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Battery charger

A battery charger is a device used to apply power, a charge, to a rechargeable battery. Rechargeable batteries are capable of being charged prior to initial use and recharged after being discharged. Rechargeable batteries have been used for electrical energy storage in a wide range of applications including their use in vehicles, power tools, laptop computers, mobile phones, two-way radios, personal data assistants, digital cameras, video camcorders, lights, and uninterruptible power supplies. Vehicles that use rechargeable batteries include automobiles, boats, and aircraft that have batteries for starting the vehicle, electric vehicles including golf carts, and hybrid electric vehicles. Generally, rechargeable batteries are charged by a battery charger having a power supply that can provide a supply of DC current. A rechargeable battery accepts the electrical current and converts it into chemical energy. The charge is stored in the battery until it is then drawn on by a complementary power-consuming unit to which the battery is attached. Portable electronic devices are becoming more and more ubiquitous. Batteries typically power these portable electronic devices. Typically, rechargeable batteries are used to power these portable electronic devices. For example, most cellular phones are equipped with rechargeable batteries which can be recharged through a power conversion adapter used in conjunction with household alternating current (AC) power or through a power conversion adapter used in conjunction with a 12-volt cigarette lighter socket provided in an automobile. A typical battery charger includes a battery charging circuit which is connectable to a power source and to a rechargeable battery and which is operable to charge the battery. The battery charger includes a charger housing and a charging circuit supported by the housing. The charger housing includes a charging port for supporting a battery during charging of the battery. Typically, the charging circuit is electrically connectable to a power source, external to the charger housing, to supply power from the external power source to the battery to charge the battery. Battery chargers include a regulator which receives the unregulated source of DC power and convert it to a regulated source of DC voltage. Both linear and switching type regulators are known. Linear regulators utilize linear devices, such as resistors to provide a relatively constant DC output. Such linear regulators may be formed as an integrated circuit (IC). Commonly used rechargeable batteries include lead acid batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, nickel-hydrogen batteries, and lithium-ion batteries. Particularly, lithium ion batteries have become popular because they have a high energy density and high operating voltage, excellent conservation and life properties and are environmentally friendly. Rechargeable lithium bases batteries, including Lithium-Ion batteries and Lithium-Polymer batteries, are sensitive to excessive voltages. Without a suitable safety circuit overcharging may compromise the batteries reliability. A shunt regulator is often employed to regulate the charging voltage to the lithium battery.

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