Xtar VC4 Plus Review (VC4SL, USB-C, 3A)

It’s been a long while since I have had something from Xtar on the channel, so I was happy when they reached out to let me know that they had some new chargers and offered to send me the new VC4 Plus. It’s the new upgraded version of the VC4 I reviewed years ago. Xtar fans will rejoice to hear that you now have manual control over charging speed and a few other nice upgrades. One quick note before we get started, this version is known by 2 names, the VC4 Plus, and the VC4SL. The only difference I can find between them is the SL version doesn’t seem to come with the QC3 power adapter. Xtar didn’t give me the reason why it’s known as 2 different names. Let’s take a closer look.

 

The YouTube version of this review: 

 

This charger is known by 2 names the Xtar VC4 Plus and the Xtar VC4SL.
Xtar VC4 Plus: https://amzn.to/38YNwpI
Xtar VC4SL: https://amzn.to/391ACXG

 

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Packaging & Accessories

The packaging is a brown cardboard box with a line drawing of the charger on the outside, the sides give specs and battery sizes and chemistries that are supported. The back of the package gives a few more features.

What’s included is the charger itself, a thin nylon bag a leather texture and drawstring at the top, and Xtar 110/240v AC to QC3 USB adapter capable of 5V @ 3V, 9V @ 2A, 12V & 1.5A, and a USB-A  to C cable to make it all work together.

 

Construction & Design

The VC4 Plus physically shares a lot of the design and construction with other Xtar 4 bay chargers. The ABS plastic is fire resistant should there be a problem. There is venting on the sides and bottom. The differences here are mainly on the screen and in the power input which I will get to in a minute. The charger supports the most common sizes of the most common chemistry of batteries. I won’t go into all of them but put a photo of what Xtar says fits. In my measurements, I measured the minimum size of the bays at 77.7mm and the maximum at 31mm, so sorry 21800’s won’t fit here. I will insert a picture of all of the different battery sizes that can fit and are compatible. Basically, everything between 10440 to 32650 includes protected 21700’s and common NiMH sizes.

 

Power Input

The charger does have a USB-C connector as its power input. It can support a wide range of standards, Officially Xtar rates it as QC3.0 with the 5V, 3A, and 9V, 2A Profiles. QC3 was never a standard that caught on with me or my devices much so I ran it primarily off of USB-C PD which it did excellent under. 

4 Fully discharged 18650 batteries pull about 25 watts via USB-C PD. There is now powerbank function on this charger, not a deal-breaker for me for sure. While the charger can charge at 3A this only applies to one bay at a time, with 2 batteries the maximum is 2A, and with 3 or 4 the max is 1A each. 

 

Screen and UI

The screen is similar to what other Xtar VC chargers use, you have the 4 dials that display the voltage of each bay, that changes with what type of cell you have charging. On the lower right side, you have the charging speed that it’s currently charging at then at the bottom you have the counter of the energy that has gone into the cell during charging.

New on the VC4 Plus is the ability to change the charging rate. After inserting the cell, the charger measures the resistance and decides what it thinks is the best charging speed to use, however you can override this by clicking the current button. Available options are 250mA, 500mA, 1A, 2A, and 3A. This charge rate applies for all of the bays at the same time. 

Pressing the mode button while charging will also display the to Grading mode where the charger tests the capacity of the batteries that are installed by charging, discharging, and charging again, and then Storage mode which puts Li-ion batteries at an optimal voltage for storage, about 3.66v in my experience.

The charger also offers a couple of other useful features like 0V activation, reverse polarity protection, protection from short circuits, overcharge, and overheating. 

I had no issues with overcharging with the charger. Depending on the cell’s internal resistance you might see slightly under 4.2V at final charge.

Conclusion

I like the VC4 Plus, it’s a nice upgrade to bring the old VC4 into 2022 with the USB-C input which works with both USB-C PD and QC3. For me I ran here almost exclusively in USB-C PD because I really don’t have many QC3 chargers, it was a standard that never really caught on for me once USB-C became the norm. 

Xtar finally addressed the issue many people had with it’s chargers that you couldn’t manually overwrite the charge rate, gone are those problems and now it’s selectable from 3A, 2A, 1A, 500mA, and 250mA all of which are great to see. It also retains the other features to restore cells, grade them, measure internal resistance and finally charge them to a storage voltage. 

 

The two things I don’t love here are that all bays are linked together for the charging speed and that it’s not capable of charing each bay at up to 3A at the same time, or 2A on more than 2 bays at a time. This falls short of other charges I have looked at like the Vapcell S4 Plus that can chare all its bays at higher speed rates without an issue. 

 

The end result I think is a very well-rounded charger that’s affordable and without major issues. For many, I think this could be your one and only charger, or a nice upgrade from an older model you might already have and it should be pretty affordable. 

 

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Xtar BC4 Battery Charger Review (1.5V Liion and NiHM Charger, USB-C)

Today I have a bit of a speciality charger from Xtar the BC4. It’s a charger that’s designed for use with 1.5V lithium ion batteries and NiHM rechargeable batteries. It fits both AA and AAA sizes, has 4 bays and features USB-C as an input. Thanks to Xtar for sending this too me to take a look at and review. 

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Packaging & Versions

Packaging here is a basic hanging retail package with clear front showing you everything you get. The standard unit comes with the charger, charger cover, and a USB-A to USB-C Cable. The manual is quite simple and available in several languages.

It’s worth noting there was an older model of charger that Xtar sold under their Allmaybe brand, that’s also called the BC4. That was a 4 Bay charger that charged 4.2V lithium batteries and isn’t at all like the charger we see here. It’s confusing and I wish Xtar would have chosen a different name for the charger we are looking at here today. 

 

Recharging

I tested the charging of this light with primarily large AA sized batteries although it will charge AAA sized batteries too. The charge will only charge NiMH and 1.5v Lithium Ion chemistries. 4.2V Lithium Batteries of either size are not supported. 

All the usual Xtar technologies are supported here, 0V activation, 3 Stage charging to maximize battery lifespan, Precise cut off when charged, Reverse polarity protection, short circuit, overheat etc. I started with charging the 1.5v Liion battery and as you can see from the graph here it took 2 hours and 16 minutes at a maximum of .3A. The batteries stopped charging at 1.54V.  

For my NiMH charge the total charge took 2 hours and 7 minutes, so slightly faster and you can see that it was a more pulsed charge with voltage remaining very consistent. 

 

For the last test I charged 2 nimh, and 2 liion batteries at the same time, and the total charge time was 2hrs 40 minutes. Here we saw a total charging rate peak at 1.5A spread across all 4 batteries. 

Uses for 1.5V Li Ion batteries

One thing I wanted to touch on is where and why you might choose a 1.5V lithium ion battery over a NiHM or standard alkaline. The very basics of how they work are, it’s using your standard 4.2V lithium ion cell and then has circuitry to step down the power to 1.5V. The ones here I tested Xtar provided, and since you use an external charger they have a larger capacity then  Lithium ion batteries have a better power density and lighter weight then their comparable alkaline cells, and you don’t have the one time use either. In terms of power these 1.5V batteries don’t suffer a voltage sag as they discharge like Alkaline and NiHM do, so your high drain devices like camera flashes won’t slow down during use. The bad side is the built in power meters in some devices won’t be accurate as they count on that voltage sag to estimate the amount of life left. There is also no memory effect when compared to NiHM.

 

I did run a quick runtime comparison with the Olight i5T CU with the Xtar 1.5v Lithium ion battery they rate at 3300mAh, and an Amazon Basics High Capacity NiMH (2400mAh) I previously had tested this light with. You can see here in the graph the outputs are identical except for the very end. The Liion cell has a very sharp drop off when the internal protection circuit kicks in on the battery and stops all current. The NiMH battery on the other hand has some gradual decline as voltage drops at the end of it’s lifecycle. Runtimes were within just a few minutes difference with the Nimh having the slight advantage on this light. Not sure how Xtar is calculating their cell rating on this one. 

 

Conclusion

This is a basic charger from a brand with a good track record. I am not sure it has a ton of applications in the current flashlight market for enthusiasts but it has applications elsewhere in the home. It’s a nice charger for photographers looking to recharge their eneloop batteries for flashes or those who switch over to 1.5V lithium cells which would work quite well, for anyone with kids to recharge batteries for the endless number of toys, and other household tasks. Yes there are flashlights still using AA sized batteries that use Nihm batteries where this and the 1.5V lithium batteries would work just fine, I just personally use 4.2V 14500’s in all my lights where I am able to due to more performance and good runtimes generally. 

 

I think this would be a little more useful charger if it also charged the more conventional 4.2V lithium ion batteries like 14500’s as then it would make a great travel charger to take care of 2 physical sizes, and 3 chemistries/voltages in a small package, and able to use USB-C to C natively. The onboard flashlight does light up but it’s a standard 5mm LED, nothing to write home about but better than nothing in an emergency. The charger also has a USB-A out that’s rated for 5V at 1A, so you could use it to charge your phone in a pinch. Overall this is a specialty charger for a niche market but it does a good basic job for what it’s designed for and I can recommend it if you fall into that niche. 

Find the the Xtar BC4 https://www.xtar.cc/product/BC4-135.html

Xtar MC4S Review (USB-C Inexpensive 4 bay simple battery charger)

Xtar has updated version of the MC4 charger out with the new MC4s. It’s a basic 4 bay charger, utilizing USB-C for input power for charging various lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries. Thanks to Xtar for sending this out to take a look at. 

 

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Physically

The package it comes in is small retail style box with specs and battery sizes it supports listed on it. In the box is the charger itself, a simple manual, and a USB-A (Blue  to USB-C cable. 

 

The MC4S is a simple black flame retardant black plastic charger. It features 4 bays with spring loaded clips and a pad for the positive contact. This allows it to expand to fit most battery sizes. 10440-21700 (Non protected). For Ni-Mh and Ni-CD batteries it can do AAAA through C sized batteries. The outside 2 bays are designed for the larger diameter batteries like 26650’s and C sized cells. 

The MC4s features 4 LED’s on the front, one for each bay that tells you what’s going on. When you plug the charger in at first get a self check and each bay will show green for standby. They go when charging, and then turn green when charged. 

The back features a small vent for heat control, a large sticker showing input/Output power, as well as what all cells it supports. 

I measured the charger at 100mm x 97mm by 26mm. Empty weight is 95.2g.

 

Charging

This is a simple charger, and there isn’t anything to do or options to set. The LED status on each bay tells you what you need to know if the battery is charging (red) or if it’s charged (Green). I tested 4 LG HG2 batteries that started at 2.95V and put them into all 4 bays, and started charging. Terminal voltage was 4.125V and it did this is in 6.8 hours with the maximum charge rate combined at 1.8A or roughly 0.45A per bay. For smaller batteries like 10440 which this charger officially supports this may be a bit high of charge rate but for larger cells it’s just fine. It’s worth noting that slots 1 & 4 have faster charging rates of 1A each, if used by themselves, while inner 2 & 3 have slower rates at 0.5A if used by themselves.

I also tested some AA eneloop batteries across all 4 bays, starting at 1.12V and charging to completion at 1.46V. Charge rate here started off slow but gained in speed. This wan’t a constant current charge and seemed a little spiky on my equipment but ok overall. 

Lastly this charge will charge via USB-C to C cable and charger. I used my Aukey BA-B4 I recently reviewed and had no complaints. I have seen some people suggest this doesn’t have real PD triggering but it doesn’t really need it with these power level draws. 

 

Pro’s

  • Inexpensive with current prices being around $12
  • Basic, safe, get’s the job done.
  • USB-C to C support

 

Con’s

  • A bit agressive for the smaller sized cells it technically supports such as 10440, AAAA, etc. 
  • Not going to win any speed races for your larger cells.

 

Conclusion

What you see is what you get here, this is a dead simple battery charger that does what it says in a simple yet effective manner. If your new to the flashlight hobby and want a simple charger to get you going that will support the most common sizes of batteries you will see in most lights, for a low price, the MC4s does the job. 

 

This isn’t going to be the most appropriate charge for everyone but it’s a good place to get started for many. It’s nice to see USB-C here as the primary power input but in this case it’s all about the cable and connector of convenience if your life revolves around USB-C. It’s not taking advantage of the larger amount of power that could be delivered to speed charging times.

 

Overall the MC4s is a good basic, safe, and affordable charger. I can recommend it for your basic charging needs. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/toH1zXv

Pickup the Xtar MC4S 4 bay charger on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2RfdpFY