Troubleshooting a Camera Battery Charger

Tips to fix problems with battery chargers and AC adapters

Keeping your camera's battery charged fully is one of the keys to avoiding many common camera problems. Problems with electricity, batteries, malfunctioning battery chargers, or broken AC adapters could lead to a short or a fire. Before you throw away the battery charger, try to fix it safely.

photographer changes the battery in a SLR camera while shooting in the Studio. focus on the camera battery
Yaroslav Mikheev / Getty Images

Diagnosing the Problem

If your battery isn't charging correctly, it could indicate a problem with the charger. Still, it's more likely that the battery needs troubleshooting. If the problem lies with the charger, you might smell an odor of burning plastic when the unit is plugged in, or you may see a physical problem with the unit. The first time you use the charger, it may have an odd smell, but the odor should dissipate quickly and not repeat in the future.

Odd Charging Sequence

You also may notice a malfunctioning battery charger if the indicator lamps on the unit behave oddly. Check your camera user guide for information on how the indicator lamps should behave for various functions, including the color of the lamps and whether they flash or remain solidly lit.

If you have a malfunctioning battery charger, unplug it from the wall immediately. Don't try to charge the battery or plug it into the camera if you suspect that the battery charger or AC adapter for your camera may be malfunctioning. It isn't worth the risk.

Study the Charger's Condition

Before trying any troubleshooting techniques, look closely at the physical condition of the unit.

  • Make sure the cables don't have cracks or punctures, allowing you to see the metal wiring inside.
  • Check the metal contacts for grime or scratches. Deep scratches in the hard plastic parts could be dangerous, too.

Do not use a charger or AC adapter that shows any damage, either to the pack or the power cable. Such damage could lead to a fire.

Camera battery chargers are typically designed for a specific type of battery or battery pack. Don't charge a battery in a charger that isn't specifically approved to work with it. If you do, you risk starting a fire or shorting out the battery.

Know What the Lights Mean

Most battery chargers use a series of lights or lamps to give you information on the status of the battery's charge level. Check the user manual to learn the light codes.

Most cameras use the following colors:

  • An amber, yellow, or red light indicates a battery that's currently charging.
  • A blue or green light usually means the battery is charged.
  • A blinking light sometimes indicates a charging error; other times, it indicates a battery that is still charging.

Some batteries can be damaged or lose their ability to hold a 100-percent charge if the charging process is interrupted before the battery is fully charged. So don't misinterpret a light code and stop the charging process early.

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Do not use the battery charger in extreme temperatures, usually below freezing or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the charger's user guide for exact temperature ranges.

Let the Battery Cool

If you cannot make the battery charge correctly immediately after using the battery in your camera, the battery's temperature might be too high for the charger to operate. Let the battery cool before charging it.

Charge, Then Unplug

One way to potentially lengthen the life span of your camera's battery charger and the battery is to not leave the charger plugged in all the time. Only plug it into an outlet when you're using it. Even when the unit isn't charging a battery, it draws a little bit of power. This continuous power draw could shorten its life span, as well as the life span of the battery. Unplug the unit when the battery is charged.

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