Horizon Hobby E-flite Celectra 80W AC/DC Multi-Chemistry Battery Charger Review - RC Groups
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Horizon Hobby E-flite Celectra 80W AC/DC Multi-Chemistry Battery Charger Review

Celectra has released a dual power source 80w Multi-Chemistry balance charger. This compact design features a built in AC power supply for convenience and is very easy to use.

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Introduction


Multi-Chemistry Charger:LiPo, LiIon, LiFe, NiMh, NiCad, Pb
Charge Rate:0.1 - 6.0 amps
Discharge Rate:0.1 - 2.0 amps Max 10 watts
Output Power:Maximum 80 watts
Capacities:LiPo, LiIon and LiFe - 1-6s
Capacities:NiCad/NiMh - 1-16 cells
Capacities:Pb 2-24v
Balancing:Built in balance circuit
Input voltage:11v - 18v DC
Input voltage:100-240v AC (50/60Hz)
Balance current:300 mA per cell
Trickle charge current:50 - 200 mA
Charge mode:Peak (NiMh/NiCad) and CC/CV Lithium/Pb
Weight:547g
Dimensions:148mm x 145mm x 56mm
US Distributor:Horizon Hobby
E-flite Celectra AC/DC charger:Celectra Charger
ARF Price:$139.99

E-flite has released a new charger with a great feature set. The Celectra 80W AC/DC Multi-Chemistry charger has a few key features making it well worth a look. As a reviewer, I do get a number of questions from eZone, and the question of what charger to use is common. My advice is simple: Never skimp on certain areas, and a quality charger is something everyone needs in the electric flight game.

The new Celectra has those key features I feel everyone should have in their charger. Few chargers offer built-in AC input, so the E-flite Celectra is a welcome addition to the market.

The built in power supply on this was able to provide the Celectra with 80 watts of charging power. Some AC units are available but they limit output when being powered by the AC side. The other great news is that this unit remains very compact and will be a perfect charger for both home and field use. Let's get to the fun and run this one through the paces.





Key Features

  • Full-featured charger
  • 1 - 6S Li-Po/Li-Fe/Li-Ion
  • 1 - 15 cell Ni-Mh/NiCad
  • 0.1 - to 6.0-amp (80 watt max) charge rate
  • Adjustable charge rates from 0.1 - 6.0 amp
  • Adjustable dicharge rate of 0.1 - 2.0 amps (10 watt maximum)
  • AC or DC input power in a tiny self-contained case
  • Balance battery adapters included
  • Memory store for commonly used packs

Overview

The E-flite Celectra 80 watt AC/DC Multi-Chemistry charger provides you with a very capable charger with a built-in AC power supply. Let's face it: most of us charge at home where DC power is not plentiful. The Celectra gives you an out-of-the-box solution allowing AC input power input. There is nothing else to buy in order to charge right at home using the power outlet!

This charger will be perfect for medium capacity packs with the 80 watt power output. Most of the AC chargers currently on the market are limited to 50 watts, somewhat limiting. This built in AC supply is very flexible and accepts 100-240v (50/60Hz) AC input.

You can also power the Celectra using DC power as well. You can use it with a DC power supply, 12v deep cycle battery or car battery.

Features

  • 80 watts output power
  • AC or DC power input
  • Built in 10 watt dis-charger
  • Built in balance circuit with 300mA balance capability
  • Short-circuit, over-current, reverse polarity, low input voltage and over-temperature protection
  • Normal, storage, balance, discharge and fast charge modes for Lithium based batteries
  • User battery setup with the ability to store and load up to 10 battery profiles
  • 2x16 back-lit, blue LCD
  • Color coded, banana jack, power output terminals (Red = Positive (+), Black = Common or Negative (-))
  • Powerful internal cooling fan with grill cover
  • Operating temperature range of 0C to +50C minimum
  • Meets IP33CW, IK07 environmental specs





Contents

The review package shipped from Horizon Hobby in perfect condition. It was well packaged in a colorful, sturdy box. The contents were isolated and protected from damage that small packages sometimes receive.

Included were 4 language version manuals with complete information about the Celectra Charger. English manual

Includes:

  • Charger unit
  • AC power cord
  • DC power cord with alligator clips
  • Balance adapters for both JST HX and Thunder Power / Flight Power balance plugs
  • Charge cords with banana plugs and E-flite EC5, EC3, EC2 plus JST and standard radio (servo/battery) connectors
  • Manuals (in 4 languages)

Requires:

  • AC or DC power



Testing

I was anxious to try out the new E-flite Celectra charger. The user interface is very simple and completely intuitive. I did not find it necessary to use the manual in order to use this charger. I have used chargers where you had to read the manual just to figure out how to start charging! Hats off for an easy-to-use menu system and user interface.

The easy-to-use menu structure for the Celectra includes:

  • Lithium (you can change from LiPo to LiFe and LiIon)
  • NiCad
  • NiMh
  • PB
  • Save Data
  • Load Data
  • Program Select User Setting

The Celectra charger comes standard with two balance boards, one for JST-XH and another for Thunder Power / FlightPower taps. With those you will be able to balance charge nearly any batteries sold today.

The boards have long leads allowing them to extend from the charger base. This is a great feature so you can keep packs away form the charger base unit and enables you to use LiPo charging bags for additional safety. I really like the longer wires because they ease the charge process, especially since most packs come with very short balance tap plug leads.

The included AC cord is nice and long and made it easy to position the charger where desired. The Celectra charger also includes a DC input cord for use in the field with batteries or DC power supplies. This DC input cord has two alligator clip connectors making it easy to hook up to a car or deep cycle battery.

Lithium batteries

The Celectra AC/DC Multi-Chemistry Charger has support for 3 popular Lithium cell types including:

  • Lithium Polymer
  • Lithium Ion
  • Lithium Ferrite

It is great to have support for all these types since I commonly use both LiPo and LiFe packs. These have different termination voltages, so selecting the correct one is critically important for proper, safe charging.

Charge

This setting allows you to do a standard non-balance charge to Lithium packs. This setting is the first in the menu option. Since most of us balance charge it would have been nice to see that as the first choice. It is great to know this charger can do both standard and balance charges as I do have a few old packs that do not have balance taps.

The Celectra charger display shows the following information while charging:

  • Battery type and charge type (balance fast normal)
  • Battery cell count (user selected)
  • Charge rate
  • Voltage applied to pack
  • Elapsed time
  • mA returned to pack (charge level)

Balance charging

This is the most common setting for charging packs with balance taps. This will monitor the individual cell voltages and keep them balanced as the pack charges. The balance circuit is able to handle a fairly robust 300mA change to the packs. This 300mA rate really helps for the charger to keep up with the balance task even when packs are fairly unbalanced.

Fast charge

I love this setting when at the field, or just in a hurry at home. This enables you to skip the latter part of the charge where the rates are very low and it is trying to cram that last 5% of capacity back into the pack. The time the chargers normally spend completely filling the very last 5% of the pack capacity can easily be 10-15 minutes. Fast charge calls the charge good when it is near done, avoiding that last 15 minutes or so where you only get a few mA's back in the pack anyway. This is a great setting for field charging when you are anxious for that next flight.

Storage discharge

A key feature of good charges is the ability to leave LiPo batteries voltage in a storage capacity. This is proving to be key in maintaining our high "C" packs' life. Those high discharge packs are benefited by not sitting on the shelf fully charged. Leaving those packs fully charged has been found by many to limit the continued performance of those packs. Leaving those packs around 3.7v/cell helps them maintain their low IR for a longer period of time.

Discharge

You can also set the charger to completely discharge your battery pack. This is useful when you want to check pack capacity. The Celectra will allow a maximum of 10 watts of total discharge capability.

NiMh / Nicad batteries

The Celectra Multi-Chemistry charger is able to charge NiCad and NiMh cells as well. This is very useful for flight packs, transmitter packs and other uses. I actually used the Celectra to charge my power tool packs as well!



Charge

The Celectra will allow you charge both NiCad and NiMh cells. The charger supports peak detection method, watching the charge state of the pack determining when it is completely full and then terminating the charge. The charge rate can be selected by the user or you can use an AUTO setting where the charger selects a rate based on the cell internal resistance.

The Celectra charger display shows the following information while charging NiMh/NiCad batteries:

  • Battery type
  • Charge rate
  • Voltage applied to pack
  • Elapsed time
  • mA returned to pack (charge level)

The Celectra has settings for both NiCad and NiMh allowing for termination peak differences in those cell types in the Load Data menu selection.

Discharge

The Celectra is able to discharge NiMh and NiCad batteries as well. You can set this to AUTO or select a value from 0.1v-25v. The charger provides 10 watts of discharge power.

Cycle

Most of us know that for brand new NiCad and NiMh pack may not perform fully to task until they have received several charge discharge cycles. The Celectra supports performing up to 10 "cycles" to a new pack. I recommend running at least 3-5 cycles for all new NiCad/NiMh packs helping them perform better when in use.

PB batteries

The Multi-Chemistry Celectra also supports charging lead-acid and sealed lead-acid batteries.

Charge

For those who have lead-acid batteries to power their field panels or electric starters will find this setting useful. The manual recommends charging a 1/10c rate for Pb batteries.

The Celectra charger display shows the following information while charging Pb batteries:

  • Battery type
  • Charge rate
  • Voltage applied to pack
  • Elapsed time
  • mA returned to pack (charge level)


Discharge

The Celectra also supports discharge of the Pb type lead-acid batteries as well.

Save data

The Celectra charger supports saving a battery profile for up to 10 battery profiles. This may save you time when you initiate charge and discharge cycles. You have 10 memories where you can store the battery profile including such items as:

  • Battery type
  • Charge parameters (balance, fast, normal, discharge etc)
  • Battery capacity


Load data

Load data allows you to load the saved battery profile you have set in the Save Data menu item. You can select one of your pre-loaded profiles to the system memory and it will default to this setting for that battery and charge type.


User Set - Program

This menu setting allows you to change default values and parameters. It also allows you to select from three different Lithium battery profiles.


This includes:

  • Lithium Polymer
  • Lithium Ion
  • Lithium Ferrite




The selection you make here will display that battery type when you use the selector to choose the battery type. It will remain on this setting until you change that via this menu.

Lithium battery check time

As a safety feature the Celectra charger auto detects the number of cells you have in your lithium packs. Normally this process is quick but on larger packs or severely (over) dis-charged packs the charger may take a while determining how many cells are in the pack. Users can adjust the default value of 10 minutes from 5-250 minutes. I recommend leaving this at 10 minutes.


NiMh and NiCad Sensitivity

Users can set the termination sensitivity from 5mV/cell to 20mV/cell on NiMh and NiCad packs. Default values are 8mV for NiMh and 10mV for NiCad. If you have "false" peaks you can adjust values here.



Battery Cut-off Temperature

The Celectra allows the use of a battery temperature monitor (not included) as an added safety feature when charging. Users can select values from 20-80C or 69-176F.


Waste

Users can set the time interval between charge/discharge cycles when performing multiple cycles. Values include 1 - 60 minutes. This is used for battery cool down interval between charge, discharge and charge. It is very wise to allow a cool down period for packs when doing this and the Celectra supports that in this waste value.


Trickle Charging

After the charger detects peak, users can set the trickle charge rate the Celectra will use. This is for use with NiMh and NiCad cells and can be adjusted from 50-200mA.

Safety Timer

The Celectra supports setting a default "off" time for charges as well. This is another important safety feature where the charger will stop charging at that pre-set interval. This value can be set of "OFF" disabling the feature or between 10-720 minutes. Default is 180 minutes and should be fine unless you charge some very high capacity packs that take longer than three hours to charge.


Battery Capacity Cut-off

This is another safety feature and allows users to set a value from 10mA-50,000mA. Default value is 5000mA and if you charge larger capacity batteries you will need to adjust this cut-off. I slightly raised my value as I have a couple of large 5000 mA packs.


Beep and Buzzer Controls

You can select if you want the key input to "beep" or be silent. Users can also select if they want a the termination buzzer to on or off. This is a nice feature for those who don't like the beeps!


Input Power Low Voltage Cut-off

Users can set the low input voltage from 10v-11v. Default value was set for 11v and I see no reason to change that.


Back-Light

You can set the intensity of the screen back-light from 0-100%.

Video

Downloads

Conclusion

I was thrilled to see the new E-flite Celectra charger on the Horizon Hobby site. I am regularly asked here on the forums and from pilots at the field about chargers. The number one question that I receive is why they do not come with built-in AC power supplies. That is an excellent question! Well, now we have one more choice with a build in AC supply.

This highly capable charger includes several key items that no charger should be without. Number one is the ability to balance Lithium battery packs. This is a key to safe charging and really helps to keep our packs healthy. Since most of likely primarily use Lithium battery technology this is a critically important feature.

Another unique feature of the Celectra charger is the built-in AC power supply. This is a feature very few chargers offer. Those that do typically limit that power input to 50 watts. The Celectra supports its full 80 watt power output when powered with either the AC or DC inputs. Excellent! Since most of use charge at home this is an welcome feature.

The Celectra is also capable of charging NiMh/NiCad and Pb batteries as well as three types of Lithium cells. I have used it to charge transmitter packs, power tool packs and my lead sealed 12v Pb battery. It performed perfectly will all these battery types and I had no false peaks when testing with my NiMh/NiCad packs.

The Celectra menu interface was very simple to use. The menus were intuitive, and it was easy to get where I wanted to go. Most will spend little time in the manual. You will be charging in no time with confidence and protection as the charger is loaded with multiple safety features.

The E-flite Celectra AC/DC charger included an excellent hardware package. It had not only the AC power cord but included the DC input wires with alligator clips as well. It includes two balance adapter boards for use with JST-XH and Thunder Power/FlightPower taps. This will have you charging about 95% of the batteries sold on the market today. It is nice there was nothing else to buy to get you balance charging. The leads on the boards were longer that any of my other balance boards. This was also very nice as it allows the use of safety bags for charging.

The Celectra came with 5 different charge leads! Included were three sizes of "EC" type connectors and then both the JST and flight pack (servo) type connectors.

The E-flite Celectra AC/DC Multi-Chemistry charger has been totally reliable and remarkably easy to use. It offers 80 watts of charging power and with the built-in AC supply and compact case is perfect for use at home.

Hits:

  • AC power input!
  • Small compact frame
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Very easy to use
  • Included balance adapters
  • Included charge leads
  • Included AC and DC input cords
  • Bright back-lit display that was easy to read

Misses:

  • Would be nice to have the ability to measure cell IR

Look for your new E-flite Celectra charger at the hobby shop or here - Horizon Hobby

Last edited by Angela H; Sep 19, 2011 at 05:17 PM..
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Sep 30, 2011, 02:32 PM
Surface, Air & Water Rc Toys..
freechip's Avatar
Great review.

The only thing to add would be to the Misses: Pricing

At over twice the price of the same unit except for differences in cables I would not be looking at this model for my next charger purchase.

I guess it depends on how much one values the quality, service and or warranty over the overseas vendor.
Last edited by freechip; Sep 30, 2011 at 02:38 PM.
Sep 30, 2011, 05:29 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by freechip
Great review.

I guess it depends on how much one values the quality, service and or warranty over the overseas vendor.
I get it - in life we all get a choice. The service of Horizon is really second to none. They have taken care of me over the years without question. That is worth a great deal to me.

Components, hardware and manufacture frequently differ as well.

Total cost of ownership is a factor I always consider. My cheapo motors/LiPo's and ESC's have all proven, well cheap.

Some areas of the hobby I don't skimp. Chargers, Receivers and Transmitters are three.

Mike
Sep 30, 2011, 05:56 PM
Surface, Air & Water Rc Toys..
freechip's Avatar
Agree with you, I too value HH service but not in this case. Components may differ greatly to ensure a great problem free product for many years but money don't grow on tree here so I must be wise with my RC investments. Shame they did not compete more with the rest of the market for a almost identical product.

My comments are in no way shape or form going against the great review work you did. Very informative and detailed.

Nice job on that.

The minute I started reading your review I was sold and was getting reading to order but then $$$$ got me. For what it actualy is and does, there are others better priced out there.
Sep 30, 2011, 09:13 PM
Registered User
UlteriorModem's Avatar
Thats a sleek looking unit and the AC input is nice but...

Wow does everyones charger use the same logic chip?

Freechip does your charger deliver on the 80 watts also?
Oct 01, 2011, 08:08 AM
Registered User
I am in the hobby about a year moving from micro heli's to UM planes to parkflyers. I needed to get something but didnt want to have to spend forever learning how to use it. I ordered a different mfr popular model but found it way to difficult to use. I returned it and bought this unit. Works great - very simple. I charge at home mostly so the AC feature was a requirement. I have had too many life lessons with saving a few bucks and regretting it on the service and support end. Decided I couldnt go wrong with HH in that regard. I give it a thumbs up - it's been working great for me the past few weeks I have had it. Realize the purchase $ are more, but agree with PDA4you - total cost of ownership is how I measure it.
Oct 01, 2011, 03:49 PM
Registered User
This charger at this time is hard to justify at the price compared to the competition. I honestly think it is worth maybe $80.00. And targeted at people using small packs such as for UMs and small foamies. Who charges a 6s battery pack with 80watts or at 1C these days.

At $140 one should get a charger with more than the measly 80watts. The integrated power supply only works if as I stated it is meant only for small packs. The price of a power supply these days with all the information and assistance available on the web and in particular RCGroups is miniscule.
Oct 03, 2011, 10:52 PM
**************
davidsons's Avatar
Great review Mike!

Agree with others on price point. Price point for me to consider would be under $80.
Feb 14, 2013, 03:39 PM
Registered User
NCC1701D's Avatar
I got this charger as I liked the all-in-one design. I don't like having a ton of stuff laying around in my small apartment. But I wish I could find the backlight adjust screen that the manual claims is in the unit. I've flipped through the menus but don't see. Does anyone else with this charger know how to access it?
Feb 14, 2013, 03:43 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCC1701D
I got this charger as I liked the all-in-one design. I don't like having a ton of stuff laying around in my small apartment. But I wish I could find the backlight adjust screen that the manual claims is in the unit. I've flipped through the menus but don't see. Does anyone else with this charger know how to access it?
Per the flow chart in the manual it should be the last item under the "User Set Program" menu. If it's not there suggest calling Horizon support.
Feb 14, 2013, 03:59 PM
Registered User
NCC1701D's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by grimbeaver
Per the flow chart in the manual it should be the last item under the "User Set Program" menu. If it's not there suggest calling Horizon support.
Yeah, it's not there. It goes straight from Input Power Low Cut-Off back to the Battery type/V type screen.
Feb 15, 2013, 04:10 PM
Registered User
NCC1701D's Avatar
Horizon wasn't terribly helpful. This is the response I got from them:


Thank you for contacting Horizon Hobby's Product Support Department.
*Please do not respond to this email* This email address is not monitored. Please use our inquiry form for any further correspondence.

I apologize for the inconvenience, this is a misprint in the manual, the original programming had been changed with the back light adjustment left off, I apologize for the inconvenience.

To reply to this e-mail or to place another Horizon Hobby Support Inquiry, please visit our inquiry form.



So basically, for some odd reason, they decided to disable the backlight adjustment. And that's that.
Feb 15, 2013, 04:41 PM
Registered User
I honestly found it kind of odd that they would have it in there to begin with. My guess they ran out of programming space on the chip or something.
Feb 15, 2013, 04:43 PM
Registered User
NCC1701D's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by grimbeaver
I honestly found it kind of odd that they would have it in there to begin with. My guess they ran out of programming space on the chip or something.
I find it odd that they programmed the backlight to stay on 100% of the time. I thought it would be on a timer or something. There's no power switch so the only way to turn off the light is to unplug the charger. Not a major thing, I suppose, but still I wish I could just leave the charger plugged into the wall.
Mar 23, 2013, 12:29 AM
Stitching 'em back together!
stitch1's Avatar
I am thinking about buying one of these as an entry into the world of digital chargers. I like the all in one design and that's its rated at 80 watts unlike most that are 50watts.I mostly fly with 2200mah lipos. So this should allow me to charge them at 2c.

Is there any reason I shouldn't go for this? I like the idea of the bigger chargers and parallel charging. I just don't want to spend that kind of money at this time. At $100 this seems to fit my needs and has to be better then the stock chargers that come with my BNF's.


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