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Customer Review

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING: Alkaline Batteries May Leak, 1 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lloytron Fast Alkaline/NiMH Intelligent LCD Battery Charger (Accessory)
I just got this today and I'll try to remember to update the review later. This warning can't wait. ALKALINE BATTERIES MAY LEAK IN THIS UNIT.

First impressions were very positive: I had a big heap of spent alkaline AAs and AAAs waiting to go to a recycling site, and I was very happy when the first of them was charged - I took it out and measured the voltage at 1.5V, just like new. I wanted to tell everyone I know - don't throw your old alkaline batteries away, buy one of these! Now I'm not so enthusiastic.

The unit seems very well made. The LCD is very bright and clear. In terms of the physical design, my only minor quibble is that the batteries are held very tightly, making them a little difficult to remove and often you have to take one out at the side to get to one of those in the middle.

Out of the eleven alkaline AAs that I've charged today, I had to remove three because they were fizzing, and two of those leaked. I'm not sure if any alkaline-battery chargers are free of this flaw. While the 3 reviews of this model that I've seen were all completely positive, other alkaline chargers that have been around longer have a significant number of warnings about alkaline batteries leaking or even "exploding". I took a chance that this one had improved technology. It failed my health-and-safety test.

For people who are careful, especially anyone reasonably knowledgable, this may not be a problem, but I certainly wouldn't recommend this charger for more vulnerable people or those who want a completely failsafe product.

Why did the charger not reject batteries that leaked? Maybe it's not smart enough. Maybe there's no way to analyse a battery to tell if it'll leak. The instructions say not to try charging completely discharged AAs, or any that are very old or in bad condition (but then, oddly, it also says not to charge "non-rechargeable batteries" as well as clearly saying you can charge alkaline ones!).

I assessed each for any signs of previous leaking, bulging or other damage, and rejected those that even looked suspect, but I must admit I didn't check the date on them (some aren't date stamped anyway). I tested them and they all had a fair residual charge. The unit didn't report any as faulty. I discarded the ones that fizzed, two of which leaked round the contacts. The liquid seems to have marked the plastic inside the unit.

The liquid that comes out is potassium hydroxide, a caustic chemical that can cause respiratory, eye and skin irritation. It's an alkali, no surprises. If it spills, you should wash it off anything, especially you.

If you're one of those people who often find yourself complaining "it's health and safety gone mad", you might appreciate a charger that could make batteries leak or explode! I'm not sure if I'm going to keep using it for alkalines, but I won't leave it unattended if I do. The fizzing has been fairly loud (it's more like a crackle), so it's hard to miss if I'm in the room - then it's a case of taking them out carefully one by one and seeing if the crackling is coming from the one in my hand...and cleaning up. I'll keep it on something like a tin lid in case of a more serious leak, and I'll examine each battery carefully as I remove it.

But I might just abandon the rest of the alkalines and stick to rechargeables. I don't believe this product should get through health and safety tests, and I'd be well within my rights to return it immediately, but since it does rechargeables too and I'm happy with the build quality and price, I'm tempted to keep it. I might discover the secret of which alkalines can be recharged in time.

I'm also a bit dubious about the financial and environmental benefit of this type of charger. In the short term, I expect to have a load of good batteries that would have been taken to the tip. But in the longer term, when these no longer charge (it says you can recharge alkalines up to 10 times), I thought I might save money by buying alkaline batteries instead of more expensive rechargeables, but if they're going to leak, I might not bother. On the other hand, rechargeable batteries don't recharge forever, and I've had a lot that have been very short-lived. I don't know enough about the environmental problems of the different chemicals to decide yet.

So far, I haven't even tried it with rechargeable batteries. I expect it will do the job. I'll let you know if it doesn't.

Oh, that's disconcerting: a battery just made a loud crackling noise - long after it was taken out!

EDITED TO ADD: I said I would update this after more testing. After many months using the charger I have reduced my review to 1 star - a very high proportion of the non-rechargeable batteries I try to charge in here leak and/or crackle, making it unsuitable for the purpose for which it is advertised. Although I wasn't too bothered - as I said, it's cheap and works well for rechargeables - PopsAmazon's comment made me aware how serious this issue is - exploding, leaking batteries are dangerous, especially for anyone vulnerable, and I believe the unit should be withdrawn from sale. I certainly won't be putting any more alkaline batteries in mine. I've had enough cleaning the compartments, and the plastic is corroded with it. If such a leak wasn't noticed, the batteries could be inserted in other equipment and damage that too, not to mention burning the skin or worse.
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Comments

Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Nov 2011 19:03:34 GMT
Thankyou for such a comprehensive review!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jan 2012 01:53:56 GMT
Pops says:
Top review ,I agree 100% with what you say, see my comment above, with all the health and safety there is in work environments it's amazing how this charger is allowed to be sold it is very dangerous, imagine a child or someone with impairment used this and handled the batteries popping crackling leaking and could explode,it's crazy they can sell it,thanks for a to the point review !

Posted on 18 Oct 2012 22:34:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Oct 2012 23:03:58 BDT
Most of these alkaline battery chargers are poorly or incorrectly designed and supplied with substandard instructions.
The absolute maximum charge rate for an alkaline is 1% of its total capacity. Charging at a faster rate than this will cause gassing. This will increase pressure and cause leakage. The second point is that a nearly flat alkaline battery can not be recharged. Charging a flat alkaline will cause it to to leak. An alkaline battery can only be recharged to any useful degree if it has around 50% of it's capacity and the ideal situation is to recharge when it drops to around 65% of it's capacity. It is possible under correct conditions to recharge an alkaline D size battery around 10 times and make them last at least 10 years. This becomes practical when considering D Alkaline cells which have a massive capacity of 12 Amp hours. If you use one half of the capacity, you have used 6 Amp hours. Most rechargeable D cells have maximum capacity of only around 4 Amp hours. The rechargeable Duracell D battery only has only 2.4 Amp hours as it is in fact an AA alkaline inside a D size case! AA alkaline have a thinner electrolyte barrier than the D size, but can still be recharged several times with the correct charger. Modern alkalines also hold there charge much better than rechargeable batterys. After one year a rechargeable will go completely flat on it's own. An alkaline will have between 90% and 97% of its charge available depending on the quality of chemicals and construction. So there you have it.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Oct 2012 23:56:21 BDT
Freewheeler says:
Thank you for that information, Mr Michaels. It seems quite unacceptable that these chargers are sold if they charge too fast or, as you say, if they don't give the full details of how much charge should remain. All mine said, IIRC, was not to try to recharge completely discharged or very old ones (so if my multi-meter moved at all and the charger didn't reject it, I considered it ok). I hope I find time to look into this more and maybe start a campaign and write to my MP as well as the manufacturer. It's more than just a quality issue: it's a health and safety issue. It also encourages people to buy alkaline batteries instead of rechargeables, since they're much cheaper and they've been duped into thinking they can recharge them pretty much like rechargeables. It's a disgrace.

Posted on 30 May 2013 20:43:48 BDT
A. M. Smith says:
well all the bumf I have seen on this charger say only recharge LITHIUM under no circumstances try to charge ALKALINE think you should read a bit more it tells you they may explode so you only have your self to blame not the charger

In reply to an earlier post on 31 May 2013 01:30:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 May 2013 01:32:16 BDT
Freewheeler says:
Dear A. M. Smith, sorry, you're wrong. Maybe you're looking at a different charger. It's called the "Lloytron B1550 4 Inch Alkaline NIMH LCD Battery Charger". And the short description says:

"Charges Alkaline Standard Batteries. Such as Duracell, Panasonic
Charge 'Alkaline' NON RECHARGEABLE Batteries upto 10 times.
For Ni-Mh or Ni-Cd rechargeable Batteries and Alkaline Standard Batteries".

On the other hand, it does clearly warn you in the paper instructions inside the box not to charge non-rechargeable batteries with it. I imagine that's to hedge their bets. lol

Posted on 24 Aug 2013 10:39:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2013 11:13:51 BDT
Julian JJ says:
This review doesn't establish that the charger can't charge "non-rechargeable" alkaline batteries.

As a general rule, you can't recharge alkaline batteries with a regular battery charger. If you do, they'll do what yours did. It's not the fault of the charger.

Although you're not 'officially' supposed to charge alkaline batteries, it IS actually possible to charge them a relatively small number of times. BUT you have to use a special recharger designed for recharging "non-rechargeable" alkalines, using a lower, pulsed current. (AND you can't charge them if they're flat - see below). There's a helpful Wikipedia article on this very subject, "Recharging alkaline batteries".

HOWEVER, the charger reviewed here claims to be for for rechargeable batteries AND for alkalines - and that claims appears both on Amazon and on the manufacturer's own web site. So that claim could be wrong - but, as one reviewer points out, YOU CAN'T RECHARGE ALKALINES THAT ARE FLAT. You have to part-use them, then take them out of the torch or whatever and recharge. Your batteries were all flat, so it's only to be expected that they didn't charge properly. So to test whether the charger recharges alkalines, one would have to try with some half-used ones.

So:
(a) maybe this charger does recharge alkalines if it's done properly. Some guidance on this in the operating instructions would certainly be helpful, as most people wouldn't know this detail. Or:
(b) maybe they just made a mistake in their website, and it's not suitable for alkalines.

Here's the direct link to the wikipedia article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recharging_alkaline_batteries

[Incidentally, I'm not sure I'd ever remember to take out alkalines after half-using them so I could recharge them. Would I need to keep testing them to check, and therefore buy a battery tester? I suspect I'm just not that organised. Some people would manage it, but I personally would probably better using rechargeables.]

Posted on 24 Aug 2013 11:23:26 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2013 11:28:09 BDT
Julian JJ says:
I've sent an email to the manufacturer, Lloytron, giving them the link to this review and suggesting they might want to clear up the confusion.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Aug 2013 13:11:28 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2013 13:20:17 BDT
Freewheeler says:
Thanks Julian. I think you may have missed the point. You say "As a general rule, you can't recharge alkaline batteries with a regular battery charger. If you do, they'll do what yours did. It's not the fault of the charger." But this charger does say it recharges them, i.e. it presents itself as not a regular charger. And when you try, sometimes the batteries splutter and leak dangerous chemicals, as I pointed out.

The batteries that sputtered and leaked had some residual charge, as I tested them first, although, as I stated, I do not know how old some of them were, as they did not have dates on. I believe my use of the charger was in accord with the instructions, which, if I remember right, don't say the alkalines should be "half charged", only that they should have some residual charge.

I am absolutely sure that the batteries I tried to charge had never been in a charger before, so they had not reached the end of the small number of charges suggested for alkalines.

Thanks for emailing Lloytron about this - I'm sorry to say I rather think it slipped my mind to do this myself. I think in the back of my mind I figured that anyone who could produce and sell such a thing wouldn't be interested in dealing with complaints, and I intended instead to write to my MP. I'm afraid I didn't do that yet either. At least I bothered write my review! ;) I believe that this issue is a legal one, since it is inconsistent to advertise the unit as a charger for "non-rechargeable" batteries. The instructions actually say not to charge them (I think it says "non-rechargeables"), while telling you it can be done (where it says "alkaline batteries" IIRC). It's like selling engine oil on the USP that after you put it in the car it never needs lubricant in it again, with a note on the back to say that it might blow up if you don't keep putting oil in it regularly thereafter, especially if you have an "oldish" car.

With reasonable use according to the instructions, my charger has "blown up" (alkali from the batteries has run into the electronic circuits and destroyed them - see my uploaded customer images linked to on the main product page). My only failure may have been that I was not absolutely sure that certain alkalines were "not too old" (although I don't think there are strict guidelines on that, and I'm not sure that some that leaked were old at all). It is also quite possible that there was a unique fault with my unit.

I guess somewhere there must be engineers' safety reports on charging alkaline batteries that were manufactured as single use!

Thanks for the link. It does seem to support not recharging alkalines, in that to do so is potentially dangerous and hazardous to the environment, although it *may* be done successfully. Personally, I think the law should be changed to ban these chargers. Only batteries manufactured as rechargeable should be recharged.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Aug 2013 14:14:28 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2013 14:21:12 BDT
Julian JJ says:
Thanks Freewheeler,

I agree that IF the charger cannot actually charge alkaline batteries, then without doubt it's wrongly advertised, missold etc. This could be a mistake rather than a deliberate intention to mislead, or it could be that the changer is not up to the job it's supposed to do. In either case, I would have to agree that it could then cause damage, and be potentially dangerous.

If it CAN charge alkalines, but doesn't tell you how to do it, then that does seem to be an unfortunate omission, as few people would know the details of how to recharge "non-rechargeable" alkalines, and once again the consequences of getting it wrong could cause damage or maybe danger.

Although you've tried charging alkalines with the charger, I don't think you established whether it can charge alkalines or not, because your batteries don't qualify: alkalines need to have 50% or more charge remaining to be recharged, and it seems that yours were much flatter than that. You describe them as spent, even though they had a very small amount of charge left. To test the charger's ability with alkalines, you'd have to use alkalines that were in a fit state to be recharged, and with hindsight we now know that yours weren't.

So, from your experience and others' comments, it seems that we can say the following with certainty:
a) the charger isn't good for spent alkalines - but then no charger is.
b) the information supplied with the charger is apparently inadequate and not clear.
c) it's fine with rechargeable batteries.

But:
1. The charger may not charge any alkalines satisfactorily, but we don't know that for sure;
2. The charger may charge alkalines that have at least 50% charge remaining, but we don't know that either.
3. The charger may or may not be supposed to recharge alkalines in the right state, but apparently that's not clear from the documentation.

As the charger works OK with rechargeables, there doesn't seem to be any need to ban the type of charger, just to make sure that any chargers advertised as being able to recharge alkalines can actually do it, and include clear instructions to avoid misuse and ensuing problems.
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