Battery charger choice

Battery chargers for LiPo & LiFe batteries are a popular topic for discussion.

The one I chose is shown above. At 50W its not the highest power available but it charges batteries fast enough for me, and it was reasonably priced.

It is a very flexible charger, able to charge a wide range of batteries:

  • LiPo
  • LiIo
  • LiFe
  • NiMH
  • NiCd
  • Pb

It has a balanced charging connection for Li batteries of varying voltages & can charge all the battery technologies you are likely to come across.

A feature I particularly like is the ability to charge from mains or a 12v source. Just unplug the mains lead and plug in the DC cable, shown loose in the picture.

This means that if I have small portable batteries to charge and access to a car or other source of 12V such as a large bank of lead acid cells, I can use the charger for that.

I’ve changed the DC input and output connectors to PowerPoles to match the rest of my equipment.

I can’t comment on long term reliability, but will report any issues which arise.

Securing your Battery

Securing a battery into a plastic case can be challenging.

The most secure way would be to bolt some brackets into the box which would hold the battery rigidly in place. This may however break the waterproof integrity of the case, so is not ideal.

A method which I have found to be quick, easy and good enough, is to use strips of adhesive Velcro.

In the example shown, the case has curved corners between the sides and the bottom, so I’ve used some plywood as a standoff to create a 90 degree angle, held in place by Velcro.

I’ve then covered the side of the battery in contact with the box bottom with adhesive Velcro and stuck it down. When the box is in use and horizontal, the weight of the battery pushes down on the Velcro, and when the box is standing upright, the weight is taken by the plywood packing so does not stress the Velcro.

In normal use, this seems to adequately hold the battery in place. Dropping the box from a height on its left hand end might dislodge it, but that’s not a risk I feel the need to mitigate, given the use case I have.

If the battery does become loose, it can be easily Velcro’d back in position.

I put the battery against the side to take advantage of the bracing it offered, but it does make the box a bit unbalanced when carrying, so if I did it again I’d put the battery in the middle, and probably use a LiFe battery to reduce the weight.

Connecting Batteries

Having moved to using LiFe batteries for lightweight portable power, I needed to make them compatible with the PowerPole connectors most of my equipment uses.

The 4200 batteries come with 5.5mm bullet connectors, so the easy way was to buy a bullet to banana plug cable from the same supplier as the battery and replace the banana plugs with PowerPoles. These cables have very flexible insulation, so are great when in use.

I noticed that an insulation gap appeared where the 5.5mm bullet connectors joined together, so to keep things safe and stop the connectors coming apart inadvertently, I covered the join with heat shrink tube and  I’ll keep an eye on it.


An alternative is to connect the PowerPoles directly to the battery.


You need to be very careful not to short the battery cables while doing this, and do take off any metal rings on your hands, as if you short via a ring you may lose the finger.


I use 30A PowerPole inserts and you may find that the battery conductor is too big to fit. As I am not needing more than 30A, I just trim the cable strands off until they fit snugly, I also put a bit of thin heat shrink from the cable to the crimp part of the PowerPole.

You might be wondering where the fuses are, and they will be in the circuit which is connected to the battery. Putting them on each battery lead would have been clunky, and if reasonable care is taken, its unlikely that there will be a short across the PowerPoles on the battery.

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