LiiTokala Lii-500 Charger Review

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WalkIntoTheLight
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LiiTokala Lii-500 Charger Review

The LiiTokala Lii-500 charger was released a couple of years ago, and there are already several reviews of it. So, why do we need yet another review? Because Banggood was nice enough to send me one to give it a review.

Okay, I also include both written and video reviews, and I will use it to analyse the discharge capacity of some popular cells (lithium-ion and NiMH), and determine how they degrade with age and use.

The LiiTokala Lii-500 is a 4-slot charger that accepts both lithium-ion cells as well as NiMH cells. It accepts a broad range of cell sizes, from AAA batteries up to 26650 batteries. It will also analyze cell capacity, using both charge capacity and discharge capacity. Finally, it can also function as a stand-alone USB power bank, with cells installed in it.


This is a video review of the charger I put up on Youtube:


The charger and specs can be found here:

https://goo.gl/3p6AAu

You can use the discount code “05083e” to buy the charger for $22 from Banggood. Or, sometimes it is on sale.

The Lii-500 was provided by Banggood for review purposes. I receive no other form of compensation.



Overview:

The LiiTokala Lii-500 is an ideal charger for most charging and analyzing needs of all your usual cells, both lithium-ion and NiMH. The main thing I like about it is its simplicity. The default settings of the charger whenever you power it on or insert a cell, are ideal for almost all your charging needs.

Standard charge rates for all 4 slots is 500mA, for all lengths and chemistries. Lithium-ion cells will charge to 4.2v, and NiMH cells will charge until they are detected as full (usually around 1.5v). When you power it on, if there are cells in it, that is the charge they will get. If you insert a cell into an empty slot while the unit is on, it will get a default charge of 500mA.

You may also very easily change the charge rate after inserting a cell or powering on the unit. Charge rates can be 300mA, 500mA, 700mA, and 1000mA. A simple press of the “Current” button changes the charge rate.

One thing I really appreciate is that this charger will fully charge very old worn-out NiMH cells, that most other chargers refuse to charge. Select the lowest charge rate for very old cells (300mA).


Analyzing:

In addition to charging, there are also two different kinds of analyzing functions on the LiiTokala Lii-500. These are selected using the “Mode” button, after power-on or inserting a cell.

The “NOR” analyzing function (which stands for Normal), does a discharge test to report the amount of mAh of capacity for a cell. There are 4 phases to this:

1. Charge the cell to full.
2. Discharge the cell to 2.8v (lithium-ion) or 0.9v (NiMH).
3. Display the amount of discharge capacity (this remains until you remove the cell).
4. Charge the cell back up to full (or you can remove the cell before this completes).

The NOR function is the most useful analyzing tool, since it reports the discharge capacity which is really what you want.

There are two discharge rates you can select: 500mA and 250mA. These are implicitly determined by whatever “Current” rate you use. A current of 300mA or 500mA will result in a discharge rate of 250mA. A current of 700mA or 1000mA will result in a discharge rate of 500mA. This is not obvious, but I suspect they do this to prevent higher discharge rates. If you were testing 4 cells, it might cause the unit to get too hot. All that discharge energy has to go somewhere.

The “FAST” charge will give you the amount of mAh put into a cell during a full charge. There are 3 phases:

1. Discharge the cell to 2.8v (lithium-ion) or 0.9v (NiMH).
2. Charge the cell back up to full.
3. Display the amount of capacity used to charge the cell.

This can give you a rough estimate of the cell’s capacity, especially with lithium-ion cells (because charging is very efficient). But it is not as accurate as a “Normal” test, especially with NiMH cells because charging NiMH is not as efficient. I would suggest not to bother with “Fast” testing, and instead do a proper test with the “Normal” function.


Interface:

Each of the 4 slots on the LiiTokala Lii-500 operates independently, so you can perform different tasks (charging or analyzing) and different rates of charge for each of the slots. You can also mix different lithium-ion cells and NiMH cells together.

There are 6 buttons used to operate the unit. 4 of the buttons are used to select each slot, and they are laid out nicely under each slot. Pressing one of those buttons will display all the information about that slot. Unfortunately, there is not a way to display information about all 4 slots simultaneously.

The other 2 buttons are a Mode button and a Current button.

Pressing the Mode button cycles through the different functions: Charge, “FAST” Analyzing, and “NOR” analyzing.

Pressing the Current button selects 300mA, 500mA, 700mA, or 1000mA charge rates.

The type of cell (lithium-ion or NiMH) is determined automatically by the Lii-500. Note that only lithium-ion cells meant to charge to 4.2v should be used in this device (which is the vast majority of cells). LiFePO4 cells should not be used.

After inserting a cell, the slot will default to a Charge function with a current of 500mA. You can change this within about 10 seconds by pressing the Mode and/or Current buttons. You can also change it at any time by pressing and holding the Mode button for 2 seconds.

Note that if you load in multiple cells before you turn on the unit, if you change the default function or current, it will affect all 4 slots. This is a nice time-saver if you’re dealing with several cells at once and don’t want to use the defaults.


Display:

The LiiTokala Lii-500 has a display panel that displays information about each slot.
Press a slot button (1, 2, 3, or 4) to display information about that slot.

Displayed, is the function going on (Charge, NOR, or FAST), as well as whether it is finished or not. Also displayed is the capacity in mAh. For charging, this is the amount of capacity put into the cell. For analyzing, this is the result of the analyzing function.

Other useful information is the amount of time that slot has been charging (or discharging), and the current being used for charging.

Finally, there is also an internal resistance of the cell displayed. As with almost all chargers, it’s not very accurate, but it can give you a reasonable idea of whether the cell has low or high internal resistance, and thus the health of the cell. I find it works best with lithium-ion cells. With NiMH, it appears to max out at 52mR for some reason.


Power bank:

The LiiTokala Lii-500 can also be used as a USB power bank, if you need to charge your USB devices and don’t have access to regular power. It will charge USB devices (such as a smart phone) at a rate of 1 amp. It must have lithium-ion cells loaded into its slots (use 2 or more for best results). Unfortunately, NiMH cells can not be used as a power bank energy source.

Using it as a power bank is very simple. Unplug the unit from the wall, load in some lithium-ion cells, and plug your USB cable into the back of the unit.

It’s not the most elegant-looking power bank, but it’s good to know you have the option to use your lithium-ion cells for this purpose if needed.


Error handling:

The LiiTokala Lii-500 charger handles several kind of errors, usually displaying “Null” on the screen if a problem is detected.

Most importantly, it detects whether you insert a cell the proper way around. This is called reverse-polarity protection. This is a very important function that most good chargers have, since it is rather easy to accidentally insert a flat-top lithium-ion cell the wrong way.

Other protection features are: overcharge and over discharge, short circuit, temperature, zero volt activation function, and recognition of a bad battery.


Contents:

The LiiTokala Lii-500 comes with:
- The Battery Charger
- A plug/adapter, with either a US plug or European plug
- A plug for a 12v car socket
- Manual


Specifications:

Construction: Plastic

Size: 16cm x 9.5cm x 3.5cm

Weight: 209g

Input: 2A 12v power, using either the wall adapter or car plug.

Output: standard USB, 5V 1A

Charge rate: up to 1A, 4 cells.

Protection: see above

Heat: The unit does get warm when charging 4 cells at 1 amp, otherwise it remains fairly cool.


My impressions:

Pros:
- Easy to use, good all-purpose charger.
- Fully-independent slots.
- Good default rates, applicable to all cells.
- Good termination for full charge of 18650 cells and NiMH.
- Power bank is a nice additional feature.

Cons:
- Due to its small size, it will get warm when charging 4 cells at the maximum rate.


Summary:

This is a nice general-purpose charger that is simple to use. Since it charges both lithium-ion and NiMH cells, it really is the only charger you’ll likely need. Being able to do discharge analyzing of your cells is a great way to check whether your old cells are performing as expected. While a 1 amp charge is not considered “fast”, it will charge most cells in about 3 hours, and not put any stress on them due to a high charge rate. Normally, I use use 500mA, because I’m not in a hurry and it’s applicable for all kind of cells.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading.

DARKN3SS
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Possible to use a 2.5A 12v Netgear Power Adapter with this? Lii 500 states 2.0A input.

BlueSwordM
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Yes. In fact, it’s better to use a higher amperage power supply, as it will assure long life for the 12V power supply and higher efficiency.

The charger will only pull what it wants to pull, which seems to be 12V 2A.

My very own high current Beryllium Copper springs Gen 3:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67401
Liitokala Aliexpress Stores Battery Fraud: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/60547

DARKN3SS
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BlueSwordM wrote:
Yes. In fact, it’s better to use a higher amperage power supply, as it will assure long life for the 12V power supply and higher efficiency.

The charger will only pull what it wants to pull, which seems to be 12V 2A.

Thanks bud.

leftdisconnected
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Others have undoubtedly pointed this out elsewhere, but I wanted to note that the Lii-500 is a threat to cells when it’s not plugged in.

I needed a quick battery swap the other day while working with a headlamp and dropped a 14500 into my Lii-500 just before grabbing an AA from my collection of charged cells. I did not examine the display as the backlight came on as expected, but I had forgotten that the charger had been unplugged to make space for another charger. A few days then passed.

Tonight I found the 14500 sitting at perhaps 1V. The exact starting voltage is unclear as it began charging as a NiMH type after plugging in the charger, so the voltage quickly rose to ~2.3V before the Lii-500 lit the “End” symbol as it decided that charging was complete for a NiMH/NiCd type. It would not charge further as it understandably does not recognize this voltage as li-ion. I raised the voltage slowly via a dumb charger.

The Lii-500 has a “powerbank” feature that either has no low-voltage cutoff or continues its own quiescent drain even after cut-off. When inserting cells, it’s not immediately obvious that you have made this mistake unless you diligently check the screen to see that charging has started.

Yes, I have been diligent about this for years, but I missed it this one time and now I’ve damaged my only 14500. Nothing was pulling power from the Lii-500, but it has substantial quiescent drain when operating in powerbank mode; it will drain your cells while unattended.

The irony is that I’ve always wanted a discharge-and-stop feature on this charger and wound up building my own, but the Lii-500 sort of had this feature the whole time; it just doesn’t stop at 3V and instead goes to whatever minimum voltage keeps the powerbank running. It might be worth investigating whether the powerbank feature can be disabled altogether, but I doubt it.

This was an excellent charger for US$12-20 back in the day, but do not accidentally insert li-ion cells with the charger unplugged and then leave them there.

RobAllen

Funtastic
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I don’t trust this charger at all to stop charging at 4.20v. Once I glanced down to see 4.78v on the display and chucked the cell outside as it was scorching. Had multiple cells bulge on the negative end due to overcharging

Piercing The Darkness YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/PiercingTheDarkness

flydiver
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Funtastic wrote:
I don’t trust this charger at all to stop charging at 4.20v. Once I glanced down to see 4.78v on the display and chucked the cell outside as it was scorching. Had multiple cells bulge on the negative end due to overcharging

You must have gotten a bad unit. I’ve had 3 of them. They all work fine.
The only glaring problem is the internal resistance does not work AT ALL for NiMh (same reading for ALL cells in every charger), so I don’t trust it at all for LiOn. Don’t put a lot of stock in IR for slider chargers anyway.

To Air is Human, to Respire….Divine.

Funtastic
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I used to sell these and had issues with a few of them. I still use mine for the last 7 years, but I don’t leave it while I’m out of the room. The display is constantly stopping at 4.25 – 4.27v

Piercing The Darkness YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/PiercingTheDarkness

manithree
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If it’s “complain about the Lii-500” day, I’ll pile on. I had 2 of them, one on my desk at work, one on the nightstand at home. Both of them developed the same problem. The power connector is so flaky, that touching the connector, or just slightly moving the charger causes a disconnect and re-boot. Which makes the capacity testing completely useless, because neither one of them could ever go that long without a reboot and revert to simple charge mode. Now, after reading about how bad the parasitic drain is in power bank mode, I’ll never use either of them again for li-ion, because if the power connector gets just a little worse, that could be bad.

I’ve switched to the Lii-400’s I had which don’t have that problem, and fit 21700s. The test feature of the 500 was nice for a while. Oh well.

Funtastic
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Try cleaning the connector with Isopropyl Alcohol. Could be where you live or the room you’re in being damp or humid causing corrosion on the connection.

When I was a Computer Technician I had countless systems come in that wouldn’t boot and 90% of the time it was the RAM sticks. I’d use Isopropyl Alcohol or just an eraser on the PCIE pins and it would start right up.

Piercing The Darkness YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/PiercingTheDarkness

manithree
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Funtastic wrote:
Try cleaning the connector with Isopropyl Alcohol. Could be where you live or the room you’re in being damp or humid causing corrosion on the connection.

That’s a good idea, I’ll try it. But humidity is usually not a problem in Utah. It’s 34% right now.

acobp
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I use this charger for about 3 years and I never have problems with it. Only problem is that it cannot charge 21700 battery and I don’t want force cells to tight fit in charger and dent poles.

Funtastic
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acobp wrote:
I use this charger for about 3 years and I never have problems with it. Only problem is that it cannot charge 21700 battery and I don’t want force cells to tight fit in charger and dent poles.

Flat tops are fine, button top and protected won’t fit.

Piercing The Darkness YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/PiercingTheDarkness

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Never a problem with any of my Lii 500’s. Guess I have been lucky…. Wink

lampliter
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I’ve been using mine for “years”; works fine, but mine’s not that accurate.

"The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.” ~ U.S. Senator William H. Borah (1865-1940) affectionately known as the "Lion of Idaho"

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The Display and functions reminds me on my Accupower IQ338XL. This charger is well known for defect bays which can have 12V after this defect.

Maybe the Lii-500 also have this problem?

leftdisconnected
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flydiver wrote:
Funtastic wrote:
I don’t trust this charger at all to stop charging at 4.20v. …

You must have gotten a bad unit. I’ve had 3 of them. They all work fine. … Don’t put a lot of stock in IR for slider chargers anyway.

Thanks to Funtastic for the warning; I’ll keep that in mind. Mine has been trustworthy when plugged in . It works fine except for this auto-powerbank feature and I’ve used it for years with no other problems.

I don’t trust the IR measurements, either, but first thing I did was add bypass wires inside the slider springs to reduce overall resistance and potentially increase reliability. I have had zero problems with this mod, but I can’t be sure if it helped; I tend to add bypasses to all springs and sliders anyway.

I use this Lii-500 for old NiMH cells that won’t terminate charging on my ancient LaCrosse BC-700 delta-v charger. The Lii-500 tends to undercharge NiMH and that’s a good thing when dealing with old cells. I still use the BC-700 for newer NiMH cells as it tops them off better.

RobAllen