This Simple Battery Charging Station Will Save You Hours of Prep Time

One of the most important underlying themes in being a successful photographer is streamlining your workflow. That may be in how to edit photos quickly, how to organize video files, how to quickly produce invoices, or any number of tasks that you have to perform over and over again. One aspect of my business where I found myself wasting a lot of time was in my battery charging. In today's video, I'm going to outline how Fstoppers created our battery charging station and how you too can make your life a lot easier as you prepare for the next day's photoshoot. 

As I explain in the video above, my career in photography began shooting weddings. In the wedding world, much of your gear revolves around small speedlights. Each one of these speedlights takes four AA batteries, and for every wedding, I was having to charge up to eight sets of four batteries. No matter what type of photography you specialize in, I would always recommend having a few 15-minute battery chargers so you can recharge your dead batteries quickly. However, most of these chargers only hold four batteries, and if you only have a few of them, you might find yourself spending hours waiting to charge all the batteries needed for your particular shoot.

Below, I have outlined each of the specific chargers we use in our charging station to guarantee that all of our batteries are working correctly and that we can charge dozens of batteries quickly and easily.

AA and AAA Battery Chargers

Our favorite battery charger we use in our battery station is a HiTech 8 cell AA and AAA battery charger (linked to the Watson variety that we use as well since the HiTech is out of production). These chargers are great because they can allow us to charge up to 8 batteries at one time, they have LCD icons for each of the battery cells, they charge the batteries slowly, which increases overall battery life, and they even have a few different discharge and recharge modes. These chargers do have regular AC power plugs that can take up a lot of space and weight in your camera bag, so we only use these permanently in our charging station and rarely travel with them on the road. 

For travel use, we use a few EBL USB Battery Chargers. These chargers are nice because they are small and they are also powered by USB. By pairing these up with a few Selectec 2.4A 5V USB Charging Adapters, we can easily charge our batteries on the road without having to carry large, cumbersome battery chargers. Many other battery chargers for drones, GoPros, and electronic gimbals are shipping with these USB-powered chargers, which makes it super convenient to switch from the normal two-prong AC cables to an all-in-one USB charging solution. 

The most powerful battery charging solution we have are two Powerex Maha MH-C9000 battery analyzers. These chargers are extremely versatile because not only can they charge your batteries in a number of ways, but they can also help you analyze which batteries are near the end of their lifespan and also in some cases revitalize batteries that have died prematurely from abuse or overcharging. We like to use these chargers when we buy a new set of batteries or when we feel a battery is acting up and not holding a proper charge. Unfortunately, these chargers are pretty substantial; therefore, we never travel with them or pack them into our camera bags, but they have proven to be a valuable tool in our overall battery charging workflow. 

Other Chargers

If you are a photographer, chances are you also have cameras and accessories that use other types of batteries besides AA and AAA batteries. I have assembled a short list below of some of the other charging units we have installed in our charging station for other products we use. 

Profoto 2.8 Amp Charger: This is the most common charger for our Profoto batteries used in the B1 and B2 systems. There is a faster 4.5 Amp charging system, but since we have a dozen batteries or so, we have opted to just use this slower charger for our charging station. 

Powerex MH-C490F 9V Charger: Every now and then, we have a product or accessory that uses a 9V battery, and this is our go-to charger for those. These are also extremely useful for charging your smoke detectors in your house or studio. 

Ravpower EN-EL15 Dual Nikon Battery Charger: For all of our Nikon DSLR cameras, mainly the D750 and D850, we use this dual power charger, because it conveniently charges two batteries at one time and also uses USB power cables, which is more streamlined for travel. 

Newmowa Dual GH5 DMC-GH5 Batteries: This dual charger is also USB powered and super compact for travel. We have a bunch of these so that at any given time, we have plenty of charged batteries for our five Panasonic GH5 cameras. 

Storacell AA Battery Holding Case: This is by far our favorite battery case for holding AA batteries. This design not only holds each battery snug, but it also allows you to pop out each battery one at a time without potentially spilling all the batteries from the case. You can also flip any dead batteries upside down to label which ones are charged and which ones are exhausted.

Our Favorite Batteries

Powerex Pro Rechargeable Batteries: I first heard about these batteries from Nikon Ambassador Joe McNally, and they are some of the best batteries you can get for your flash. The cost per battery is pretty reasonable and at 1.2V and 2700 mAh, they are perfect for most photography applications including speedlights.

Panasonic Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries: These batteries have kind of become the industry standard for photographers. While they don't have as much capacity as the Powerex with only 2000 mAh, they are great general purpose batteries for almost all of your gear. If you want the fastest recycle time out of your speedlights, I would recommend getting the Pro Version. 

LED Lights

Cabinet LED Strip Kit: As I mentioned in the video, having a way to easily see and navigate through your battery cabinet is critical. I wound up buying these little adhesive LED lighting strips and running wires throughout the cabinet so that we can easily see everything all at once. We have since outfitted a lot of our storage units with similar lights, and some even come with motion detection so you don't even have to turn them on when you open your cabinets and start pulling batteries for your photoshoots.  

I know talking about charging solutions isn't the most sexy topic for photographers, but I have no doubt that if you take the time to build your own charging station, you will not only be able to quickly charge all of your batteries at once, but you will also save a ton of time preparing for your photoshoots. If you have any of your own helpful products or accessories you have installed in your own charging station, be sure to leave links to them in the comments below.  

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16 Comments

Great way to keep everything organized and ready to go.

William Howell's picture

Way to repurpose old furniture pieces, very informational.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Yes! I need to do something similar, I'm terrible at charging my batteries

Jordan Bush's picture

Nice work, Patrick! Building a charging station makes a significant difference in the day to day, turning gear over quickly and mindlessly. Yours is more comprehensive than the portable box I built, and it was great to see your USB charging solution for mobile options. Thanks for sharing!

Kian McKellar's picture

Amazon high capacity AA batteries are pretty great.

I have a similar rack system in my gear closet with my chargers all wired up nicely. Unfortunately, every time I travel I have to rip it all apart. Chargers like the one for the 1Dx ($350) and Profoto B1 ($215) are prohibitively expensive for me to buy duplicate chargers just for the sake of not packing them up. But it tears me apart inside a little every time I have to.

Patrick Hall's picture

Yeah we have a completely separate charging box made from tupperware that we use on the road. Luckily when we travel we are mainly shooting video so the profoto stuff isn't a big deal but the profoto chargers do have a cable that pulls out of the back so you could make a semi permanent place for them at home and just disconnect that cable to adapt it into your travel solution.

Oh that's a good point. And that section of the cable is a super cheap standard cable. I like that idea. You're the best, Patrick. You're invited to Thanksgiving.

Patrick Hall's picture

An invite to Thanksgiving was what I was waiting for....my job is over now

The Eneloop batteries are some of my favorites. I got the originally for the Xbox One controllers, and had to buy more. They’re still killer on the controller, but they past a very long time, and they are much better than other rechargeable I’ve owned.

Tony Northrup's picture

Great stuff!

We mount a lot of chargers to the walls so it takes up less space. They often have screw holes in the back. And you can buy USB-based chargers for just about anything, including your camera batteries, and that makes life easier when traveling.

Patrick Hall's picture

I recently redid my tool shed and tried to connect my powerstrips through those little holes....what a pain! Finding screws that have heads the perfect size while being small enough to actually let you slip the surge protectors over them was such a pain. I wish more surge protectors just had little holes that ran completely through the entire strip so you could just mount them with a screw instead of trying to line everything up with a template.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

One of my batteries and chargers is currently at an arcade plugged into a wall... oops

Great organization. I've added the Powermax battery conditioner, the Storacel AA battery case, as well as the rechargeable AA batteries to my list of things to buy.

James Blask's picture

Good job on the video. Great information.