Review: Hobbymate Elite LiPo balance charger

Review: Hobbymate Elite LiPo balance charger

A good charger is an absolute necessity for the RC hobby. When I first got into the hobby, the charger I purchased was a cheap DC-4S balance charger and voltage detector unit (25 watt output power). This is probably the case for most people brand new to the hobby. While it worked okay for charging a single battery (took over an hour to charge a 4s 1300 mah lipo), it became completely inadequate when the number of batteries I owned grew larger. It took all day to charge 5 batteries that I usually used for a short flying session. Clearly, it was time for a new charger. I started looking at units capable of higher output power with main goal of reducing battery charge times, having a storage/discharge capability and ability to test health of the battery by measure of internal resistance. There are a plenty of other manufacturers that made these charger, but I have had good luck using Hobbymate power distribution boards on my builds, so I decided to buy this Hobbymate elite charger. It is rated at 80W and has all the functions that I would like to see when upgrading from a very basic unit.

The charger arrived safely and well packed in three layers of packaging. Included in the package were power supply, power cord and two accessory cables to plug in various types of batteries. Instructions are provided and are easy to understand. The important stats are 80W charge power, 10W discharge power, 400 mA balancing current. The case is metal, the outputs include two banana plugs and 5 balance plugs. The charger works for 2-6 cell batteries. Display is bright and easy to read.

In charge mode, the charger works great without heating up. It took average of 15-17 minutes to charge an empty 1300mah 70C 4S lipo pack from 14V to 16.8V and 11 minutes to charge 1500mah 65C lipo pack from storage voltage of 15.1V to 16.8V. This is a huge improvement from my old DC-4S charger which took over an hour under these conditions. During charging the batteries stayed cool and were perfectly balanced when the charging was done.

Discharging a battery pack takes longer. To discharge 1300mah pack from 16.8 to 14V took over an hour, which is understandable given 10W discharge power.

Charger is able to read voltage (in mV) of a battery pack, as well as internal resistance. The internal resistance readings were consistent when done multiple times on the same pack. I do not have any blatantly bad battery packs to test out this function further, but in theory high internal resistance could help you spot battery packs which are past their prime and may be becoming dangerous to use.

Overall this is a great little charger, I would recommend to anybody upgrading from something smaller. I can now prepare for flying sessions on the same day and always all of my batteries ready to go flying. The charger is light and portable enough to throw in the backpack with me to take to my office to have batteries ready if I want to fly my quads after work. Highly recommend for anybody upgrading from lower power charger.

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