Sunday, April 03, 2016

Ikea STORHÖGEN & VINNINGE Battery Charger Impressions: Goodbye, LADDA Charger?

That explains the LADDA battery charger sales at Ikea I noticed over the past few weeks -- or was it months?

The LADDA battery charger for AA and AAA batteries could not be found when I searched for it on the website in early April 2016. Typing the term "LADDA" into the search bar turned up nothing but unrelated items. Not even the batteries showed up, but I got the feeling that I caught them in the middle of a transition -- no rechargeable batteries of any kind showed up under the "Batteries & chargers" section. What I did find were two new chargers: a big, book-like STORHÖGEN and a very compact VINNINGE.

But then I went over to the American website. Not only did I find the two new chargers, I found the old LADDA charger and four new rechargeable batteries.
Panasonic charger I currently use
Disclaimer: I had not had any firsthand experience with any STORHÖGEN, LADDA, or VINNINGE products when I wrote this piece. Details were quoted from the Ikea United States website or Canada website in early April 2016. Details on this page are NOT guaranteed for accuracy.

First Impressions: The Ikea STORHÖGEN Battery Charger with Storage
Si hueg? First time looking at a product photo on the Ikea Canada website, the size stood out. Then I looked at the dimensions posted: 22 cm x 18 cm x 4 cm (length x width x height). This was almost the same size as a notebook I had nearby. The cord was noted to be 1.5 m or 4'11" too. So, what did such a big charger supposedly provide?

Again, looking at the STORHÖGEN photos, I saw 12 charging slots arranged in two rows of six, an LCD screen, a cord wrap, and a hinged lid. The description on the product page confirmed this: "12 separate charging channels." However, it looked like only the upper row of six had slots for AAA batteries while both rows seemed to have AA slots. And it didn't look like the LCD screen was very sophisticated, just a mono-color display showing battery charging status for each channel.

I went to dig a bit deeper by looking at the two manuals provided on the STORHÖGEN's Canadian product page. One manual appeared to cover the basics along with wall-mounting instructions, and the second showed the technical data. The big takeaways for me were the charging times for specific battery capacities and the power output. Specifically, it stated "Output: AA 12 x 1.4V, 0.25A" and "AAA 12 x 1.4V, 0.11A." According to this, there were actually 12 AAA slots then, so I was wrong. Big items I found under "Charger features" were mentions of charge termination and safety sensors. And the model code was noted as "TYP E1520."

Overall, the battery charger features looked reasonably good to me. However, I did not care for the STORHÖGEN's size, and while it was relatively cheap at CA$ 39.99 (US$ 29.99), I didn't see a use for a charger with 12 slots -- obviously, other people might. For about CA$ 30, I could buy a Panasonic charger with four slots that included four AA batteries. An extra $20 would get me the same charger, eight AA batteries, two AAA batteries, and some C/D spacers. My current charger is a Panasonic BQ-CC17, it has no cord, just a flip-out power plug, and the thing is very small. I'd prefer having two or three of these if necessary. If I did require more charging slots on one unit, I'd prefer to invest in a charger that could do C, D, and 9 volt rechargeable batteries as well.

First Impressions: The Ikea VINNINGE Battery Charger
The smaller one. Noted on the Canadian website's product page were the dimensions at 8 cm x 4 cm x 3 cm (length x width x height) and a cord length of 0.1 m or 4". Another detail I found interesting was the mention of "2 separate charging channels." It also talked about a USB cable" but that was obvious from the VINNINGE product photos. Looking at just the product photos, it appeared that the charger was powered by USB and had two slots, both of which had AA and AAA ports.

Inside the single manual on the VINNINGE product page, I found that the model was named "TYP E1507." The technical data noted "Output: AA 2 x 1.4V, 0.22A" and "AAA 2 x 1.4V, 0.11A." Also, there were mentions of charge termination and safety sensors, as well as a "Single colour LED indicator."

Did I mention this was priced at CA$ 3.99 (US$ 2.99)? Pretty cheap, cheaper than the STORHÖGEN even if one were to buy six VINNINGE chargers to get the same 12 battery capacity -- might need a USB hub for that which would significantly increase the price. I liked the fact that this small charger was compact and was powered by USB -- the manual noted "Input: 5V, 0.5A" for an idea of what kind of USB slot it was designed for. My AA and AAA battery charging needs are usually in the two to four range, so this would work for me. Not sure I'd get rid of my cordless Panasonic charger for it though.

Final Thoughts
One thing I didn't mention were the charge rates compared to the older LADDA charger. I went to the United States Ikea website where the LADDA charger was still available and looked at the manual: the charging times appeared to be significantly lower. Checking the power output revealed what looked like higher amp output values. This doesn't bother me, just thought I'd mention it.

Anyway, pretty interesting stuff. Ikea released two new chargers and may be getting rid of the older LADDA charger. I like the cheaper, more compact VINNINGE battery charger, but I am not a big fan of the bigger (aye!) charger.

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