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Rechargeable Batteries
Old 11-28-2009, 11:48 PM   #1
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Rechargeable Batteries

Do they work? I have heard that even rechargeable batteries wear out after a few uses and the equipment is not the best, making it better to just buy the cheapest non-rechargeable batteries available, but what are others' experiences here?
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Old 11-29-2009, 12:39 AM   #2
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Do they work? I have heard that even rechargeable batteries wear out after a few uses and the equipment is not the best, making it better to just buy the cheapest non-rechargeable batteries available, but what are others' experiences here?
They work great for some things. The biggest payoff is for things that use a lot of power (e.g. cameras). The rechargeable batteries last for hundreds of rechargings, so they save a lot of money.

Unfortunately, the rechargeables have a lot of "internal leakage" of electricity, so they lose their charge relatively quickly when just sitting around. A good alkaline disposable battery will still be usable and have a lot of life left 5 years after you buy it if isn't used. A NiCd battery wil be dead (ready fr a recharge) in a couple of months, tops. NiMH and LiIon batteries lose their charge more slowly than NiCds, but still much faster than an alkaline battery.

Rechargeables are a bad choice for smoke detectors, seldom-used flashlights, and alarm clocks.
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:13 AM   #3
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While I agree with almost everything samclem says, there are some rechargeable NiMh batteries on the market that hold their charge well and have a decent shelf life. Look for "pre-charged", "hybrid" or "ready to use" on the label. They are available from Duracell and Sanyo, plus others.

I was very disappointed in the performance of regular rechargeables, but I've been very pleased with the hybrid types. They are a bit pricey but in my situation (digital camera and grandkid toy use) they have paid for themselves in the first year.
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:57 AM   #4
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Current NiMH rechargeables are NOT your father's rechargeables. REWahoo is right. The photography forums are full of comments and ratings. It is also important to get a good charger as the science of charging has changed as well.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:04 AM   #5
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Looks like I'll have to reconsider the NiMh batteries, thanks all for the tip. Another reason the rechargeable have not made much sense for some applications is their cost. For a flashlight kept in the glove compartment that might get used once in 5 years (but you really want it to work at that time, and you don't want to think about it in the meantime), the 25 cent alkalines were the ticket.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:23 AM   #6
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Alkalines would still be the ticket for that glovebox app.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:27 AM   #7
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Same experience as above. We use nothing but rechargeables any more. The newer ones are better, but we find they don't last quite as long (shelf life or in use) as conventional batteries so we have to recharge more often than we'd like. And I have not kept track of cycles/overall life but I have rechargeables that I think have lasted as much as 5 years before they just wouldn't hold a charge, and hopefully the newer ones will do even better. But rechargeables still beat conventional batteries in terms of cost (and environmental impact if that's of interest too) from our experience.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:33 AM   #8
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Most modern batteries do best if not totally discharged, they will last much longer, this applies to laptops, ipods, etc, this doesn't apply to NiCd batteries.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:35 AM   #9
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I try to use recharageables when I can. For example, I use rechargeables for my cordless mouse. They last several weeks before needed a recharge. That still is more cost effective than using akalines.

I also have a battery charger which can fix rechargeables (AA or AAA sizes only) that has losts it's capacity to retain a full charge. The charger does work, but really isn't practical if you have a lot of rechargeables as it can take days to revive the batteries.
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:32 AM   #10
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THE exhaustive test of AA batteries for flash: 6,560 FLASH POPS LATER: The Results of "AA" Rechargeable Battery Tests - Canon Digital Photography Forums
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:37 AM   #11
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I've had best luck with Eneloop NiMH hybrid batteries. The Hybrio ones are also OK, but Eneloops seem to hold onto their charge longer. Way better in the camera. I've used them since about 2007 when mathjak107 recommended them to me.

For example, we use them in our Motorola walkie talkies. Since the voltage is a little lower on this than on alkalines (top off to 1.48 volts instead of 1.6), the walkie talkies show a battery level of 2/3 when the batteries are fully charged. We only use this for an hour or two every weekend, and I need to recharge them about once a month.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:15 AM   #12
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I've had best luck with Eneloop NiMH hybrid batteries. The Hybrio ones are also OK, but Eneloops seem to hold onto their charge longer. Way better in the camera. I've used them since about 2007 when mathjak107 recommended them to me.

For example, we use them in our Motorola walkie talkies. Since the voltage is a little lower on this than on alkalines (top off to 1.48 volts instead of 1.6), the walkie talkies show a battery level of 2/3 when the batteries are fully charged. We only use this for an hour or two every weekend, and I need to recharge them about once a month.

+1 on the Eneloops. Costco was selling a kit that had C and D adapters to allow one to use the AA Eneloops in various applications. Price was/is 4 AA, 2AAA and adapters with charger for $20.00
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Old 11-29-2009, 12:32 PM   #13
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For a flashlight kept in the glove compartment that might get used once in 5 years (but you really want it to work at that time, and you don't want to think about it in the meantime), the 25 cent alkalines were the ticket.
I've think I've found that reversing half the alkalines in a flashlight when not in use seems to prolong life significantly. I suspect leakage paths exist and reversing half of them cuts the driving voltage down to nearly zero if an even number exists. Of course, whoever tries to use it will have to know or remember to reinstall them properly.
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Old 11-29-2009, 12:44 PM   #14
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I've think I've found that reversing half the alkalines in a flashlight when not in use seems to prolong life significantly. I suspect leakage paths exist...
That is highly unusual for a simple passive flashlight! Usually, it's the appliances with electronics that would draw some phantom power.

Example: I have cordless mouse that drains its battery in a couple of days even when it is off. An ammeter put on the battery connection confirms that the sucker still draws a few milliamperes when its mechanical switch is in OFF position. A mechanical switch! How did its idiotic designer manage to put in some circuit in front of the switch? I meant to open it up and trace through its circuit to see for myself, but have not gotten to it.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:25 PM   #15
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I've think I've found that reversing half the alkalines in a flashlight when not in use seems to prolong life significantly. I suspect leakage paths exist and reversing half of them cuts the driving voltage down to nearly zero if an even number exists. Of course, whoever tries to use it will have to know or remember to reinstall them properly.
When I was a kid I deliberately reversed one cell in a five cell flashlight because I heard it would stop them from draining. It was dead a few days later. I suspect the switch closed at some point and current was forced backward through the reversed cell ("charging" it). I gotta think that was a lot of resistance/current/battery killing.

Remember those big, grey, cheap 5 cell flashlights Radio Shack used to carry? They cost about 2 bucks, but they hoped you'd spend $3 on D-Cells to fill it. But, you could outsmart them by getting free batteries with your battery card.
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:24 PM   #16
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I have had disappointing results with the rechargable battery experience over the years. I bought rechargers twice and don't use them.
Perhaps I will give it another try with the new info about batteries from this link.

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Old 11-30-2009, 07:13 PM   #17
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I have 8 hybrid AA batteries. They don't work worth a darn! You see I charged them and put them away knowing they would be charged when I wanted them. Now I can't find them, so they don't work worth a darn. Oh, as far holding a charge... I guess they work, the AAA's hybrids I bought at the same time work great.
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:34 AM   #18
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When I was a kid I deliberately reversed one cell in a five cell flashlight because I heard it would stop them from draining. It was dead a few days later. I suspect the switch closed at some point and current was forced backward through the reversed cell ("charging" it). I gotta think that was a lot of resistance/current/battery killing.
This is the main thing to watch for with rechargeable NiMH in my experience. Since each cell has different capacity, sooner or later lowest capacity one will discharge but other cells will drive it forward destroying it.
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Old 12-02-2009, 10:15 AM   #19
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I have had disappointing results with the rechargable battery experience over the years. I bought rechargers twice and don't use them.
Perhaps I will give it another try with the new info about batteries from this link.

Free to canoe
I've been disappointed too. A couple times, I've had a battery leak and destroy the charger before I recouped my investment. Sours me to investing more money in these things. Maybe the new ones are better.

But regular old alkalines are better than they used to be, too. The shelf life is so good, they are great for seldom used items, or low current items (clocks, remotes, smoke alarms). And many battery operated things are either so efficient that it makes little difference, or they include their own rechargeable lithium (iPods, GPSs, cell phones, etc), so no need.

They probably make a lot of sense for someone regularly using AA powered walkie-talkies, or something like that. But I really don't have much need any more.

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This is the main thing to watch for with rechargeable NiMH in my experience. Since each cell has different capacity, sooner or later lowest capacity one will discharge but other cells will drive it forward destroying it.
Very true. An important design feature to look for is that the charger should charge each battery independently. Charging two or more in series is bad.

For example, consider two batteries in series, one is down to 1.0V and the other is at 1.2V. In series, they get the same current pumped through them by the charger. That means the 1.0V battery 'sees' 1 watt, the 1.2V battery 'sees' 1.2 watts. So the lowest charge battery gets the lowest power applied - just the opposite of what you want. That will tend to equalize as the cells reach full charge and level off at their max voltage, but it still isn't good. Especially bad if you pull them out before fully charged - that can just keep degrading the weak one over and over.

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Old 12-03-2009, 04:52 AM   #20
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