iCharger 3010B vs FMA PowerLab 8? - RC Groups
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Jul 24, 2010, 03:23 PM
Artillery! King of Battle!
Brill 1's Avatar

iCharger 3010B vs FMA PowerLab 8?

I have been trying to wait for the new ThunderPower high wattage charger that I saw at SEFF 2010, but it looks like it will be late September before it is released, and I need a new charger.

I have been using a ThunderPower TP-1010C and love it! It is a REALLY nice charger, but I need more that 220 watts of power.

How does the iCharger 3010B compare to the PowerLab 8 in real world charging? I have read both manuals and they seem to have very similar capabilities.

I'm leaning towards the 3010B because my Sundowner files on 2 5S 5000mah packs that are 2C chargeable. The TP-1010C maxes out at 3.75amps on 10S.


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Jul 24, 2010, 11:51 PM
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akschu's Avatar

We meet again (from the slick thread)

Anyway, I'm partial to the FMA chargers because the quality, safety, and design is very good. I don't have an iCharger so I won't comment on those, however I will point out something that makes the FMA chargers stand out to me:

Go look at the cellpro 10 manual:

Search for accuracy and you find this:

"Charges packs through node connectors with or without connecting main discharge wires to
charger. Compensates for discharge wire lengths up to six feet with 1mV accuracy."

"Measurement accuracy Absolute voltage accuracy: 2mV from 0 to 50V
Charge current: 1%
Capacity added to pack: 1%
Percent capacity (“Fuel”): 5%"

"Voltage calibration Cell voltage measurements are factory calibrated to 1ppm (50μV)
traceable to NIST"

It's pretty obvious to me that the engineer really took his time to make sure that the charger is accurate and safe.

I'm not sure about the specs for the powerlab 8, but I wouldn't think the quality is any less.

Jul 25, 2010, 04:54 AM
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ggcrandall1's Avatar
Originally Posted by akschu
I'm not sure about the specs for the powerlab 8, but I wouldn't think the quality is any less. schu
I can vouch for the PL8 quality. In addition to the in house testing that FMA did there have been 5 of us beta testing (read beating it to death) the PL8 since early December 2009. During that time I know of only one hardware problem. My unit quit talking to the PC, all other functions still OK. Unit went back to FMA and is now fixed.

Jul 25, 2010, 08:42 AM
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everydayflyer's Avatar
I'm leaning towards the 3010B because my Sundowner files on 2 5S 5000mah packs that are 2C chargeable.
This merely means that the 3010B could charge them in series as a 10C while the Powerlab 8 would only charge them as 2ea. 5S in parallel.

As they are 2C capable then 10S X 4V (nonimal) = 40V X 10A (2c) = 400 watts .

5S 2P = 20 V X 20A (2c ) = 400 watts.

thus either charger is fully capable of charging these at 2c using a 12V output power supply capable of 25A plus output.

One point that perhaps deserves additional consideration is that LiPolys are becoming capable of higher and higher charge rates. Five and six c is now common and one as yet to be released one I am testing at 10c charges. As the charge rate goes up and the number of cells in series increases the amount of available balancing power becomes increasingly important. The POWERLAB 8 has approx. 3 times the balancing power of the 3010B and most other balancing chargers.

Jul 25, 2010, 08:46 AM
Registered User
I have 2 powerlab 8 and 2 Icharger 208B , they both do there job well. It took iCharger some time to come up with good software where no connection breakdowns occurred, but they did. Looking at your flight pack you should thoose the Icharger, it gives you the advantage to charge your pack at almost 5C where as the powerlab 8 max will do 3C, because you need to put the 5s packs in parallel when using the powerlab. Yes at the moment you have 2C packs, but your next buy will be 5C packs.

Bart ,

to late :-)
Jul 25, 2010, 09:47 AM
Southern Pride
everydayflyer's Avatar
5C for a 10S 5000 would be 25Amps at 40volts or 1,000 watts which would require a power supply capable of 50 amps @ 24 volts.

Jul 25, 2010, 10:01 AM
Southern Pride
everydayflyer's Avatar
A couple of noteable difference differences.

PowerLAB 8 does a CC /CV discharge to storage so that all cells are extremely ckose to 3.85 per cell.

3010B does a CC discharge to storage so cells may not be closely balanced at 3.85 (not a big deal IMO) but seems to be for some.

POWERLAb 8 does a discharge to set cell voltage as in if set to terminate discharge at 3.3 volts per cell it stops the cdischarge when the first (lowest) cell reaches 3.3 volts.

3010B discharges to a 9.9 volts for a 3S using the same 3.3 volts per cell setting. Thus means that thatr some low cells could be signafinately lower. This issue/bug(?) has been reported by several over a rather long period of time and has never really been addressed.

When using 3.3 per cell LVC this is not so much of an issue however if using 3.0 per cell it could be a major issue and it also causes issue with poorly matched cells when doing capacity checks.

A test I hope to get to latter today is difference in charging time at high charge rates bases on available balancing power.

I have a TP Pro Power Generation 6 3S 2250 which I have charged at 10c (22.5A) on the PL8


wl be interesting tosee how the 3010B does with same LiPoly at same charge rate.
Last edited by everydayflyer; Jul 25, 2010 at 10:13 AM.
Jul 25, 2010, 11:34 AM
Southern Pride
everydayflyer's Avatar

POWERLAB 8 versus icharger 3010B at 22.5A

OK here it is. Post above has link to a different 22.5A (10C) charge of this same ^TP 3S2250 at 22.5A . This time I discharged the pack at 40A to 10V on my CBA III / Camlight Systems CC-400 discharg setup and then first charged at 22.5A on PL8 ,then discharge the same way and charged on 3010B.

PL8 @22.5A
Charge terminated at 2A with 2,063 indicated time 7:29 cells at rest 4.18 / 4.18 / 4.18
IRs 2.3 / 1.7 /1.7

3010B @ 22.5A
Charge terminated at 2.1A with 2,129 mAh indicated ,time 8:27 cells at rest 4.18 / 4.19 /4.18
IRs 2 / 2 / 1

CBA II indicated 2,129 mAh delived during discharge just prior to 3010B charge.

To make test a little more valiad I will discharge the LiPoly same settings and repeat the charge test.

Discharge following first 3010C yeilded 2,140 mAh .

Charge on 3010 7:51 , 2,124 mAh , IRs 2 / 2/ 1 Volts 4.18 / 4.19 / 4.18

Discharge 2,151
PL8 charge 7:33 , 2,144 mAh IRs 2.4 / 1.5 / 1.5 volts 4.18 / 4.18 / 4.18

Last edited by everydayflyer; Jul 25, 2010 at 12:10 PM.
Jul 25, 2010, 01:49 PM
Registered User
Nice compare, I already had the idea today that the PL 8 was faster then the 208B, (prove I didn't have). But the last part ( how is that called ?) where the current has to drop to get no over charge, is faster then the iCharger.
The 5s G3 CX 3300mAh needs almost no balancing.

Jul 25, 2010, 02:57 PM
A man with too many toys
I have a CellPro 10s and a 1010B+. For the same charge rate the CellPro is always noticeably faster. Its even more pronounced on larger (6s and 8s) packs. I wonder if it has anything to due with the higher balance current of the CellPro or is it charge logic.

I am also in the market for a high wattage charger and I will probably go with the PL8 because its faster.

iCharger really needs to have higher balance current and better charge logic to make it faster. I like their design and price better but I dont like it to be so slow.

Jul 25, 2010, 04:35 PM
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everydayflyer's Avatar
Wonder what would happen with cells in not such great shape.
Next test is a 5 year old Thunder Power ProLite 13C 3S 1320.
First I discharged it on CBAII at 5A to 10V then I charged it on the

PL8 @ 4A charge took 25:28 for 1,146 mAh in cells at rest 4.19 / 4.19 / 4.19 and IRs 22.3 / 16.3 / 16.3 .

next discharged again at 5A to 10V and next step will be a 4A charge on the 3010B. 1,151 mAh discharged on CBA III

Charged on 3010B @ 4A 28:13, 1,162 mAh cells voltage 4.18 /4.19 / 4.19 IRs 30 / 25 / 23

Last edited by everydayflyer; Jul 25, 2010 at 05:17 PM.
Jul 25, 2010, 05:55 PM
A man with too many toys
Why is the 3010B IR so far off?
Jul 25, 2010, 06:30 PM
Registered User
There is no one "right way" to measure IR so different devices will give different results. However, I suspect the PL8 will give more consistent and more precise (note, precise, not accurate) results simply because it was designed with IR measurement in mind whereas it was a feature retro-fitted to the iCharger family.

iCharger really needs to have higher balance current and better charge logic to make it faster. I like their design and price better but I don’t like it to be so slow
LOL! So a difference of about 1 minute is the deciding factor? Given we have moved from a world where for most folk it used to take 45 to 75 minutes to charge a lipo into one where we are talking about under 10 minutes to charge a handful of packs at once, I fail to see the speed difference as significant, but each to their own.

However, overall the PL8 appears to be a step ahead of the 3010B on several fronts and is probably the king of the hill of currently available high power chargers. The 3010B has some features that the PL8 does not but if you don't need/want them and particularly of you want to do battery analysis, the PL8's superior software makes it the better choice.
Jul 25, 2010, 06:44 PM
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everydayflyer's Avatar
FMA chargers use a true Kelvin system to measure IRs. Do a Goggle. There is no more accurate means available. True cell IRs will very with temp. state of charge cell condition etc. but these tests were back to back and as close to the same as I could conduct them without a labratory.,

By the way the difference can be a lot more that one to several minutes.
I have gotten toired of waiting for am iCharger and a few others to balance a pack and placed it on my Cell Pro 10 or Powerlab 8 and had it finished charged and balance in short order.

Not everyone has LiPlys that balance as well as mine ,even my 5 year old ones. One the other hand I have posted numerious times that my very old Thunder Power 1010C /210V combo will charge and balance some packs faster the Cell Pro 10.

Last edited by everydayflyer; Jul 25, 2010 at 06:54 PM.
Jul 25, 2010, 07:27 PM
Registered User
Yep, a Kelvin system is the best physical design to get the most precise measurement and the iChargers do not do it that way. The PL8 uses a Kelvin design and as far as I can tell, a higher bit-count ADC and is definitely more precise overall than the 3010B for most parameters (e.g. IR values and cell voltage to .001V instead of .01V). The extra precision does not matter to me but would to some.

However there is an important distinction between precision (how finely a value can be measured) and accuracy (how close the value is to the "real" value). I suspect that for current and voltage the PL8 may also be more accurate.

The "real" value of cell IR is not well defined and differs not only by state of charge, temperature, history etc. but also by the algorithm used to make the measurement. There is much debate about the voltage profile to use when measuring cell IR and hence even if two vendors both used the same Kelvin technique, they would come up with different answers. Both can be equally precise but each will claim theirs is more accurate.

I use IR measurements simply as a quick check of cell health so the exact numbers matter less than their relatively within a pack or for a given pack over time. For anyone that wants higher precision IR measurements the PL8 is a better choice.

The PL8 leads on:
* Better PC software (control, logging and easy upgrades)
* Higher balance current (important if you have dodgy packs)
* Higher precision measurements overall
* More precise and consistent IR measurement
* Discharge algorithm provides more per-cell protection

The 3010B leads on:
* Price
* PC interface included in the base price
* Ability to do up to 10S packs
* Compact size

Both are made in and distributed from Asia.

Both have local distributors in the US (and some other geographies) to provide local support and warranty backup.

Originally Posted by amigob
I have 2 powerlab 8 and 2 Icharger 208B , they both do their job well.
Last edited by kgfly; Jul 25, 2010 at 10:13 PM. Reason: Added note that 3010B can do 10S packs

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