac PS3 Universal Smart Battery Charger for charging C and D cells. But the PS3 can only charge up to 3000mAh in each session, whereas my newer batteries (such as the Tenergy Centura C Size NiMH Batteries) are rated for 4000mAh or more.

Electrically, the TN190 is a very good charger. Here are several aspects I like:

- It is a true 'smart' charger in that it monitors the voltage profile of each cell individually, and stops charging as soon as a negative delta-voltage signal is detected. Most other products in this price range (such as the Rayovac PS20PL Platinum Universal Battery Charger) are timer-based and can only charge in pairs.

- The AC power adapter accepts 100-240V AC worldwide voltage. In contrast, my old Rayovac PS3 charger uses an AC transformer that is heavy, bulky and only works from 110V AC.

- The charger itself accepts 12V input. So with the correct CLA (cigarette lighter adapter), it can even be powered from 12V car battery.

- The charger has a very nice LCD panel, which shows you the charging status of all batteries at a glance. Of course it is not as informative as the digital display of my La Crosse BC1000 advanced charger, but for the average user it is easier to understand.

- The USB output port can supply 5V 500mA to charge an USB device such as cell phone. Beware that this output is only available when NOT charging batteries. As soon as you put a battery in any slot, the USB port turns off. USB power will resume after the battery is fully charged.

- The charger is smart enough to detect and reject alkaline batteries. It will also reject old NiMH cells with higher than expected internal resistance.

- The charging current is 1.3A for AA, C and D cells. This gives a charge time of about 2 hours for AA, which is a good compromise between shorter charge time and longer battery lifespan. For higher-capacity C and D cells, the charge time increases proportional to the capacity.

- For AAA cells the current is 500mA, so the charge time is again around 2 hours.

- The DISCHARGE button is useful if you suspect some of your cells are not performing to spec. What it does is to discharge all cells at 400mA down to 0.9V, then recharge everyone back to full. By repeating this operation once or twice, you can usually improve the capacity.

Now for the not-so-great part: I found the workmanship of this charger to be quite poor.

- The LCD panel on my unit is mounted slightly slanted.

- I was having difficulty with one battery holder, which cannot slide completely down to accept D cell. I had to remove the bottom of the case to make sure nothing was jammed inside. It worked fine after that, however.

- While I had the case open, I noticed a lot of sloppy soldering job, with solder flux splattered all over the circuit board. I have to clean it up with alcohol, or else the flux will cause corrosion a few years down the road.

Bottom Line:
The TN190 is versatile and well-designed. Nowadays it is getting more and more difficult to find a smart charger that can handle individual AA cells, left alone one that can also handle high-capacity C and D cells. So despite the sloppy workmanship, I still consider the TN190 to be a very good value.

[Update on Dec 15, 2012]
I noticed an odd behavior for this charger today. I put in a set of Sanyo eneloop AA cells that were completely drained to nearly 0V (they were left in incandescent flashlight overnight). The charger display shows charging action initially, but then flashes all status bars after a few minutes. When I check the battery voltages with a multimeter (DT830B DMM), they were all around 0.95V! This could be part of the design to 'condition' over-discharged batteries. After I re-inserted the cells, they were then charged up correctly.

[Update on Aug 26, 2013]
I have tested the ChargeIt! Battery Station Pro and consider it a better product. It is similar to the TN190 in price, but offers several advantages. Namely:
- Able to recharge ordinary alkaline cells
- Two high-current USB ports (1A/2A) that do NOT turn off when batteries are inserted
- Better workmanship.
See my review on it for details.
3131 comments| 146 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 5, 2012
After almost two years of regular use, I felt obliged to raise my rating of this device, and comment further on my experience with it.

First of all, *everything* that I stated about its construction quality was true, and I am still disappointed by it; I'm even more disappointed because I have come to *really* love this charger (!!), and having to using a string to hold it closed is very annoying!!

However, it has become my Number One charger, for several reasons, all of which I alluded to in my original review.

1. The ability to charge odd numbers of batteries is Supremely valuable in this world, where so many of my devices use either one or three batteries. I approved of that in my original review, but the reality over time has been that I appreciate this far more than my original review indicated; I have come to treasure this charger!!

2. The LCD display on this unit is superb!!! Every other charger just gives a done/not_done LED for each battery, but this unit shows the current level of charge for EACH battery, and then just shows a solid, non-blinking battery when the battery is fully done... it is Far clearer than the plain LED indicators are, and provides much more confidence to the user!!

3. Although my initial impression of the device was that it might fall apart at any moment, the reality has been that I've been using it for two years now, using it HEAVILY for the last few months, and it is Fine!! I've seen no indications that it has any thoughts of failing on me... so clearly it is more robust than my original impressions indicated.

I still cannot bring myself to give it 5 stars, because the initial issues with its construction were valid, and I still have a cover that will not stay closed - and having to deal with the string is very annoying, especially now that I use it regularly!! Also, I suspect (given the initial issues that I had with it), that some folks may well end up with a device that does not work at all, right out of the box. However, if a user is willing to deal with these issues, and is fortunate enough to get an initially-working unit, they will certainly appreciate its unique capabilities.

BTW, some reviewers have commented that this device does not charge batteries fully; I can assure everyone that MY unit definitely was fully charging each battery completely. I have charged countless batteries, both NiMH and LI+, in this charger; I purchased a batttery-charge tester, and for the first hundred or so batteries that I ran through this device, I was checking every battery that came out of it, and they always measured at absolutely full charge on the tester. Furthermore, they have all held up quite well in use, which suggest that the charge tester is correct.

My current summary: GO AHEAD AND TRY THIS CHARGER!! With Amazon's unconditional return policy, you have nothing to lose!! If it *does* work for the first month, and if you don't mind using a string to hold the D#&@ lid shut, you will not regret owning this charger.

//************************************************
Original review from August 5th, 2012:
I've used numerous NiMH battery chargers before, but this is my first that will handle C and D cells, which I suddenly had a need for.

My primary, overwhelming observation is that the construction quality of the device is *horrible* !! Right out of the box, the battery cover panel does not stay closed at all, we have to use a rubber band to hold it closed. Of the four spring-driven strips that hold the battery in place, one did not make contact with the battery at all, until I did some bending and tweaking of it. The box warps a little with even light flexing. Absolutely miserable construction; I can't even blame China for this, I've had many inexpensive Chinese-made products which have been excellent examples of physical engineering. This one is a piece of C*&#.

However, once I tweaked the bar around so that the fourth battery would actually charge, the machine brought all four pre-charged NiMH batteries to full charge in a couple of hours, according to my inexpensive Chinese-made battery-charge tester, which has been working very reliably for months now.

I *really* liked the display information on this unit. First of all, it's the only four-battery charger that I've ever seen, that would charge ONE battery; all the others have always required pairs. That will be *really* handy with the AAA batteries, which I usually use in sets of 3 because of the sweet LED flashlights that I've been using. It independently reports charge on each of the four batteries, and stopped charging when they were full, displaying a clear, simple FULL message.

Clearly, alot of thought went into the user-interface and general design of this unit. I just wish they had put as much care into the mechanical aspects as they did in the others.
33 comments| 93 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 9, 2012
Best charger for the best price I've ever owned. Handles my AA, AAA, D, and 9V NiMH LSD batteries like a charm. After placing a battery in the charger, the charger shows an animated bar graph indicating how full the battery is and that the battery is charging. As time passes, the bars get higher until it's full, at which point the bar graph is solid.

What's nice is that the batteries are only lukewarm while charging, yet they seem to charge adequately fast. No bad chemical odors and no hot batteries like I would get from the old Ray-O-Vac PS3 (the model I've had from the days of rechargeable alkaline batteries). The Tenergy is more compact and lighter than the Ray-O-Vac, and finally, the Tenergy recharges my 9V NiMH batteries (for backup power in the bedside alarm clocks) based on an intelligent controller instead of a timer like most older chargers do.

One time I put a battery in the charger that I'd forgotten I'd charged. The Tenergy attempted to charge it, but after a minute it realized it was full, and the charger completed. The old Ray-O-Vac probably would have spent another two hours overly pumping current into the cell.

I had an AccuManager charger that I thought was great. Paid about $50 for it and it worked for a while, but it died after a year, so I had to find a replacement. I wasn't about to fork over big $$$ for a decent charger, but I found this Tenergy unit and am happy. I actually look forward to restoring batteries back to good health in the Tenergy instead of fretting over whether the Ray-O-Vac will cause my batteries to explode.

I haven't had a need to try the discharge feature yet, but it's good to know it's available should I need to recondition my cells. One last comment about this charger is that I'm glad it's conservatively styled. I'm no fan of overly styled devices. I want a tool, not a toy.
55 comments| 100 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 14, 2012
Since the battery and charger companies from the US have seen fit to no longer offer a full featured smart charger, I bought one of these. It's very versatile and extremely useful. I've brought several batteries back to full force, using the discharge feature, before charging. This also identifies "bad" batteries, which can then be disposed of, instead of hanging around to cause further frustration in devices. I use the usb port quite often, as well. So far, a nice charger. I'd recommend it.
0Comment| 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 17, 2012
I had used different types of recharger units in the past. This one is nothing but fancy and I knew I was paying more just for some fancy LCD display but still wanted to buy. Used it for couple of weeks now and this is what I found.

Unit looks nice and hi tek but keeps misinterpreting the battery status. I have excellent quality Nicd / nimh batteries almost 2 dozens of them. My other charger recharges all of these batteries and they really provide a good back up. This unit claimed more than 70% of the batteries as "bad" and did not charged them at all. The same batteries when used in other charger provides good back up so in total batteries are not bad but the charger is faulty.

I know Amazon has an excellent customer service but returning the unit is a real hassle. Neither did I have time or patience to repack and return the unit. So it still sitting as a show piece in my garage. For any of you planning to buy this my advice is buy something simple and cheaper. Do not pay this high price for some fancy unit when you can get the results in a basic unit. As far as discharging the battery; just use the battery because this unit does not discharge the battery properly any ways.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 14, 2012
It performed as advertised including identifying a previously undetected bad battery in my current batch. I emailed the manufacturer inquiring if the 12 volt power socket on the side meant it could be used with vehicular "12 V" (which is actually more like 13.4 V) and their engineer said yes. Good to know.
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 27, 2012
This tenergy charger charges all sizes of batteries.has a nice LCD screen with the status of whatever battery/batteries being charged it also has the ability to discharge the battery as well. Only had it a few days but so far it seems to do the job well and not a ba price either.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 16, 2012
Batteries charge faster and more completely than store bought charger with batteries. I have only had it a few weeks so we will see about longevity.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 11, 2013
As soon as I plugged it in :

- High pitched sound even with no batteries charging

It might work great (I tried to discharge/charge a set of batteries and it worked as advertised), but with this sound it would drive me crazy, so I am sending it back. Since I am not the only one with this problem, I am not going to try my luck with another one
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 11, 2012
Pros - Charges from 1-4 AA,AAA, C, D batteries (D's take about 7 - 8 hours but that's to be expected) or 1-2 9v
Small
Looks cool with a lit blue line around it
Helpful charge indicators for each battery
Good price

Cons - Makes this high pitched hum (think cheap CFL lightbulb noise) that is a bit annoying if it's in the same room with you
Kinda hard to get D batteries into the unit
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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