Been buying batteries half your life? That doesn’t mean that you understand all there is to learn about them. It’s time to burst the battery truths!
This may have been a fact once upon a time, but whilst mathematics has moved on, the battery producers aren’t rushing to tell the consumer about it.
It clearly states on the sides of most alkaline batteries which they are not to be recharged; the warnings are rather dire. Emphatically not.
Testers willing to put their own lives’at risk’ by moving ahead and recharging, discovered they were not even risking their eyebrows at the manner of some cartoon scientist, let alone their lifetime. Even when using brief bursts of credit from a high-voltage car battery!
What testers did discover was that the batteries could get hot if Over-charged, however, the worst eventuality was a battery which gradually – and undramatically – divide along one side, leaking a tiny amount of acid. Not really the firework display battery users are warned of.
Whilst using a car battery for recharging alkaline batteries is not something any sensible individual would urge, there are alternatives. You definitely shouldn’t use your standard recharger – those aren’t able to allow you to know when an alkaline battery is recharged which could result in the overheating issue mentioned above – but apparatus are available designed specifically for recharging alkaline batteries. A few of those devices will charge Ni-Mh and Ni-Cds too.
In the strictest sense, what’s happening to this alkaline batteries is a’recondition’ rather than a’recharge’, providing a potential 90% power top-up to batteries low on energy. However, there is the potential for getting 10 or more times as much out of the 18650 Battery chemicals before it needs to be disposed of, it is equally a money saver and more environmentally-friendly.
Care still needs to be obtained: all batteries have been capable of creating hidden faults which could see them split whilst charging, possibly damaging the charger or its environment. Some chargers will let you know if a battery is dead, but it’s a good idea to purchase a separate battery tester to confirm the condition of all batteries you intend to recharge. This is important for rechargeable batteries, as the battery will survive longer the more often you recharge it. And wise for the rest of the batteries, as even the very best quality can create faults.
If you have any doubts about the quality of the batteries you’re using, it might be advisable to avoid placing reconditioned alkaline batteries into your most precious equipment.
The idea of battery memory isn’t incorrect, but it doesn’t apply to all rechargeables, and it’s an issue that is slowly becoming something from yesteryear.
But first, what’s’battery memory’? Anyone with a rechargeable device might have noticed the battery life seems to get shorter as the battery gets older. You may have had your own theory about why this is, but in regards to Ni-Cd rechargeables, the brief answer is’crystal formation’.
In Ni-Cd batteries, as the battery ages crystals form inside. Since the crystals get bigger, it gets harder for the fee to move beyond them. Eventually whole regions of the battery eventually become unreachable for the two use and recharge. Failure to completely discharge the battery before recharging was emphasized as one big reason for the problem.
Thankfully the problem isn’t a killer: discharging the battery before beginning a recharge usually sorts the issue. In reality, many recharging devices today do a full discharge. Producers also continue to improve their batteries to go around the problem.
Li-Ion and Ni-HM rechargeable batteries – the preferred power option for devices like cameras and mobile phones – operate otherwise. These battery types do not suffer this issue and therefore do not need to be discharged before recharging.