Xtar SC1 Plus Review – A 26800 Charger is Here!

Contents

The Boring Stuff

Xtar sent me this charger in exchange for an honest review. Here is the official product page with pricing. I’m sure it will be available at other retailers like Amazon, Illumn, etc fairly soon.

What comes in the box?

It comes in basic retail packaging. It’s clear molded plastic with a cardboard backing. Fortunately, it’s the kind where the plastic wraps around the cardboard to hold it in place, rather than the plastic-glued-on kind that you have to destroy to open. The following items are included in the box:

  • The charger itself
  • USB A-to-C cable (the inside is blue but it’s only got connections for 2.0 spec)
  • Silicone battery holder strap
  • User Manual
  • QC3.0 USB Power Brick (optional)

Design & Construction

The design is pretty simple. It’s a rectangle with a slot & a slider for the battery to go in. There are some vents near the top to help with cooling because it does get hot.

It’s a very light charger, which is good for portability, but it doesn’t have that dense & high quality feeling. It feels like inexpensive plastic shell. There’s some information molded into the back.

Size & Measurements

SkyRC MC3000 | Xtar PB2S | Nitecore UI2 | Xtar SC1 Plus | Efest LUC V4

MeasurementMeasured (mm)
Length125.1
Width (mode)34.6
Width (max)38.3
Height33.4
Min battery length56.6
Max battery length90.6

Weight empty: 47g

User Interface

There’s no user input. You just plug it in and it does its thing. As it is, the only way to limit charge current is to connect the charger to a low -output USB port. I would have liked a charge current selector switch like on Xtar FC2, with 0.25A, 1A, and 3A positions.

There are four LED’s on the display. Each one corresponds to 25% charge, so one LED blinking means the battery is between 0% and 25% charge. One LED on and one LED blinking means the battery is between 25% and 50% charge. And so on. All four LED’s constantly lit means the battery is full. All four LED’s blinking means the battery is backwards.

Battery Compatibility & Charging Characteristics

The minimum cell length of 56.6mm means that an 18650 is the shortest common size that will fit. That might be a good thing, because most 18650’s can handle the 3A max charging current without any serious issues. Smaller cells like 14500’s might not like it so much. The 90.6mm max length means that it will fit even protected 26800’s if those ever exist.

It took 3.5 hours to fully charge a QB26800 battery (measured at 7400mah) from 2.75V to full. That’s a little over twice as fast as my Nitecore UI2. Termination voltage varied a little bit from 4.20 to 4.22V, which is acceptable.

I tested parasitic drain with the charger unplugged and with a fully charged cell inserted. I measured ~5mA drain for a couple seconds and then it dropped to a negligible 60µA.

USB In & Out

SC1 Plus is input rated for up to 5V 3A max. That means it’s not really taking advantage of the QC3.0 or USB-PD standards, so you don’t need a charger rated for those protocols to get full charging speed. The optional brick is a good one and will do the trick nicely. That power gets to the charger via a USB-C port. As far as I can tell, this port only handles input, not output. Charging works with A-to-C cables and C-to-C cables from 5V only or PD-Rated sources.

To output power and use the powerbank function, you need to use the female USB-A port below the USB-C port. The USB-C port is input only. As a powerbank, it’s capable of up to 5V 2A output and will stop discharging the battery when the battery reaches 3.2V. Passthrough charging works great too, even without a battery inserted, so you’ll only need one power brick to charge a battery and another device.

Xtar includes a silicone band to hold the battery in place when using the powerbank function. It works well for holding the battery in place, but it does prevent the charger from lying perfectly flat.

Competition

Here are some chargers in the same class and how they compare.

Olight UC: highly portably, very slow speed of 0.75A, magnetic, supports Li-Ion & NiMH

Nitecore Ui1 / Ui2: Micro-USB input, 1A per bay max, 1 or 2 cells, no powerbank function, will not start charging if battery is above 4V, Li-Ion only, fits cells as short as 29.3mm

Yonii / Vapcell L1: USB-C input, 2A max speed, no powerbank function, may over-charge cells so read more reviews before buying

A flashlight: there are a few lights that can accept a 26800 and have integrated charging, so you could buy one of those instead of a dedicated charger. Convoy L8 & M3-C come to mine. Astrolux also carries 26800 extensions for several of their models.

This section is not comprehensive. If I didn’t include a particular light here, it doesn’t mean it’s bad or doesn’t deserve to be here. I simply cannot list every possible competitor.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a way to charge a single 26800 cell, I think this is the best option on the market at the time of writing. Thanks to Xtar for sending me this charger for review!