Test/review of Nitecore SC4

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HKJ
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Test/review of Nitecore SC4

Nitecore SC4
DSC_1137
DSC_1138 DSC_1139
This is a fairly powerful charger from Nitecore that can handle large cells and with a lot of information in the display.
DSC_1124 DSC_1125 DSC_1126 DSC_1127
The cardboard box lists lot of specifications, battery types and features.
DSC_1132
The box contains the charger, a mains cable, manual and a warranty card.
DSC_1141
The charger has two power connectors, one for mains input (100-250VAC 50/60Hz) and one for 9-12 VDC input. There is also a usb charger output.
DSC_1142
The user interface has two buttons and a advanced looking display.
The display shows chemistry and charge/battery parameters: Volt, mA, mAh, time, Internal resistance
A short press on C will select next battery and also between charge current and chemistry in the settings menu.
A long press on C will enter or leave the current settings menu.
A short press on V will change between the 3 status readouts and in settings menu it will increase current by 0.1.
A long press on V will prioritize that cell (Only possible on slot #1 and #2), this will disable time sharing.
Holding down V in settings menu it will change current rapidly
DSC_1219
This is the idle display.
DSC_1220
Charger is working on 3 batteries, top line is for battery 3 and shows internal resistance.
DSC_1221
Here top line is for battery 1 and it shows current and voltage.
DSC_1223
Top line is for 2 and it shows mAh and time.
DSC_1143 DSC_1144
The slots uses the usual construction and works well. They can handle batteries from 28mm to 70.3mm long.
Notice the long bar at the plus end, due to this the charger can handle anything up to D or 32xxx size.
supportedBatteryTypes
supportedBatterySizes DSC_1185 DSC_1186 DSC_1187 DSC_1188
DSC_1189 DSC_1190 DSC_1194 DSC_1195
DSC_1193 DSC_1196 DSC_1197
The charger can handle 70 mm long batteries, inclusive flat top cells.
Measurements


  • Charger will charge a LiIon with 0.2mA when full.
  • Charger will discharge a LiIon with 0.7mA when not powered.
  • Charger will discharge a NiMH with 0.15mA when not powered.
  • Charger will change between 0.5A and 2A at around 54mm
  • Slot #1 and #3 will time share
  • Slot #2 and #4 will time share
  • Using the prioritize function will disable time sharing and instead charge them in sequence.
  • When one of the shared slots is full all current is directed to the other slot.
  • Below 0.8V a single restart pulse is tried.
  • Between 0.8V and 1.7V NiMH is assumed
  • Between 1.7V and 2.0V an error is reported.
  • Above 2.0V LiIon is assumed
  • Voltmeter is within 0.01V in the full range.
  • Voltmeter will stop updating when charging is stopped.
  • Charger will not restart if battery voltage drops.
  • Charger will restart if battery is removed or power is cycled.
  • Usb output is only active when not charging.
  • Power consumption when idle with display dimmed is 0.54 watt

4.2V LiIon charging
Charge current can be selected from 0.3A to 3A in 0.1A steps.
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%28SA18650-33%29%20%231
Charging is a nice CC/CV curve with termination around 250mA
Display shows: 3097mAh 136mOhm
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%28SA18650-33%29%20%232
Display shows: 3133mAh 82mOhm
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%28SA18650-33%29%20%233
Display shows: 3116mAh 93mOhm 2:42
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%28SA18650-33%29%20%234
The 3 other slots looks similar.
Display shows: 3132mAh 56mOhm 2:48
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%28SA18650-26%29%20%231
Display shows: 2460mAh 66mOhm 2:05
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%28PA18650-31%29%20%231
And also the 2600mAh and 3100mAh cells.
Display shows: 2883mAh 54mOhm 2:11
Nitecore%20SC4%203A%20%28AWT18650-30%29%20%231
With 3A charge current the charger spend a lot of time in the CV phase.
Display shows: 2863mAh 115mOhm 1:49
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%28BE18650-26%29%20%231
With an older cell the termination current is reduced, this is probably because this is a sort of simulated CC/CV charge.
Display shows: 1947mAh 205mOhm 4:15
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28AW18350-IMR%29%20%231
Even this very old and worn down cell is handled nicely and today it has a fairly low internal resistance?
Display shows: 200mAh 153mOhm 0:48
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28KP18650-08%29%20%231
A 14500 cell is charged fine.
Display shows: 639mAh 277mOhm 1:36
Nitecore%20SC4%200.3A%20%28SA18650-33%29%20%231
The low current charge also works nicely.
Display shows: 2916mAh 55mOhm 8:29
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%284xSA18650-33%29
With 4 cells the current is half the selected current, the charge looks fine enough.
Display shows: 3299mAh 55mOhm 4:21, 201mAh 55mOhm 4:10, 68mAh 56mOhm 4:18, 66mAh 43mOhm 4:09
I did not make an error in the above, only the first slot shows correct capacity. As can be seen on the charge time the other slots where charged with similar amount of current, but the mAh counter must have a software bug.
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%2012V%20%28SA18650-33%29
The charger uses up to 3A in peak current from the 12V power supply to charge with 2A, not very nice.
Temp4623
M1: 41,8°C, M2: 46,1°C, M3: 46,0°C, M4: 40,7°C, M5: 64,4°C, M6: 50,1°C, M7: 49,2°C, HS1: 101,5°C
Temp4623
M1: 41,1°C, M2: 45,7°C, M3: 45,3°C, M4: 39,7°C, M5: 63,2°C, HS1: 71,9°C
PoweronLiIon
THe charger needs about 5 seconds to start, this includes the starting animation on the display and measuring internal resistance of the batteries.
ChargingLiIon2A
When charging there is a short pause every 20 seconds.
ChargeLiIonPause
This pause is 0.1 second long and the charger probably uses it to measure the battery voltage.
CurrentChangeLiIon
It is possible to change charge current at any time, just hold the C button down to select adjustment mode.
ChargingLiIon13
The charger uses time sharing, this means effective charge rate is half of selected rate when using shared slots.
ZeroRestart
If a battery with 0V is put into the charger it will try to restart the battery with a single current pulse.
3.6V LiIon charging (LiFePO4)
Nitecore%20SC4%201A%20%2818650-LiFePO4%29%20%231
Display shows: 1124mAh 73mOhm 1:21
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28SO14500-LiFePO4%29%20%231
The charger handles LiFePO4 batteries correctly.
Display shows: 478mAh 130mOhm 1:11
4.35V LiIon charging
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%28LG18650-30%29%20%231
The 4.35V charging looks fine.
Display shows: 2799mAh 201mOhm 2:42
NiMH charging
Charge current can be selected from 0.3A to 2A in 0.1A steps.
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28eneloop%29%20%231
Default charge current for NiMH is only 0.5A, the charger stops when the battery is about full and then supplement with a 30 minute top-off charge at 200mA. There is no trickle charger.
Display shows: 1715mAh 60mOhm 3:20
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28eneloop%29%20%232
Display shows: 1746mAh 64mOhm 3:24
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28eneloop%29%20%233
Display shows: 1763mAh 163mOhm 3:26
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28eneloop%29%20%234
The other 3 channels works the same way, each stop when the battery starts heating up and then gives it a top-off charge.
Display shows: 1721mAh 164mOhm 3:21
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28eneloopPro%29%20%231
Display shows: 1735mAh 186mOhm 3:22
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28powerex%29%20%231
I wonder what termination the charger uses here, but it terminates to early.
Display shows: 1859mAh 78mOhm 3:37
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28eneloopXX%29%20%231
This worn down cell gets 40 minutes regular charging and 30 minutes top off charging.
Display shows: 317mAh 629mOhm 0:40
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20%28eneloopAAA%29%20%231
The AAA is charged nicely.
Display shows: 700mAh 107mOhm 1:21
Nitecore%20SC4%200.5A%20full%20%28eneloop%29%20%231
The full cell is detected after about 17 minutes and it also gets a top-off charge.
Display shows: 152mAh 52mOhm 0:17
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%20%284xeneloop%29
Time sharing is also active with NiMH, i.e. current is again half of the selected current.
Display shows: 2061mAh 58mOhm 2:04, 102mAh 53mOhm 2:05, 101mAh 66mOhm 2:06, 100mAh 58mOhm 2:04
Again a problem with capacity display, only the first cell show correctly.
Nitecore%20SC4%202A%2012V%20%284xeneloop%29
For 4xAA it need less than 1A from 12V and here is a very obvious -dv/dt termination.
Temp4636
M1: 40,8°C, M2: 45,0°C, M3: 46,2°C, M4: 41,4°C, M5: 49,8°C, M6: 52,0°C, HS1: 91,5°C
Temp4637
M1: 39,2°C, M2: 42,6°C, M3: 43,7°C, M4: 39,4°C, M5: 55,1°C, M6: 49,0°C, HS1: 61,4°C
PoweronNiMH
The charger needs about 5 seconds to start up, this includes the internal resistance measurement.
ChargingNiMH
The charger pause at regular intervales during charge, probably to measure voltage.
ChargingNiMHpause
The pause is about 0.1 second.
ChargeNiMH13
The time sharing.
Internal resistance measurement
One of the parameters the charger measures is internal resistance and it also gives a good/bad evaluation of the cell.
RiLiIon
I cannot see any useable values in this result.
RiNiMH
Same goes for NiMH.
USB charger


  • Usb output is coded as usb charger (DCP)
  • Usb output is only active when not charging.
  • Power consumption when idle with display dimmed is 0.54 watt

NiteCore%20SC4%20120V%20load%20sweep
At 120VAC the charger can deliver about 2.5A on the usb output before overload protection kicks in.
I have cleaned the curve, because at overload the charger turns off, then on, then off, …
NiteCore%20SC4%20230V%20load%20sweep
At 230VAC the charger can “only” deliver 2.25A before overload protection kicks in.
Nitecore%20SC4%20230V%202.1A%20load%20test
But it cannot deliver 2.1A (rated current) for one hour, it could only handle that for about 6 minutes.
Nitecore%20SC4%20230V%201.5A%20load%20test
I reduce the current to 1.5A and the charger had no problems with delivering the current for one hour.
The temperature photos below are taken between 30 minutes and 60 minutes into the one hour test.
Temp4700
M1: 38,7°C, HS1: 48,4°C
Temp4701
M1: 50,3°C, M2: 45,7°C, HS1: 59,0°C
Temp4702
HS1: 62,2°C
Temp4703
M1: 55,1°C, HS1: 81,8°C
10ohm
Noise is 22mV rms and 126mVpp
5ohm
Noise is 23mV rms and 181mVpp
2.5ohm
Noise is 18mV rms and 147mVpp
Testing with 2830 volt and 4242 volt between mains and low volt side, did not show any safety problems.
Conclusion
The charger is very good when charging LiIon, but the silent halving of charge current when time sharing it not that nice.
For NiMH is works perfectly with 2000mAh eneloops, but the high capacity cells are terminated premature, again it has the lower charge current when time sharing.
The internal resistance do not really work when testing it.
The mAh display is not that precise in all situations and faulty when charging 4 batteries.
The usb charger output works fine, but cannot deliver the rated current. The current is fine compared to the coding of the usb.
Due to the different problems I will only rate the charger as fairly good.
Notes
The charger was supplied by a banggood.com for review.
When idle the charger is a bit noisy.
Here is an explanation on how I did the above charge curves: How do I test a charger

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

Edited by: HKJ on 09/24/2017 - 09:08
Ormbett
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Many thanks for your hard work! Thumbs Up

Kind regards

RollerBoySE
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Ormbett wrote:
Many thanks for your hard work! Thumbs Up

Kind regards

+1

Trevi_lux
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I appreciate your work, thank you very much. I was expecting something more from this charger, thanks for your help in deciding whether to buy or not to buy.
specialk
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Thank you for the in depth review of the charger. Your hard work is always appreciated and helps me to make my purchases better informed.
Grateful regards
Specialk

atbglenn
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Thanks for the in-depth review. Glad I didn’t buy one.

Boycott Nike

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Thank you HKJ for all the work that you do and all the results that you share with us here.

hatman
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Thanks for another fine review, Henrik.

My SC4 arrived two days ago.

It is good looking and seems more study than my other chargers. It is easier to use, works faster and runs cooler than my other most recent charger, the Opus 3400.

It is pretty much a plug and play for dummies like me.

I bought the LiteOn power supply and adapter connector recommended by some here for the Opus. I was delighted to learn that it works fine with the SC4.

My only nit, other than its somewhat larger size than the Opus, is that you have to take more care to line up smaller cells like 14500s and 16340s. That is a bit easier with the Opus.

Especially with the coupon price, I’m quite pleased with the SC4.

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A pity to see a charger that could be the one turn up to be just ok, but it works, so we’ve got that

In my Tree

My collectionEmisar: D4 / D1 / D4 (broken) ― Convoy: C8 Clear / S2+ Clear / S2+ / S2+ UV / S6 ― Nitecore: Tube / Thumb / Concept 1 / HC30 / HC33 / TIP / TIP CRI / TINI ― Lumintop: Tool AAA / Tool AA / HLAAA / EDC05 ― Sofirn: SF10 / SF12 / SF12 / SF14 / SF14 / SF14 / SP10A / SP10A (gifted) ― Jaxman: E3 ― UTorch: UT01 ― Trustfire: Z2 ― Skyfire: SF-065 (trashed)

candor
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Persechini wrote:
A pity to see a charger that could be the one turn up to be just ok, but it works, so we've got that
Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask but is there a consensus on what's closest to the one? I'm still using a Cottonpicker. 
WalkIntoTheLight
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Really good review.

I bought an SC4 with the coupon. I wouldn’t pay full price for this charger, but with the coupon I think it’s a pretty good deal. It does a good job on lithium-ion cells, which is what I bought it for. I’ve charged some Eneloops on it, but I prefer the slow cool charging of some of my other NiMH chargers.

My main complaint is the default charge rate of 2000mA is too high for most cells. I’d prefer a lower default: 1000ma or maybe 1500mA. Or, ideally, some way to configure the default. It’s easy to change the charge rate, but you have to do it every time for every slot.

The time-splitting when charging more than 2 cells was confusing for me at first. But, once I figured out what was going on, it made sense.

I have a question about charging 4 cells. If I have cells that specify a maximum charge rate of 1300mA, can I charge 4 of them with a charge rate set to 2600mA? The time-splitting will make it an average of 1300mA. However, is the 10-second pulses at 2600mA going above spec?

I thought the time-split pulses would be much slower; about 1 second like it is on some of my other chargers. 10 seconds seems like it might be a concern if I want to just double the charge rate to compensate.

bilakos10
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That’s an awesome review.
I was expecting a better performance from a such branded charger, but oh well…!

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A long waited review, Thanks

atbglenn wrote:
Thanks for the in-depth review. Glad I didn’t buy one.

+1

Light Own: Convoy S2+ 4C FET, BLF X6v2, BLF Q8, BLF LT1, WildTrail D80v2, Convoy L6 TA Narsil, BLF GT, BLF-348, Convoy S2+ 18350 Nichia 219BT, Astrolux A01, Olight I3E tan
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FreeMagenta
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Thank you for the review. Guess I will have to use my SC4 as a backup charger in case I have much batteries to refuel… and for everyday use, stick to my trusty Xtars Smile

PS. few hours after your review someone on forums is selling SC4 Smile

keengeorge
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G'Day HKJ, smile

 

Thank you VERY Much for a Superb review.

 

Btw, I bought 2 to charge my LiIon batteries from Banggood during their B'day sale for U$29.61 and

found them to be Very Good for my requirements, and their UI's operation is very intuitive.

 

Best Regards,

George

 

 

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It’s sad really: Nitecore have great vision regarding new products, but then they cut corners and the final product wind up with flaws.

Thanks again HKJ!

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Why would they not design this charger to support 2A current in all 4 slots simultaneously? Would it really add this much more to the cost? Or would there be heat issues that would require fan cooling that they were trying to avoid? Just wondering…

There are other chargers out there that support 2A x4 without a fan…

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the only reason i still use li-ion single cell charger is because it’s simple and easy to use, and accurate
if i want to charge fast, i can just use my RC charger, with fancy screen and can go up to 6 cell*5A, and it’s just about nearly 30$ at my place(isdt sc-608)

Forgot my pen

Itsme
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After about 1 week of use my SC4 no longer works on slot 4 and the USB port works some of the time. It will stop sending power through the USB port after a minute or so. It will then reset the USB port automatically and then repeat the same thing losing power after about 1 minute, then resetting again. Slot 4 will do nothing when a battery is installed and it won’t even indicate that a battery is in slot 4. I don’t have slot priority turned on. Super annoying! BG is giving me the run around while I am trying to get a replacement or refund for the defective one that they sent me. Otherwise it worked well for the 1 week previous

Box
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Well that sucks. I really like the display. I guess my new charger gonna be become my back up charger. Back to the Xtar.
Thanks for the review HKJ. I should of waited before I bought one. Now I know for next time lol

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I purchased my Xtar VP1’s, VP2’s, SV2’s, and the Litokala Lii500 based on HKJ’s reviews. I couldn’t be happier. To be honest, I never was a fan of Nitecore chargers. This review reinforces my opinion.

Boycott Nike

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candor wrote:

Persechini wrote:
A pity to see a charger that could be the one turn up to be just ok, but it works, so we’ve got that
Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask but is there a consensus on what’s closest to the one? I’m still using a Cottonpicker. 

I have no idea.

Ths SC4 was interesting because of the high total current output, but that was false advertising, and for the looks and display. For 2 cells it does everything it’s expected, the ONE would do that with 4 cells, 4 truly independent channels that provide fast charging, and looks good in the process. It is better than the D4 I had before, but this detail would make or break a purchase decision.

In my Tree

My collectionEmisar: D4 / D1 / D4 (broken) ― Convoy: C8 Clear / S2+ Clear / S2+ / S2+ UV / S6 ― Nitecore: Tube / Thumb / Concept 1 / HC30 / HC33 / TIP / TIP CRI / TINI ― Lumintop: Tool AAA / Tool AA / HLAAA / EDC05 ― Sofirn: SF10 / SF12 / SF12 / SF14 / SF14 / SF14 / SP10A / SP10A (gifted) ― Jaxman: E3 ― UTorch: UT01 ― Trustfire: Z2 ― Skyfire: SF-065 (trashed)

Trevi_lux
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At the moment seems more reliable for me continue using the Zanflare C4, ans some of the Xtar.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Persechini wrote:
Ths SC4 was interesting because of the high total current output, but that was false advertising,

To be fair, it does specify 6A total charging current. So, it’s not false advertising. What is a bit misleading (or unclear) is how it manages that current.

Still, it’s an average of 1500mA across 4 slots. I think that’s reasonably fast, at least compared to many other chargers that have much lower charging current. Four Samsung 30Q cells charged in 2 hours. I’m okay with that.

Quote:
For 2 cells it does everything it’s expected, the ONE would do that with 4 cells, 4 truly independent channels that provide fast charging, and looks good in the process. It is better than the D4 I had before, but this detail would make or break a purchase decision.

Four independent charging channels would certainly be better. But if you want each of them to support the full 3A charging, then that might make for a much bigger (and noisier due to a fan) charger. If you still would be okay with a 6A total charge, then how do you manage sharing the current across 4 slots? You don’t want to charge cells in parallel, because they might be different capacities or different states of discharge.

A lot of chargers do time-sharing among slots. So I don’t think it’s fair to single out the SC4 as being especially bad in that regard.

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candor wrote:

Persechini wrote:
A pity to see a charger that could be the one turn up to be just ok, but it works, so we’ve got that
Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask but is there a consensus on what’s closest to the one? I’m still using a Cottonpicker. 

I think this is The One: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/51403

The GyrFalcon All-44 by Enova, reviewed by HKJ. Charges everything, and up to 1 amp per slot simultaneously. Does it all except analyzing cells. I bought one from Mountain Electronics and have been very happy with it. http://www.mtnelectronics.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id...

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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
But if you want each of them to support the full 3A charging, then that might make for a much bigger (and noisier due to a fan) charger.

Supposedly the new MiBoxer C4-12 can do 3A x4, and it has no fan. Alas, I say ‘supposedly’ because no one has verified this yet. Smile
Persechini
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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
To be fair, it does specify 6A total charging current. So, it’s not false advertising. What is a bit misleading (or unclear) is how it manages that current.

As I said in another post (or thread) I don’t dislike the charger, I like it a lot better than the D4 despite being about 30% larger, and the display is gorgeous and informative (would be dreamy if it’d show all info on the cells simultaneously), it’s the misleading advertisement that bothers me (a lot, actually). As some people already said, I think this charger was still a little expensive but fine with group buy price, wouldn’t recommend at full price.

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My collectionEmisar: D4 / D1 / D4 (broken) ― Convoy: C8 Clear / S2+ Clear / S2+ / S2+ UV / S6 ― Nitecore: Tube / Thumb / Concept 1 / HC30 / HC33 / TIP / TIP CRI / TINI ― Lumintop: Tool AAA / Tool AA / HLAAA / EDC05 ― Sofirn: SF10 / SF12 / SF12 / SF14 / SF14 / SF14 / SP10A / SP10A (gifted) ― Jaxman: E3 ― UTorch: UT01 ― Trustfire: Z2 ― Skyfire: SF-065 (trashed)

Pete7874
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Persechini wrote:
it’s the misleading advertisement that bothers me

Can you be more specific?
Persechini
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Pete7874 wrote:
Persechini wrote:
it’s the misleading advertisement that bothers me
Can you be more specific?

it says 4 independent channels, says 3 amp charge in the first slot. They are not truly independent (2 cells are on the connected channels it does not charge as fast) and it only does 3 amp charging when blocking the other connected channel

In my Tree

My collectionEmisar: D4 / D1 / D4 (broken) ― Convoy: C8 Clear / S2+ Clear / S2+ / S2+ UV / S6 ― Nitecore: Tube / Thumb / Concept 1 / HC30 / HC33 / TIP / TIP CRI / TINI ― Lumintop: Tool AAA / Tool AA / HLAAA / EDC05 ― Sofirn: SF10 / SF12 / SF12 / SF14 / SF14 / SF14 / SP10A / SP10A (gifted) ― Jaxman: E3 ― UTorch: UT01 ― Trustfire: Z2 ― Skyfire: SF-065 (trashed)

WalkIntoTheLight
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Persechini wrote:
Pete7874 wrote:
Persechini wrote:
it’s the misleading advertisement that bothers me
Can you be more specific?

it says 4 independent channels, says 3 amp charge in the first slot. They are not truly independent (2 cells are on the connected channels it does not charge as fast) and it only does 3 amp charging when blocking the other connected channel

I think to be more clear they should have said “4 independent slots”. They are separately monitored and you can mix & match any kind of cell in any of the slots.

I think to most users, it doesn’t matter. They don’t really care whether time-sharing is used, or if it uses 4 distinct power channels. It does independently charge each cell.

However, I don’t like that you kind of have to figure this out for yourself. For 1 or 2 cells, it charges exactly how you think. But if you charge 4 cells at the same time, it takes twice as long as you think.

As it is now, I usually enter double the current if I’m charging 4 cells. For example, if I want to charge 4 cells at 1500mA, I’ll tell the charger to charge them at 3000mA. Time-sharing makes the average 1500mA. So I get what I want, but it isn’t intuitive.

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This is currently my top favorite charger, and i will still recommend it to my customers after reading HKJ's report. I can't wait to compare it will MiBoxer C4-12 though. 

The only complain that i have is that SC4 should display a reduction in charging current (like Lii-402) when 3rd cell is inserted into the bay.

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