Having vaped since 2015 and amassed over 200 mods in that time, most of which require external batteries, having a good external charger really is a must to maintain the optimum performance from those batteries.
As you will probably know I would ALWAYS recommend charging your vape batteries using an external charger rather than relying on the internal charging circuits that the mods provide. The level of safety and control with external chargers far outweighs that in the mods themselves.
Batteries are the most important aspect of vaping and good quality batteries are not cheap so it makes sense to treat them with respect, look after them and maintain them properly.
The benefits of using external chargers is the convenience of charging more than one battery at a time and being able to monitor the status of those batteries. They are dedicated chargers, fit for purpose, charging multiple batteries independently with the assurance that your batteries are NOT being stressed.
We were very pleased to have XTAR contact us to ask if we wanted to review their new VC4SL charger and jumped at the chance. Thank you XTAR and thank you June for sending it to us.
Here at vapinghardware we already own and use 5 different XTAR chargers, including 2xVC4’s, VC4S, VC2 Plus and the SV2 Rocket and have always been very happy with the quality and reliability of their products.
In brief, the XTAR VC4SL is a 4-bay charger and independently chargers Li-ion/Ni-MH batteries ranging from 10440 to 32650 sized batteries, including AAA / AA / C and D batteries. It incorporates a colored LCD screen showing all of the charging information and runs from a Type-C USB QC 3.0 port.
The VC4SL has an increased battery slot compartment length making it extreamly versatile and capable of charging even protected 21700 batteries. Charging currents are selectable at 5 different levels of 3A, 2A, 1A, 0.5A and 0.25A.
Read on and find out just what we thought about the Xtar VC4SL battery charger and look into what it’s capable of doing.
I would like to thank June at XTAR for sending me the XTAR VC4SL Battery Charger to review. As always this review is completely unbiased and is my honest opinion based on my findings. We may receive a small affiliate fee if you click on any of the buy links but at no extra cost to you.
XTAR VC4SL Battery Charger Review
- Features and Specifications
- What’s in the Box?
- VC4SL Design and Appearance
- VC4SL Functionality
- – Battery Compatibility
- – VC4SL Function
- – Charging Current
- – Mode Functions
- – 0V Activation
- – Grading Mode
- – Storing Mode
- – Screen Display
- VC4SL Performance
- XTAR VC4 Comparison
- XTAR VC4SL Price
- XTAR VC4SL Verdict
- XTAR VC4SL Summary
Features and Specifications
- Dimensions: 156mm (L) x 115.5mm (W) x 35mm (D)
- Weight: 212 grams
- Construction: Flame retardant ABS materials
- Input: QC3.0. 5V-3A, 9V-2A. Type-C USB
- Charging Current: 1x3A, 2x2A, 4x1A, 4×0.5A selectable
- 4-Bay Independent Charging
- Battery Types: 18350, 18650, 20700, 21700, 26650 plus many more….
- Battery Chemistry: Li-ion / IMR / INR / ICR / Ni-MH / Ni-CD
- Cut-off Voltage: 4.2V +/- 0.05V and 1.45V +/- 0.1V
- Cut-off Current: <120mAh
- Operating Temperature: 0-40oC
- Revive Over Discharged Batteries
- Three Stage Charging TC/CC/CV
- Selectable Charging Current 3A/2A/1A/0.5A/0.25A
- Full Charge Cut-Off
- Current Buffering
- Reverse Polarity / Short Circuit / Overcharge / Overheat Protection
- LCD Displays Real Time Charging Status
- Capacity Grading and Storing Function
- Extra Long Bay Slots…Charges 21700 Protected Batteries
What’s in the box?
- XTAR VC4SL Battery Charger
- Drawstring Bag
- Type-C USB Input Cable
- User Manual (11 Languages)
It’s worth noting that the charger doesn’t come with a QC 3.0 quick charge plug and will have to be purchased separately in order to charge at the higher current rating. When connecting the charger to a standard USB port, you will only be able to draw the maximum current that that port provides.
XTAR VC4SL Design and Appearance
The XTAR VC4SL battery charger is a 4-Bay multi-chemistry charger capable of charging 4 Li-ion/Ni-Cad batteries independently from one another. It complements the range of existing VC series chargers from XTAR and we will give a brief overview of their VC4 series range later on in this review.
Note: It can be a bit misleading as the Xtar VC4SL and the Xtar VC4 PLUS versions are exactly the same device. The only difference between them is the title name. The VC4 PLUS is sold only on XTAR’s official retail store whereas the VC4SL charger is sold everywhere else. Irrespective of it being called VC4SL or VC4 PLUS, they are no different.
Constructed out of flame retardant and fire resistive ABS material, it measures 156mm long, 115mm wide by 35mm deep. A large colored LCD screen positioned above the battery slots, measuring 76mm by 31mm displays the real time status of each independently charging battery. This LCD display indicates:
- Battery Voltage
- Charging Current (mA)
- Internal Resistance (m ohm)
- Battery Capacity (mAh)
- Battery Type
Below the LCD screen are two buttons “Curr” and “Mode” which select the different functions of the charger. Either side of these two buttons are 4 colored LED’s which depict the charging status of each independent battery slot showing, CH1, CH2, CH3 and CH4.
Further explanation of these functions is detailed in the Functionality section of this review.
The 4 independent battery slots have spring loaded adjustable negative (-) latches to facilitate the differing size batteries. The two inner slots accept the standard sized 18650 batteries, while the two outer slots are wider in width to accept the larger diameter 20700/21700/26500 batteries.
One advantage of the XTAR VC4SL over the VC4S is the length of the battery slots. They measure approx. 79mm in length so WILL accept protected 21700 batteries. I’m guessing the “L” stands for the longer battery compartment/slots.
On the front of the VC4SL charger is the Type-C input connector specified as QC 3.0 5V/3A and 9V/2A. Strangely enough, this input port has no labeling on the casing like the VC4S version did, saying that it’s the input port. Pretty obvious i know but worth mentioning.
The bottom of the VC4SL casing has 4 little rigid ABS feet so doesn’t sit flush to the surface allowing for airflow underneath the charger. Again, the VC4S version I have has 6 little rubber pads acting as feet. Either is fine but if I’m honest, I prefer the little rubber pads which stop the charger sliding across the surface.
Airflow to the VC4SL is achieved by the 6 indented slots running the width of the underneath and sides of the charger.
XTAR VC4SL Functionality
The VC4SL will charge the vast majority of cylindrical batteries available in the market place today and because of its longer battery compartment (79mm), will accept the longer protected 21700 batteries too.
Removal of standard 20700/21700 batteries, even if fitted in all 4 slots, is easily carried out by sliding the battery downwards on the negative sprung terminal and lifting away. The increased battery compartment length of the VC4SL makes this so much easier over the VC4 and VC4S chargers.
XTAR specify that all of the following battery types can be charged:
- Li-ion / IMR / INR / ICR 3.6V/3.7V – 10440, 14500, 14650, 16340, 17335, 17500, 17670, 18350, 18490, 18500, 18650, 18700, 20700, 21700, 22650, 25500, 26650, 32650.
- Ni-MH /Ni CD 1.2V – AAAA, AAA, AA, A, SC, C, D.
The XTAR VC4SL is an advanced 4-Bay dedicated charger and provides the following functions and safety features. Selecting either the “Curr” or “Mode” buttons will enable you to cycle through the available options:
- 0V Activation – Revives over-discharged batteries
- TC/CC/CV three stage charging
- Selectable 3A/2A/1A/0.5A/0.25A charging current
- Precise cut-off when fully charged
- Current buffering technology
- Reverse-Polarity / Short Circuit / Overcharge and Overheat Protection
- Capacity Grading and Storing Functions
- Max 3A charging for a single slot
- Internal Resistance Measurement
The big advantage of the VC4SL is its ability to manually select different charging current to suit your specific requirements. As we have mentioned many times throughout our different battery guides, charging your batteries using a lower charging current IS kinder and less stressful for your batteries.
When using a QC 3.0 USB power supply, you can charge 1 x battery at 3A, 2 x batteries at 2A or 3/4 x batteries at 1A / 0.5A / 0.25A.
Using a standard 5V 2.1 Amp USB power source you can charge 1 x battery at 2A, 2 x batteries at 1A or 3/4 x batteries at 0.5A/0.25A.
Selecting these different charging levels is carried out by pressing the “Curr” button. This will cycle through the available charging options of 250mA, 500mA, 1000mA, 2000mA or 3000mA. A visual indication of the charging current is displayed on the LCD screen on the second quarter (3-6 O-clock) in a blue color.
The current selection DOES apply to all 4 slots and can’t be selected for each individual slot.
Selecting a higher charging current beyond the chargers capability, i.e. 4 x batteries at 3A, the charger will select the appropriate charging current that it’s capable of providing.
Selection of the different modes the XTAR VC4SL can provide is carried out using the “Mode” button just below the LCD display. Press the “Mode” button to switch between the following functions:
- Cap (Capacity)
- Cur (Current)
- IR (Internal Resistance)
- Grad (Grading)
- Store (Storing)
Whichever function you select, the LCD display will highlight that particular function at the top of the LCD screen.
Sequential single push button presses of the “Mode” button will cycle through the first 3 options of Cap, Cur and IR. Holding the “Mode” button down for 2 seconds will jump into Grad mode. Pressing the “Mode” button for two further seconds will jump into Store mode.
Pressing the “Mode” button again for two seconds will take you back to the normal Cap, Cur and IR modes.
This mode is automatically detected and activated when the battery is inserted. If the battery is broken or incapable of being charged, the display will indicate an error (Err). Dispose of the damaged battery safely using the appropriate method.
The XTAR VC4SL will initially charge the battery to full capacity. Once charged, it will then discharge the battery. The battery will then be charged again with the numerical display indicating “CHG”. When the battery is fully charged and the grading completed the numerical display will alternatively indicate “donE” and show the battery capacity.
The XTAR VC4SL will either charge or discharge the battery to its nominal operating voltage of 3.7V or 1.2V respectively, depending on the battery type being used. This is the ideal voltage for the battery to be stored unused for any length of time.
If the inserted battery is below its nominal operating voltage of 3.7V / 1.2V, the charger will charge the battery and the numerical display will indicate “CHG”. If the inserted battery is above the nominal operating voltage, the charger will discharge the battery and the numerical display will indicate “dCHG”.
Once the battery reaches its nominal storing voltage, the numerical display will cycle indicating “donE” together with the battery voltage.
As I’ve already mentioned, the LCD display shows all of the real time charging information for each independent battery slot. The 4 independent dials show the charging voltage in 6 incremental levels and the selected charging current.
Below each dial are 4 numerical 4 digit displays indicating Internal Resistance in milliohms and the real time charging current and battery capacity.
When the battery has been fully charged, the display will indicate “FULL” and cycle either Internal Resistance (IR), Capacity (Cap) or Current (Cur) value on the 4 digit display depending on what you’ve selected.
Directly above the battery slots is a small illuminated slot number, CH1, CH2, CH3 and CH4. When the charger is powered, each battery slot channel number will illuminate in green. When a battery is inserted, the CH# will turn red indicating that it’s being charged. Once fully charged, the red CH# number LED will turn green.
When you initially power the XTAR VC4SL charger and start to charge your batteries, the display screen will be at full brightness. After approximately 1 minute, the LCD display will dim to half brightness. Pressing the “Curr” button will illuminate the display screen to full brightness again.
Pressing and holding the “Curr” button will extinguish the LCD display but the CH# numbers will still be illuminated. A quick press of the “Curr” button will illuminate the display once again.
When using this mode, the main display dials will extinguish and the 4 digit numerical display indicates the status of the battery.
If a battery can’t be activated or recognized, the numerical display will indicate “Err” and the color changing CH# will be green indicating that the battery won’t charge and is broken.
XTAR VC4SL Performance
The XTAR VC4SL is a very well built and constructed battery charger, something we’ve come to expect throughout XTAR’s entire range of chargers.
Each sliding spring loaded negative battery connecting terminals feel robust and slide smoothly from closed to fully expanded. Because the VC4SL has the longer battery bays, removal of an 185650 and 20700/21700 battery is a lot easier because the battery length doesn’t fully extend the spring terminals.
The LCD display shows real time charging parameters of each individual battery and the 4-bays are independent from each other. The display is bright, clear and informative.
Being able to select specific current charging levels is a real bonus for me as I do prefer charging my batteries at a lower current level to help prolong their cycle life.
Whilst charging, the charger case remains cool to the touch and if you wish you can extinguish the LCD display with just the CH# lights showing it’s on.
My only slight niggle with the charger are the ABS feet. When placed on a flat surface, the charger is prone to sliding on the surface if touched. Not an issue as it’s easily rectified by putting sticky rubber or felt pads on the bottom to stop this happening.
XTAR VC4 Comparison
Because there are a few different 4-bay models that XTAR produce, we’ve included a comparison chart highlighting the main differences between them.
|Battery Type||3.7V / 1.2V||3.7V / 1.2V||3.7V / 1.2V||3.7V / 1.2V||3.7V / 1.2V|
|Input Power||5V 2.1A ADC Jack port||5V 2.1A & QC3.0 Micro USB port||5V 2.1A USB Type-C port||5V 2.1A & QC3.0 USB Type-C port||5V 2.1A & QC3.0 USB Type-C port|
|Max Charging Current||1A x 2||3A x 1||1A x 2||2A x 2||3A x 1|
|Current Selection||Automatic||Automatic||Automatic||Selectable 2A/1A/0.5A||Selectable 2A/1A/0.5A/0.25A|
|LCD Display||Battery Type Charged Volume Charging Current Charging Voltage||Battery Type Charged Volume Charging Current Charging Voltage Internal Resistance||Battery Type Charged Volume Charging Current Charging Voltage||Battery Type Charged Volume Charging Current Charging Voltage||Battery Type Charged Volume Charging Current Charging Voltage Internal Resistance|
All of the above chargers look very similar in appearance but the chargers capable of charging protected batteries have a longer battery bay length. For the additional features, the VC4SL really is a great performance charger.
XTAR VC4SL Price
Expect to pay around £30 / $30 for the XTAR VC4SL battery charger. Considering the specification and level of functionality it really is a very good buy.
Always buy your charger from a trusted and reputable supplier. We have included a couple of suppliers that we would recommend and have used before.
XTAR VC4SL Verdict
- Really good build quality
- Great design
- Good value for money
- Informative display
- Extra long battery slots
- Selectable charging currents
- Storage / Grading / 0V Activation modes
- 3Amp fast charge
- No rubber or felt feet to stop surface slip
XTAR VC4SL Summary
I would definitely recommend the XTAR VC4SL battery charger to anyone wanting to use a dedicated charger to charge their batteries. It’s well built, robust, has a very informative display and is very reasonably priced.
XTAR are a reputable and very well known company and are one of the top brand chargers in the market place today. We’ve recommended a few of their chargers in our Best Battery Charger post including this one.
The real advantages of the VC4SL charger has to be the selectable charging currents and the longer battery compartment length. Being able to charge standard 18650 and 20700/21700 batteries, including protected 21700 batteries makes this really versatile.
Whilst fast charging is really handy, giving the user the option of charging your batteries at 5 different charging levels from 3A down to 250mA makes this a fantastic all-in-one charger.
Even though I use the VC4S daily and it’s a really good charger, I will be using the VC4SL more because of these features.
I can only say again that charging any vape batteries in a dedicated charger is definitely the way to go and does give you the peace of mind that they are being looked after.
Hope you enjoyed this review on the XTAR VC4SL and found it useful. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave us a comment below.
If you do purchase one, please do drop us a comment and let us know how you’re getting on with it.