Kong Power KP-50W3a Charger review by Booligan
Table of Contents:
A good battery charger is more or less a necessity for all AEG users. If you are using a LiPo/LiFe/Lilo battery, it's even more crucial as the wrong charger could destroy your battery and potentially cause a fire/explosion. That's where the Kong Power KP 50W3a charger comes in. It is a microprocessor controlled smart charger that's powerful enough to charge in blistering speeds, while being small enough to put in your pocket and bring out to the field. It offers a ton of features that we'll get into over the next few sections.
This item was sent to Airsoft Retreat directly from Kong Power. Now, if you haven't heard of Kong Power, they are a Taiwanese company that is involved in the R.C. market, and has decided to bring their products to the airsoft market. Their main focus is on LiPo batteries, chargers, balancers, and other related products. This charger is their newest "multicharger", and is priced on their main webpage at $79.99. Airsplat is currently selling this charger for $99.99, including the AC adapter.
The KP50W3a is a pocket sized smart charger, designed to run off of a 12v car battery, but able to run off of an AC adapter for in-home use. It is designed to charge LiPo/LiFe/Lilo batteries with 1-3 cells with balancing function, as well as standard NiMH/NiCd batteries with 1-8 cells (1.2-9.6v). It charges at rates from 0.1A through 5.0 for very slow to very fast charges. It features an LED display to help you program and use the charger for your specific battery. It is very small, meaning that you can easily place it in a "go bag" or even in your pocket so that you can keep it close at hand.
The charger arrived in a nicely decorated box, and the whole thing was MUCH smaller than I anticipated. My model included the optional AC power supply, which I believe is sold separately. There are pictures of the charger on the box as well as some pretty detailed specifications about the output power and battery use.
From here on, click all pictures to enlarge
Included in the package was the charger itself with hard mounted battery input wires and alligator clips, and the standard large/small Tamiya charger output wires which are connected to the charger using "banana" plugs. There was also a piece of paper with detailed, "Engrish"-free instructions on proper use. As mentioned previously, mine included a second box housing the AC adapter, which I believe is an optional item.
Everything included with mine (AC adapter may not be included in base package)
Weight: 120 grams (!)
Length: 4.5" (not including wires)
Input: 11-18v DC/120v with AC adapter
Charge Rate: 0.5A-5.0A
High density polymers are the best way to describe the external construction. The whole body of the charger is constructed of polymer with a multitude of ventilation holes molded in to keep it running at the correct temperatures.
On the left end, the input battery wires sprout out, measuring about 38". Next to the input wires is the AC adapter input.
Input battery leads
On the right side, the LiXX battery balancing ports and charging output ports are easily visible. Now, this comes with the basic large/small Tamiya output adapter, but Kong Power sells a more or less universal adapter that they call the "Kraken", which allows you to connect it directly to any major battery connectors such as Deans, JST, Futaba, etc.
The main face of the charger has the simple two button interface, the LED display, and a list of error codes for quick reference. The LED display is bright and visible in direct sunlight.
Overall, this thing is a solid little piece of equipment. It really is light enough to carry out to a game and use as an emergency charger if someone's battery goes down, but is powerful enough to use as your normal day to day charger.
To do a charging/balancing demonstration, I'm using a Kong Power 11.1v 1100 mAh LiPo battery, in a loose 3 cell configuration. It is an awesome little battery, taking up less space than a 9.6v mini type Nunchuck pack.
Battery used in this test
First things first, you need to either plug in the AC adapter or connect the input clips to a 12v car battery. This will bring the charger to life automatically. You now need to select the battery type. This is accomplished by pushing the two buttons at the same time to scroll through the various battery types. Select PO (LiPo) and move on to the next step.
Battery type (LiPo selected)
You now need to select your cell count, which in this case is three. Push the left button until Po3 is shown.
3 cell LiPo
Now, you must select your charge speed. A rule of thumb to follow is not to charge faster than 1C. This means that for this 1100 mAh battery, the max it should be charged at is 1.1A. The charge speeds are from 0.1-1A in 0.1A increments, and from 1-5A in 0.5A increments. This means that the fastest safe speed to charge this battery at is 1A, which is easily selected by pushing the right button until it reads C 1.0.
1.0A charging speed
It's now time to connect everything and get it started charging. Connect the charging plug to the battery, and if using a LiXX pack, connect the balance plug to the appropriate port on the charger.
Once you're all connected, press and hold the right button to start the charging cycle. If your connections are good, it will start right up, showing you the current charger output in real time.
Real-time charger output
As it charges, it will balance your LiXX pack, and you can check the voltage both of the individual cells as well as the whole pack during the charge cycle. This is accomplished by pushing the left button, which will first show the total pack voltage, then will cycle through the individual cells with each button push.
Current pack voltage
Cell 1 voltage
Cell 2 voltage
Cell 3 voltage
The charger will adjust the output amperage as it progresses through the cycle in order to best fill the battery. Once the battery has reaches the maximum safe voltage, the charger will make a loud beeping noise, and will automatically shut down, displaying FUL on the LED display. You can manually stop the charge cycle by pushing and holding the right button.
If charging a normal NiMH/NiCd battery, follow the same steps, including selecting the proper cell count (1-8). Disregard the step involving checking individual cell voltages, as NiMH/NiCd packs are not normally equipped with a balance plug.
Overall, it's a relatively simple system to use, while still offering a very sophisticated charging cycle. Follow the directions, and you should have no issues.
Compact and lightweight
Able to charge all major battery types
Simple 2 button interface
Fully automated balancing and shutdown
Able to be run off of 120v AC or 12v DC (with AC adapter)
Built in LiXX balancing
Requires adapter to charge Deans plug equipped batteries
Requires you to set up unit for individual batteries before charging
Only fully charges up to 9.6v NiMH/CD battery
This thing is a kick ass battery charger, plain and simple. It's perfect for both charging all your batteries at home before a game, as well as serving as an emergency charger out at the field. The built in balancing feature makes it perfect for use with all LiXX type batteries, provided they use 2-3 cells. Kong Power has several other products that will be reviewed shortly here on Airsoft Retreat!
Many thanks again to Kong Power and of course, Airsoft Retreat!
Where to buy:
US: Airsplat http://www.airsplat.com
UK: FireSupport LTD http://www.fire-support.co.uk/category.php?cat=28