Battery FAQ's

Battery FAQ's

 

1. What are the different types/classifications of batteries?

Batteries in the market today fall under 2 classifications, which are primary and rechargeable batteries.

Primary Batteries - or "disposable" batteries, are those that are discarded when empty and cannot be recharged. The most common types includealkaline, zinc carbon, zinc air and lithium.

Rechargeable Batteries - are batteries that can be recharged and reused up to 1000 times depending on the batteries features and various usage conditions. Common types of these include Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) and Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries.

2. How do these batteries rank in terms of cost & performance?

With regards to disposable batteries, although the initial cost of Alkaline batteries are more expensive, they last 5 to 10 times longer than your ordinary zinc carbon batteries, making them more economical in the long run. 

Rechargeable batteries are more expensive than alkaline but can be recharged and reused anywhere from 300-1000 times. Aside from that, the life of each use is also longer, thus they are even more economical than disposable batteries.

NiCd & NiMH share similar characteristics but NiMH batteries have a higher capacity rating and can last much longer.

3. “Can primary batteries be replaced by rechargeable batteries even though they are only 1.2 volts?”

Yes, rechargeable batteries are ideal substitutes especially when your device has high power consumption such as MP3 players or digital cameras. 

Although alkaline batteries are rated at 1.5V, as they are being used, their voltage will continuously drop over time, actually giving them an average of about 1.2V. Alkaline batteries can drop down to 1.0V during use but rechargeable batteries stay at 1.2V most of the time.

4. What are the advantages of using rechargeable batteries?

Performance - NiMH batteries can last more than 3 times longer than alkaline batteries in electronic devices that have high power consumption.

Savings - They can be recharged for up to 1000 cycles, giving you huge savings in the long run.

Environmentally friendly - They do not contain hazardous materials such as Mercury, thus being more environmentally friendly.

5. "Why don't my rechargeable batteries last very long?"

There are several reasons, mainly due to the importance of proper charging of the battery as well as having a compatible charger for them. The output of your charger must be able to handle the battery's capacity or it will not be able to fully charge it, giving you lower performance and shorter battery life. Overcharging or over discharging can result in poor battery performance. Improper charging can also reduce the cycle life, or amount of times you can recharge the battery.

6. What is the difference between the various rechargeable battery chemistries?

Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries have increased capacity and are very lightweight. Their nominal voltage can range from 3.6 to 3.8V. They also have no memory effect, meaning they can be charged any time without having to drain.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries offer high capacity, quick charging capabilities and great reliability. They are especially good for gadgets or devices that have high battery consumption such as digital cameras, performance toys, music players etc...

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries have a long life cycles but shorter run-time or battery life than NiMH batteries. They are the most cost effective rechargeable batteries and can last up to 1000 charges. Like most rechargeable batteries, NiMH included, they need to be completely charged before their first use and completely drained before charging.

7. What’s better, fast charging or slow? Can a battery be charged TOO fast?

Fast charging or fast chargers use a high current which allows you to charge a NiMH battery anywhere from half an hour to 5 and a half. Slow charging often refers to overnight charging. For more precise charging times, it depends on the capacity of the battery and the output of the charger.

Yes, a battery can be charged too fast. Imagine a filing a bucket of water, if you fill it too quickly, some of the water will spill, similarly to chargers in which it may indicate its full, but due to the spillage, your battery wont be completely full. Slow charging or filling the bucket slowly, although much slower, ensures the battery will be to its maximum capacity when full.

8. "How do I know what charger is for me?"

A fast charger delivers speed but its internals are more complicated, thus usually being more expensive than a slow charger. Overcharging can shorten a rechargeable battery's cycle life so you should make sure the charger has protection mechanisms that prevent such.

If speed is not a priority, slow chargers are much cheaper and allow the battery to be completely charged without any spillage.

9. How long will it take to charge my batteries?

This depends on 2 things, the output of the charger (charging current), measured in milli-ampere (mA) and the capacity (mAh) of the battery, assuming that your charger is compatible with your battery.

Charging time is computed by dividing the capacity of the battery over the charging current, multiplied by 120%

10. The batteries become hot during charging, is something wrong?

No, is it normal for batteries to become warm or hot during charging.

11. Do warm and/or cold temperatures affect batteries?

Extreme hot or cold do reduce battery performance. Avoid putting the battery, as well as battery-powered devices in warm places. Refrigeration is also not necessary. It’s always best to store batteries at room temperature in a dry environment.

12. What is Memory Effect?

Memory effect occurs when the battery is charged before its energy is fully consumed or drained. The battery will remember its last residual capacity before it is recharged, so if you keep charging the battery before you using up all its energy, the service time or length of usage of the battery will become shorter and shorter.

NiCd batteries are plagued with memory effect, but modern day NiMH batteries have either none or negligible memory effect.

Li-ion on the other hand is the opposite, although it has no memory effect, you should not keep them fully drained.

13. What is the self discharge rate of rechargeable batteries?

If rechargeable batteries (aside from rechargeable batteries with low self discharge such as Sanyo’s Eneloop) are left idle for a period of time, it will gradually start to lose its energy; this is called the rate of self discharge. This rate ranges anywhere from 15% to 20% per month at room temperature.

14. What does “cycle life” mean?

Cycle life is the number of times you can charge and discharge a battery before its capacity drops.

15. How do you maximize your battery’s cycle life?

During charging, you should always check if the charger is compatible with your batteries. It is recommended that your charger has an auto shut-off feature in order to reduce chances of overcharging or you may just time it.

Using batteries of different capacities, chemistries, charge levels and mixing old batteries with new ones can cause over dis-charge, lowering the battery’s cycle life.

If a battery is stored for a long time at a high temperature, battery performance will deteriorate. Also avoid leaving them in the charger or device for extended periods of time as well.

16. How do you maximize your battery’s service life?

To maximize its service life, you should store your batteries in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight (especially for NiMH batteries). Room temperature is just right.

Always make sure your charger is compatible with your batteries and vice versa. To lessen the risk of incompatibility, it is recommended for first time buyers to purchase batteries plus charger bundle packs.

Charge and discharge your batteries occasionally even when not in use, in order to prevent the voltage from dropping below 0.8V.

Avoid exceeding the recommended charging period of your rechargeable batteries to minimize overcharging. Also, do not keep your batteries in your charger or other devices when not in use for extended periods of time.

Avoid mixing batteries of different capacities, chemistries, charge levels and mixing old batteries with new ones in devices.


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