Fstoppers Reviews Powerex MH-C980 8-Cell Charger-Analyzer

Fstoppers Reviews Powerex MH-C980 8-Cell Charger-Analyzer

Maha's new Powerex MH-C980 8 Cell Charger/Analyzer is out and it's a full-featured, professional charging beast. Check out the nitty gritty on one of the most advanced AA/AAA battery chargers on the market.

My arsenal of roughly 100 Powerex rechargeable batteries ranges from practically new to ten years old. Veterans of regular and heavy use, it's unbelievable that they've been reliable for a decade. That's probably in part to using "soft charge" 100% of the time for cooler, slower charging using my DIY charging station. For years, my solution was to cycle out batteries that seem weaker, using them in low power consumption devices such as remote controls. They have enough life to meet those simple needs but might they be capable of more? Knowing battery health can help determine which batteries hold the most charge, and which should be replaced. Powerex's 4-bay AA/AAA charger/analyzer, the MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer, is exceedingly well reviewed, though I can only imagine how long it would take to analyze and condition batteries in batches of four. Thankfully, analyzing battery health en masse became much easier with the new Powerex MH-C980 eight cell charger-analyzer.

Features

  • Charges 1 to 8 AA/AAA NiMH batteries with 8 independent charging circuits.
  • One touch Battery Health Analyzer with capacity readout to provide accurate data.
  • Turbo-charge mode for rapid recharging of batteries (approximately one hour for 20000 mAh).  
  • Thermal Management System to keep batteries cool during charge.
  • Deep Battery Conditioning System to revitalize old batteries.
  • A large backlit LCD display to allow quick glance.

The Powerex MH-C980 eight cell charger works as a charger-analyzer, which offers a conditioning cycle like many other Powerex chargers, the MH-C980 displays the amount of charge in mAh a battery received. By default, it uses a slower "soft charge" charge to maximize battery life over the long term, with an optional turbo button for accelerated charging. The new backlit display is easy to read, and the addition of a cooling fan underneath the unit is pretty serious. It's not super loud but it's definitely noticeable compared to silent chargers that can run hot, diminishing battery life. While I wish it were quieter, it underscores how committed to the Powerex is in maximizing the longevity of their batteries for added value and performance.

Charging Results

To test the charger, I conditioned all of my 2700 mAh Powerex AA and AAA batteries through the MH-C980 to see how they perform. Two of the sixteen, ten-year-old batteries were flagged for replacing but remarkably, averaged 2,406 mAh after conditioning, or 89% of their original capacity! I expected they would all need to be replaced but by removing two batteries that had failed to condition, overall they're surprisingly reliable. Powerex's newer batteries have a manufacturing date mark on them which is quite helpful, but for the older batteries, I had to reference order dates and against revisions in appearance.

What I Liked

  • Determine how much capacity each battery has independently. 
  • Gain more life out of already long-lasting batteries.
  • The cost of Powerex's eight-bay charger/analyzer is only $20 more than the four-bay alternative, the Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer.  
  • The backlit display is bright, easy to read, and can be turned on or off manually.
  • Condensed power brick and simpler plugin connector are compact for travel.
  • The cell number on the display blinks when charging, and remains solid when batteries are ready for use.
  • Soft charging is the default charge setting, with the option for a turbo charge.
  • Most advanced AA/AAA charger I've ever used.

What Could Be Improved

  • Use a quieter fan.
  • Depending on capacity, it can take up to 24 hours to condition and analyze a battery to ensure accuracy.
  • More people using rechargeable batteries!

To think of how many disposable, single-use batteries I've saved over the years is ridiculous. While my ten-year-old Powerex batteries have seen a small dip in performance, I had no practical idea where they stood relative to their original capacities. Whether you chomp through a plethora of AA and AAA batteries for photography, cinematography, audio work, or simply gaming, the last thing any of us need is for equipment to run out of juice in critical situations. The Powerex MH-C980 8-Cell Charger and Analyzer is a welcome addition and the best eight-cell charger in their lineup.

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9 Comments

Lee Christiansen's picture

I've been using a couple of Powerex MH-C800S chargers for years. Seems very similar. How would this one be different / better - if it is? Interested in any upgrade options for my batteries.

Edit: Just discovered that it doesn't have the nice Soft Charge option that my C800S has. I'm rarely in a hurry to charge my batteries so I prefer to treat them gently and this new one seems a little rougher.

Adam Chandler's picture

The article states: "Soft charging is the default charge setting, with the option for a turbo charge." and I think this is true. Turbo mode is available if you need a fast charge and otherwise it automatically opts for soft mode.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I could be reading the specs wrong, but although they say Soft Charging, it seems as if that still charges faster than my old C800S in that "soft" mode.

The incredibly valuable feature of this is the Analyzer.I want to know after years of use with multiple sets of batteries, which of my batteries are still close to the mAh rating printed on the battery and which are dragging down the performance of the rest of them.

Adam Chandler's picture

I also have the older version which I've had for years and love. Not sure how this one is much better and it seems there's a trend in new flashed (i.e. Godox etc) opting to use proprietary large-capacity lithium batteries which I much prefer...

Rob Mitchell's picture

Very tidy. I've had the 4 cell unit for years. Love it. Not sure I've jump to this one as my AA usage has gone down significantly. Unless of course you count the kiddie toys...

Nice. I've had both the 8 bay and the 4 bay analyzer for quite a while. I might get this just so I can move one of those to another space.

Steve Molder's picture

I couldn't agree more. I've been using the MH-C980 8-Cell charger for sometime now and haven't been let down. I personally stick with the soft charge option.

Have used Powerex chargers for years, but had one a while back that went snap, crackle, pop in the middle of the night. Good thing I heard it, could have burned the house down. Take away is don't leave chargers running overnight or when you're away from home. Place chargers on non-conbustable tables/shelves//etc, and in an area where they can't light off nearby items, and use timers.