When it comes to RC, I bash, crawl and race. Almost anything RC interests me. And, I’m not just a landlubber as I also love RC boats and planes. But, for some reason–and I know I’m not alone–I tend to see everything through a racing perspective. I’m not likely to win a world championship anytime soon, but I still have what is honestly described as racer’s bias. I tend to look for the best products for racing and tend to judge a product’s worth based on racing. Yet, what’s best for racing isn’t always as easy and convenient as I’d like it for bashing or crawling. A perfect example is a charger. My search for a new easy-to-use bench charger led me to the Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual–the subject of this review.
As the name indicates, the Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger is capable of charging two packs at once. This is a huge plus, as charging two packs simultaneously obviously allows you to get batteries for two vehicles ready or double your runtime for one vehicle in the time it would normally take to charge just one pack. The overall footprint is small, at 6.75 in. wide by 5.25 deep. It also features a built-in fan for cooling. It’s important to note the EZ-Peak Dual charger is an AC-powered charger with built-in power supply. That means wall outlet only. The EZ-Peak Dual charger uses numerous LEDs and solid push buttons. No LCD screen and no touch screen selection. But, it does have a sub-$100 price tag.
The Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger can charge NiMH and LiPo packs, which is nice, but the more battery chemistries a charger can handle, the more complicated it can get. This is where the iD Auto Battery Identification aspect of this charger comes in. When used with Traxxas iD batteries, the EZ-Peak Dual charger automatically identifies the type of battery being used and the proper charge rate. If you are unaware, iD batteries feature a new Traxxas High-Current Connector with built-in balance ports. If you’ve been running Traxxas for a while, don’t worry. The EZ-Peak Dual charger can still charge packs with Traxxas’ original High-Current Connector, which plugs right in, no adapter needed. When not using an iD battery, you can access balance ports under removable covers on the front of the charger. Each side has ports for 2- and 3-cell packs using JST-XH balance connectors.
When charging a LiPo, the Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger offers three charge modes: Balance, Fast and Store. Balance is the default and preferred method of charging. In Balance mode, the Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger makes sure all cells in the battery pack are fully and equally charged. This is best for the maximum life of the pack. Fast mode doesn’t not balance the cells and stops charging as soon the first cell reaches peak voltage. Store is a storage mode that partially charges the pack, which is ideal for a pack that will not be used immediately.
The Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger features a High Output Mode that will charge 5000 mAh NiMH pack at 5 amps and LiPos over 4000 mAh at what is called a 2C rate, which means a rate twice the capacity. So, for example, a 4000 mAh LiPo will charge at 8 amps. 8 amps is the max, so a 5000 mAh pack won’t charge at a full 2C or 10 amps. It will charge at 8 amps. It’s also worth noting that in High Output Mode, the EZ-Peak Dual charger loses its dual capability. In High Output Mode, it can charge one pack and only on the right-hand port.
The Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger also offers an Advanced Mode, which allows for manual operation. If you have a Traxxas iD battery this will allow you to select the rate you want. If you don’t have a Traxxas iD battery, Advanced Mode is required.
Should an error or problem occur while charging, the Charge Status LEDs will flash an error code. Make sure you keep the manual so you can decode the error indicated.
TESTING & FINAL ASSESSMENT
I first tested the Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger with two Traxxas Power Cell 5800 mAh iD LiPo 2-cell packs. I then used it to charge a Traxxas Power Cell 8.4V 3000 mAh iD NiMH pack. And, I also tested an older Traxxas Power Cell 11.1V 5000 mAh 3-cell pack. The latter required the use of the Advanced Mode because it was not an iD battery. Whether in Advanced Mode or regular charging, I found the EZ-Peak Dual charger to be appropriately easy to use. Just as important, I found that it fully charged each pack. When I charged the two 5800 mAh 2-cell LiPos, it charged at 4 amps. That means it will take over an hour to charge. If I’m in a rush, I can combine High Output Mode with the Fast mode. This isn’t bad for the battery once in a while, but I prefer and personally recommend using the Balance mode as often as possible. While it might not seem important, I am happy to report the built-in fan doesn’t sound like a pair of Black Hawk helicopters. You can hear it, but it’s not obnoxiously loud like so many chargers and power supplies.
To somewhat quickly describe how the Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger works: when first plugged in the charger briefly lights up all LEDs. Both vertical rows of Charge Rate/Charge Status LEDs will flash. If the EZ-Peak Dual charger is in High Output mode, only the vertical column of LEDs to the right will flash. When a Traxxas iD LiPo battery is plugged in the Balance mode and LiPo battery types will illuminate. The appropriate charge rate will also illuminate. The unused side will still have its vertical column of LEDs flashing. At this time, you can change LiPo charge modes–Balance, Fast or Store. Again, Balance is the default, but you can switch to Fast or Store. The bright blue iD Start/Stop button will be on. When this button is pressed and momentarily held, the EZ-Peak Dual charger will start charging. A chime will indicate its started and the fan will turn on. Once the pack is being charged, you are not able to switch between modes. The vertical column will now indicate approximately to show how close to completely charged the pack is. To see the charge rate again, press the Charge Rate Select button. To stop charging, hold the blue iD Start/Stop button. Interestingly, when charging in Store mode, the Charge Status LEDs show how close the battery is to reaching the ideal storage. Basically, if you were charging a pack in Balance mode and two Charge Status LEds were illuminated, but you then stopped the charge and switched to Store mode, three Charge Status LEds might be illuminated. The battery didn’t instantly get closer to fully charged, but it is closer to being “done” in Store mode.
- AC only
- LiPo and NiMH compatible
- 2S to 3S LiPo
- 5 to 8 cell NiMH
- 1 to 4 amps (single and dual charging)
- 5 to 8 amps (High Output charging)
If you run Traxxas vehicles and use Traxxas iD batteries, the EZ-Peak Dual charger is well worth the modest cost. In addition to being inexpensive, it is essentially foolproof, which, in this age of LiPo batteries, a lot of people want. While racers may want the ability to adjust dozens of variables, far more people just want easy and the EZ-Peak Dual more than lives up to its name.
Update (12/27/2019): I original saw the Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger as “just” a bench charger, but as I’ve continued to use the charger, my opinion has slightly changed. I’m not saying it’s a racer’s charger, but if you’re club racing in one class, the High Output mode will definitely get you through the day–especially combined with the Fast charge mode. I’m specifically thinking of the racers participating in a spec Slash class. You’re probably only using a little more than half the capacity of 5800 mAh, in a five minute run, so you’re really only “topping it off” between races.