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Recharging "Non-rechargable" Alkaline Batteries
Old 06-14-2007, 03:54 PM   #1
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Recharging "Non-rechargable" Alkaline Batteries

I came across this product

Battery Xtender

which claims to recharge disposable alkaline batteries (info and review) up to about 10 times.

Since 2005, California has required recycling of alkaline batteries, so I've been putting my used batteries in a box. When I read about the charger, I thought I'd see how many I had for recharging. Turns out that even though I already use NiMH rechargeables for most things, I still had about 80 alkalines waiting to be recycled.

The main problem with the NiMH batteries is that they self-discharge. That is, if you leave it in a box, or use it for a remote control, it will go from 1.4V to 1.0 V in a month or so. So for very low drain applications, or for something that sits a long time between use (emergency flashlight), alkaline is better. Also, my NiMH charger doesn't work with C or D sized batteries.

I've been going through the box of used batteries, and am able to recharge most of them. Here is an example of some pre and post-charge voltages:

Pre Post
.185 can't charge (dead)
1.484 1.486
1.263 1.484
1.282 1.485
1.539 1.570
1.368 1.521
1.443 1.445
1.058 1.304
0.370 1.347
1.469 1.556
1.094 1.480
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Old 06-14-2007, 04:06 PM   #2
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Do the recharged alkaline have a similar shelf life to new ones or do they lose charge over a relatively short time like the NiMH? Also, how long does it take to recharge an alkaline, several hours? How much electricity are you using?
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Old 06-14-2007, 04:09 PM   #3
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One more question: Were any beavers harmed in the manufacture or testing of the recharger?
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Old 06-14-2007, 04:52 PM   #4
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I don't know about the shelf life yet, I'm testing that and will tell you in a month or two. I'm expecting a similar shelf life to new alkalines.

The charger uses two watts, less when the charging is done. Some batteries finish charging in 10-20 minutes, others take 16 hours or so. I charged a new battery and it was done in 20 seconds. Went from 1.604 to 1.612 volts. There are status lights for the individual batteries, which is good.

Which kind of beavers were you referring to?
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Old 06-14-2007, 05:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post

Which kind of beavers were you referring to?

:confused:



OH!!! OH!! I get it!!



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Old 06-14-2007, 05:12 PM   #6
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It's pretty good once you get past the used...
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Old 06-14-2007, 05:14 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by HFWR View Post
It's pretty good once you get past the used...
Al's working on recharging the used ones to get more out of them.
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Old 06-14-2007, 05:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I came across this product

Battery Xtender

which claims to recharge disposable alkaline batteries (info and review) up to about 10 times.

Since 2005, California has required recycling of alkaline batteries, so I've been putting my used batteries in a box. When I read about the charger, I thought I'd see how many I had for recharging. Turns out that even though I already use NiMH rechargeables for most things, I still had about 80 alkalines waiting to be recycled.

The main problem with the NiMH batteries is that they self-discharge. That is, if you leave it in a box, or use it for a remote control, it will go from 1.4V to 1.0 V in a month or so. So for very low drain applications, or for something that sits a long time between use (emergency flashlight), alkaline is better. Also, my NiMH charger doesn't work with C or D sized batteries.

I've been going through the box of used batteries, and am able to recharge most of them. Here is an example of some pre and post-charge voltages:

Pre Post
.185 can't charge (dead)
1.484 1.486
1.263 1.484
1.282 1.485
1.539 1.570
1.368 1.521
1.443 1.445
1.058 1.304
0.370 1.347
1.469 1.556
1.094 1.480
try the sanyo eneloop nmh batteries. they are really good. they still hold a minimum of 85% of their charge a year later. they require no charging taking them out of the package the first time either.

i use them in my camera flash and for spares.

SANYO eneloop | Ready to use Rechargeable Battery - The only battery you will ever need: Home
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Old 06-14-2007, 06:08 PM   #9
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Yes, those look good. Price is high now, but it will probably come down.
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Old 06-14-2007, 06:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Yes, those look good. Price is high now, but it will probably come down.
they are perfect for things like cameras,flashes and spares. no more guessing as to whether your spares are good or leaky alkalines.

recycling time on my nikon sb-800 flash is extremely quick
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Old 06-14-2007, 10:00 PM   #11
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I had one of those rechargers years ago. Perhaps the newer models are better, but the old alkaline recharger was good to give me about a quarter life on the first charge and perhaps a short bit of life on the second recharge. Then the batteries started to ooze.

I decided that costco batteries were pretty cheap and worried that the dang things would explode or catch fire or something equally bad.
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Old 06-15-2007, 07:46 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
Al's working on recharging the used ones to get more out of them.
So youse guys are using electricity. I've always used wine.
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Old 08-29-2007, 01:30 PM   #13
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Do the recharged alkaline have a similar shelf life to new ones or do they lose charge over a relatively short time like the NiMH?
Based on the first 2.5 months, it looks like they have a similar shelf life (see attachment that shows changes in voltage for some charged AA batteries over time).

But, I also had some leakage, so I'm not sure I recommend this charger.
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File Type: jpg BatteryCharge.jpg (53.8 KB, 2 views)
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Old 08-30-2007, 07:25 PM   #14
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The owner of the company just called me. He says that alkaline batteries simply leak now and then, and that it's not caused by the charger.

Maybe, maybe not.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:11 PM   #15
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The owner of the company just called me. He says that alkaline batteries simply leak now and then, and that it's not caused by the charger.
I think anytime a bunch of electrons are jammed through something, its substance will experience heating effects-- including swelling and maybe even leaking.

Now if you run the charger in the freezer... hmmm...
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:49 AM   #16
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Seems like $40 may be a steep price for the potential payback.

Technically, alkaline are not really 're-charged', the chemical process is not reversible as in true re-chargeable batteries. So the 'XTender' name is actually fairly accurate.

I've done some of this, seems like over time one of those leakers will destroy something (the charger most likely) and you just are not ahead of the game.

Someone asked about electricity usage - miniscule. Even at 2 watts max (it will be much less on average) That would take 500 hours to get to 1KWHour - about 10 cents for me.

Even at 16 hours per battery, that would be 30 cycles of batteries 'extended' for 10 cents worth of electricity. That 2 watts is probably for four batteries, so 4 batteries times 30 cycles is 120 batteries 'extended' for 10 cents of electricity.

Wow, batteries sure are an expensive way to buy electricity!

-ERD50
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:55 PM   #17
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Quote:
Technically, alkaline are not really 're-charged', the chemical process is not reversible as in true re-chargeable batteries. So the 'XTender' name is actually fairly accurate.
So, what is happening, electrochemically, that changes the voltage from, for example, 1.094 to 1.480?

In the manual, it says the best use of the charger is to continually "top up" the batteries. That is, use a new battery just a little, then top it up with the xTender.
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Old 08-31-2007, 03:16 PM   #18
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P.S. The batteries do not get at all warm during charging.
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Old 08-31-2007, 04:04 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
So, what is happening, electrochemically, that changes the voltage from, for example, 1.094 to 1.480?

In the manual, it says the best use of the charger is to continually "top up" the batteries. That is, use a new battery just a little, then top it up with the xTender.
Well, this is more in the field of chemistry than electronics, but I'll give it a shot:

Alkaline batteries are 'primary cells', the electro-chemical reaction is not reversible, like it is in a lead-acid for example.

I think what happens is, as an alkaline cell is used, chemical layers build up and interfere with any more current being produced. So the power is still in there, it just can't get out. Running some reverse current through it removes that chemical layer, and allows more current to be released. Until the layer builds up again. So you are not really adding any energy back in, you are just helping to get the original energy out.

I think that is why they recc frequent 'Xtending' - the layer is easier to remove if it is still a thin layer.

Maybe someone with a better understanding of chemistry can say if that is on the right track, but I think that is the basic mechanism.

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Old 08-31-2007, 06:44 PM   #20
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Interesting. That's clear to me, thanks.
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