Folomov A1 Single Cell Charger Review

Preface

There’s a new charger brand on the markets, being carried by the fine gentlemen at Illumn.com.  So far I believe there are three models, the A1, A2, and A4.  The A1 is what we’ll be seeing here (I have the A4 also, look for the review soon).

The A1 is a very interesting little cable/magnet charger, which doubles as a powerbank.  Read on for more!


Official Specs

Short Review

This is a fun little useful charger/powerbank.  I’d call it a good backup, or even a good bug-out bag addition.

Long Review

Key Features

  • Magnetic leads with reverse polarity protection
  • 0V activation feature
  • Constant current and constant voltage charging algorithm
  • Overcurrent and overdischarge protection

Specifications

  • Max Charging Current: 1000mA
  • Charger input: 5V 1A
  • Output: 5V 1A
  • Compatible with: Li-ion
  • 26650, 25500, 22650, 18700, 18650, 18500, 18490, 18350, 17670, 17500, 17335, 16340(RCR123), 14650, 14500, 10440, 10350, 10340

Dimensions: 185mm long, Weight: 21g

Manual and Packaging

The A1 ships in an easy-open blister pack.  I say easy open – it’s not technically even sealed; the back just slides off, and the parts are in the blister.  Very easy to open.

20170927-IMG_4680.jpg

20170927-IMG_4681.jpg

The back of the package serves as a manual.  The manual is more of a spec sheet, since there’s really nothing to do once a cell is placed in the charger.

What’s Included

  • Folomov A1 charger/powerbank
  • Product guide

Build Quality and Durability

This is a nice little product.  The cables are good quality, but not (for example) the quality of Fluke DMM leads.   All the parts are very well fit, and the USB ports are very solid.

The magnets for the connectors could probably be improved a little.  First, the magnets are opposing, so that the are ridges on the metal side don’t mate when the unit isn’t being used.  That is, the metal surface on one side mates with the back of the mating surface on the other side.  And secondly, the ridges on the metal are quite proud – if these were slightly lower, the parts would sit better.

That said, they work just fine.

Power

The Folomov A1 is for sending power to and taking power from only Li-ion cells.  It can charge all common sizes of Li-ion, and some uncommon sizes too.  From 26650 all the way down to 10340.  (No mention of anything smaller than the 10340, though, so don’t plan on using this for your 10180 DQG Spy cells.  The charging rate could be too high!)

The cell connects between the two terminals.  The terminals are polarity specific, with a label on the back for positive or negative.  There is reverse polarity protection though, so no harm will befall you if you mistakenly place the cell incorrectly.

20170927-IMG_4684.jpg

I found that the cells stay in place very well when the unit isn’t moved.  If hung from a USB port though, the weight of the cell can tend to pull itself off the terminals.  A bit of a stronger magnet could be good, or some cups that would hold the cell?  Anyway it works fine.

Here’s what charging current looks and cell capacity look like over time.  You’ll note that the A1 does in fact hit (and surpass) 1A charging, but not for long (around 10 minutes) and also not all that stable.  And soon after, charging drops precipitously  to around 0.5A.  This cell started at 3.1V, and ended around 4.18V.  There’s an indefinite 5.5mA trickle charge, which could be going to the cell, or could be used to drive the LED in the body of the A1 (more like it’s this option).

Charging_with.png

The A1 was also used to charge a device with the USB-out, using a 2000mAh unprotected cell.  Output is claimed at 1A.  An iPhone 7 is capable of drawing 2.1A (I believe).  Charging the phone from a full cell never saw an output current over 0.5A.  That’s quite a bit lower than claimed, though i can say it’s very stable, to the point that the cell is no longer able to maintain 5V out.  The A1 does have over discharge protection, so it’s safe to leave the system connected.  The cell I used here was discharged to around 3.18V.

charge_from.png

I’ll add in this section but maybe it’s more fitting elsewhere:  The USB port on this device can carry data, too.  So the A1 is almost like a cell-charging bump out for your computer’s USB ports – plug the device in, insert a cell and it’ll charge.  Plug your phone charger in to the device, and you can view your photos or whatever on your computer as normal.  That’s nice, and not something I expected at all.

That said, the A1 does drop out when switching between USB power and cell power, to a device.  It’s not a UPS.

User Interface and Operation

There are no buttons whatsoever on this charger, and nothing to manipulate at all.  Just put in a cell in the correct orientation (which is marked on the back of the terminals), and plug the male into a power source.  VERY simple.  There’s even a couple of LEDs on the center part which tells what the charger is doing.

Blinking green, cell is charging.
Solid green, cell is finished charging.
Blinking blue, A1 is charging another device.

There’s really nothing more to it than that.

20170927-IMG_4688.jpg

The downside is that you have to accept the default charge rate.  This could be slow for your tastes, but I have no issue with the rate at all.

Size

Officially 185mm long and a weight of 21g.  It’s a small unit, great for travel.  I’d love a tiny little case for it, or some way to handle all the bits from flopping around.  But no complaints about the size.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Works well for it’s stated applications.
  • Very solid discharge when using as a powerbank
  • Data works over the USB connections

What I don’t like

  • Charge rate not really solid 1A
  • USB Output not really near 1A

Notes:

Comments are closed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: