Panasonic Eneloop batteries and the BQ-CC16 charger overview

Users of an Apple wireless keyboard of the first generation know their Apple batteries will hold about 80% of their charge for often more than a year. There’s a rumour Apple AA batteries were really eneloop cells with a different wrapper. Whatever the case, the original eneloop has advanced over the years and is even better than the first generation. My test cells came bundled with a charger.

The white eneloop cell can be charged 2100 times and has a capacity of 1900 mAh. These batteries are environment-friendly. You buy them with a first charge of close to 100%. This charge has been generated using solar energy. From then on, it’s your responsibility — or your energy supplier’s — to ensure following charges are as environment-friendly as possible. Except for being environment-friendly, eneloop batteries are among the best money will buy.

Panasonic claims the eneloop can withstand extreme temperature shifts. I tested that by putting four eneloop cells in the freezer set at -25 degrees Celsius for half an hour, then firing them up immediately after with a LumoPro LP180 speedlight. Condensation was the only problem I encountered. The batteries themselves worked as usual.

eneloop batteries not only work under extreme circumstances, they have better staying power as well. For example, the first generation Apple “Magic Trackpad” is a real battery cruncher. It consumes so much power I have to replace its two Apple cells every five days. The eneloop cells outlasted them by a full two days.

From my earlier tests with eneloop Pro cells, I already knew that eneloop batteries are exceptionally good. They’re also not that expensive. I found original eneloop AA cells for as low a price as €3.5/pc. The eneloop cells I got came with a Panasonic “Smart & Quick Charger”, the BQ-CC16.

You can use this charger to restore AA and AAA Ni-Mh batteries to their full power level. The capacity of the charger ranges from 750 to 900 mAh for AAA cells and 1000 to 2450 mAh for AA cells. It charges cells within 1.5 to 4 hours. It has switches off automatically when charged (DeltaV).

It can charge four 1.2V AA or AAA batteries, but you can also charge one, two or three cells at a time if you wish. The charger is “smart” in that it checks the voltage and temperature of the battery automatically, saving time and loss of energy.

The Smart & Quick Charger is a fine NiMH charger with two charger circuits. The charger applies a two hour top-off charge, which helps filling batteries if the charge terminates slightly early. There’s no trickle charge, which is exactly what eneloop type (Low Self Discharge or LSD) cells need for longevity. Perhaps a lower charge current for a longer time would have been better for some old batteries (instead of the high current pulses this model uses), but for recent cells there’s nothing better.