In the test: ISDT N8 battery charger with USB-C and color display - pick of the week in week 9

ISDT N8 battery charger in the test

It's actually a little strange if I'm less than two weeks after doing the Voltcraft Charge Manager I recommended to already offer the next battery charger as the pick of the week. But: There is a reason.

The Voltcraft Charge Manager CM 2024 is a very expensive device at around 200 euros, but it is definitely worth its price for me due to its comfort and versatility.

The ISDT N8 On the other hand, at just under 50 euros, it is a little special feature of the inexpensive battery chargers, because it offers some things that one looks in vain for models with comparable prices. Here is a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the device:

ISDT N8 battery charger

Benefits

  • solid aluminum frame
  • color display with touch elements
  • Display of charging and discharging curves
  • Display of the internal resistance
  • accepts many types of batteries
  • Power supply via USB-C
  • Win & Mac app for firmware updates
  • Analysis and battery fitness programs
  • cheap price

Disadvantages

  • automatic battery detection not reliable
  • no different battery types possible at the same time
  • no different programs possible at the same time
  • only for AA and AAA round cells
  • Battery not easy to take out
  • Mac app does not work on macOS Big Sur
  • charged cells are slowly emptied (supposedly)

For just under 50 euros, the ISDT charger is definitely a recommendation, despite the restrictions. The values ​​for the analysis are helpful and the battery care programs are sure to bring one or the other battery believed dead back into the race.
The ISDT N8 is also familiar with NiZn batteries. But it automatically recognized neither NiMH nor NiZn batteries for me (photos: Sir Apfelot).

The ISDT N8 is also familiar with NiZn batteries. But it automatically recognized neither NiMH nor NiZn batteries for me (photos: Sir Apfelot).

The N-Series from ISDT: N8, N16 and N24

The N-Series 8 from ISDT is only the smallest of three battery chargers that ISDT has to offer. There is also the N16 and the N24, with the numbers representing the number of slots available.

You can see that ISDT N24 is more for hardcore battery users who have to get many batteries filled at the same time in a short time. I decided on the ISDT N8 because it "only" has 8 slots, but still offers the helpful battery programs and the graphical evaluations of the large models.

The N16 and N24 models of the N-Series also come with their own power supply unit, but I didn't have such a high need for charging slots (Photo: ISDT).

The N16 and N24 models of the N-Series also come with their own power supply unit, but I didn't have such a high need for charging slots (Photo: ISDT).

Why a battery charger with a USB-C port?

Most battery chargers come with an external power supply, which - depending on the number of available slots and charging speed - is quite large and ugly. Nowadays, however, you already have USB-C or USB-A chargers around at home, which may even have become unemployed, because you have bought a stronger multiport power supply with which you can supply several devices at the same time.

The ISDT N8 does not have its own power supply and is instead powered via a USB-C port. However, you can do it just as well with the included USB-A-to-USB-C cable connect to a power supply with USB-A output.

USB-C on the ISDT N8 uses 12 Volt USB Power Delivery

A note right at the beginning: If you operate the ISDT N8 via a USB-A port, it usually only receives 5 volts and is therefore somewhat limited in terms of performance.

If you want to have maximum performance on the ISDT battery charger, you have to use a USB-C power supply that USB Power Delivery and can deliver at least an output voltage of 12 volts.

The firmware update software from ISDT apparently does not come from a verified developer account, which is why it would only be possible to use it under macOS Big Sur with trickery. I ran the updater on Parallels Desktop with Windows, but my ISDT N8 already had the latest firmware.

The firmware update software from ISDT apparently does not come from a verified developer account, which is why it would only be possible to use it under macOS Big Sur with trickery. I ran the updater on Parallels Desktop with Windows, but my ISDT N8 already had the latest firmware.

Test: How much power does the ISDT N8 need?

At first I couldn't say anything about the power of the power supply, because I didn't know how much power the ISDT N8 actually uses when charging 8 AA cells at the same time. So I first put eight of my AA NiMH batteries in the charger to discharge them and my big one Hunda 150 watt USB-C power supply hung on it (you never know!).

Amazingly, the ISDT N8 has over my good CableTex USB C cable (designed for up to 10W USB PD) does not recognize the power supply and just remains dark. Only when I hit the cord against one Tizi Flip USB C cable the charger started. After a few hours the batteries were empty and my actual test could start.

So I left all discharged batteries directly in the device and selected "Charge" via the menu for the battery program. This setting seems to apply to all slots, because the charging process started immediately for all batteries.

My USB multimeter indicated 12 volts and approx. 1,6 amps, which brings us to around 19 watts. However, the power requirement then drops to 1,4 to 1,5 amps within the first two minutes. With an 18 watt power supply like that Anker PowerPort III Nano (here in the test) one would be prepared.

Of course, if you want to charge eight lithium-ion batteries with a nominal voltage of 3,7 volts and the maximum charging current of 1,5 amps per slot, you would get about 45 watts, which I would not recommend for heat reasons. The batteries sit close together and I could imagine that this would hamper the heat dissipation.

My Hunda power supply unit definitely has enough power, but the ISDT N8 wanted a maximum of 12 volts and approx. 1,6 amps - mind you, for charging 8 NiMH AA batteries at 1 ampere charge current. I wouldn’t set any more, otherwise the batteries would be too hot.

My Hunda power supply unit definitely has enough power, but the ISDT N8 wanted a maximum of 12 volts and approx. 1,6 amps - mind you, for charging 8 NiMH AA batteries at 1 ampere charge current. I wouldn’t set any more, otherwise the batteries would be too hot.

Restriction: each setting applies to all shafts

My good Voltcraft Charge Manager CM 2024 allows me to choose the charging current or the battery program (charging, discharging, etc.) for each slot. With the ISDT N8, on the other hand, I am committed, because all shafts do the same. If I switch from charging to discharging in the settings, all inserted batteries are discharged. If I change the charging current from 1 ampere to 0,5 ampere, this also applies to all shafts.

This is one thing I wasn't aware of before purchasing it. If you can come to terms with that, it's ok. Most of the time I only want to charge batteries anyway and if I do want to throw in a "reactivation program", I will do it now when I have a few batteries together that have become too weak.

The temperature rose to 44 ° C when charging and discharging with one ampere, which is borderline for NiMH batteries. For this reason, I set the charging and discharging current to 0,5 amps, which means that the maximum temperature was 39 ° C.

The temperature rose to 44 ° C when charging and discharging with one ampere, which is borderline for NiMH batteries. For this reason, I set the charging and discharging current to 0,5 amps, which means that the maximum temperature was 39 ° C.

Practical: temperature display per shaft

What is also interesting information for the charging process is the current temperature, which is displayed for each slot on the charger. The batteries should not get too hot during charging. In the case of NiMH batteries, the instructions sometimes state that you should not exceed 40 ° C.

During my charging orgy with eight freshly discharged batteries, the temperature was around 40 to 43 ° Celsius. From my point of view, this is a bit borderline, which is why I would strongly recommend lowering the default setting for the charge and discharge current from 1 ampere to 0,5 ampere. This reduces the temperature during charging and discharging to an acceptable 39 ° C.

By lowering the charging current, you not only protect the batteries from overheating, but also ensure a longer service life for the cells through longer charging with lower current.

You really get a lot of information on the display of the ISDT N8. This also allows you to see whether a battery is still fit or needs a replacement soon.

You really get a lot of information on the display of the ISDT N8. This also allows you to see whether a battery is still fit or needs a replacement soon.

Automatic battery detection? Not reliable…

According to the technical description, the ISDT N8 has an automatic detection of the battery type and should then show this on the display. According to the description, this detection does NOT work with NiZn and LiHV batteries. Due to the lack of other battery types, I then inserted Eneloops and NiMH batteries, but here he always chose NiMH, which is basically correct. But automatic detection, which does not work with one type of battery, is only half-practical.

With just a few clicks you get to the menu in which you can select the battery type. At the top of the list would be "Auto", but the automatic detection didn't work so well for me.

With just a few clicks you get to the menu in which you can select the battery type. At the top of the list would be "Auto", but the automatic detection didn't work so well for me.

I have now got into the habit of checking which type it is showing when inserting it and, if necessary, correcting it if it selects something wrong.

"Touch display" is a bit exaggerated ...

Another point of criticism is the advertising statement “touch display”, because practically only three points are provided on the display as controls: The white spots that can be seen in the photo to the right of the display. These offer the following functions: up, enter, down. This allows you to call up menu items and select certain options in the settings.

However, I had a different idea of ​​a touch display: A display that can be operated over the entire surface with the fingers. But even here I would say: It is not what it says on it, but I still think the operation is okay.

The term touch display is clearly exaggerated, because actually only the three dots on the edge are touch-sensitive - the rest of them are not interested in fingers.

The term touch display is clearly exaggerated, because actually only the three dots on the edge are touch-sensitive - the rest of them are not interested in fingers.

Many setting options

It is very gratifying that the menu gives you access to many options that you will look for in vain with other chargers around 50 euros. With the ISDT N8, for example, you can set the discharge current, specify the charging current or influence the display brightness and notification tones.

Here is a representation of the menu with the corresponding options. You can also change it to "German" very easily.

Here is a representation of the menu with the corresponding options. You can also change it to "German" very easily.

Compatible with many different types of battery chemistry

Anyone who uses various battery chemistry will be pleased that the ISDT N8 charger supports a relatively large number of types:

  • Li-Ion (lithium-ion)
  • LiHV (lithium polymer high voltage)
  • LiFe (lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4))
  • NiMH (nickel metal hydride)
  • NiCd (nickel cadmium)
  • NiZn (nickel-zinc)

Mainly NiMH and NiZn batteries are used in my household. I recently did too Lithium batteries from EBL bought, but these can only be charged via a micro-USB connector and are not recognized by conventional chargers.

Pro tip: If you attach the stickers to the bottom, stick them as far as possible to the edge (not like me!), Because otherwise the charger will always wobble when you press the display (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

Pro tip: If you attach the stickers to the bottom, stick them as far as possible to the edge (not like me!), Because otherwise the charger will always wobble when you press the display (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

Switching from NiMH to LiFePo4 batteries

But I think that the LiFe or LiFePo batteries could play a bigger role in the future, because they are not that dangerous if they are damaged. Fast charging and high power consumption are also advantages of the LiFe batteries. However, they offer a lower energy density than the lithium-ion batteries.

Now it would certainly be interesting for many to swap their armada of NiMH batteries for LiFePo4 batteries. The problem, however, is that the LiFePo4 batteries have an output voltage of 3,2 volts and there is currently no model that can replace a standard AA NiMH cell with 1,2 volts or even 1,5 volts.

On the other hand, there are devices such as solar lights that have been specially developed for LiFePo4 batteries. You can handle the higher voltage and the charging electronics feed in enough voltage to charge the cells.

If you are interested in the LiFePo4 batteries, you can find the 8-pack AA batteries from WSB look at. In any case, these batteries can also be charged with the ISDT N8.

The standby consumption of the ISDT N8 (without inserted batteries) is approx. 3 watts - but of course that also depends on which power supply you are using.

The standby consumption of the ISDT N8 (without inserted batteries) is approx. 3 watts - but of course that also depends on which power supply you are using.

My conclusion on the ISDT N8 battery charger

I have to smile when I read “Is the ISDT N8 the best battery charger?” On other blogs. Then some technical data that you have from the product description is thrown through the air and you come to the conclusion that it is pretty good after all.

Apparently the bloggers have not really dealt with the device, because it has a few "problem areas" that you should be aware of.

I have already addressed most of it above, but there are also a few Amazon reviews that report that the device has discharged charged batteries for over two weeks if you simply leave them in the charger. Even after discharging, the batteries would continue to discharge slowly, which at some point leads to deep discharge and death.

I can't check these scenarios because I always take batteries out of the device after a day, but I wouldn't be wounded if I did either. In any case, the ISDT N8 does not seem to have any kind of trickle charge.

The ISDT N8 is a decent charger for a very good price. However, I would switch the charging and discharging current to 0,5 A immediately after unpacking in order to save the batteries - even if this would increase the charging time a little (Photos: Sir Apfelot)

The ISDT N8 is a decent charger for a very good price. However, I would switch the charging and discharging current to 0,5 A immediately after unpacking in order to save the batteries - even if this would increase the charging time a little (Photos: Sir Apfelot)

Despite all these limitations and small quirks, the ISDT N8 is somehow a fine device if you know what you're getting yourself into. The color display, the charging curves, the USB-C connection and also the large amount of data that you get about the battery are very helpful in my opinion if you are interested in more than “empty” or “full”. For just under 50 euros you will hardly find all of this - combined with eight charging slots.

To put it briefly: If money is not an issue and you want the comfortable luxury solution, get it Voltcraft CM 2024. The ISDT N8, on the other hand, is a very interesting solution for anyone who wants a lot of technology for little money - but with some restrictions on comfort.

If you want to take a look at the ISDT N8, you will find it here at Amazon or here at Banggood (I ordered it there because it was not available on Amazon).

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