The rechargeable battery. It seems so simple in design and most of us have been using them in everything from doorbells to electric toys since we were kids. Such a variety of batteries exist and there seems to be new types of batteries arriving on the market all the time.
Duracell or Energizer? There is one thing about rechargeable batteries that is peculiar. Rumors abound and even batteries are surrounded by urban legends. I am talking of course about how to charge them.
Rechargeable Batteries. Memory, Life and Volatility.
Since their invention all the way back in 1859, (Yes, rechargeable batteries have been around that long!) there have been a lot of questions and speculation about rechargeable batteries. Battery ‘memory’, battery life and battery volatility. These are the three subjects I’ll be addressing today.
Battery ‘memory’. Do you really have to ‘train’ your batteries by draining them all the way to ‘dead’ and charging them all the way back up? The answer to this is no. The interesting part is that the answer used to be yes.
In older lead-acid and NiCd batteries this used to be an issue. A battery did have to be charged fully before using it. Then, it had to be completely drained. This was due to low quality components being used at that time. Since the mid-1900s, battery quality has increased dramatically. In this day and age, you can charge your batteries any time without having to worry about them ‘remembering’ a lower maximum charge.
Battery Life is covered in myths too! – refrigerating or freezing batteries, increasing their life by putting them in the microwave or letting batteries warm to room temperature before using them are common myths. I can assure you that none of these directly affect the life of the battery as a whole. What does affect a battery are the number of Charge Cycles it goes through.
A charge cycle happens any time a battery is connected to a recharging device in an attempt to recharge it. All batteries have an expected number of charge cycles determined by the manufacturer. The batteries we provide for example, have 900-1000 expected charge cycles. The best way to increase the life of your batteries is to only charge them once per day.
The best method of accomplishing this is to turn off your battery chargers during the day so you can turn on your battery chargers for overnight charging. That way, if a tour device such as an audio guide is picked up and put back into a charger slot during the day, it doesn’t use a charging cycle (because the power is off).
Rumours abound of batteries doing some pretty odd things up to and including massive, fiery explosions! Of course this rumor is mainly just myth. In reality, not all batteries have the ability to explode, even when set directly on fire. Setting batteries alight is still not a good idea, as the battery can rupture (complete with a popping sound and a jump), breaking the seal and releasing potentially harmful gases into the air.
Most batteries start in a more volatile state early in their development. Batteries such as Lithium-ion batteries were actually prone to overheating and catching on fire if they were charged improperly when they were in the testing stages of development. Again, advances in technologies have made these batteries safe enough to be carried in nearly every modern cell phone, providing a much longer battery life than their lead-acid cousins. This also means that our Infrared Audio Guide products can function for up to 18 hours before needing to be recharged, even with an LCD screen and high definition audio.
In conclusion, while wives’ tales and urban legends have sprung forth over the years, telling us to not step on a crack or throw a pinch of salt over a shoulder, it’s always a good idea to do your research to see if a potential issue actually exists.